Good Morning Sri Lanka!
Today in World Visions we bring you the story of Abu…
Miss Reporter looks prim
Nice suit, crisp accent with lipstick
I like her style.
I dash more butter on my appams
Hot and milky from Soma’s stall
Across the street.
She’s the best, her lunumiris,
My spicy morning affair! Yum!
Cut to Abu.
Abu lives in Somalia.
Seventeen, they tell me.
He hardly looks ten.
Protruding bellies and flies. Dark eyes.
You know, the usual Somalian
Shot with a Pulitzer tint.
They give me the figures of malnutrition
UN quoted; no mistakes.
Well researched, interesting.
Lucid images, disturbing.
Abu steps out of the screen.
Join me for breakfast?
Miss Reporter smiles. Cho-chweet!
He’s special you know, she says
I ask her how.
He’s suffering she says, can’t you see?
They’ve mastered the art of emotional blackmail,
Abu takes a rickety step towards the table.
Drags a chair. Sits down.
He waves away the food, doesn’t want to eat he says.
In silence we wait as I finish my last appam.
I notice the scabies, the foul smell.
True to life.
You know about Darfur? He asks.
Yes, yes I know about Darfur but
How do you know?
I watch the news too he smirks.
I peel a banana, fresh kolikuttu, my favourite.
Tsunami was bad huh?
Yeah, but the war is worse.
We talk local politics, for a while.
So what’ the plan?
Finish my thesis, find a job, get married;
I don’t know… Maybe.
My guru said I should stop
Worrying about things I cannot help.
He nods in vague approval
Life’s there to get on with, says wise, old man
Trapped in malnourished childhood.
I sip my tea, sweetened
With suffering of the world
While Abu shivers his legs under the table.
We watch the magpies on the garden lawns.
Flashes of black and white,
A Nineteen-thirties flick on the screen.
Fevered imagination like
A whiff of sea in the air.
And Abu muttering as I pick
Lacy leftovers of appams for breakfast.