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Could you even tell the difference?

June 22, 2011

Looking back, the darkness was always coming. Mostly, it was hidden by light. There was a tropical garden where my parents would take me after work – the photos show a young family in the flora, smiling in a washed out pale tint. I was the bride in a nursery school tableau – wearing a miniature white wedding gown and clutching a bewildered three-year-old groom.  I had young uncles, my mother’s younger brothers, who would balance me on the handlebars of their bicycles and cycle through the town. No crash helmets, no shin pads, but I never fell.

But every now and then there would be a riot. My parents mainly lived and worked in Singhalese areas. They carried on but made contingency plans. If a mob stormed our house, we would tie bed sheets together and escape through the window. If the mob arrived at the gate, our Singhalese nanny would take me _ a burbling toddler who spoke fluent Singhalese as well as Tamil, to the door and hold me up to prove that look, despite what they had been told, the family who lived here was Singhalese. Who could tell the difference?


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