Looking towards the gates, Roshini saw two policemen drag a young boy between them and attempt to fling him into a jeep. His shirt was torn and bloodied. He struggled furiously and shouted abuse. She stared at the boy’s face and suddenly, time stood still. His face was the mirror-image of a face from a long time ago, a face that had haunted her for years. A face that hovered close to her, so close that she couldn’t escape. It was a face from a time before choosing. Reminding her of when life had no strings attached, when things seemed to just happen, or rather when she didn’t have to think about the how or why of anything. It was from a time when “responsibility” meant nothing. That word would lodge itself into her psyche as life changed radically and events made her grow up suddenly and abruptly. The face of the boy took her back to a time she’d tried so hard to forget, it took her back to regrets she ran away from, that she had pretended did not exist as the mediocrity of everyday life took over. It overwhelmed her sometimes with mundane demands, but also gave her satisfaction, contentment, security and most of all, unconditional love.
About the Author
Neluka Silva is professor in English and head of the Department of English at the University of Colombo. She was educated at the Universities of Colombo, Leeds and Oxford. Her manuscript novel The Choices We Make was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize and is published under the title The Iron Fence. Her short Stories entitled Our Neighbours and Other Stories was published in 2009. Our Neighbours was one of the 20 stories placed in the Highly Commended Winner category in the 2008 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. She authored of The Gendered Nation: Contemporary Writing from South Asia (Sage 2004) and the twin-authored collection, The Rolled Back Beach – Stories from the Tsunami with Simon Harris.
Covering a period of civil unrest in Sri Lanka, The Iron Fence offers an insight into those turbulent times by the very actors involved in “student movements” in the university milieu, high-lighting the dichotomy between the privileged and the under-privileged. This book was short listed for the Gratiaen Prize.