15 March 2023

Awaiting arrivals unlike any other

Families have routines. Family members have routines. Children: they outgrow these things. Parents: might notice but will move on as they must. Memories are made though and they remain.

I know a young girl who dreams and daydreams. If asked or if she feels she must share, she would describe her dreams in detail. In fact that’s how she recounts conversations, incidents and encounters. In detail. No filters. If asked about a play or film she has seen, she would probably repeat most of the script. She probably acquired such skills when very small, having had to watch the few movies there were at home so many times that she would go with the dialogues, word for word with perfect mimicking of enunciation, dramatic pause and such.  

She won’t share her daydreams though.  They are long. She daydreams as she walks the over four kilometres from the Kottawa junction to her home (even though she can afford a three-wheeler off and on and can certainly afford to take the bus).


'I don't mind walking.'

'It's quite a distance. Don't you get tired?'

‘I like to daydream!’

She’s making memories. As she always has, for herself, her family and friends. Like everyone does, I suppose. I don’t know what she daydreams about, but daydreams are about spaces, among other things. They are all about shifting around parameters, erasing inconveniences and enacting happy scenarios. It makes possible the impossible, hastens the arrival of that which seems to be moving too slow, banishes squalor, creates geographies, designs pleasing architecture, bends or amends laws, norms and convention, and more than compensates for less-splendid realities.  

Limitless. The police cannot stop the mind, the most draconian of laws cannot forbid imagination. And so we visualise a different world, a different society, different system of governance, different economies and development paradigms, and love which was thought to be unrequited will indeed be requited, victories seemingly out of reach will be within grasp, tyrants and tyrannies will be kept at bay, injustice, having concluded that it cannot hide in a just-garb will flee the city where citizens experience meaningful citizenship, solidarities will triumph over orchestrated division, mistrust, jealousy  and malice.

All is possible in these moments of exquisite flight. Once visualised, all that is left to do is to develop strategies and unleash innovative energy. Easier said than done of course, but this matter of reconfiguring space and time can certainly help things along preferred directions that could lead to preferred destinations.

But it’s not always grand. Indeed, it’s probably mostly simple things. A moment shielded against interruption, a few square feet that suffices for encounter, things like that. Arrivals, of one kind or another. That which the heart desires most at daydream-moment. At the moment, that must be noted; for time passes, people walk in and out of lives, lives move with other lives, dance together and move to other arms, other comforts and bliss redefined.

A young heart’s desires are different from those that older hearts yearn for. A child’s ideal universe is made of species, spaces and furniture of shapes, colours and attributes that can be startlingly different from that which inhabits the world of a teenager, the young, the middle-aged, the old and infirm.

The young girl’s thoughts, at least those that can be surmised, are of love, friendship and reflections on relationships of all kinds, notions of self, affirmation of identity and theories of the universe. The meaning of it all.  

Years ago, when certainties were more easily defined and understood, she would diligently reserve space next to her, at the edge of the bed so no one else could share her father’s presence. Today, she might write something like the following:

A leaf in free-float finds destination —
preferred or otherwise, who can tell…
it will rain this afternoon, so say the skies,
there are things and signs of things to come:
I notice and push them all aside;
there must be space, after all
for an arrival like no other.

And she will make new memories, draw a different reality and make it happen, fill the incredibly blissful spaces imagined with the most appropriate decorations, put out welcome signs that only one person has the eyes to see and language competency to read and wait. For the imminent. For an arrival unlike any other.

['The Morning Inspection' is the title of a column I wrote for the Daily News from 2009 to 2011, one article a day, Monday through Saturday. This is a new series. Links to previous articles in this new series are given below]

Other articles in this series:

Teachers and students sometimes reverse roles

Matters of honor and dignity

Yet another Mother's Day

A cockroach named 'Don't'

Colombo, Colombo, Colombo and so forth

The slowest road to Kumarigama, Ampara

Sweeping the clutter away

Some play music, others listen

Completing unfinished texts

Mind and hearts, loquacious and taciturn

I am at Jaga Food, where are you?

On separating the missing from the disappeared

Moments without tenses

And intangible republics will save the day (as they always have)

The world is made of waves


The circuitous logic of Tony Muller

Rohana Kalyanaratne, an unforgettable 'Loku Aiya'

Mowgli, the Greatest Archaeologist

Figures and disfigurement, rocks and roses

Sujith Rathnayake and incarcerations imposed and embraced

Some stories are written on the covers themselves

A poetic enclave in the Republic of Literature

Landcapes of gone-time and going-time 

The best insurance against the loud and repeated lie

So what if the best flutes will not go to the best flautists?

There's dust and words awaiting us at crossroads and crosswords

The books of disquiet

A song of terraced paddy fields

Of ants, bridges and possibilities

From A through Aardvark to Zyzzyva 

World's End

Words, their potency, appropriation and abuse

Street corner stories

Who did not listen, who's not listening still?

The book of layering

If you remember Kobe, visit GOAT Mountain

The world is made for re-colouring

The gift and yoke of bastardy

The 'English Smile'

No 27, Dickman's Road, Colombo 5

Visual cartographers and cartography

Ithaca from a long ago and right now

Lessons written in invisible ink

The amazing quality of 'equal-kindness'

A tea-maker story seldom told

On academic activism

The interchangeability of light and darkness

Back to TRADITIONAL rice

Sisterhood: moments, just moments

Chess is my life and perhaps your too

Reflections on ownership and belonging

The integrity of Nadeesha Rajapaksha

Signatures in the seasons of love

To Maceo Martinet as he flies over rainbows

Sirith, like pirith, persist

Fragrances that will not be bottled 

Colours and textures of living heritage

Countries of the past, present and future

A degree in creative excuses

Books launched and not-yet-launched

The sunrise as viewed from sacred mountains

The ways of the lotus

Isaiah 58: 12-16 and the true meaning of grace

The age of Frederick Algernon Trotteville

Live and tell the tale as you will

Between struggle and cooperation

Of love and other intangibles

Neruda, Sekara and literary dimensions

The universe of smallness

Paul Christopher's heart of many chambers

Calmness gracefully cascades in the Dumbara Hills

Serendipitous amber rules the world

Continents of the heart