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Day of Death

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

 First and Last time as an Octopus Huntress

Another day another snorkeling adventure.  This time Sandun and I assisted (I observed) an octopus catching.  I watched from the surface as his friend prodded and chased the poor little octopus at the bottom of the sea as the mister octopus sprayed his black ink.  I wont go into detail about the catching, but let me just say that his body was turned inside out and his poor little heart destroyed.  After inspecting his beautiful tenticles (which still strongly suctioned to my skin as if he were still alive) I held his heart in the palm of my hand, taking a few moments to honor his life before letting go of it and attentitively watching as it so delicately returned itself to the bottom of the sea.  I felt a little better once I wittnessed a school of fish immediately eating the remains… his heart was not wasted.  At this moment did I experience a brief understanding of the circle of life.

A Grandmother’s grave,  a Sri Lankan funeral, Tsunami damage, and the fish harbor 

Sandun and I took a tuk tuk ride around the country side today.  On our way to his grandfathers house, we passed the fish harbor.  Boats of all shapes, sizes and colors float side by side in the harbor.  Some boats had been freshley used, and others patiently wait for a good time venture out for a catch.  One of the seasoned vessels carried a load of giant fish (not sure what they were called so I will call them Giant Fish) that were being unloaded and weighed.  They looked like tiny fish but with gigantic bodies and they were as large as me!! They all weight several hundred kilos.  I was invited inside of one of the freezers in the back of the truck where I gently stroked the lifeless fishies.  I couldn’t help but wonder how sush a large creature could get around by such small fins.  They had to have been only a few inches long and not even a centimeter thick!  I pressed into his tiny little teeth and scraped the film on his eyeball, which didn’t feel any different then his skin/scales.   

On the way to Sandun’s grandfather’s house, we went through the villages that were devestated by the tsunami 5 years ago.  In one of those villages, there was a gathering of people who where grieving the death of a beloved member of their small community.  This man was the father of one of Sandun’s close friends.  The man was apparantly having investment troubles and couldn’t “handle life’s troubls” as Sandun explained, and so he drank a bottle of poisen.  We quietly passed a large group (woman separated by the men) of grieving Sri Lankans, and entered the family’s household where the man was peacefully laying, dressed all in white, accompanied by his living photograph.  This man would lay in his families living room for 3 days as the villagers would come to pay homage to him.  (Because it was colder than usual those nights, the villagers stayed up with the body to make sure that the bugs that where finding protection from the cold didn’t take an early start on his body) As a Sri Lankan tradition, Sandun and I sat in silence with our appropriate gender for the next 10 minutes.  My presence was acknowledged by smiles and bows of head in appreciation and gratitude for my visit. 

We passed the gravesite for Sandun’s grandmother, and stopped to say a prayer.  I later saw a photo of her, she was just lovely, at her altar in his grandfather’s home.  Finally at our destination, we were greeted by Sandun’s aunt’s pet peacock.  The pink painted cement home is in the middle of the jungle.  The home’s windows are permantely open as there is no separation between inside and outside.  We drank the most delicious coffee (straight from his grandfather’s coffee plants) and did a lot of sitting.  A lot of sitting, and chatting between Sandun and me, and some more sitting in other places.  Sandun went off into the jungle (he wouldn’t tell me why at this point) and I explored every part of his grandfather’s property. I investigated the leaves, scents, and insects of various trees and plants and followed the movements of the brush to find the little animal within it’s branches. 

Sandun soon emerged from the jungle carrying a handful of various Sri Lankan flowers, each exuding the sweetest smells on the earth.  Earlier that day I had been carying around a bundle of flowers that smelled of candy grapfruit, constantly pressing it up my nose.  Sandun promised to find me all of the most beautiful smelling flowers of Sri Lanka, which he surely lived up to.  Each flower, a different size, shape and color, smelled like a combination of the sweetest fruits, perfumes, and candies in the world!  i just want to eat them up!

Sandun’s grandfather, cousin, and aunt do not speak English either, but non the less enjoyed my visit and would like me to come back for dinner soon. Sandun went to school until he was 18 (he is 20 years old now) in which he learned various skills such as fishing, navigation, mechanics, and a bit of geography.  He taught himself English and practiced with foreigners on the beach.  He would like me to help him get an email address and show him how to use a computer!  It’s amazing to me that we studied different things in school that would help us in our different areas and ways of life.  Regardless of my level of education, I would no doubt fail all of his examinations!