Pistol-Toting Lesbian Opium Queen Social Anthropologist

The above, minus the social anthropologist, is from an article about women guerrilla leaders of Southeast Asia. It will replace my earlier bosom-related title. Must have that put on my visiting cards… along with “Fulbright Scholar.” I only wish I could do research like this:

“I had neither the wealth nor the power to start a small war and
motivate people to take part in it…creating my own terror group would not have
produced [useful] data, because my terror group would not have been the same as
the ‘naturally occurring’ ones I wished to understand.”
This is the stuff I live for: reading A Very Short Introduction to Sociology on the local bus; one side of me being sprinkled with rainwater, the other smashed up against a person who didn’t wash properly today. Can you believe that Middlesex won the Pulitzer? I thought it was middlebrow boilerplate. As gender crit, shallow; as family narrative, not nearly tense or weird enough to hold my attention. Mrs. Dalloway is much better. I ended up liking the Rushdie a lot. I have new history research to do. So many books out there...

I’m not adjusting well to the monsoon timetable, which is to say: I keep trying to get things done after the daily rains start. I become wet and irritable. My ballroom dance teacher kept stopping class to make me switch partners, because no one is tall enough to dance with me. Our photocopying-girl at ICES hasn’t finished a not-very-big batch of stuff I needed last week. I have to go to Colombo tomorrow and I don’t want to. My hair is getting really long and shaggy and curly, which is annoying.

My life is so hard.

What is really hard, and making me tangentially very crabby (as a grief response), is that my dearly beloved Sinhala teacher of ISLE days, Kamini, was killed last Saturday. I’m a bit in denial about it—freak bus accident, terrible thing, incomprehensible—and without anything useful to do. There’s nothing to protest; the funeral already took place; I didn’t know her family. She was an amazing teacher, an extremely accomplished person, and a great lady with a proud strong funny graceful personality. She told me in the first week of ISLE, on my birthday, that I often dressed like a loose woman and should cover my cleavage better. Later on she told me I had a great Sinhala sense of humor. Her death, it’s horrible. It’s not something I can really write about—what is there to say?

If there is an afterlife, Kamini is tearing it up, putting everyone in place and teaching them to behave. Slurping her tea and mocking, not unkindly, someone’s pronunciation. Reiterating the need to use a rising-falling tone while bargaining, to emphasize the import of the transaction. Loving England, and Sri Lanka. Calling us ‘ugly Americans’ with half a smile on her face. I hope there is an afterlife.

I had seen her only twice since coming back to Sri Lanka and I regret, so much, not seeking her out more. But who can count on a bus accident? There are at least two or three fatal ones reported in the papers every day since the Alawwa train one last week, but we don’t know whether it’s just been an unlucky time for buses or if this is the status quo and now everyone in the media is jumping all over it.

I am taking the train to Colombo.


Scourge (Skûrj) said...

Sorry to hear about your teacher. It is indeed sad that so many innocent lives have to be taken, especially because of irresponsible bus drivers; like the one at alawwa. Better check your train schedule cause those folks are on/on the verge of striking.

Rebecca said...

not only did they strike! i missed my train--don't even know if it went. it was so typical. someone invited me for their birthday party at 10am and gosh i'll be damned if it wasn't a LUNCH party; thus it became 2:30 and dessert wasn't done.
sometimes i love this stuff, here, and sometimes i can't stand it and i want to scream. stop force-feeding me, i have better things to do. the people were so kind though... i can't vent my very american frustration on nice people.