Blomendhal’s Evil Smog
By Amantha Perera
It is an evil mist that rises over Blomendhal. Every morning it hangs low, moving slowly over the small man made hillocks that ooze out their contents from the side — festered wounds that will never heal. The dumping here had stopped, about a year back due to a court decision. That, however has not reduced the stench. So much has been dumped here, that it will take years for the mounds to disappear. The garbage dumps of Blomendhal are legendary. They have spread like gigantic carnivorous worms.
There is a kind of an order here, unlike the chaos outside. Human life continues around these mounds. Main roads circle around them, if you strain your eye, you can see the peaks over the buildings and the warehouses that hold bulk tea shipments near the road. On rainy days, the stench will spread, but those who live around them are used to it. Some would not part with mounds of garbage as they have become a goldmine to enterprising scavengers. Such are the returns, that there are gangs that control the trade.
No one really knows what was dumped here. Almost everything it seems. That was the case for years till the garbage trucks stopped coming. The older piles lie on top of the newer arrivals and they smoother and fester together. What mixes in the insides of the hills is nasty. There are fires that burn for days from within their bellies, with smoke clouds swirling slowly. When the weather turns cooler and it begins to rain, dark brown streams streak from them. No one has a clear idea of what they cough out.
The polluted air is breathed in without a fuss, and as the gooey discharge makes its way to the Keera Kotuwa nearby, the keera is eaten by those who have no idea where it comes from. But then again life is ‘normal’ around the garbage mounds. Kids play cricket in between them, some of the fielders are placed on the slopes, and the boundary line is the closest mound. Others walk between them on their way to school or tuition. There is nothing unusual about them if you can etch out the ghostly smog that hangs about. Children appear laughing and screaming from the smog, like children anywhere. There is the occasional cough, but hardly anyone notices.
No one notices the stink that will curl any outsider’s nose. It is easy to recognise outsiders or newcomers here, their noses give it away. Their faces shrink in revulsion while the initiated get about life as if they had no cares. Blomendhal’s garbage piles are here to stay. They were there a decade ago and will be there in the future unless some super human effort is made to clean up. They have become a part of Colombo life, tucked away, but everyone knows they are there.
We just don’t want it advertised as an attraction. May be it is better to live with the smog and the foul smell, ever more so if the dirty pile makes money. Why bother to curl your nose, if the money is good.