View from the Galkisa window, at a gathering
Been learning numbers. When the guy gives me price for bath packets I can sorta understand now. Hathalice (40) was difficult for me, but now I get it. 60 and 70 are tough too, hataye (short, back of mouth t) for 60 and hathavaye (more nasal, frontal t) for 70. Slowly, slowly. Spent the night at an apartment party in Global Towers, bout 9 stories down where that guy fell to his death. Nice place, clean, pretty well run. Wake up, order coffee and cold eggs, spend the rest of the day in the car. Drive down to Mount Lavinia to see my grandmother. Everything’s in boxes, garbage in a box labeled KENYA on the curb. That horribly mangled street cat jumps onto her lap and purrs contentedly. They’re going to renovate the place so Achi and Seeya are moving out for about a year. I’m moving into a new apartment so I’ve come to salvage what I can for my unfurnished pad. I remember so much stuff in that house. She says I can take my grandfather’s desk, his grandfather’s desk. Where pictures of me used to sit, and where he’d do his work by the window. The matting is dulled and bits are falling off. I like it a lot.
Used to live in that house, in my brief Montessori sojourn. I remember playing chess with my dad, playing Paratrooper on that ancient green-and-black computer we had. Little things. The neighbors house with that endless garden and edenic fruit. The kid next door who had that racing game I loved so much and good only play in gasps. The dusty road, paved now, where I’d wait for my parents to get home from work. Dogs, children, gatherings. Don’t know what’s photographs and what’s real, but it all happened at some point. There’s a parrot in the garden, looking almost CGI in his pristine feathers. Fellow is feeding him a banana and smiling.
Have some hot tea and sweat dampens my brow. Can’t get someone off my mind, can’t focus, utter inanities. Wonder if my grandfather recognizes me, what he’s trying to say. My memory formed as his was starting to go. Together, we don’t remember much. I remember books, and words. That’s something they very much passed onto us, for which I’m thankful. Select some things I could use. A statistical guide from 1983, where he’s worked out relevant cross tabs in the margin. Don’t have a fridge for one, chairs, anything really. Feel kinda bad taking, but think it may help them as they need to clear before the construction crews arrive. The ceiling will be torn up, columns constructed. The garden largely kapana’d except for the sacred Jak tree. Apparently it’s illegal to cut those without government permission, cause it’s a rice substitute. And the government is quite capable of making us starve. In class learned about the different types of Jak – pollos when it’s meaty and young, kos when it’s middling and eaten with pol (methinks), varaka when it’s bursting ripe and fruit. I think I like varaka the best. I remember the fruit used to get ripe, burgeoning and bout popping off the vine. I couldn’t even fit my arms around it but Achi let me pretend to take it down as they cut the vine.
There’s a clock on the wall that I made in American woodshop when I was 12 or 13. I glued part of it on backwards but nobody seems to notice. I hope they keep it. I can sorta read the thing now. Hata hamari is 6:30, Hata hatalice pahi is 6:45. Alternately, I think you can say Hathata dahi to say 6:50, literally 10 to 6. Dunno. Only Sinhalese in the class. Feel old, bit behind. Things move so fast and sometimes you can’t go back. The trees you knew are gone and there are columns in the garden, somebody else upstairs. Got some photographs and some furniture, some jewelry if you’re lucky. Just memories. What I really have just about fits in the trunk of car.