Last night I had a dream about Sri Lanka. As a girl I lived in India and every year during the monsoons the family would go to Sri Lanka. This was in pre-war days, when the island was quiet and traveling to the north was matter of fact. Little did we know that this particular time is history was sacred in that Sri Lanka (yes, Ceylon then) would never be this way again, ever. In my dream, my sister, Margie, and I were sitting on the upstairs verandah sipping lime juice. We had just been out for our morning story scout and were about to begin our hour long discipline of writing for our mother.
Children and mothers. Mothers and daughters. The gifts that disguise themselves as horrendous requirements where resentment seeds plant themselves and over the years grow into incapacitating wounds. How and why? My mother's passion for writing landed on our heads as a daily requirement during this supposed vacation time. 'Seeing' was not her motive but our daily exercise of wandering and looking so that we would have something to write about grew a muscle that cannot be separated from me even now. Thank you Mom.
Sri Lanka, where my sister and I (except for the morning writing ritual) were wild little bear cubs seeking adventure and finding beauty beyond expression. The sensorial memory of lime juice and it all floods back.
Riding the causeway on rickety bicycles with half naked sun blackened fishermen casting their nets on one side and elegant rigged fishing boats on the other when a mighty gust of wind blew us off into the water with panic and then hilarity; discovering a hole full of puppies on the beach amongst giant conk shells and turquoise jellyfish carcasses and brainstorming on how to rescue them and make them ours while brilliantly plumed kingfishers swooped and teased; returning home and sitting for tea-time treat at our table whose legs rested in bowls of water so that the mammoth ants that roamed the island couldn't nibble our fresh coconut filled dosais before we did. I can smell the air, and feel the texture of the point in time, I can hear my mother's voice and feel my sister's hand. All because of lime juice and my dream.