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Time, passing, introduces us to activities which we will have, we suddenly realize, to continue with for ever. I recall still my sense of disquiet, way back in the early seventies, when my mother was diagnosed with high pressure and had to take tablets. When I asked her for how long, she said for the rest of her life, with an equanimity I could not share. The fact that she was growing inexorably older was not something I liked.

I had had a similar sense a decade earlier, when I started at S. Thomas’ and realized I would have to set off each morning, for school, and then for work as I saw my father doing, for the rest of my life. Most children do not understand the rigours of the walls closing in on them when they start school, for they do this when very young. So they have got used to their lifelong prison by the time they are old enough to appreciate the relentless forward march of time.

But I had had a reprieve.  I had begun in the Kindergarten at Ladies College, and then my family went to Canada, and I found myself free again, since the age of schooling there was higher. I could spend mornings at home with my mother, when my brother and sister, muffled up against the cold – we got there in the October of 1958 – set off for school. And when I was bored, I could go downstairs and play in the front garden. It stayed enormous in my memory for a couple of decades, but turned out to be tiny when I revisited the place in 1979 while waiting for my doctoral viva. It was there and then, in that first winter, that I stopped a lady in the street and asked if I could throw a snowball at her. I saw the incident, when I wrote ‘Explorer’s Diary’ about my voyage round the world in 1986, as the first sign of a thirst for adventure, encompassing the trivial as well as the exotic. Unfortunately for me what I thought of as an anonymous encounter became a tale to be told to entertain visitors, when the lady saw me with my mother at a supermarket and made the connection. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2016
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