The Guilty Popsicle – Repost

I posted this sometime back, but felt it was apt to re-post it….

Here was I sitting around with a smoke and not doing or thinking about anything in particular, when the sight of an ice cream cart trundling by, took me back in time. All the way back to 1983. Strange huh? 

Well, not really, when you consider the fact that I have a very good reason to associate ice cream carts and popsicles in particular with what happened in July of 1983. Now for most of you the very mention of that specific month in the year of ’83 will hold many memories, none of which I’m sure have even the remotest connection to ice cream. So why then do I? 

While my memories of that day are not totally complete, I do have this series of snap shots that somehow don’t seem to leave my mind, so let me take you through them and hopefully you’ll see the connection for yourself. 

Snapshot 1: Me playing with some of my classmates (not sure what the game was) during the morning interval. 

Snapshot 2: Panicked parents arriving and dragging my friends away. The words they were saying are total gibberish. 

Snapshot 3: My brother, his classmate and myself making our merry way down the leafy lanes of Mount Mary. Quite thrilled to be allowed to leave school early. 

Snapshot 4: A very loud and violent crowd screaming and shouting around an overturned ice cream truck. 

Snapshot 5: A cash box being flung high up in the air and money tumbling like rain out of the sky. 

Snapshot 6: A sarong and vest clad man (scary looking, like the ‘gonibilla’ we had been warned against) shouting something unintelligible at us. 

Snapshot 7: This same scary man offering us a huge bag full of popsicles and icy chocks, which we promptly refused saying we didn’t have any money to pay for them. 

Snapshot 8: The bag being shoved into our hands and being cheerfully waved away as sudden flames sprouted from the ice cream truck. 

Snapshot 9: The three of us continuing on our merry way, now even merrier thanks to the generous stranger. 

Snapshot 10: (which is not too clear, maybe it didn’t happen) Being scolded by my brother’s classmate’s father for taking the popsicles. 

Snapshot 11: My dad’s relieved yet tense face when he came to pick us up. 

Snapshot 12: Sitting on the petrol tank of my dad’s bike and seeing lots of scared and angry people. 

Snapshot 13: Burning cars, burning buildings, lots of fire and smoke. 

Snapshot 14: A moth balls factory on fire and looking like the gateway to Hell itself. 

Snapshot 15: My mom’s scared face and hearing the panic in her voice as she spoke about my uncles and aunts. 

Snapshot 16: the worried faces of our house owners as they spoke to my dad about the gang planning to visit our home in the night. 

Snapshot 17: Standing at the rear fence of our house and watching another house burning. 

Snapshot 18: My dad speaking to the leader of the gang and explaining in broken Sinhala that we were burghers, not Tamils. 

Snapshot 19: Sitting in the house with no lights on as yet another house down the lane was broken into and set on fire. 

Snapshot: 20: screams of terror and rage in the night. 

Snapshot 21: Walking with my dad through the refugee camp set up in the Kollupitiya Methodist Church Grounds and seeing friends from Sunday School sleeping on mats and wearing someone else’s clothes. 

Snapshot 22: Wondering if the Ice cream truck owner was there and watching me… 

Up to date I still feel a sense of guilt when I remember how much I enjoyed those free popsicles, and wonder if while I was happily feeding my face, some poor family was being burnt alive.  

So is it really all that strange that I associate ice cream trucks and popsicles with July of 1983?



4 Responses to “The Guilty Popsicle – Repost”

  1. kalusudda Says:

    I think I have a feeing who was sitting on the back seat of your dad’s motor bike. It is not strange and I do not think you are guilty. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. DeeCee Says:

    Oh my. I just cannot fathom why this happened. What kind of horrible mindset were these people in, to commit such unforgivable acts which lead to the crap our country is in today. Today is where I am, as I sit at my PC at work, on my left is my tamil- work buddy. Why this sense of guilt? But I’m guessing it goes both ways. 😦

  3. Sanjeya Says:

    It really is awful and sad that an image of some thing that brings so much joy to a kid such as an ice cream truck is tainted with such horrible memories. It gets from Bad to worse and every where around the world we live we never will feel at home. And none of us (any ethnicity) have a home to go back to.

  4. saffronsays Says:

    Your recollection of this day is very unique… innocent yet disturbing, I’ve always had to see this day through other people’s eyes as i was less than a year old at the time. Every account shocks me all over again. I saw your story in my mind like a series of movie clips.. can’t help but wonder what kind of effect that day would have had on me if I was old enough to have seen and remember…

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