What made me fearless

From Gravel Roads to Open Skies: A Boy’s Path to Independence

Denzil Jayasinghe
3 min readMar 4, 2024

Dispossession wove the fabric of my existence. When I was three, my parents relocated to a village without electricity. The path to my home was a gravel road. I learned to survive, making friends with village boys. But the years unfurled, and at twelve, I was bundled away to a boarding school. I learned the art of self-preservation, the art of survival.

I co-existed, disparate souls bound by shared hallways and midnight whispers.

Mind you; I grew up in a Buddhist country where, being born a Catholic, I was in the minority. Sunday was a school day. On top of that, those old Sri Lankan history books mired with unbelievable folklore I didn’t believe went right over my head! I just couldn’t understand them, no matter how hard I tried.

Two years later, at fourteen, ushered me into a new chapter- a bolder one than before, a high school teeming with adolescent fervour. I was in the capital, Colombo, with its tarred roads this time, teaming with rich kids coming to school in their Humbers, Opels and Mercedes in a century-old institution of regimented corridors run by Christian brothers.

The older students, their long shadows stretching across oak floors, became my silent mentors.

At school and in my village, I didn’t care what people thought. Their words didn’t bother me, like rain on a warm leaf. I was a small boy surrounded by older ones who stood out in school.

Then, at fifteen, I left the boarding school and went home. It was like a burst of colours and laughter. As a teenager, I didn’t listen to anyone who tried to control me. Their opinions were just like whispers in the wind.

I was almost twenty when things weren’t good with Mother. It felt like she wasn’t happy with me growing up and wanting to do my own thing. But Father, he was like my rock, always believing in me and giving me the confidence to be who I was and am.

In my little village, I stuck out like a sore thumb. My bell-bottoms, twenty-one inches wide, and colorful tank tops, were like nothing the other kids had ever seen. My music tastes were different, my idols Elton John, David Bowie, and even the Bay City Rollers — names that meant nothing to most folks around. I was different, a puzzle they couldn’t quite figure out. I was fearless to be the odd one out.

A year or two later, I was on the move again. I travelled far away, this time crossing countries and seas like a migrating bird following its path. The sky was vast and open, and I flew away from what I knew, searching for something new.

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These big changes helped me find myself, like pieces of a star scattered around, making my life free and adventurous. They made me fearless.

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Denzil Jayasinghe

Lifelong learner, tech enthusiast, photographer, occasional artist, servant leader, avid reader, storyteller and more recently a budding writer