The large wall clock takes pride of place in their humble home. This is a ‘luxury’ that the Liyanapathirana family, eking out a hand-tomouth existence, had not been able to afford for their home for a long while.

Within the single long room, sans a hall or bedrooms, but demarcated into three dark and dingy sections by torn sarees, it has been a struggle for survival for this family of six in rural Konkatuwa, Embilipitiya, in Sri Lanka’s Ratnapura district. There had been no money for luxuries, even a clock, and while books are stacked on unsteady boxes, all that they own in clothing are in a few shabby suitcases kept against the wall. The roof of their home is of takarang (zinc sheeting) pieces for they do not have the wherewithal for asbestos roofing or tiles. The rains bring with them a different kind of hardship. For their home is vulnerable to flooding at least once a year and the family is compelled to grab a few things and seek temporary shelter in a relative’s house. Once the waters recede, they would come back, not before a thorough clean-up has been carried out to rid their home of the muck left behind.

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