Friday, April 4, 2008

i am forced to write in the dark

I can’t read under the light of the kerosene lamp, and the petromax lamp does not work, so I sit by the kohomba dum muttiya (the margosa smoke pot to keep the mosquitoes away) typing into the computer, which thanks to my touch-typing skills, I don’t require light to enter. So I now type in pitch dark except for the light on the screen being reflected on to the keyboard.

You the reader can therefore deduce from my writings, that I have time to think and therefore dissect a point of interest and write a short essay for the blog, without being distracted by television. Sometimes a neighbor drops in for a chat, but most of the time I am alone in the verandah. My staff have their own agendas, with Ranga watching TV at a neighbor, Sagara off on a stroll and Sudath spending time with his new wife in the kitchen. Everyone is asleep by 9.30pm for the morning 5am start.

It is interesting to note that most of the households around me (they all have electricity except me) spend the evening behind locked doors watching TV, sometimes well into the night. Some of the men gather near where the moonshine is sold and drink, and then go home and sleep. One thing I noticed in the village is how the homes are locked in for the evening. The doors and windows are all closed. I don’t know if they are afraid of intruders, but that seems the practice.

It therefore must seem very strange to the people around that my home cannot be locked, with all my furniture outside, in the verandah, which acts as my bedroom, living room and study and the separate kitchen, which includes the dining room, is also open. I have never broached this issue, with anyone, but I hope I give the people around me the impression that I am not afraid of anyone and my place is open to all comers and I have nothing to hide. In an emergency neighbors prefer to stay here than their own homes, so we can leave it and go without having to lock it with a willing caretaker.

I plan one day to build an open bedroom for myself in a separate place down river, so that I can see the water flow from my bed, the plan is to build it with 4 open pillars, covered by the roof of thatched coconut. Mosquito netting will encircle the room instead of walls, so there will be a free flow of air throughout. It is this multi building open space concept that I prefer to adopt in the dry zone where it rains only for a few days a year, instead of one house with all the rooms. Keeping mosquitoes out is the only necessity.

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