Photo courtesy of Anoma Wijewardene


We are taught to be modest, circumspect, wrapped

under covers, demurring, scuttling away like mice.

We are educated to be peons, servile class members,

ambitions tempered, molded to fit the cog, accept


the command, to sleep with a hot water bottle nostalgic

for empire, bangers, mash. Heat comes from the sky

even in winter (don’t forget that many of us live

now abroad), and we have become weatherized


prunes, dried out and waiting for the coup de grace

yet roaring still in our minds, with joy and free

dancing. Nobody can steal our thoughts, we say.

Nobody can whip our brain cells. Even if we are


dragged off the plane by plainclothes toughs. Even

if the secret service in civvies knocks on the doors

of our parents, our brothers and sisters. Even if

they are scouring all cell phone videos in the island


looking for youth with free minds and loose tongues.

Even if the new president ironizes with justice

and cynicism that he has no home to where he can

return given that some protesters burnt his house down.


Even if we are afraid and impatient, realizing that kicking

the Family out was only the beginning of Aragalaya,

that the hardest work has yet to start, eliminating

fuel lines, assuring medicines for surgeries, rice


for the meal at dawn, or midday, or the evening, the one

almost six million people have learned to live without.