Bunker
Friday, March 11 at 4:40 PM
If you're the type that likes taking walks in the snow, you should be in Toronto today. It's been flurrying today: big flurries, the kind we used chase as children, in attempts to catch them on our tongues. And with almost no wind to speak of, it feels like you're walking in a snow globe. It's really quite beautiful.

Last Wednesday, on the other hand, wasn't so beautiful. It was uncomfortably cold and pretty dreary all day. So, after a not-so-great English lecture, I stopped by at a nearby Second Cup and picked up a coffee to keep me warm on ride home. It was then, as I was riding the east bound train from St. George station, that I was suddenly reminded of Jensen Bush.

The last house we lived in before we left Sri Lanka was on a street called Broody Lane. It was named so after the family that had longest lived in the area. In fact, when we were there, they still occupied the house at the top of the lane - an aged, hulking place, built of what I remember as being weathered, mossy stone and surrounded by a tall wrought iron fence. Once you passed the Broody house, if you continued to make your way down the lane, you would eventually come to our house. Immediately after our place, was the house where Jensen Bush lived.

'Jensen Bush' was actually his first name though everyone just called him Jensen. I can't remember what his last name was. He was the only boy my age - I was around four at the time - who lived close enough to be a regular playmate, so we spent many a Saturday together. From what I remember, he was a little taller than me, had almost brown curly hair and skin that was a little fairer than mine, and often wore a pair of blue shorts and a matching button-up t-shirt when we would go out to play. He had two sisters and a mother and a father, though I can't remember his father at all. The one other thing I remember clearly about Jensen was that he always seemed to be in trouble; someone in his family was always scolding him for some reason or the other. But really, he was a wonderful fellow and a good friend.

Jensen's family had a television. I actually only have two memories of watching TV in Sri Lanka: one was the watching of a news segment - in black and white - at my grandparent's place, and the other was watching a live action episode of Spider-Man at Jensen's. I remember sitting on the cement floor of the living room of their house and being mesmerised as I watched Spidey capture two thieves with the aid of his web and a sandwich. (The sandwich was for bait, in case you're wondering. And yes, I know it's weird, but it's all true.) That is, unfortunately, one of the few tangible memories I have of any personal interaction I had with Jensen. We did have some more official interaction though - 'official' meaning that it had more to do with our parents and an agreement they made.

As most of you probably know, there was quite a bit of political unrest in the country at the time and it was not unusual to be awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of shellfire. Our two families agreed that it would be a good idea to build a bunker for protection during the raids and decided on Jensen's family's yard as the place to build it. So, one afternoon when I came home from school, I found everyone standing near the section of wall that separated our two houses, watching as one of my uncles and a friend of his tore a hole into the stone with pick axes. The bunker was built in due course and served to give our parents some much needed peace of mind.

Thankfully, as far as I can remember, we only used it once. It was in the middle of the night; I was awakened by my mother who said that there was some heavy shelling nearby. So, we made our way to the bunker using torches (read: flashlights) and spent the rest of the night there. It was a cold, dank place; really just a hole in the ground. I remember looking at the wall nearest to where I was sitting and noticing bugs crawling across the slick, brown surface. Not exactly the most inviting place. Once the sun came up, we made our way out and I was readied for school. Life went back to normal. As normal as it could be, at least.

Not too long after that, my father passed away and we immigrated to Canada. We lost contact with Jensen's family.

As I was thinking about him on the way home the other day and wondering how and where he might be now, it occurred to me that really, I don't even know if he's still alive. That's just one of the realities of the war in Sri Lanka.

And, if things had gone a little differently, I suppose it's quite possible that I wouldn't be here, writing this either.

40
U2
From the album, War
From Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long, how long, how long?
How long to sing this song?

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

How long, how long, how long?
How long to sing this song?

Hope everyone has a good weekend and March break.
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