Today is 6 August 2013 10.26 pm. I am in a detention camp. I feel like shouting a loud. My head feels burdened. I feel like smashing my head to break it open. I am desperate, no appetite, chest pain, regret and bad thoughts. These feelings make me consider suicide as I have considered it in the past. I am not able to cry aloud because many people are there in the camp and I feel pity for them
Just a while ago I had consumed medicine for pain. But this has not helped. There is a deep feeling in me saying that the only remedy for this is suicide. But my sister is now 35 years old and is not yet married because of the evil dowry system that is there in our good society. I understand her feelings very well. I live just to get her a new life. If I die the society will talk ill of her and spoil her future and this is what makes me continue to live.
To whom can I share my feelings? Not only this night, there are many nights I have suffered the torment of these thoughts. There were days when I feel there was no one to share my feelings. Now there are good friend sin Australia. One such is KM. she has visited the camp every day for the past 2 years. Seven years ago I read a Tamil book titled “Naṭpukkāka” (நட்புக்காக /For Friendship) by Arivumathi. With that attitude I had written that the friendships between girls and boys won’t be holy. But now I understand the poem of Arivumathi very well. This is because of the holy and pure friendship of KM.
I take the phone and speak to A, KM’s husband. When KM gets onto the phone I ask her to sing. She knows me and does not refuse. She begins to sing a lullaby.
“I see the moon and the moon sees me
down through the leaves of the old gum tree
please let the light that shines on me
shine on the ones I love
Over the mountains and over the sea
Back where my heart is longing to be
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the ones I love.”
It may look childish, I am 40 years old. She knows the pain of my unhappy life. I have lost my childhood days. But I can get back to that through my feelings. KM’s son T used to be embraced by KM and she would sing songs in a child like voice moving her head and body which takes me back to my mothers’ lap. My mother used to take me out and feed me showing the moon and telling puzzles and stories from epics. They are feelings which can’t be put into words. Now the feelings of suicide have changed. Through KM sings over the phone and I can see her in my mind shaking her head and she would do this for me without question.
Some people are taken back to their childhood with certain smells or sights which are powerful. This lullaby was powerful enough to convert my feelings of suicide into sweet warm memories of my mother I am thankful to have a friend like KM and that she can invoke these feelings in me at my most desperate times.
Whenever I feel chest pain I think that I may die but this has not yet happened because I think of the many faces that bring back happy memories. My last desire now is to live until I see the face of my mother again.
By ‘G’ a refugee in detention. Translated from Tamil to English by Brother Arul Raj. Edited by Fr. Dominc Mathews.
Also see G’s writings on Peril :
Reflective thoughts from a Sri Lankan refugee… now a prisoner…but free!
I am not the owner of this feeling
and Margaret Mayhew’s “The practice of hope” on Peril