The Miracle Mural

The “Miracle Mural” as seen in 2023.

My girlfriend, Masami, took this picture back in early March of this year (2023). The reason we visited this mural is that I helped paint it back in 2020 during my first trip to Sri Lanka (when I was still single), I had told Masami about it, and wanted her to see it with her own eyes.

I was a bit sad to see that the mural (and the wall it’s painted on) was no longer as beautiful as it was 3 years ago but I was very happy to see that it was still there!

I call it the “Miracle Mural” for two reasons.

For one, this mural is the reason I made some really good friends here.

For two, this mural helped me reconnect with those friends.

Here’s how the miracle happened.

On my second day in Sri Lanka in 2020, I decided for no particular reason to ride my rented scooter to Gandara Beach. I chose to head to Gandara Beach that day simply because it was only about 15kms east of where I was staying (very close to Madiha Beach), it looked good on Google Maps, and I had never been there.

The beach is about 300 meters off of the main thoroughfare. More importantly, however, the “miracle” mural is on the small road that leads to the beach/harbor.

Better yet, a bunch of teens and twenty-somethings were in the process of painting the mural that day, and, as I rode slowly past, one of them got me to stop, in a concerted effort to help them.

“Hey, hi, stop, stop! Want to help? Come, come, help, help. Can you paint?”

“Ummm… Ummm… That looks cool, but I’m on my way to the beach.”

“No, no. You help paint! Fun, fun! Let’s go!”

“Well… I don’t know. I’m on my way to the beach. Maybe when I finish at the beach. OK?”

“No problem. But please help! We need help. You paint! Fun!”

“OK, well, maybe. I’ll come back later.”

“OK. See you!”

I arrived at the beach a minute later and immediately realized, to my disappointment, that it was actually a harbor, not a beach, so I only stayed a few minutes and then headed back toward the mural.

The guys (and gals) were excited to see me again so quickly, and, since I had nothing better to do, I parked my scooter and asked how I could help.

They quickly got a paint brush in my hand, gave me some paint, and showed me where to paint.

I had so much fun, and felt so much satisfaction knowing that I was doing something good for the local community, that I went back to paint some more three days later and yet again four days later.

Furthermore, two of the guys who were painting, including the one who got me to stop and paint in the first place, really befriended me and started showing me around Gandara, their village.

That’s Sandaruwan on the left and Shehan in the middle (and, of course, yours truly on the right).

For example, Sandaruwan invited me to his house as well as his cousin’s house and the two guys took me (and several of their other friends) to a beach with a kind of natural swimming pool below Gandara as well as another beach to go swimming.

After I left Sri Lanka, I kept in touch with “S&S” on Facebook, but over time, we lost touch. Since we hadn’t talked in quite some time, I (stupidly) made no effort to let them know that I was coming back to the country.

When I took Masami to go see the mural back in March, however, Shehan miraculously saw me, although he didn’t say anything at the time. (Oddly enough, I had the feeling that I also saw a familiar face near the mural, but I have no way to know if I really did see someone I knew or if I was just imagining things.

That evening, I received a message on Facebook from Shehan:

“Hi, Jeremy. Your visit from Sri Lanka. Today. I saw you today.”

The date was March 11, 2023. Our previous conversation took place two years prior, on March 20, 2020.

Masami and I have now been in Sri Lanka for over two months and we’ve spent a great deal of our time with S&S and their friends and families. For example, we’ve gone on a road trip, celebrated birthdays, shared many meals and laughs, played cricket (a new sport for me!), and gone sightseeing together.

I’m so happy and lucky that the Miracle Mural came through for me again and that Masami and I have been able to form such great friendships that will surely last forever!

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