Sharp breaths. It feels like something made out of iron is pressing down on my chest and slowly dropping into the depths of my stomach. I am on edge; like the gazelle that is hunted as prey. I stalk; like the cheetah that is the predator. I pace around in my mind with my thoughts moving in concentric circles. I always come back to that question; ‘what is this all for?’.
Introspection can be overrated. So many of us live life as a series of moments that collectively form an abstract collage. We stop to focus on the lines drawn in that corner on the right hand side of the piece and suddenly find we’ve missed the dots placed upwards in the center. Yet, we find that somehow at some point in time every line, every dot, every shape and every color are all connected.
It was hot and humid day. I sat at a table in the corner at Green Cabin and waited for him to show up. The entire conversation did not take long. We were in agreement. Or at least I thought we were. I made several assumptions those days. The mistakes of youthful, naivety, I suppose? He asked me, “Why are you doing this? For what are you doing this?”. A question that should have struck me as odd as we both knew why we had agreed to do this. However, the moment passed. My response was as usual; “why do I do anything?”. He laughed and said, “Let’s hope that this information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands”.
Mr. Perera had written the article on the WAPO deal of 2011. He was in London when it was published and sources speculated that he would never return to the island. I still remember the day that he flew back in. He announced his arrival almost with the air of a challenge being served to all those who knew he was now back. He demanded that they be aware that he was here and continuing to speak on his findings.
I looked across the table at Mr. Perera and I said, “Well, now that it’s in the right hands I’m confident that will not happen”. I was confident. Self-assured on my noble mission in the belief that integrity was still the order of the day. Honor was mankind’s greatest virtue was it not?
“Haven’t you had enough?”, the voice said from above. I struggled to find my way out of the maze of my thoughts and started seeing the face above me transition from Mr. Perera’s to that of jailor Kulasuriya. The weight in the depths of my stomach seem to have settled there and I felt my face ache with the blows I had been dealt.
“For what did you betray your government, you animal?” “Have you no shame?” “Who told you that they had planned this attack?” “Who showed you how they received the funding?” The question, the blows, the pain came in waves and I began to drown in it all.
“Are you sure you can trust him?” “After all, you’ve found details, no-one else has.”
“Yes, I can trust Mr. Perera.” “He reveals the truth and fights for justice”. “He is a man of integrity.” “Just like me”.
He was not ‘just like me’. He was at one time. Not anymore. I learnt that the hard way.
Premasiri was one such fellow who always asked me, ‘what was it all for’? He was a good natured chap and could not understand the risks I took in revealing the details of the funding and planning of the attack. He could not understand my passion to reveal the truth. My overwhelming desire to right the wrong. My need to say what no one else dared to say.
All the colors and shapes of that artist’s collage take a life of its own once it has been created. In the eye of the beholder it is anything that they imagine it to be. That conversation at Green Cabin at that table with regard to that information is now whatever it is imagined to be. It has taken on a life and a destiny of its own and I no longer have a role to play in it.
‘What was it all for?’ What is anything ever for? We all have a role to play in the decisions we take and the voice we chose. We then sit back and watch as it plays out. We watch. We wait.
Written by Harindrini Corea
Illustration by DRG