I couldn’t make up my mind to write anything because the passing away of my beloved mother. If you don’t mind reading my blog post "වැරදි දවසක අප හැර ගිය අපේ අම්මා" about that in Sinhala this is the link.
These three isolated incidents took place in two countries.
Today, two of us were walking home after school when we saw the grocery store we used to buy things on our way home showed OPEN sign. We stepped in. These are self-service stores and only the cashier is on duty. While Deepa was buying some commodities like sausages and teabags, I went to the fruit stalls. I snatched a plastic bag and started to select red apples when I saw the fly who was fallen just near the stack of apples with its feet in the air and convulsing. This is a fully air conditioned store just like most of the ones of this type. So generally free of flying insects. Well, they could enter through the door that was constantly being opened and closed each time a customer walked in or out. Somehow this dying fly told me another story.
I turned to the cashier and asked him. “A fly is dying here. Did you use any insecticide spray right now?” The dude was a bit hesitant and gave me a sheepish smile. He said guiltily, “Only a little.” I dropped the apple and returned the bag. We bought only things that came in plastic packs we had originally selected and came home, discussing the stupidity of a shopkeeper who sprayed fresh fruit and vegetables with insecticide while in the store.
That time we were in the capital city of the same country. There was a bakery where two Sri Lankans worked, one as a manager and the other as a baker. As the bread was salty more than sweet to the satisfaction of our Sri Lankan tongues, I used to visit them very often to buy fresh bread, and also cakes and buns without the plastic wraps. When I entered the shop that day, I found the atmosphere a little tense. The elderly shop assistant was arguing with the Sri Lankan manager.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“This idiot sir”, he said in Sinhala, “is a total moron”
“Why, what did he do this time?”
“This buffoon keeps spraying the shelves and the showcases with this insecticide just to get rid of these ants. Then he stores bread and buns just on those shelves. And today he sprayed over the bread.”
“Noooo” I was stunned.
“Oh yes. when two of us objected that we are poisoning our customers, he keeps on arguing with us. We can’t press too hard because he is a close relative of the owner. Already he’s threatening us and I just asked him to go to hell”
“Thank you for telling me dude.”
“Sir, today you don’t buy bread from us. Go to another bakery.”
I thanked him and walked out.
I was reading the Sinhala weekend paper happily. I used to prefer the real paper rather than the online flipping book version that I read now. I liked the smell and feel of the newsprint rather than the computer screen. Maybe I’m too old fashioned. Someone had said that ‘The television will never totally replace the newspaper as you can’t swat a fly with it!’ In this case the word television must be replaced by the word computer.
Then I found this article about the sufferings of our farmers. They are always in trouble and a constant struggle. Compared with the American farmers our farmers’ standard of life is pathetic. I always sympathized them. And, suddenly I saw this line which made me just wonder if they sympathize us in return.
The writer was interviewing a farmer and his family. And, when asked about the crucial issue of the misuse of insecticide, the wife said, “We know it is wrong to use these lethal doses of chemicals on foodstuff. But if we don’t we can’t protect our crop and make an income. We will be in serious debt. We owe to the bank. So, we can’t help it. So we have a separate plot cultivated for our family’s consumption free of any chemicals.”
I suppressed the stream of abuse that screamed inside me for the sake of decency.
What these morons who poison us wouldn’t consider was even though they protect themselves from their own produce, they have to buy the rest of the food with lethal doses of chemicals from the market and are poisoned as much as the innocent rest of us!