I am getting back on this platform after a very long time. I felt I had to let it all out. Since last morning, I have been very restless being at the receiving end of horrendous racist commenting. For some reason hate speech really triggers the inner demon in me to rise and spit out venom at all the hate mongers after which my spirits are dampened to the core.
I just got back after a road trip to the North of Sri Lanka with my cousin who is on vacation. I took time off from work coupled with some intervening local holidays. We had a fabulous time being tourists, clicking pictures like crazy, selfies galore, savouring the local cuisine, and finding reasons to giggle our heads off.
Getting back to work after a vacation is as good as hell I tell you and as I sat down to begin my usual day of work, several of my mates came over and greeted me which was nice and felt kind of back- in the- pack. Then comes the beginning of the viciousness….A young woman walks over to my desk and says “Hi so how was your trip – did you have a good time?” to which I acknowledged I did and then as usual continues in the typical statement given by vacationers returning to work “ahhh I wish I had stayed back” in a light hearted way reminiscing all the great times. Then she goes on to probe and ask me if I went with family or boyfriend or found any. On hearing my desire to stay back she goes “yeah you could have married an LTTE and stayed on” (for those of who do not know what the LTTE is ..they are a separatist guerrilla force that fought a war against the leadership in my country for over 30 years. As the Northern Tamilians of Sri Lanka represent this force, during the war all Tamilians would always be stereotyped as LTTE by extremists and ridiculed in general. This was the first bullet that triggered me off. The inner demon in me shook himself viciously and rose. Without batting an eyelid I spat out to her saying “You should never say such demeaning things as it is offensive for a Tamil to be referred in such a way. Do you think you guys are great ? if you were you would not be stealing the property and burning the houses of Tamilians. That’s all that you guys are good at and nothing else”. Quite shaken she stops to ponder and then says “yeah but you are not Tamil ? how can you be a Tamil ..you are catholic?” My demon became more ferocious and spat out again telling her ”A Tamilian just like any other can follow any faith they want to, Who are you to decide that ?, I excuse you because you sound so ignorant, illiterate and all that you just now said and the manner in which you said talks volumes about your upbringing and values” but please go back to school, get an education and take lessons in History, also now that you have learnt something, never ever utter such foolish comments in this office or in another office or elsewhere. Having heard that, she quietly slipped away without even an apology. Once more proving herself to be nothing but an ignorant twit.
After that fiasco, the devil in me slipped back but my day was wrecked. I sipped many cups of tea to console myself and the day went by in the usual manner. Then came Episode No. 2 in the afternoon which seemed like a continuation of what took place in the morning. During the day I had distributed some local goodies which I had got from the trip. One of my colleagues told me that there was a worm in one of the packs I had bought. Quite disturbed I walked over to check it out. I asked a woman who seemed to have eaten most of it, if there was a worm in any of the packs and if I could see. She goes it’s really not a worm it’s a kind of a small bug, I guess because its home made such things are likely to happen. Not stopping at that, she asks me if I had picked the not right stuff on purpose and continues to say that “we should get a dhemala” to get the real stuff” (Dhemala is the local equivalent to Nigger) I felt the demon in me jolting from his slumber and shaking himself up. Fuming I told her “why do you need a dhemala a dhemalichcha (female term) got the stuff, by the way Don’t use that word as it’s very offensive”. Grinning without any concern to what I said last, she goes “Oh is it so, if you think that word is not good enough you can use a better word”. The demon in me let out several forked tongues simultaneously and began by saying “Do you think you guys are good? You guys are exceptionally good at plundering the Dhemala’s land, burning their houses and looting their property, there is no word in the language that qualifies to use on such inferior people like you and that’s the reason there is no word to use on you guys, Just watch what happens to your precious country and how it’s gonna be screwed in style in many different ways by many others”. The demon in me hissed and sweared at her continuously until she could not talk any more.
After I walked away, I learnt later the only words that came out of her mouth were “I was only joking and why did she blow up just like that?” to which one of my colleagues had told her “you should never joke around sensitive stuff like that, that is definitely not joking”.
The demon in me has gone back, I settled down with several cups of tea in silence. I took a pledge to end this racist commenting in the workplace even if it means I have to do it on my own, I will do it.