Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Where do human rights apply? Plastic Bullets, Hosing and Tear Gas.

The helicopter has been hovering overhead all afternoon. Dusk is dawning and I still hear its rotors whirring. I walk into the garden, look up and see the full black copter. It’s flying low enough for me to clearly see the words ‘POLICE’ printed on both sides. Nearby I see the main road that leads to the village shops and our new retail shopping centre. Police cars in their bright blue and yellow on white body drive up and down.

I am lazy to fetch the camera from inside. The kid laughs at me and warns me that when they see the glint from the camera lens, the filth will think I am a sniper and shoot me. I laugh; we both laugh and agree that the scenario would better fit the US Police, not in UK.

I need to make a quick visit to the post office. As the village is within walking distance I make my way at a cool walking pace. Light up a B&H, inhale deeply to enjoy that first drag of tobacco smoke. Body reacts immediately to the nicotine rush. A tall soy latte with an extra shot at Starbucks is a welcome thought. The riots have been four days now, far from our village of Elstree and Borehamwood. Our only claim to fame being the Elstree Film Studios where Big Brother was shot. Not by a gun, a 35mm camera.

I am however more aware of what’s happening around me than usual. The disquiet I feel is mainly because of the four blokes I see walking up the high street in red coloured hoodies, the white lettering ‘English Defence League’ on both sides stand out clearly. The word ‘Borehamwood’ in smaller print can be seen on closer inspection. I have to walk by them. Eye contact is carefully avoided. I can feel their eyes boring into me. Subconsciously I have put on one of my Che Guevara tees. Jungle green with the mans face large on the front flanked by two red stars. I smile to myself, managing to see the irony of this all.

Back home I watch BBC News. A quick clip is shown of Manchester City. The news reporter speaks to a young man who condones the recent violence and rioting. He believes that the English have been sold out and their jobs taken by Eastern Europeans, other migrants and asylum seekers from Asia and Africa. He believes that the UKGOV must listen more to the English. That rioting is the only way for the UKGOV to give heed to their complaints. The reporter loses all patience and is screaming ‘so burning all these shops will bring you more jobs?’

It’s proper dusk now. I am home, typing this post. I still hear the helicopter overhead.

Elstree, where the Jewish community prosper. Every driveway a marquee car.

Borehamwood, where the villagers roam. In their WWII town houses with the patch of garden in the back. The newer project tower blocks filled with families, all asylum seekers.

25 minutes to London St. Pancras by train. 15 minutes to West Hampstead. Jubilee Line to Bond Street, London, four stops right Joey?

I smile. I am the invisible migrant.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death; I will fear no evil: for thou
art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they
comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies: thou anointest
my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life; and I will dwell in the
house of the Lord for ever.

psalm 23 - bible - psalm of david

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Racing Raindrops

Everything has been washed. Everything is pure, pure like the rains that came cascading on a cool Colombo afternoon. I sit on the settee enjoying the complete feeling of being cleansed, bare bodied in an old sarong.

I am extremely comfortable. The settee’s long enough for my body to drape above it and settle on to the old indents made on it by me, for years now. Years of long Colombo rain showers, sitting and watching the rain come down. Watching it in full flow and then enjoying the very comfort of a monsoon storm past.

The rain drops race each other on the telephone wire strung across outside our balcony. The front door is open welcoming the fresh relief of the storm. As soon as one batch of rain drops race and fall, my eyes catch another, and another.

The wires seen through my front door seem to imprison me to the settee. Itself adding to my comatose feeling of inaction of a full stomach and lying still on the settee. My eyes blink, I breathe comfortably, my chest falls up and down slowly, the only sign of life, and yes, I am home.

Yet the open door itself is a symbol of my prison. For I do not exit it. The couch is the handcuff that holds me. Beyond the wires I see a clear blue sky, the church spire and the rooftops of the houses in front of ours. I new day beckons. Yet I lie staring, trapped in my own world, of inaction.

I dream yet only of my first cigarette, coughing, then that satisfying head rush that comes only to those virgin to the joys of smoking.

My first love, the most wonderful feeling in the world. Kissing her for the first time, that unbelievable feeling of wonder and love.

My first car, the joy and heartache of owning and running a constantly breaking down proverbial red beetle.

7 shri 4743, my chariot, the god gifts to those who believe. I didn’t bother.

Travel and tribulations in foreign lands. Lands where dreams come true in the physical manifestation of buxom blondes and all too willing brunettes.

Finding my Queen, then another and another.

Endless nights, brushes with death, pleasure and pain.

Life, beyond the racing raindrops, the telephone wire, racing my way, running away from the third world.

Realising too late, how much the world itself has prisoned me.

Tell me; was the grass any greener, the wine and women more willing than my true love? 11 shri 417 or was it 517, yellow Colt GLX for sure I remember. Only a few will.

I still think of her, does she know that? Will I have the indecency to disrupt her world of house, husband and two sons? Never. Even if it’s to say hi.

Will Charon, as I pay him be able to give meaning to the nothingness in my world?

Never, never, never, never, never ever will she allow me to hurt her again. Not her.


If I was American, I would have sat on that settee, shooting those racing raindrops down, you know?

We use to walk back from ballet class, all the way down Duplication Road. Bumping into each other, our hands touching, secretly. Her driver would walk behind us the chaperon, and the gatekeeper.

“When I go from hence, let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is unsurpassable.”

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

When does reality stop, and fiction begin?

When does reality stop, and fiction begin?

