My cat is the best dog I’ve ever had (Part 2)

Part II: How to name a dog

Duke is the dog every affectionate family dreams of having. Loving and obedient to his owners, ferocious – despite his diminutive size – to outside threats, and soft and cuddly to boot. He had eyes that you could read and communicate with. When he was afraid, I’d hold his little face in my hands, stroke his cheeks and I could see his pupils visibly relax, knowing he could trust my love for him. He didn’t know to sit, stay, or fetch, but he’d bound up to us when we came home, wagging his tail so furiously that his little body wagged along with it. Always patient with us and a caring older brother of our other pets, Duke was always there with his unconditional love to make the world feel ok again.

This is not Duke

My brother and I adopted the dog above to replace Duke when he died. Duke’s death took a real toll on our family. Ammi and thathi refused to love again, saying they could not bear to go through the cycle of inevitable heartbreak again. As impetuous children will do, my brother and I disregarded their wishes, thinking we knew better, and surprised them with an adopted puppy.

They came around pretty fast though, my mother soon cuddling the pup like a baby and not letting her go.


We let my parents choose a new name for her. They wanted to name her in honour of Duke ‘but it’s a girl, so it should be a female name,’ observed my father.

I started: ‘So Duch-,’

‘Dukie,’ my father continued with finality. I bit my tongue and affirmed, ‘Dukie it is.’

This is Dukie

Read Part I: How to name a cat


Church bells

She runs down the cobblestone street, hand reaching blindly forward, the other clutching the copious tulle of her gown. Blackened tears streak her face, joining freckle-dots as they flow towards the corner of her reddened lips. Daisies and yellow dahlias line the streets, her hand grazing the stone wall and she runs.

That is how you picture her when she ran away from you. Like you want her to be hurt the way it hurt you.

There are church bells in your memory, from some long-ago. You were there once, almost.


(from an experimental exercise with Jason Beckman)

Parents vs. Skype

My parents are well into their sixties and make do with technology by asking my brother (a total techie) and myself (more technologically inept than my parents) to help them set up Wi-Fi, show them pictures on Facebook, and so on. While my 84-year-old great-uncle marvels at his Uber application and the paradigm shift in economy that such apps are causing, my parents still struggle to sign into Gmail. It’s frustrating at times but mostly endearing. 
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Kids on a train: or Why I still hate children

As a Sri Lankan woman, I am doubly obliged to like kids. I feel like South Asians give white women a tacit waiver, accepting that many of them ‘choose’ not to have children but of course ‘regret it when their maternal instinct kicks in’ or ‘when they’re 40 and alone and miserable and their husband hates them because they are barren, pau aneh’. Yeesh. As a Sri Lankan woman of course, when something whose age is still counted in months is carried into the room, I am expected to goo and gah over it. If I stand away continuing to talk politics with the men, I feel as though I’ve let someone down. So I walk over, pretend to be interested for as long as other women appear to be, and try not to commit too far to this baby-loving persona in case I accidentally touch the thing and set it screaming. Continue reading

Airport Discrimination

After enjoying a week’s holiday with my best friend in Tasmania, I was driven to Hobart airport to return home. I walked in and met pristine white walls and floors with a few, perhaps 8, conveyor belts at the opposite end that were the only barrier between your entry to the airport and exit into the plane. The belts scanned the luggage you were taking and appeared to be the only security circuit available, or rather necessary, at Hobart airport. And that makes sense, I mean, who wants to bomb Hobart airport?

Apparently I did.

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Squirrel Tales

So begins the saga of the squirrel in my room

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I heard it several nights in a row, tiny squeaks and scuttling coming from somewhere close by. After my last pet died last year, I’ve had no target for an outpouring of my love and affection. My yearnings had recently been duped by the wail of a kitten from my neighbour’s house several nights in a row so I both hoped and feared that this new noise implied new life. One day, when that kitten’s mewls were at its loudest, I stuck half my face out of the curtain to spot it. There it was, grey stripes and bright blue eyes, tripping over itself, face flat on the door-step. The need to cuddle it filled me and I began building the courage to go see it. Continue reading