Author: chamindrawar

'A magic bean buyer and a realist in one shell.' Chamindra lives in a small town in her native Sri Lanka. When she is not working or taking long walks, she writes stories set in bizarre lands full of curious characters. She took the rare chance to publish her debut novel in India and is overjoyed.

Today I choose grief, happiness and healing

Today should be a happy day for me. I have an amazing husband who loves me and our little boy. We have a simple but loving home. Today is our 8th anniversary, and I am dealing with grief. A deep well of sadness stemming from a little girl lost (with big brown eyes and frail body), who would never know what it is to be cherished and loved. She didn’t know what she was missing but she knew something wasn’t right. She fought with all her might for her spirit, happiness and safety. She was resilient, and learnt the art of freedom and solitude, but she didn’t know how loving parents treat their kids, at least not until she had her own little boy.

The love, care, respect and kindness she showered her little boy with felt alien to her. Becoming a mother is a time for gratitude to women from healthy families. But, for her it was a time of profound grief, gratitude for her own spirit of resilience and her siblings who looked after each other. There was gratitude for her mother who in spite of a heartbreaking life tried her best, and even showed gentleness and kindness as much as she could muster. She and a few other adult who tried their best were probably the saving graces of her soul crushing childhood.

The saddest realization however, is that the good life she managed to build for herself was one that came about in spite of her  brokenness coupled with a bit of luck and kindness from friends she met later in life. There is more. Her saving graces were the trees she made friends with, dew drops on leaves, dainty, sweet-smelling flowers, waterways and the salty, turquoise depth. Yes, nature does have healing powers.

Today, I choose to make space for my grief. Today, I choose to be grateful for the blessings and yet mourn what could never be – a little girl who would never know what it is to be a child free of care. Today, I choose to be grateful to the love I found in my adulthood and be mindful of my own triggers so they don’t hurt my sweet four year old. Today, I choose to feel the kind breeze, purple petals falling over me as I sit at my favourite bench and let star tingles bathe my sorrows.  

The tale of a toy and a hollow man

Once upon a time

A hollow man spotted me

A shiny new toy, fragile with an inner brokenness

Yet filled with wisdom, poetry and deep love

He decided then and there to put me in a box

There was a painting of a moon in the box, and a ragged blanket

But, I was out of his reach

Sometimes getting trampled, but sometimes soaking up the sun of love, rain and wisdom

He persisted ever so subtly to walk towards me

 For he was starving, broken, cold and mean

He smiled, coaxed and made me feel special

It took years, but he persisted

For he was starving, broken and mean

When he finally picked me up, he laughed in glee

Danced and sang, seemed happy

But, he was just starving, broken, cold and mean

He put me in the special box with a picture of the moon and a ragged blanket

He sought to nourish a bottomless pit

Drinking sunshine and poetry through a straw

I was almost deplete when wisdom emerged to the rescue

With all my might, I sprang out of the box

Like Jack

The invisible cord still intact (I did not know)

But, I was free, there was true love around, sunshine, rain and poetry

The invisible cord is rusting, bit by bit

The hollow man stares – filled with rage

For he is starving, broken, cold and mean

He tugs at the cord sometimes

But, he is weak

For he is starving, broken, cold and mean

And, there is love, sunshine, rain and poetry all around

The kind he cannot feel

The kind that is setting me free!

Butterfly haunting

A week before my wedding, butterflies haunted me.

One rested on the wall next to my bed. He was white with delicate pink and yellow patterns outlined in a rich dark blue. He kept me company while I sank into the world of Hemingway. He was right beside me when I chased hunters in Africa, watched bull fights and sobbed about a hinted at abortion and the human condition. He refused to move. In the end I gently chased him out of the window for I feared he would starve to death otherwise.

Literature cannot feed your body.

Perhaps, I was presumptuous. Perhaps, the butterfly knew better.

One followed the bus I caught with my bridesmaid to visit the salon. She was (the butterfly) velvety brown with white swirls on the wings. She couldn’t keep up with the bus but managed to wish us good luck, fluttering about in a frantic good bye dance.

“Lovely colours!” the bridesmaid exclaimed. We smiled at each other in the spirit of shared love of beauty and the knowledge that we were finally free of our traumatic past, at least for a while.

