I want only to listen to “Morning Breeze with Chandra Corea,” the best program on radio Sri Lanka, but Mr. S, he take away radio again and give to his daughter. He snores so his room it sounds as if the yaksas-devils from hell make a party. For me, at least it is good he sleeps since that mean he will not yell. He take radio because he has anger with me for not going to him when his wife visits her sister down in Tangalle. I am poor Sinhalese girl from Godagama, but I will not do such things. He say he gave radio to Maneesha because I should be too busy cleaning, cooking, running errands, and taking care of the rooms in his guesthouse, The Blue Ripple. No waste any time with a radio. I go to prepare the breakfast. His two children are fast asleep.

I step into courtyard. The night sky it fade back over the coconut palms. Their giant arms scare me, as if they might grab poor Padma. I walk to the back of the shed for fuel. The path moves. My heart jumps. A large monitor lizard turns on the sandy path. Its tail, so large. It moves towards the riverbank. In the river, the backs of two crocodiles break the dark mirror of the water. They must be looking for breakfast. I grab some coconut husks. I run across the yard. I drop the husks near the stove. It is dark still. I light a candle. The kitchen, familiar in daylight, it wobbles in candlelight. Soon the sky lightens. The bell at the gate rings. The postman sits on his push-bike. He sees me at the doorway. “Come! You have a telegram from Colombo.”

“Wait.” I reach for the key.

“Apoy! You are Indira Ghandi or Mrs. Bandaranaike now, to be waited upon? Come!”

“But I am coming.” I give him a one rupee note and he slips the brown envelope through the gate. I take the message to the stoop outside my hut where there is more sun. Normally I would have the radio on, and I would hear the baila music. Songs that make me dance. Like “Kitchen Mama Sarah,” “Find the Heroes,” “My Fair Uncle,” and “Let’s Go Fishing in the Sea.” Music makes us happy, isn’t it? No care what Mr. S says. And from Chandra’s program, we can learn so many things. There are the stories. Sinhalese soap operas, the headlines from India, the English programs, and there is the news about the war up north.

The telegram is from St. Thomas Hospital about my father in Colombo. It tells to me that he is dying. He wants me to visit him. Apoy! My father. Likely he is wanting money again. Besides this, Mr. S never allow me to go until his wife comes back from Tangalle. And what if she cannot come today?

[Continued in Confrontation 122]