Colombo, Sri Lanka
One of the saddest sights (certainly not the saddest) around Batticaloa is the plethora of thinning, wounded, sad-looking dogs and cats. Some of these animals, especially the dogs, patiently, futilely mope around the ruined foundations of destroyed houses, sniffing at the half-buried saris and shoes. Others wait outside restaurants and snack shops for discarded scraps of food. Some of these were clearly well-loved pets, and others little more than strays, but their presence around the town emphasizes the sadness and death. There was a little cat at the hotel I was staying in. She was an adorable calico, starved and begging. She looked like a little fallen princess, bright collar and all, once loved and comfortable, now begging for her dinner. There was also a rather unlikely pair that wandered the streets together, a cute tan dog with a limp and a marmalade cat. They went everywhere together, and sometimes you would even find them sleeping all curled up with one another. It made me really sad.
Sadness is really under the surface everywhere in this country right now. I know that I keep saying that it isn’t as bad as it seemed, but that’s not to say that this still isn’t a horrible, historic tragedy from which it will take a long time to recover. I left Batticaloa yesterday morning, and along the road to Colombo, white and black mourning flags flew quietly. White flags are a symbol of mourning for Buddhists, and black flags for Christians. Even far from the coasts, the flags were stuck in rice paddies, affixed to street lamp poles, hanging from windows. In such a small country, everyone was touched with grief from this disaster.