How Sri Lanka Has Fallen Into Darkness

Drawing by the excellent artist Safiya S

I don’t have a ‘take’ on this. This is just where I am. I’ll tell you how I see it. I don’t know if that’s how it is.

April is the hottest month in Sri Lanka. Just unbelievably hot, like a fever that doesn’t break until the rains. Heat makes everybody cranky, irritable, and I suppose violent. April is the cruelest month, as they say.

This is the worst April in Sri Lanka’s history. I don’t mean that worse things haven’t happened—we’ve had pogroms, a tsunami, various insurrections, a good thirty years of war—I just mean this catastrophe is happening to all of Sri Lanka, all at once. No one is safe from this disaster. It affects every single home.

At a very fundamental level, the island has just fallen into the sea.

What Happened

Why did this happen? Many reasons, and one family (the Rajapaksas).

Sri Lanka was an ancient irrigation civilization and in modern times 50% of our electricity comes from water (hydro). However, after ‘liberalizing’ in the 1980s we stopped building anything useful. Instead we built giant generators that burn fucking oil for the rest of our needs. This has been a farce forever. Now it’s a tragedy.

Now we’re run out of oil for this generator, foreign capital flows have dried up, and the whole thing has been managed abysmally. The ruling family’s elder brother ran up the credit card a decade ago and now the younger brother is paying off those commercial bank loans instead of providing for our families.

And so the entire country has blackouts, every day, for hours at a time. The entire country waits in petrol and diesel queues. Everybody queues for cooking gas, that we cannot find. There are global problems, but we’re really suffering from the compounded corruption and idiocy of one family. Now we can’t sleep, we can’t move, we can’t eat.

And like I said, this effects everybody.

What Happened To Me