“Pigs Can’t Fly”
The first chapter begins with Arjie describing how he spent the “spend the days.” Arjie preferred to play bride-bride with the girls as opposed to cricket with the boys. He loved to play the bride and played the part very well. Tanuja (Her Fatness) joins in on the game and ruins the fun for Arjie by refusing to let him play the bride anymore. The rest of the grandchildren stay on Arjie’s side and push Tanuja away. Tajuna tells Aunty Kanthy who is extremely displeased to see Arjie dressed in a sari. Arjie’s parents are embarrassed to see him dressed this way and his uncle labels him ‘a funny one.’ Arjie’s mom tells him he can no longer play with the girls anymore.
When Radha Aunty returns from America, she is not what Arjie had pictured to be. Arjie and Radha Aunty become close. Rajan Nagendra proposes to Radha. Radha becomes friends with a Sinhalese who is involved in the play, The King and I, named Anil Jayasignhe. While Radha is traveling home on the train, she is attacked by a group of violent Sinhalese. Soon after this incident, she is engaged to Rajan. Arjie begins to become aware of the conflict between the Tamil and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. He starts to understand how serious the conflict is.
“See No Evil, Hear No Evil”
Uncle Daryl returns home from Australia while Arjie’s father is on a business trip in Europe. Uncle Daryl is investigating rumors of government torture. Arjie stars to catch on to the fact that there is some type of romantic relationship going on between his mother and Uncle Daryl. Uncle Daryl visits Jaffna where there are multiple violent attacks. Daryl eventually goes missing after being told by Arjie’s mother to stop interfering with these events. His body is found on a beach and his family is told that he drowned, but Arjie feels that he was actually murdered. Their family tires to find out more information on his death, but their lawyer explains that there is nothing else that can be done. He gives them a piece of ‘advice’: to behave like wise monkeys.
Jegan begins working with Arjie in their hotel. Jegan is Arjie’s father’s friend. Jegan is a Tamil, but he does not associate with them anymore. As Arjie becomes closer with Jegan, Arjie begins to become aware of his sexuality for the very first time. The conflicts within Sri Lanka get worse and worse. Jegan then gets accused of planning to assassinate a Tamil politician. Jegan returns home to his hotel room one day and finds it vandalized. Arjie’s father fires Jegan. It is unclear whether Jegan will return to his Tamil Tiger past.
“The Best School of All”
When Arjie’s father started picking up on Arjie’s sexuality, he sends him the Queen Victoria Academy, convinced that the new school with turn Arjie into a man. Arjie becomes friends with a boy named Shehan. They warn Arjie of Shehan’s sexuality and tell him to stay away. However, Arjie and Shehan continue to spend time together and become close. As time goes on, Arjie becomes attracted to Shehan. The principal of the school requests that Arjie reads a few poems that the Black-Tie event. He explains to Arjie that these poems are very important, but Arjie is extremely nervous and fails to correctly recite the poem. The principal beats Shehan and Arjie. Arjie realizes that this only the more feminine boys get this type of punishment. Later on, Shehan kisses Arjie, who becomes more and more aware of his own sexuality. In Arjie’s garage, Arjie and Shehan have their first sexual experience together. Afterwards, Arjie is ashamed and disgusted with what he has done. He feels as though he has let his family down and broken their trust. Arjie then recites the poem incorrectly, but this time on purpose.
“Riot Journal: An Epilogue”
Tensions between the Sinhalese and the Tamils are peaking. Tamil houses are being burned down throughout Colombo while rioters destroy the area. Arjie’s family is hiding in a neighbor’s house. Soon after, their hotel is burned to the ground and both of Arjie’s grandparents are killed. After this, the family decides it is time for them to leave the country. Arjie and Shehan have one last sexual experience before they say goodbye forever. The family leaves Sri Lanka and heads for Canada.
Christine Malecki 2018