I was around six or seven. It wasn’t uncommon for my grandfather to pick me up from school on a Friday. Since there were no phones in either of houses, grandparents or ours, more often than not, my mother had also come to pick me up.
Of course, when the duo was present, I have to come up with further strategies to cover up what bullying went on at school, to avoid the embarassment of the entire school being told off by the duo. Usually, vice principal or the sectional head, who then calls my class teacher, and of course I had to name people then! I hated it!
And Mom wonders why she never knew anything else that had happened in my younger life to early adulthood, until I started blogging.
My grandfather could never understand why I couldn’t beat up anyone who hurt me during the day.
The standard question always got asked, as if he expected some change:
උඹට අතක් පයක් තිබුණේ නැද්ද දීලා අනින්න?
– Don’t you have any limbs? Why couldn’t you beat them up?
Now I look back, and I realise how differently I always saw the world.
පාණාතිපාතා වේරමණී සික්ඛාපදං සමාදියාමි (හැබැයි මදුරුවෝ කමක් නෑ!)
– I undertake the precept of not killing as the first precept of the five precepts Buddha had advised us to undertake (However, mosquitoes are the exception!)
Nope. I’m not joking. The killing could even happen while taking the precept. Somehow, the entire country followed that religiously. The larger the animal, larger the sin!
මදුරුවෝ මැරුවම එන කර්ම අහෝසි කර්ම…
The sin in killing mosquitos will get wiped off
A very convenient redefinition (usually uttered as a joke) of commentaries added to Buddha’s original teachings, where Sin was categorised into 4 groups. The original definition for the last group says that the insignificant “lessons to learn” (a.k.a – sin) will get wiped off, when one masters self awareness and learns all there is to learn (a.k.a – be enlightened)
Meanwhile, here was myself, usually no one else to play with at grandparents house, and once I passed the hygiene practices forced upon me by grandfather, and weekly gossip update taken by grandmother before she takes the afternoon nap, and make some lovely sweets for tea, being left to my own devices.
I would talk to the trees, ride the swing made by rope hanging on a tree branch, look at where the ants are going, observe why they all follow each other, until I spot that one ant who appears to be completely lost, going nowhere…
And usually around six in the evening, the අහෝසි කර්ම (Sins that gets wiped off) attacks!!!
Who exactly is this අහෝසි කර්ම (Sin that gets wiped off)
The mosquito landed on me. It was like a plane, but different. But it took off again, landed again. Took off again, landed again. I’m sitting still, probably even holding my breath. It tickles. Finally it settled. Then the little tiny hair on their head, slowly goes through the skin, it doesn’t hurt. Then the skinny mosquito’s hardly visible tummy, is filled with red colour. It ends up becoming a bulb. Then it pulls off the hair. It’s resting there for a while. Then it takes off. Just like a jumbo plane. It really looks like one, that looks heavy to take off. It lands on the nearest wall. Now it hurts, and itches.
But I was so happy. I felt like I just gave the biggest දානය (Donation), I not only spared the life of අහෝසි කර්ම (sin that gets wiped off), I gave it food, not to mention my own blood. So I wanted to do it again.
Ouch! That’s it! You die! Why did you have to hurt me? Why couldn’t you be like the other one.
I was sorry, but I wanted to justify killing it halfway through filling it’s tummy, saying to myself “I tried, but you hurt me”
But, I have tried it again and again. Some were successful, some were failures, and some killings were hateful, some were justified, and some were regrettable…. Of course, I was the Judge and the Jury.
අපල අනේ… හරකෙක් නිදහස් කරා. ඔගොල්ලො නං හරක් මස් කනව නේ. මම නං නෑ.
– It’s a bad period for me astrologically speaking. I just spared a life of an Ox that was about to be killed. You of course eat beef. I don’t.
Don’t even think of calling yourself Sinhala Buddhist if you haven’t heard this statement as a child. Seriously don’t. Because, it can’t be only me who has heard this uncountable number of times to date.
Please don’t take this as an insult or an attack to the Sinhala Buddhist community, I also grew up in that community. I am part of that community. I am also Sinhala-Buddhist, but also Malay-Muslim.
Can you see the absurdity of what we have been practicing? But, I too followed these. None of what I’ve said here are exaggerations.
I must have been blessed to have all this time to myself, with not many friends in home life until around 12-13 years of age. Actually, I hardly had any friends in home life. And I hated cricket, which basically meant no boys would wanna play with me.
Have you ever saved a life?
I don’t want to kill. Not because Buddha said or anyone else said. Not because of fear of sin, fear of next life, fear of anything. It’s because, I don’t want to kill.
If you save a couple of insignificant lives, you will know what I mean.
Take a drowning fly out of water. Take the time to move a dadelon-leg spider out of the shower, while scolding it to be wasting your time, wipe off an ant gently and carefully away from your body, shoo that mosquito away, and see that life for a while. You will know what I mean.
I still like eating meat. I don’t want to justify it. I do like the taste. I don’t want to think about killing it. I know someone else had killed and I’m part of that chain. Maybe it’ll stop, maybe it won’t, maybe I’ll reduce the amount of animal products I consume, maybe I won’t.
But one thing is certain. I see life everywhere in everything. I can communicate with animals when I believe I can. I can understand their needs, when I believe I can.
And every time I consciously spare an insignificant life, I feel so happy. And that word doesn’t do justice to what I actually feel.
– Nim –