This piece was originally written on August 3, 2009 and read aloud at a Lanka Solidarity fundraiser in New York for Internally Displaced People.
In Sri Lanka, the Government assures its citizens, residents, and visitors that the war is over. But the state of emergency that war demands still persists. I have lost count over the number of times I have had to stand before a machine gun-clad soldier while he or she scrutinizes who I am—my surname, birthplace, clothing, destination, mother tongue, intent, and facial characteristics—all of these may or may not help the soldier understand and then act upon my individual and shared histories outside and within Sri Lanka’s borders. This is the moment when I am most bare, the moment when I am judged by a nation, its histories of intolerance, and struggles to accept the hybridity of experience.