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Tsunami Musings in Dhaka

I wake up early, long before the alarm goes off. The stillness of the early morning, the chilly inky blackness is a shroud I can’t shrug off. The heart is numb, the mind separates itself to play my private film of the tsunami. This year, the sixth after the tsunami, there is no need to jump out of bed for the early morning drive along the coast road – the heart wrenching stop at Hikkaduwa, where it all happened and then to Katudampe temple for the almsgiving for my brother Prasanna Kirtisinghe.

The sea I miss. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

It’s nearly 10 am here, the bearded boss comes in and speaks to me in Bangla but nothing registers. I nod and smile but my mind has wandered off on its own. He was there after the tsunami, but he like many others have forgotten about it – the tsunami is history. The world has moved on  burdened by many pressing problems.

I am clock watching while working. It would be about 9:30 am in Sri Lanka – the time the tsunami stuck. For all those who lost loved ones this would still be a poignant moment.

Many are the happy hours we spent by the sea like this. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

I try to call home but no one picks up the phone. They must be on the way to the temple with the alms. The temple at Katudampe off Ratgama is an oasis of calm. The young novice monk was someone that Prasanna helped. He and the chief priest the scholar monk Rev. Hikkaduwe Tilaka was there to conduct the funeral rites for Prasanna. I miss myself at the almsgiving. The ritual of healing is missing.

Memories that linger, no balm to the unhealing wound in the heart. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The sea was my friend from childhood. The friend I talked to, listened to. There is no sea close by for me to go sink my feet into the softness of the sand, and ask again the same unanswered questions. Today, my solace is in the images from the past. We’ve held back the tears and moved on but the pain after all these years is no less.

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