The Sinhalese language,
Is marvellous. Because you are naturally gifted with the plausibility of marvelling at a wide variety of curse words.
You are especially gifted if you have a family, in a house they call home, but isn’t actually one.
And now, you exclude yourself from this collective pronoun ‘they’ because now, you are passive.
You bear no opinion. You are obstinate. No longer involved in the murders that happen late in the night, when the neighbours are sleeping, but they’re actually not. No blood on your hands. Innocent.
You are seated on the sofa. You have also seated yourself, cautiously, a good four feet away from your mother.
Who entertains these marvellous words. You marvel.
They are the kind of words with which you would describe a man who persistently cheats on a woman.
You are in the kitchen, waiting in line to rinse your plate. You have also placed yourself, cautiously, a good four feet away from your father. Who entertains these marvellous words. You marvel.
They are the words with which you would describe a woman who persistently accuses a man of cheating.
You listen, on the sofa, you wipe the tears, you wash your plate, you nod your head, you pass the soap-
And you think, to yourself, how the only thing they have in common is persistence.
And this persistence is marvellous.
Because this persistence takes the form of every single word in my language, that I am unable to pronounce, that I refuse to pronounce,
The way I’ve been taught since I was a child, by the people who now marvellously persist.
My parents, one of their hands on each of my ears at family gatherings, at an uncle too drunk to swallow his marvellous words. And now, both of my hands on my sister’s ears just as the parents that had once covered mine-
I almost reach out and ask them to cover mine.
The murderers cannot save, and the innocent cannot kill.
To this day I am unable, I refuse to curse.
There will be no marvellous words from me, Mum, Dad.
You taught me that.
One way or another.