One sat on a broad green leaf in the garden while I poured my doubts into a sympathetic ear of a long-suffering friend. She (the butterfly) looked like a would-be butterfly-zebra with her black and white patches. The two tiny patches at the end of her wings were tinged orange and pale green.

“You will cross the bridge when you come to it,” the long-suffering friend stated.

One escorted me home on a sunlit morning following a night of revelry with the girls. He had blue-black wings sprinkled with a hint of silver. He was the largest of them all and reminded me of a childhood friend I once made in the woods. The said friendship lasted a single blissful day for he was a migrant butterfly with enormous wings.

“That was a beautiful day in the woods,” I reminisced.

A week before the wedding, a throng of butterflies infested a mango tree near the Kelaniya Bridge. They were orange, yellow and white. They swarmed above the gold tinted mango flowers in frenzy. I drank in the beauty, the dust, petrol fumes, warm sunshine, the noise, the pulsating energy and the dirty waters beneath the bridge.

In a riot of hues and fluttering they visited me on the morning of my wedding. I sat in the garden with a cup of tea before braving the world as a bride, apprehensive yet charmed with the idea of a new beginning. The brown and white spotted butterflies flitted from one orange blossom onto another, in eager anticipation of nectar. A lone small, yellow butterfly shied away from my eager gaze.

I sat with my half-drunk cup, daring to imagine a better future with the blessings of my beautiful butterflies fresh in my heart. A dusty ray of sunshine shimmered onto my bare arm, infusing me with warmth on a chilly morning.

The colours are always lovely.

Sweet Melancholia

Come as you may

In the glimmers of light falling through star dust

In memories long buried in the recesses of my heart

In cloudy weather oh so abhorred

In the chatter of birds oh so unconcerned

In passing trees and crumbling houses

In hunger, austerity and brewing unrest

In the silent acceptance of fate by cheated, beaten masse

Come, my sweet melancholia

Be my refuge

How to walk through the shadow of oppression

Walking through the shadow of oppression and austerity

I reach out for star tingles

Shared pain


Knowing smiles



The quiet, enduring

Essence of nature…

Walking through the shadow of oppression and austerity

I reach out for star tingles

Shared pain


Knowing smiles



The quiet, enduring

Essence of nature…

Two poems on Education as it is!

Hubris and shame will be my legacy

I stomp curiosity (It kills cats) like a mighty T-rex

I raise my head and scream

“Bow down you mutts”

Fear, loathing and drudgery shall be your lot

Stealing star tingles

We steal moonlight and star tingles

The faint beat of a drum unique to each child

As we fumble along trying to mould them like clay

To fill our own empty cups:

Cracked and broken in places, paint so vibrant once – peeling off.

Let them chase sea stars, peer at bugs, stomp on mud and chomp on leaves

Let them wander the lands and waters, seeking their own true path

Unschooling diaries – Self-directed learning

The little boy (3 and a half years old) determinedly shoves in baking powder, red food colouring, a dash of washing liquid and a squirt of vinegar into the hole in his clay mound. A thick, red gooey flow dotted with creamy bubbles spills out of the mound, staining the floor and filling the little boy’s heart with delight and awe.

“It is erupting. It’s erupting”, he squeals in delight, moving his dinosaurs dangerously closer towards the lava spewing mound. He is lost in the world of ‘Land before time.’ Yes, he is playing, pretending and learning.

The above is a real life adventure of my 3 year old, with whom we are ‘unschooling.’

What is unschooling?

Unschooling is not a method, but a way of life, based on trust, respect, compassion, freedom, and a shared passion for exploration and learning between children and adults. Unschooling children are free to learn sans the restrictive presence of standardized curricula. They are free creatures, with unclipped wings and their inner desire to learn unchecked by conventional schools or authority figures. But, it does not mean that the children learn without guidance. They learn together with caring, helpful and discerning adults.

How do unschooling children learn?

Unschooling children learn through living their lives in a free, nurturing environment that supports self-directed learning. They have access to resources, guidance and plenty of freedom to play. They do not learn maths, languages, geography and science through following a set and often limiting curriculum. Instead, life leads them towards passionately learning not only maths, science, languages, IT but also communication, negotiation skills and empathy.

Is play based learning similar to unschooling?  

