Where the birds sing freely – Sheshadri Kottearachchi

She has been writing since the age of 8, and has had numerous poems and short stories published in newspapers and anthologies. Her first novel, “City Lights” was published when she was 12 years old. She now spends time reading, drawing, writing, listening to music and eagerly awaiting University admission.

A long day of school ends with a forty-five minute drive back home, stuck in grueling traffic while I stare at the back of the same car for an agonizing ten minutes. The exhaust fumes rise around me in a thick, black chemical mist and the sound of growling, impatient engines seem to echo the sentiments of everyone waiting for the red light to turn green.
The city of Colombo is a booming metropolitan, crowded with buildings, roads, people, and vehicles adding to the sights and sounds of the city. There is old world charm, mixed with modern architecture as we eventually drive by, passing groves of trees and landscapes consisting of nothing but concrete buildings. The city is a hive of activity, buzzing endlessly with constant energy that seems to possess everyone within it. Everyone is in a constant rush and it is rare indeed to see someone calmly strolling down the busy sidewalk. Yet despite the excitement of city life, I am desperate to escape to the blissful serenity I call home. Kelaniya is almost an hour’s drive away from my school, situated centrally in Colombo . It’s a small town of historical and religious importance since the arrival of the Lord Buddha on a visit to the KelaniyaTemple over two thousand years ago.

My home is nestled away in a quiet corner, surrounded by trees and lush greenery in humble little hamlet. Every morning, I awaken not to the impatient screams of my alarm clock, but to the gentle, soothing bird song echoing around the foliage. The sun seems to shine brighter than it does in the city, its gentle rays caressing the environment in a warm, radiant and golden glow. As I sit up in bed, wiping sleep from my eyes, the tree outside my bed room window moves rather erratically. For a moment, I’m convinced that the wind is unusually violent today but on closer inspection, I see five little birds, chirping, fluttering their wings energetically as they hop from branch to branch, and playfully fly around each other. I can’t help but smile at this innocent display of friendship and love, admiring the colouful little creatures as they dance merrily in a vibrant burst of positivism.

In the distance, the temple bell tolls, and I can almost see the devotees, clad in clean white attire, making their way towards the village temple for worship and prayer. The echoing sounds of the great brass gong travels to every corner of the village and is a reminder to its inhabitants that a new day has begun.

A few minutes and the sun rise gloriously, bathing the trees in a deep, golden hue. I open my windows, letting in the soothing morning air as the world around me wakes up. Peeping outside, I see the flowers in full display, blooming in bright hues of pink, red and orange, swaying in the breeze like proud little ladies, flaunting their beauty. A few moments later, the butterflies begin to swoop and swirl, teasing the blossoms as they dance among them. I think of the dusty, dirty urban roads I am used to, and consider myself lucky that my home is safely away from the pollution of the city.

Morning tea is served in the kitchen downstairs and I wait with delirious anticipation as my grandmother stirs the tea leaves with hot water and then pours healthy doses of milk into my cup. The windows and doors are thrown open, letting in as much fresh air and sunlight as possible. The air is pure and invigorating as I sit by an open window, watching the beauty of nature unfold before me.

My mother walks outside, a few crumbs of bread in her hands as she begins her regular morning routine. A tiny family of squirrels has befriended our family and visits us every dawn, waiting happily until my mother lays out their breakfast on the ledge of the wall. She calls out to them, her own face brightening up as the squirrels hurry over, chattering happily as they pick up the bread and begin to nibble. It is really quite fascinating to watch them enjoying their breakfast, before they scamper off, squeaking with gratitude. I smile and consider how such simple pleasures are rarely found and that it is truly blissful to witness these innocent creatures in their natural element.

Towards the afternoon, it begins to rain and the world around me is more beautiful than ever. Birds and squirrels hide under the trees, escaping the cold rain drops that splash onto the ground.

A small old fashioned grocery store is situated five minutes away from our home. It is a shop of marvels for the village children who crowd around the glass jars filled with sweets in pink, green and lemon yellow. On our way to buy vegetables, I glance at the leaves around us, drenched in water, dew drops trickling off like precious diamonds and splashing onto the ground. It is ethereal and beautiful. No muddy gutters, no rat infested alleyways, but simply the quiet dew drops drenching the soft earth.

Living far away from the city has its disadvantages. Yet as I look around me, I am thankful for having been fortunate enough to live in a quiet village. City-living is very convenient, but the life in the country side is unlike any other.

It is a blessing in disguise and true inspiration for the soul.

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