In a piece of short prose titled SimCity, award-winning author Neil Gaiman attempts to describe the concept of a city. Recounting some of his favourite places, he tells us: Manhattan is fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive, older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.

I wondered how I would describe Colombo. The city that has been my home for longer than I care to remember; the place where I was born and raised. I’d like to think of my city as a teacher; wise beyond her years but younger than she looks. Colombo has seen it all, done it all and still stands, continuing to pick herself up, shake off the rubble and move onwards, passing on her lessons to us at every juncture. Sometimes, we are bad students, and every classroom has them. Others learn. No matter what form of tragedy comes our way, we also seem to intrinsically know how to hold hands, pick each other up off the floor and keep moving forward.

We were to be reminded of this most valuable of lessons on Easter Sunday. We are a little over a month removed from our most recent tragedy and yet Colombo is back on her feet again: lines of cards near traffic lights, pedestrians crossing streets everywhere and offices filled with activity.

I would like to propose the idea that Colombo can be everyone’s teacher. A guide to cities around the world, dealing with their own messes and taking too long to rise again.

Because here in Colombo, no matter the tragedy, we always rise.

A Column by Natalie Soysa – 27 /06/2019