Kakiyan flies away with the State Literary Award


By Asela Abeywardene 

A few days ago, soon after a heavy bout of early morning rain, the entire garden was occupied by a mist of winged insects. It was a rare and fascinating sight. Then came the crows. Initially, a couple, who later summoned the rest. A group of more than ten arrived swiftly, perched, hopped around and gobbled up the flying insects, all the while chatting with each other. It was apparent that they were having some kind of a breakfast party or a banquet. I watched and thought of Kakiyan. Wondered whether he was there, if so, what he would be saying.

That may have been a premonition of what was to come. A day or two later while watching the evening news, it was announced that Kakiyan had won the State Literary Awards for the Best English Novel of the Year.

Amidst the bombardment of dreadful information, that indeed was very good news. At a time when all of us are manipulated, exploited and deceived in to believing fabrications by forces unknown to us, Kakiyan the crow, a representation of innocence, the down trodden, the subjugated, the voiceless has somehow made it!

We, the brown-black ‘Great Ones’ aka humans, have much to learn from Kakiyan. The insecurity embedded in our existence because of ‘brown-blackness’, our servility to ‘whiteness’, how we are still unable to accept who we are for what we are, are seen and condemned by Kakiyan when he aptly says:

"We owe no gratitude to the Great Ones. They have never been our friends. They mock us for our appearance. ‘Black as a crow’,’dark as a crow’,’ugly as a crow’, ‘common as a crow’ – such epithets have always been intended to taunt or ridicule us, and never uttered in praise or even in mere acceptance"

Kakiyan’s wisdom is to be expected. After all, he was nurtured by very clever and philosophical Mama Alice. It was Mama Alice who told him the story of Rosa Parks.

"Rosa was a poor kako coloured woman, black as night, should have had a proper seat in the bus without having to make a protest. Know where all that ended? Buildings burned, houses burned, people killed …

That country has never been good for anything black, not even for crows. We hear so many unbelievable stories about them and the way they yell how black is ugly … what a sad thing to kill people because they are black?"

I thought of how Kakiyan would be perceiving this grand award winning occasion and could not help but smile. After all, up till the award ceremony his encounters with political or famous persons were not with the living ones. I remembered his favourite sport:

"There are many eminent life-size statues of eminent Great Ones, standing proud and arrogant all over every town and they make perfect targets for shit-shooting practice. All we had to was to find one erected under a tree, pick a branch above it, get ready, aim and let go."

"Those Great Ones, many of them politicians must have owned the world in former times and basked in the glory of temporary power, but that was all gone now. Their current status was to be grossly ignored by the very people who had erected statues, and the only attention they received was some wayward kako shit on their heads from an unknown crow practicing to become a champion Rectum Ranger."

Despite Kakiyan’s outspoken disdain, the State has decided to accept, recognize and tribute Kakiyan for who he is. That is quite commendable, considering the current context abundant of insidious mechanisms, unpredictable occurences. It also reminds me that hope still prevails.

Kakiyan, of course, would have found it ironic and humourous that he could end up on a stage receiving an award from the President of the country, the highest representation of the ‘Great Ones’, for his story is a brutal revelation of the true nature of those ‘Great Ones’. Kakiyan is also wise enough to know that achievements, accolades and fame are ephemeral. He knows that if taken too seriously they too would form a cage in which he would be entrapped.

Kakiyan treasures his identity, knows the value and takes pride in his collective. He knows how detrimental it is to one’s wellbeing when too much importance is given to ‘self’. Kakiyan knows ‘freedom’ which those ignorant ‘Great Ones’ fail to comprehend. He knows that eventually a life shared with his loved ones, enjoyed with the Jacaranda Condominium community, is far more valuable than all the glamour and fame, for he is wary of the eventual, inevitable loneliness those could bring.

At a time when great forests, the lungs of this earth are burned down, at a time when a handful of puppeteers blinded by ignorance, arrogance and greed have almost absolute power to determine the fate of billions of human and non-human beings, at a time when almost all scientific predictions are indicating the end of life as we know in merely three to four decades to come, Kakiyan tells the truth and has been hailed by the State for telling the truth. While I commend the State for its efforts in appreciating literature and offer my heartfelt congratulations to Kakiyan, I am also aware that I should take a very close look as to whether I am willing to listen to Kakiyan the Crow.

According to his friend, Captain Elmo Jayawardene:

"The places in which he did these things don’t have anything by which to remember him, except for a few snippets of recollections, that might linger in some fellow-kako minds…

That is all there is to it.

Of course, then, there is the book that he wrote,


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