"Shall I turn on the radio?"
Kevin's train of thoughts was interrupted by Anya's voice. He shot her an approving glance with a beaming smile. When her beautiful - slender fingers reached the radio button, a soft music came running through the metal music player as if to disconnect both of them from the real world.
Kevin instantly recognized the song from its intro part. It was "Aaradana.." by maestro Amaradewa. He loved the song. Even though he never publicly accepted that he listen to Sinhala songs often, he found Sinhala language so soothing. Yet, he did not have anyone with whom he could share his deep thoughts in Sinhala. His parents always talked in English. So were most of his companions. Even when there was possible avenue to speak in Sinhala, they were used to switch back to English in a moment. His friends were masters of code switching. He knew that it was a sign of distancing themselves from their mother tongue, so he was afraid to publicly declare his passion for Sinhala at all. But, a moment with a Sinhala song was a great avenue for him to take refuge in his own rich, beautiful language.
But, suddenly the song was stopped!
"What are these cheap songs?"
Anya's voice was getting deeper as an estranged wave in an unrecognizable deep-sea.
"Do you really listen to these Sinhala FMs? Shit! I can't even bear the thought of listening to this bullshit."
Kevin wanted to say that he loved listening to Sinhala music. Yet he felt as an invisible hand was grabbing his Adams apple. So, he remained silent and listened to her complains about Sinhala language. Kevin knew Anya close enough to know the narrow scope of the society she was exposed to. So, he never misguided such comments usually came flowing through her perfect, rounded lips. He did not want to correct her either. He was deeply afraid that his fiancée would misjudge him to be a 'cheap' man. Anya was someone he could not loose so easily. There social classes and occupations were perfectly fitting. So, how could he let go of such a good woman? No, his desire for stupid Sri Lankan music was not worth damaging the image he had implanted on Anya's mind as her posh knight in shining armor.
So, he silently promised himself not to take the side of maestro Amaradewa and remained utterly silent.
They were on a vacation. After an extremely exhausting period at the international company Kevin had been working for, he had got a desire to travel. Both of them had travelled the world. So, as Anya's uncle suggested, what they wanted was a good exploration of Sri Lankan landscape. Rather reluctantly, both of them have eventually agreed.
While driving all the way from Colombo to Kurunagala, Kevin was rather amused by the idea of travelling their motherland with Anya by his side. Both of them were literally strangers to their country, hence they were brought up in a very aristocratic background.
"We belong to the élite. We don't mingle with those of lower social classes'
Anya's mother used to advise her when she was of a very tender age. Anya was a good daughter. She accepted all those advice she received without questioning them at all. She did not have many friends at school hence her parents were very conscious of the social background of her friends. So, the very few friends she had known belong to 'the elite.'
Even her relationship with Kevin was a consequence of her respect to her parent's decision. Their families were known to each other for a long time. What Anya's parents wanted was a boy from a very rich, English spoken family for her to spend the rest of her life with. So, when Anya agreed to marry Kevin, they were very happy that they no longer had to worry that she would get involved with a boy of a lower birth.
They were dating for some time before they got engaged. Indeed, they got along well. Yet, both Kevin and Anya felt as something was missing from their relationship. Was it passion? Or intimacy? They were not sure what it was. After all, both of them have not got along with many from the opposite gender. Thus, there was no way to find out what was 'missing' in their relationship.
Kevin blocked his thoughts when he saw the sign of the hotel they were planning to take their breakfast. Anya's uncle had previously done all the arrangements and sent them all the details. When he drove the car passed the tiny wooden gate of the hotel, he was shocked to know that it was not a place of much extravagance. It was not even a restaurant. It was a little hotel with an authentic Sri Lankan appearance. While releasing the breaks, Kevin thought why on earth Anya's uncle had chosen this place for them out of all the restaurants they were passing along the road. He knew uncle Mahinda to be a down-to-earth person. But to go to this extent? This was undoubtedly too much!
"Is he crazy?" Anya was murmuring while setting her foot on the ground. Yet, she had no other choice other than eating in this shabby place hence she was so hungry that she wanted to eat as immediately as possible.
When they entered the little hotel, Anya was literally outrageous. The hotel was clean, serene, everything that a hungry person looking for a good place to eat would love. Yet, the hotel was filled with Sinhala - speaking men, women and kids.
When a middle aged man dressed in a national Sri Lankan suit walked passing their table, Anya gave a recoiling look. Kevin not only understood her thoughts but also returned the emotion with a contemptuous glance and a nod.
"So lame" Anya replied with wide eyes. "I can't bear to be with these local people. Did you see that man, Kevin? Must be a like a frog in a well! Can you imagine the shallowness of these people? With no access to English or whatever?"
While Anya was criticizing the man in the national suit, Kevin saw that he was coming near their table. Yet he did not take it seriously hence he was more than certain that this man did not understand a single word Anya uttered in English.
The man in the national suit came directly towards them and smiled.
"Dear kids, what you have to do is to decolonize your minds"
English; so clear, so pure came flowing through his lips.
For the first time in her life, Anya was unable to release a single word in the language she had admired so much.