I was chatting the other day with people whose children live overseas (of course most of my discussion centered on the issue of parents living in Sri Lanka with their children living anywhere but Sri Lanka)
I was asking this rhetorical question of why a certain section of middle class Sri Lankans persist in spending inordinate amounts of money educating their children firstly in Sri Lanka, giving them a very expensive education and then once they have excelled in their respective fields, send them to universities of seats of higher learning overseas, making them for the most part unemployable in Sri Lanka, as far as a level of remuneration is concerned in relation to the cost of their education.
It is grossly illogical and incomprehensible to me. The result of this education is that they must show a return on their investment by obtaining substantive employment in some overseas country which then guides their professional progression. They inevitably meet and marry non Sri Lankans and reduce the likelihood of a practical return to their motherland.
The offspring are then brought up in these new countries, and sometimes fit in perfectly in their adopted homeland and in other cases find themselves with questionable identity. However it makes it more difficult for them who are more eager in my experience to return to this paradise they only hear of but for practical reasons are unable to adapt to the strange culture which they have only experienced during brief visits to their relatives in this country.
It is the destiny of these people that I am pondering over, the lost generation who are seeking and only a few who find. Their happiness is reduced to moments and not permanence and thats what they have to hang on to.
I am speaking from experience as I am now encountering a number of the last category who are trying to explore their roots but find it hard to get used to the basic life outside of Colombo, which is true Sri Lanka with the language being the obvious first barrier. They are immensely jealous that I have been able to make this transition, as I was able to relearn Sinhala without undue hardship. Additionally, as I had suffered a life of severe hardship at times, I was able to adapt to very humble living conditions which if truth be told is more humble in some senses than the many of the Sri Lankan peasants living in Sri Lanka.
It is living and learning to subsist in the West that has enabled me to subsist here in Sri Lanka, and I always tell these prospective returnees, that if they are willing to adapt, like being stranded in a desert island, with no preconditions and expectations, then Sri Lanka can be only paradise as everything you encounter will be an experience worth cherishing, which the locals scorn, take for granted, or do not appreciate and I am at pains to glorify.
I have taught the locals to appreciate what they have and have gained a lot of satisfaction by being able to show them they all have something others would die for. I have people commenting all the time that they wish they could be like me. No one really knows the truth of how much I have had to endure to get to where I have got and how hard I have had to work to get there. If they know the truth they may eat their words!
It has so far been worth every moment though the pitfalls have been many and roadblocks sometimes insurmountable. It is a journey that I never expected to make and did not plan. The surprises have exceeded the disappointments, which have in turn exceeded moments of true happiness, which in turn have exceeded the moments of suicidal tendencies and so it goes on.
I am still very much alive, with every day being different and bringing its share of all the above. I will not have exchanged this journey for anything else, and in retrospect I don't know how I have been able to survive for so long with so little at the end of the day.
I am in a melancholic mood today as I write, as I was down to my last 1000 rupees in the world (no trust funds bank accounts, shares or realizable assets except for a valuable property I happen to reside in and a not so valuable property in the jungle) In a serendipitous moment of good fortune someone gave me RS 50,000 (US$500)for helping him out of a bind, so I suddenly feel rich, not having this amount at my disposal for a very very long time.
Needless to say I have debts to settle and by tomorrow I will be back to zero, but it is worth mentioning that little moments of exhilaration rarely monetary are what we live for and I wish the reader as many or more of those moments that I too enjoy from time to time as it seems is "my destiny"
Getting back to the lost generation, my example above is all they have if they are not to end up wishing they were someone else. Parents do the best for their kids not knowing what is in store and just hope for the best. If they think life through and not just in terms of job, education and peer groups and pressure I am sure they will probably guide their offspring to make a holistic life balancing decision on their future taking into account the kid's desires as much if not more than the parent's desires for the kids and let the kids ask what is my destiny and how can I influence it in my interest?