Caterpillar song

A short story

Major Black was born in the jungle, miles from Colombo, the youngest of sons. He graduated school. He captained the team. As was the custom, he ate with his fingers. At age 19, he received a commission from the army and was sent to the Wanni. He fought for 12 years, without a vacation.

Thrice decorated for gallantry! Veins of tissue cracked his features. When his commander fell in Mankulam, he galvanised the troops to hold the perimeter. He raped women and men. He tortured and murdered. He ordered the digging of graves. "We cleaned them up," he said, "In masterly fashion." When Black was a boy, he used to pray daily, six times, once in each direction. To the East, he bowed on behalf of his mother and father: "Having been supported by them, I will support them," he pledged. "I will perform their duties. I will be worthy of my heritage." In return, he was taught, his parents would reciprocate. They would guide him from evil, support him in doing good, teach him skills, and bestow his heritage upon him. In this way, Black believed, he would be at peace with the East, making it free of fear.

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Himal Southasian