Marini looked around the living room and smiled contentedly at her family. Everything seemed lit by a warm yellow glow as her brothers played on the sofa, her mom read a book next to them and their dad partly hidden by a newspaper. She could hear her grandma humming to herself as she got ready for bed, and for Easter Sunday, tomorrow. Everything was calm, peaceful and quiet, just how she imagined one should feel knowing they would be celebrating the resurrection of Christ tomorrow.
Of course that was the only reason she was excited, she told herself sternly as she uncurled herself from her chair and her drawing to bid goodnight to her family. It certainly wasn’t because she was looking forward to the family lunch tomorrow, to see her cousins and aunts and uncles after a year. No, her reasons were entirely peaceful and religious, she told herself.
Wiggling under her blanket, she couldn’t, however, stop the small excited squeak as she snuggled down. Her mother poked her head in, a knowing smile etched across her face. Marini hid her face in the pillow as her mother chuckled.
“Excited?” she asked, coming to sit at the edge of Marini’s bed.
“Yeah”, she answered, still hiding.
Her mother laughed, “I’m sure they’re just as excited to see you”, she said, as she got up and switched the light off.
And because she switched the light off, she entirely missed Marini’s attempt at an indignant face as she sat up and said “ Aney Amma, I’m excited for the mass! That’s all”. Her frame shaking with quiet laughter, her mother walked away, saying “If you say so, dear. We’re going for the early morning mass tomorrow, we’ll take you and your brothers in the evening”
Huffing, Marini settled back on the bed, and fell asleep within seconds. She was on a meadow, filled with green grass and flowers stretching all the way to the horizon. Among the grass, she saw splashes of bright colours, and when she bent down, discovered that they were multi coloured eggs, some plain, some with dazzling patterns on their surface. Marini stood and stared.
Hearing laughter behind her, she turned to see her grandmother sitting in a chair, painting an egg that was only half done. Beside her was a bucket of plain eggs, while the floor around her seemed to be a mash of colours she didn’t even know existed.
“ Aththamma?” she asked.
“I love the easter eggs”, her grandmother told her, smiling. “It’s not Catholic, of course, but it brings joy to the young ones, and why should we turn away anything that brings joy on a day like Easter, where we’re all joyful?”
“They say in other countries, they have eggs filled with chocolate, and they’re brought to you by white bunnies. We don’t have bunnies, but maybe an old lady would do, eh?” Fascinated, Marini took a step forward, only to stumble back with a cry as a loud crack like thunder boomed across the meadow. She looked down, and saw that she had stepped on an egg, which had broken. What was worse, the shells were red, and there was blood on the ground, like the egg had been blood filled. Looking up, she cried out in horror as she was met with a vast meadow of broken eggs, and the ground moist with run blood. Queer red flowers, with two red petals and a black center, rose up among them, waving eerily in the breeze.
Crying, she turned to her Aththamma , only to discover that she, along with her chair, the basket and the paintbrush, weren’t there anymore.
“The sad thing is, my child”, her voice floated on the breeze, “is that when you’re so full of joy, destruction can be so painful it’s beyond cruel”
Marini, standing alone in a blood soaked meadow of broken eggshells, cried. And again, the crack of lightning echoed around the meadow.
She woke up with a jolt. She was shaking and crying from a dream she couldn’t remember, but what was more important was the sound that had woken her up. She had never heard anything like that in her life, and it scared her.
Jumping out of bed, she yelled for her Aththamma and ran to the living room, to see her grandma at the window looking out, a shaking hand across her mouth. Running to her side, Marini stretched up to look out, and froze in shock at the sight of the church down their street, a peaceful, regal place, now charred and smoking and surrounded by yells and cries.
“A bomb…” her grandmother whispered, “On Easter Sunday. It can’t be. It can’t be”
Marini went numb. Turning back to seek her father’s embrace, she looked at Aththamma with a calm that she wasn’t sure how she had. “ Aththamma, where’s Thaththi?”
At that, her grandmother choked on a sob, and as she turned to her, Marini saw eyes full of tears. “They went to the morning service” she whispered, and the world swayed under Marini’s feet. The last thing she heard before everything went black was “…your brothers woke up early so they went with them”.
In remembrance of the victims of the Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka, 21/04/2019
Written by Paramie Jayakody
Illustration by DRG