Liberating lessons from Sheppard Avenue.

| by Nila

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” Norman Cousins

(November 15, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) Do the economical comforts of a life in the West make us settle for the natural death of our cherished culture, language and traditions?
The Tamil Diaspora should not simply wait for the Day of Atonement when the rulers who committed genocide would face the day of reckoning. Not to mention the many riddles and layers that need to be crossed for any digestible power sharing of any sort in the Island.
From the beginnings of mankind’s glorious entry into the world of ‘livings’, the strong definite of death always remained the ultimate slayer of all beliefs by all illustrious minds. Yet, our feeble minds and collective traditions refuse to discuss the subject, labelling it’s the ultimate bad omen. It is more so like the lid on free thinking, quoting the slippery slope of your will and mind. If there is something certain in this world for all, remotely happening ever – it is the death that straddles and cut through any shadow. We might call all the Gods for a safe journey in the valley of darkness; but what happens behind the curtain is anyone’s guess.
Whenever I am been conveyed the so called bad news of a funeral, most likely the viewings fits as a place for sharing grief and consoling the loved ones. And whether in times in war or peace; prosperity or famine, what remains opened for steady business is the pale doors of funeral parlours. And whenever I visit these two in particular down
Sheppard Avenue
, I always happened to come across other funerals of our own (viewings) at the same place, all the time. While most of the elderly are seated inside the viewing hall, many middle aged men and relatively young folks with dark ties and gelled hairstyles milling outside the doors becomes a common sight.
Since one of the ardent illusionists, who always after the mysteries of the mankind, both bygone and present, I always tend to peek into other funerals at the same venue. Needless to say my intrigue multiplies when I go through the literature kept for the viewers and the rare photos of the deceased kept for display for the final time. Like the Zen philosophy, everything has a meaning – that includes the opportunities to peak into the lives of our people, slowly vanishing in the land they have come to call home.
While its fool hardy to assume that deaths can reduce our numbers without taking into account the births and other new arrivals into this land; it’s a sobering thought that whenever one passes away – part of our living history celebrating our land of our birth is slowly getting extinguished.
The proud heritage; the ancient history of our continuing linguistic traditions; the illustrious bounty of our art forms; the underlying rich themes and flows of our land – are these also slowly getting buried with the deceased? Is there any meaningful and thought after argument that all these could be effectively transferred to the second ‘Mac’ generation, growing up here in the technological mega births down super intel milky ways.
This leaves a hard question that should resonate within every Tamil Canadian at every stage. Are our actions and thoughts in anyway contributes towards a continuing legacy of our way of life that was once. Do the economical comforts of a life in the West make us settle for the natural death of our cherished culture, language and traditions? The answer is simple, yet hard coded. There is no overriding factor but to accept the reality. The truth is that if our people and their lives could not flourish in the land of our birth, we are slowly but surely entering the threshold of our history where one day it could simply end up among the dusty book shelves in libraries.
While our political analysts and pundits are silhouetting the eventuality of political rights and self governance for our people – thousands are languishing without a proper job or means of survival. While articles are being written in the comforts of café-late and Apple computers, putting political rights before economical development; the days are dragging with bare backs and door-less abodes for thousands scraping for proper meals. While the spoke persons here are happily waiting for the auspicious time, to provide any help for our people to go back to their normal lives; people over there, especially those who lost everything are fending off dogs for food and shelter.
Now that TNA has been invited by the United States for discussions on the plight of the Tamils, we see demands and all kind of requests are being levelled at TNA, forgetting who has the mandate and acceptance by the foreign powers. The wealthy Tamil populace of the West who still waits for some unknown miracle without ever parting even a few dollars towards the wellbeing of their brethren who have lost everything, thinks and lives in a dream world of their own. Do they realize that people have to exist and see the light of the following day for our heritage to live on? There is no intermission in people’s lives where they could go on hibernation for a set period of time and there is no ‘pause’ button to keep them as they were.
Recently arrived friend of mine from Sri Lanka, confided on the plight of several thousands who have dedicated their lives for years towards our people’s freedom and are languishing without skills and means of livelihoods; and many without limps. Often they become the black sheep of their own families taking the brunt of wasted ideologies and lost energies of their youthful dreams, all the while the families getting drained emotionally and physically.
The Tamil Diaspora should not simply wait for the Day of Atonement when the rulers who committed genocide would face the day of reckoning. Not to mention the many riddles and layers that need to be crossed for any digestible power sharing of any sort in the Island. The need is today and those who lived through massacres, rapes and atrocities need the help today. Let’s ask the question how we could make our age old traditions, culture and language continue to flourish without the probability of our towns and villages in the East and North flourish? Ask today within yourself – Do not wait till the question pop up when you go for a visitation on Sheppard Avenue
I knew a man who once said, “death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back.” ~From the movie Gladiator

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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