02 October 2012

Fahad and Dilina are word-robbers

There are times when words don’t come.  There are times when there are enough words but no paper.  There are times when there are words and paper, but your fingers are kidnapped.  There are times when all these things are there but the words get stuck somewhere between Kottawa and Punchi Borella, when they hang between this complaint and that or disappear into the cracks of office housekeeping. 

Life is a salon door.  Swings in and swings out.  Made for arrival and departure.  It’s called employee turnover in certain situations.  People come, people go. Nothing strange about it.  Happens all the time.   

Today was a leaving-day.  Two young people ‘left’.  Made me remember another leaving, close to 7 years ago. 

‘Life is about arrivals and departure, that’s what Dr. Sarachchandra wrote.  He could have added the following: “Sometimes in order to stay, you have to leave; and sometimes if you stay it is as though you’ve gone”.  We leave buildings.  We leave, to a lesser degree, professional relationships.  We don’t leave friends or friendships.  Time will tell whether I left or whether I stayed behind.’

It’s too soon, one might say, to reach conclusion about these particular leavings that robbed me of word today. 

Fahad al-Hatim did not respond to a vacancy ad.  Dilina Kulatunga did.  Fahad said, the day he turned up for an interview, that principles mattered.  From Day One to Day Last, he did not say or do or write anything that indicated he was all words and nothing else.  A brilliant mind, a highly talented writer and although lazy at times, a man who delivered. Always. 

Dilina was different.  He was differently abled.  He put his heart into whatever he did.  He always did his best.  And he was seldom satisfied with ‘my best’.  He wanted ‘better’. All the time.  And he worked for a pittance.  As did Fahad.  I like to think they did it for me, but that’s not true.  They didn’t know me and they were strangers to me.  A few months later, maybe we are still ‘strange’ to one another.  They came, they saw, they wrote.  They left.  Happens all the time. 

Seven years after I spoke those words I realized that institutional memory is short.  When you go, you just don’t stay, and if you stay, then it is not as though you’ve left.  We move from week to week, assignment to assignment, one set of challenges to another.  The diurnal doesn’t make for deep reflection on absences and immediacy. 

There are people who come and go.  Happens all the time.  In the end, when they go, they go.  They leave a job, a position, an institution.  They leave behind a certain void, not in institution or work/furniture arrangement, but in people they touched.  Fahad and Dilina leave a small space empty in the universe of my engagement. A tiny space.  It tells.  That telling, however, does not leave me with words. 

So I shall stop.

Fahad and Dilina are word-robbers.  I love both of them.  Immensely.