From the moment she had seen the smoke rising darkly over her Village, Phyllis had been determined that some constructive action had to be taken. She had administered as required to the emotional anguish of Indra and Diana and Radha and Krishna, and to some extent she had shared in it, but her own feelings she felt went much deeper. In a sense, it had been a relief to her when they left for Colombo for, concerned as they were with particular deprivations, they could not share with her the acute awareness of the general horror that gripped the land that was the burden and at the same time the prerogative only of those who identified totally with it. What had happened to the Village, what had happened to the old man and the old woman who had found shelter and tolerance and compassion for so long at the bottom of her garden, what had happened within the shadow of her bounty to all those she had known and even the very few she might by some chance never have met, all this has affected her profoundly. She herself had no right to go on living in her Village unless she could vindicate the rights of all those who had suffered, and reaffirm her vision of the common humanity which was shared by all its denizens, and by extension the denizens of the whole country in which the Village lay.
After much thought, and some rereading of the lives of her heroes of the twentieth century, those who she felt were perfect specimens of the humanity they claimed to represent and to lead, Gandhi and Tito and Mao Tse Tung, she decided that she would organise a march for peace. She went the rounds of the Village and, though on occasion she had to argue quite forcefully, very soon she could say quite truthfully that everyone was of one mind with her. Down they would all march together from the Village, surely picking up masses on the way from all the other villages through which they would pass, into Kandy and round and round all the temples there until several more people from several other directions had joined them. Then they would proceed to Colombo, the crowd getting even larger as it went, until they arrived outside Tom’s residence. There they would camp until Tom announced measures that would satisfy them, both to expiate the guilt that had been incurred by the holocaust and also to ensure that such an event could never recur. Continue reading