Gelioya near Kandy, Sri Lanka

I. A New Baby

His foot fits snugly in the palm of my hand, a cashew nut in its shell. Long fine fingers curl  mine. He sinks his body into me, finds the contours and settles in.
It reminds him of the womb – a kind of enfolding – at least on one side. I spread my hand across his back, trying to recreate the enclosure of womb. He closes his eyes.
It feels like home.

Dimuthu and Janaka’s baby is one week old and still nameless – but he’s anchored by the bungalow wrapped in rain forest.

At dawn, he hears the cry of the cockerel and the call to prayer.
In the daytime, he turns his head to the call of the Asian koal, the myna bird, the parrot and the robin. He hears the dull thud of Jack fruit and king coconut as it falls to the ground. His black eyes turn to the sound.
Everything is new and everything is strange.

In the evening, he’s lulled by the hum of distant cars and the tuk-tuk of idling three-wheelers. The priests’ chants from the temple is a lullaby and the throb of the cicada beats in time with his own heartbeat.

All through the night, he hears the pitiful bark of stray dogs  in the streets below and the thud-thud-thud of a pop-song base somewhere beyond the jungle. He hears the New Year’s crackers and thinks it will always be so – like the constant parp of car horns.

One day, you will barely register the sounds of Gelioya anymore. But for now, everything is new and everything is strange – as it is for me. We are strangers in this land and full of wonder. But I will leave, and remember Gelioya as some exotic place – and for you, for you it will become a familiar one.
It will be home.

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