Bury me; bury me deep in my Paradise Isle

Cremate me not, for I want not to be ash

Bury me for I want my flesh to nourish

The worms to breed in my carcass, feed from my past life

My flesh to rot away and seep into Mother Lanka’s soil

Oh bury me; oh bury me please in my Paradise Isle

For my rotting flesh and even in death

I continue to nourish my Paradise Isle…

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost
Friday. Summer. London. Spent the evening in canned air inside printers signing off the proof for our special offer ad on client’s internal magazine. Walked out on Marylebone Road to still bright sunshine at 7pm. Short walk to Baker Street to get on Jubilee Line tube. As usual popped into the bar right next to the station. My usual standing two large Absolut vodka’s with a can of Red Bull and into the underground depths of the tube.
Friday and everyone’s in high spirits, literally. Mostly suits like me, even the women. All hurrying home or on their way somewhere in readiness for Friday night. Finally on Jubilee Line, off at West Hampstead and short run to Train station that will take me to my part of the stix. Trains on time. Suns still out although evenings slightly cooler. A welcome relief. 15 centigrade and I am feeling pleasant. Couldn’t help but reflect on how over the past six years I have adapted slightly to the colder climates in old blighty. Train enters tunnel after Mill Hill and that tells me next stop is mine. Can’t help but scramble with others to the door to disembark. It’s become habit, I am part and parcel of the rat race, the moles who live three hours a day underground, no not the house music underground, actual tunnels and tunnels of Transport for London and the Thameslink.
The effect of the voddies are slightly waning, cross the street from the station and I am at the Crown, my local in the stix. Same ritual, two large Absolut, can of Red Bull, stand and deliver to the depths of my very soul. Meet my yardies from the stix, and they insist on a quick shot of the old Sambuca. Friday night is in effect, for them anyway. I am now looking forward to the home, bath, old Barefoot sarong, spliff and Indian takeaway, relax on couch chatting with the family. In that order. Kid’s got a couple of movies recorded for us on the sky box.
As I step out of the Crown I remember Ealing goddess temple early Saturday morning and the cleaners arrival to dust, mop, hoover and iron. Cash needed. Quick walk down High Street to retail park HSBC cashpoint. It’s past nine now and twilight has descended. Slightly chilly as I just do one button up on the old Kenzo suit. My favourite. When Lintas wiped the old SLIM’s the very suit I purchased at Odel that afternoon to wear that evening. I had called the then SLIM President and asked him one question. ‘I am about to go purchase the agency drinks for the night. Should I buy Red or Black label scotch?’ While he could not give me the result, all he did have to say was ‘Dhammika, go buy Royal Salute!’. That was all I needed to make a beeline to Odel from the then homestead on Kynsey Road. Oxford blue Kenzo suit, shirt, tie and CK black patent shoes! Reminiscing always reminiscing. The past, present and future, all blending into now.
Retail parks deserted. Shops all closed now. Take my wallet out and punch in numbers. Five crisp new 20’s cascade out and I slip them in wallet with card, drop wallet into back pocket and turn.
As I turn I see a blur of a blue t-shirt and denims. White male, 35 – 40, medium height and build, shaven head, tattoo on neck, cheap boots, stubble on face.
‘Alrite Bruv, handover the fricking wallet!’
His hand flashes towards me. I see the shining blade of the Filipino Visan Barong knife heading straight toward my chest. Years of challenge fights behind the Royal Junior School cricket pavilion, big match fights, stick fighting, boxercise at the gym, rough housing with my Indonesian black belt friend all reflex together and my body reacts as fast as my mind.
I grab and twist back the hand coming towards me and use my assailant’s momentum to slam back into his body. Surprise and shock in my mind as his own blade penetrates through his t-shirt and into his chest. Ever want to experience the feeling? Buy a shoulder of Lamb, take a kitchen knife and stab downwards into it. If the knife is sharp enough it will graze through the bone and sink into the flesh. Almost like jelly.
Pure instinct takes over and I throw my mugger to crash through the bank glass door. Mayhem of glass breaking and the loud ringing of the bank burglar alarm. I go into shock. The mugger lies inside the bank floor twitching. I see two pools of blood converging to one from his head and the other his chest. My hand is sticky with his blood. No blood is not red, its ruby black. The knife handle sticks out from the muggers chest.
I am in shock. I sit outside the pavement. It doesn’t come into my mind to dial 999. People from the Nando’s restaurant spill out for the commotion. Women scream. 30 seconds, an advertising TV commercial has passed. I wipe my sticky hand on my suit jacket and light up a cigarette.
Sirens scream as the cops arrive. Police quick reaction squads in two BMW’s. Heckler and Koch submachine guns gleaming as they cover me from behind their cars. They assess the situation in seconds. They go into execution mode. I am now face down in the pavement on cold concrete. My hands are clasped behind me. I am cuffed, both for their protection and mine.
From there onwards everything goes into slow motion. The ambulance arrives. I am shocked as I realise that the muggers dead.
You are captured on CCTV in England over 200 times a day. Something I have never ever been comfortable about. Suddenly I am very thankful. I am now in the back seat of a normal Police Vauxhall Corsa still cuffed. People are talking and I can’t help but notice admiring looks towards me. Police have pushed them right back but mobile phones are busy capturing the moment. Welcome to the Digital Age!
The Police Sargent un-cuffs me. They have been briefed about the situation by the CCTV operator sitting god knows where to what took place. They will also be able to get the HSBC ATM video recording of how events transpired. I have called home. The partner of the law firm I am a marketing consultant at screeches in to the parking lot in her gleaming Merc E320 which plates read W1LAW1. I finally remember to breath properly. A copper hands me a plastic cup of water.
Her Majesty the Queens well oiled system of justice efficiently rolls into motion.
I live to fight another day.
When does reality stop, and fiction begin?