Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I spent half the night sitting on the toilet. Really, what would a trip to Sri Lanka be without one of those? The other half of the night I stayed up listening to the war that was going on in the attic. I could hear tiny claws running across the ceiling, then some squealing, then some more running and then a thud. It went on all night and I was determined to figure out what it was. But I didn't want to leave a 5 ft radius of the bathroom, so I decided that it could wait.

When I got to school the next day I knew something was wrong. A police officer was talking to Bro. Granville. I heard that one of St. Bens' Tamil students has been arrested for suspicion of terrorism two days earlier. He had been taking pictures with his camera phone and the authorities took him in. The kid was no where to be found, however. I knew it had to be something else. Bro. made an announcement but I couldn't hear what he was saying, I figured that it wasn't too important because none of the boys were listening too attentivly. Then he came out and turned to me.
"There is a little havok today."
"Oh yeah, why?"
"There was a Tamil threat today on the schools and many boys did not come."
The LTTE had aparently threatened the schools of Sri Lanka. We had to search every students' bag and check all of the classrooms for, a bomb I guess. Melissa, Blair and I debated what we should do. We didn't want to go home, but we didn't want to be in too much danger.
"It's Bro. Granville's duty to keep his boys safe, he wouldn't keep the school going if it was dangerous" I said. So we went to our classes.
I have to say, I was a little afraid of my "11A" class. They are my Tamil class. I didn't know that they were all Tamil until last Saturday when Titus told me. I hated looking at them a little differently, not as if they were inferiour, but I looked on them with a bit more caution. That is, however, until and I walked into the classroom. I could feel in the air two seperate and simultaneous emotions. I could tell that the kids felt different. They seemed to be suprised that I had come at all. At the same time some of the students walked with an air of superiority, as if I should be afraid of them. My fear dissapated then and there, and I went back to being my usual self. I could tell that in the end, they were happy that I was not, in fact, afraid of them. They were glad that I had come.

I went to have tea at Interval with the brothers, Melissa, and Blair.
"So my students told me what Bro. Rajan said the noises upstairs probably were."
"Oh yeah?" said Melissa and Blair.
"I said that he said they were like rats, but bigger than rats. They said it's a 'Polecat.'"
"So, is it a cat, or a rat?" Asked Blair.
"That's exactly what I asked."
"Ah yes! A Polecat. We kill them and eat them. Good eating!" Said Bro. Vernon at one end of the table. I shuddered to think of eating a huge rat.
I turned to Melissa and Blair and said, "Have you ever heard of a Polecat?"
"Polecat! Yes!" Bro Naked (Bro. Ben's new nickname) said from the other end of the table. "You can hear them..." he pointed his finger at the ceiling.
"Yeah I know! They kept me up last night."
"If you catch them I will kill it and cook it for you! Very good meat on them animals. You can hear them in the church too. We try to pray and then move about like so" Bro. Naked said.

I went back to teach. I couldn't teach too much because most of my student's didn't come to school. I told stories, did some work, and had conversations with my students. I was told by Bro. Granville that the afterschool classes were cancelled.

I got to talking with my students and I asked them how they felt about the situation.
"Do you think anything will happen?" I asked. Their answer was pretty much mutual.
"It has to happen sometime."
"How do you guys feel? Nervous?"
There was a pause for a second, then slowly everyone began to say, "sad."
School ended in the middle of the last period and all the guys that came to school, about half, went home. On the quad I met one of my students. "Keep safe" I said.
"I dont understand." Oh boy, what a reflection on how I was doing.
"Be safe..." the expression on his face said that he had no idea what I was saying. " caution... just, uh, be... Have a nice day" and I gave him a pat on the back.
"Oh okay! Very well. Thank you, you too sir. God Bless." It was useless advice anyway. You can't spot a Tiger.

I got back to the provincial and tried to take a nap, but I knew that as soon as I fell asleep, the Polecats above would awaken me.


At 1:00 PM, Blogger william merriman said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I hope that everything is back to normal at St. Ben's. I also read Melissa's blog and she was quite upset. I hope you feel safe at the school and provincial house. Sounds like you are doing alot of teaching. Do you enjoy the teaching? Sounds like you like the students. Take care, stay away from the toilet and be safe.
Dean Merriman

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Dr. Peter McCarthy said...

Hi Mike,

I finally found the address of your blog and really enjoyed reading it. I hope that you are all over your initial ailments and that you have acclimated to Sri Lankan food. Keep the posts coming. Do you folks know how to add photos to your blog?. That would really enhance it. Please send my regards to Br. Granville and the other brothers. Be well and keep safe.


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