It was a roadblock, manned by an officer and several other soldiers. Sivaram and the trishaw driver were ordered out of the vehicle, and I was told to stay where I was. The soldiers held their rifl es aimed and ready as the offi cer interrogated the trishaw driver, a Muslim man, who fumbled out his documents. He was soon allowed to get back in his trishaw. When it was Sivaram’s turn, he just stood there, completely quiet. After several questions, the offi cer started screaming at him. Then he ordered his soldiers to take him, and gestured for the trishaw driver to go on. Without thinking, I jumped out of the trishaw. I was a visiting professor at Colombo University and he was one of my students, I lied, approaching them. I threatened to call the American Embassy if they arrested my ‘student.’ The offi cer yelled, in English, for me to come no closer, to get back in the trishaw. Then he barked an order, and one of the soldiers lifted his rifl e and aimed it directly at my head. I kept babblingon about the embassy, but even I did not hear myself. All I could see was that hole at the end of the rifl e and, above it, the sweaty face and very frightened eyes of the soldier. He looked very young, maybe 18. I thought, I’m going to die right now. And then we grew very quiet.The offi cer barked another order, the soldier lowered his gun, and the other soldiers pushed Sivaram back toward the trishaw. We got in and took off. I do not believe we said anything on the way back to my rented room. I remember giving the trishaw driver a big tip. Once inside, I sat down in one of the two big rattan chairs in my room and tried to light a cigarette. But I had the shakes and kept missing the end. Sivaram lit it for me, and then sat staring at me in the other chair.‘My God,’ I said, ‘that was horrible. He could have killed us.’‘He wanted to kill us both.’‘My God.’‘But, one good thing maccaan, at last you begin to understand politics now

~ Mark P. Whitaker