Innocence

(by Beatrice Fernando)


She is sitting at her desk, hair falling down to her waist

She goes into a trans lost in a fairy tale

Rainbow colors take many shapes

Green sky and stars shape clouds

Purple fish flying

And green birds swimming

Poky dot house standing on its roof

Comes to life with mom, dad, and a kid

The heart-shaped sunsets in the red sea

The kid, her hand raised up to the sky

Waves bye-bye, and the day ends

In the fairy tale scene


Mama, I love you

She whispers in a tune

You are the b-e-s-t, she repeats in a high pitch

Proud smile, brighten her face

The crayons drop to her feet,

Suddenly, she is beside me

Her little lips pressed against my cheeks

Mama, you are the best, she kisses me again

Running back to her desk,

Grabbing a Barbie doll

She is back in her game.

Where she pretends to be me

My daughter, Nadisha, was a good baby. She never cried, was never afraid of anything. She was delightful, innovative, easy. She had a million questions for me. I read her many books and told many stories to enrich her mind. When she could only gather a few words, I read The Secret Garden, and she didn't give up. She enjoyed spending time trying to read books more advanced to her age. When she was only four years old, I raised my voice to her, trying to get her to go to bed, and she didn't like it. She went to her father with a long face and said, “Dad, I love Mom, but sometimes I don't like her and feel angry with her. So how can I be mad at her when I still love her?" My husband was amazed and dumbfounded by her question, and brought her to me. My response to her was:


"When you look at the sky, sometimes it's bright and clear, and the sun is shining on earth, and sometimes the sky is covered with clouds that are hiding the sun, so it gets dark. But that doesn't mean the sun is not there, to give light; it’s only covering the light temporarily. When the clouds move away, you can see the sun again. So when you are angry with Mom or Dad, it doesn't mean you love them any less, just at that moment there's a cloud hiding your love, and it shall pass."


She nodded her head. I hoped she understood my analogy. A few weeks later, when I was upset and moody, my daughter asked her dad, "Is it a cloudy day, Dad? Is the sun hiding?" We just started laughing, and my mood changed right away.


I often think of her questions when she was a child, and sometimes I didn't have answers to them. Like when I talked to her about my dad’s passing and how sad I was that she didn't meet him. She asked me, "If God loves us so much, why did he take Grandpa away? What is he doing with him?"


Bringing up my daughter was such a joy; she was very independent and strong, knew what she wanted, and worked hard to achieve it. I never worried about her education because she had her goals set at an early age to become someone. Today, she is in her last year of law school, has already secured her position at a great law firm, and is engaged to be married and live a happy life.

---

Beatrice Fernando is a native Sri Lankan, author and public speaker who lives in Saugus, Massachusetts. She can be found at www.beatricefernando.com and Backstage.

Dhal Curry


Nadisha refused to learn Sinhalese, the native language of Sri Lanka, or the spicy food that we continued to cook while living in the United States. When she was able to eat solid food, I started her with rice and dhal curry, which was prepared without any hot spices. To this date, she still asks me to cook it for her. I have taught her to make it for herself, but she loves when I make it.


2 c. red lentils (masoor dhal)

1 T. coconut oil

1/2 onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

optional: 6 curry leaves

1 t. cumin seeds

1/2 t. turmeric

salt, to taste

1 tomato, minced

juice of 1/2 lemon


Wash the lentils a few times until the water runs clear.

In a large pot, heat coconut oil, and add onion, garlic, and curry leaves.

When onion is golden brown, stir in cumin seeds, turmeric, and salt.

Add tomato and cook for a few minutes.

Add lentils and 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 - 30 minutes.

If water evaporates before the lentils are cooked, add more water.

Cool slightly and stir in lemon juice.