Our own journey of unschooling and self-directed learning has led us to shapes, dinosaurs, learning letters, counting, marine biology and plenty of imaginary play. Speaking of play, one of the premises of self-directed learning and unschooling is that children learn through play much like wolf cubs learn necessary skills to survive in the wild in a similar manner. But, self-directed learning should not be confused with play-based learning which is still adult controlled learning.

“Mentoring self-directed learners is like rolling a hoop down a hill. You want to let the hoop roll on its own, only touching it when necessary to keep it upright and rolling., and even then as lightly as possible.”  Lori Pickert

The importance of community (and other children)

Even though self-directed learning occurs at home, children thrive amongst other children. And, we have been fortunate enough to find an education centre run by a couple of similar minded parents. At Kinder Republic, kids roam free, finding their own passion and growing into independent and curious beings.

Let us catch a glimpse of what a day of unschooling looks like with my 3 and a half year old.

A day in the life of an unschooling 3 year old

“There was light outside when I woke up. I was starving. Breakfast is my favourite meal.  Why? You ask. Well, I eat the ‘bestest’ and the most delicious food for breakfast. And, Amma and I read books afterwards. I had sweet potatoes. I only love the yellow kind. 

Then Amma and I read books. I can’t read on my own yet. Amma has to read. Sometimes, I cover some of the numbers with my hands (Amma calls them letters) and ask her to tell me the names of those. I can recognize the numbers ‘O’, ‘W’, ‘X’ and ‘A’.  We read a lot of books.  I wanted to read more. But, Amma said she was hungry and needed her breakfast. Can you imagine that?

I was mad and grumpy. I cried and cried. Amma just kissed me and said she will come back after her breakfast.

I sulked a bit. But, what can you do? I had to find something else to do. I took Christmas decorations and made a coral reef. I know a lot of sea creatures. This is my favourite song – ‘Creature Report, Creature Report – Jellyfish, anglerfish, octopus, sea star, and porcupine puffer fish.’

Then it was time to explore outside. I love making lakes and seas. I played the sink or float game today. It was splashingly awesome. I wanted to make an asteroid. Amma said we can make one over the weekend. And she wrote it down in our plan book.

After my bath and snack, it was video time. I watched OCTONAUTS….Calling all octonauts. Kwazi, Peso, Shellington, Dashi, Inkling, Tweak, Tunip.

Then we had lunch. If you ask me it is the most boring meal of the day.

Then we painted. Hey, I’ll share a neat trick. Did you know we could mix colours to get an entirely new colour. Dugee and the Squirrels taught me this trick.

Afterwards, I went on a rescue mission with the Octonauts. We danced, sang and ran around rescuing sea creatures. Such fun!

I was hungry again. I had my tea and snack.

Then my Daddy Kadiya came home.

The two of us read my science book. It is the best book in the world. There are so many pictures and new words in it. And, lots of sea creatures! Sometimes daddy Kadiya and I dance to music or build with blocks. But, today was a science book kind of day.

I had dinner. It was okay.

And, then I had to brush my teeth. Grrr, I hate this part. But, we have to brush away those pesky germs.

And, it was time for bed. It was dark outside and I went to my cozy, comfy bed with Amma and Daddy Kadiya.

 I am a freelance writer and an unschooling Mother. If you would like to connect with me, come and join me on Facebook.

Gib’s story



Gib stared at the swirls of pink and orange tinged with gold against a pale blue background in amazement. He sank his feet deeper into the soft and slightly moist stuff he was standing on. His uncut mop of hair flew in the air, each strand playing ‘tangles’ with the others. The strong, unruly body of water in front of him thrashed and crashed in tune to a vaguely familiar and a stirring rhythm. Gib took a timid step forward to reach for the rolling water. His feet hit a jagged edge of something buried beneath the soft stuff he loved. Gib winced in pain, cried out and aimlessly hit at the beeping sound coming from his left.

‘Beep Beep Beep’ it made a racket.

Gib hit out even harder to make it stop. He opened his eyes as his hand recognized the cool metal touch.

Gib rubbed his eyes…

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Dark nursery rhymes

Five little ducks went out one day

Over the hills and far away..

Mother duck said quack, quack, quack

But only one little duck came back

This little duck wore a crown that day

Made of feathers that once said quack

Little duck said quack, quack, quack

And he became a king, so they say Gibthey say