This is Kanthi. She is a gifted chef, a mother of three boys and one daughter, and a devout Buddhist. She is originally from the southeast of Sri Lanka, but now lives and works in the north-central ancient capital of Anuradhapura. Her husband was critically injured in a motorbike accident, cannot walk, and is unable to support the family. Kanthi thus traveled alone to work for several years as a house maid and cook in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait, sending money back to her family every month. Back in Sri Lanka now, she wakes up at 3 am, makes breakfast and lunch for her family, then heads to this bat kade (rice shop) where she cooks from 4 am to 7 pm, day in day out.
I had the privilege of eating some of Kanthi’s delicious rice and curry, and she allowed me to share her story. In a world where encounters with violence and suffering are far too common, I am inspired by Kanthi to appreciate and value seemingly unremarkable acts of human persistence, sacrifice and love borne out everyday.