In this dust bowl of a village deep inside Sri Lanka’s former conflict zone, locals will sometimes ask visitors to rub their palms on the ground and watch their skin immediately take on a dark bronze hue, proof of the fertility of the soil.
People are willing to wait a long time for a few minutes in the hands of Aloysius Patrickeil, a 32-year-old barber who is part-owner of a small shop close to the northern town of Kilinochchi, 320 km from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
The landscape in northern Sri Lanka’s former war zone can change abruptly from the ordinary to the surreal.
Sita Tamang’s husband went missing sometime in 2004, two years before Nepal’s civil war came to an end. A native of Dharan, a town about 600 kilometres southeast of Kathmandu, Tamang waited seven years after his disappearance before she tried to claim compensation offered by the government after a 2006 peace deal ended this country’s bloodshed.