10 January 2019

Listen! You will be rewarded....

Several years ago, I wrote a regular column for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The editor of JEANS, Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna now handles the 'Littlestars' tabloid distributed with 'The Sunday Morning'. This is the twelfth article for Littlestars.  Scroll down to find the full series of articles written for JEANS and the those of this new series.


Have you ever wondered if no one ever notices you? Have you wondered why is it that no one is there for you when you really need someone who can help you or at least listen to you?  

I am talking about school, mainly, but there are times when even the closest members of your family seem very distant or so deeply absorbed in their lives that they don’t seem to notice anything.  

It happens to everyone. It’s not that people are insensitive, mindless and self-absorbed all the time of course. People can also be kind and considerate. They can be sensitive too. On the other hand, there are moments when it seems there’s absolutely no one you can turn to.  

Alright. Let’s turn the whole story around.  

Have you ever seen someone and wondered if anyone else had ever noticed him or her? Have you wondered if that person ever needed someone’s help but there was no one who was willing to be supportive? 

Yes, it could be in your family or neighborhood and it could be at school.  Now would you think of yourself as an insensitive, self-absorbed, inconsiderate and unkind person? Chances are that you would not. You will remember many occasions when you were there for someone. 

The thing is that we don’t always notice everything. Have you asked yourself why?

Maybe it is because we don’t train ourselves to observe things around us. Well, maybe we train ourselves to see only things that are relevant to us. For example, we notice it when our rooms or houses look untidy. We will notice leaves on the driveway, scrap paper on the floor and grass that needs to be cut. We will notice if our pet dogs are stinking or have ticks. We will notice that the kitchen sink is full of plates, cups and spoons. We notice when the garbage piles up because it hasn’t been collected for weeks. 

We notice less the things that are not directly related to us. If we hear about forests far away are being cut down, we would be concerned but we forget it soon after, don’t we? If someone cuts the mango tree in our garden or the dog tramples the nicely laid out flower beds, we would be appalled. We would be upset until something is done about it.  

It’s easy to be concerned about things, but harder to do something about it. For example, if you want to save Sri Lanka’s forest cover you would have to get together with a lot of other people. If you want to plant trees all over the country, you’ll need help. 

On the other hand, there are little things you can do. You could listen to someone.

Still, you can’t listen to anyone if you don’t notice that the particular person clearly needs someone to hear his or her story.  

Maybe we don’t use our eyes and ears enough. Maybe we don’t think enough about the world around us: the trees, the birds, insects and other creatures and of course our fellow human being. That might explain our ignorance. 

Articles for THE SUNDAY MORNING

Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table
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