Sri Lanka #6 (Mindset of a Man)

The Mindset of a Man
July 10, the first day of my non teenage years since the humble age of
July 9, my birthday was amazing. Somehow the day summarized much of my teenage life. I was going to post a Xanga entry on one of the adventures (I got taken to an all girl school to hang out), but I have a more important message, and I don’t want you all to think I’m a freakin horn dog. Three posts in a row about girly adventures. Not in my house.
Here are some birthday pictures.
Today was the first day I asserted the mindset of a man into my head. At 5am Mohan Uncle’s arrangements to take a long walk on the beach commenced. A great start to this new era in my life. The warm wind, one of my favorite things, blew across our faces while uncle exotically exercised. Once you watch a Sri Lankan move like that, there’s no going back to boyhood. Dr. Hoover of ORU’s Aerobics center told me those movements are not affective. I have to disagree. While they might not be efficient, something took place. I fear the day I find out what. In any case, this start was a nice, strangely romantic, start to the year. We didn’t hold hands or anything, but once the sun rises over a Sri Lankan beach, it’s over.
6 am was the time we got back, and I headed back to bed. 8:30 am was the time I started preparing for church, even though I didn’t know where it was. Just as I started walking out the door, as mom’s always do, mummy asked me to wait. She insisted on accompanying me to the church, since I didn’t know how to get there. A little annoyed, I waited for her to take a “quick shower.” In Lanka, taxis are not the method of travel, the three wheeler “auto” is. Eventually, my mother and I summoned an auto to take us to church. We could not find it.
Many of you know that I am not the best with details. I am the kid who forgot about college after all.
That annoyed my mom, though she would have agreed that it was nice to see every single Pentecostal church in the region. My memory told me the service started at 9:30. At 9:45 we arrived. The service started at 8:30. Thankfully, the church was so packed that I sat outside, and hardly anybody knew I was there. I found myself without a translator, but when that happens, God usually starts a conversation with me.
Then something happened. “Are those fireworks” I asked my friend with the same birthday. Something didn’t feel right, though they sounded just like Blackcats. He said no. The church service started, and everyone who was outside with me, started running in the church. They realized that those seemingly fireworks were actually machine guns.
I simply stood outside. A bit startled, I just stood. The women and children were crying fairly loud. The men were surprisingly strong, including me. This rude awakening to manhood caught me off guard, but I wasn’t afraid. The gunshots went on for about 15 minutes. By that time, a friend led me into the kitchen. The kitchen is located right behind the pulpit, so I was directly behind the pastor. All these scared people looked to the pastor for strength, and indirectly made eye contact with me. That’s when I felt my first grenade vibrations. It was pretty intense for even a Sri Lankan church service. The Pastor summoned the body to pray, and that’s what they did. Since I was situated in the direction of their prayers, I got to see people crying out of true desperation.
In those moments, I saw 23 years of war memories, lost children and parents, broken spirits, pain, hopelessness all in the eyes of those praying. Then what I saw was accompanied with the yells of resurfaced Tsunami nightmares. These people go through so much. Those eyes. They’ve gone through so much, and though I couldn’t relate, I was a part of it.
I tried to be strong for one girl. She was maybe 10 years, and after trying to convey strength through our exchanges of eye contact, she gave me a smile. Right after everything had happened. Man, this was crazy.
The shots were connected to the LTTE, a rebel force in Sri Lanka. Four people died within 15 meters of where I was. One person escaped from the authorities, and the army, navy, and police were searching through the towns. My friend with the same birthday insisted that I see my mother, so she wouldn’t fear (she dropped me off at the church). So, while one of the killers was being pursued, I was on a motorcycle driving through the same streets.
Readers, please know that you’re blessed. When you’re complaining about food, heat or an argument, try to keep perspective.
This was my first day in manhood, and I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time I’ll go through such intensity. Pray for this nation will you? God bless you all.
Here are some pictures of people leaving to their homes.