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Friday, May 1, 2009

Elmo Jayewardene's Writings

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

The Holidays are over and the Kavun Kokis smell is postponed for another year. We inherit again the usual “drudgery reality” of day to day life. The domestics who went home to bust their earnings in fun and frolic have now returned, broke as the Ten Commandments. No more need for the madam to organise “take away” pseudo Chinese and the man who drove the Honda Civic is relieved, he doesn’t have to feed the dog and sweep and collect the garbage anymore. Great, let’s get ready for the next event, the elections are coming and the posters are up of the venerated. There will be a lot to celebrate when the promises are kept and the land will flow with kiri and pani and we will cheer the saints as they go marching in to power offices. Nothing new, we’ve believed the mythology before.

Yes, the avurudu theme is over. The thelgana velava has been respected and the ganu denu notes exchanged, both the Sinhala and Tamil people kept intact their age old identical traditions and are now ready to begin another era hoping for the silver lines of life to reappear which will mainly be linked to a beautiful word called PEACE.

Anadapuram saw many a veteran of the LTTE fall along with the “girls and boys” they led. Whether they had a “cause” or died for “no cause” is a matter of perception. Were their sacrifices sterile and changed nothing? Then it is sadness at its best. Theepan, Nagesh and Gaddafi were killed in battle and so did those of the women’s brigades, Vidhusa, Durga and Mohanaa. Maybe on a fairer day the ladies would have made the “Hi” magazine on a winner’s ticket instead of being buried in the Vanni in nameless graves. Or Theepan dressed in pin striped Savile Row may have driven a Pajero along parliament road, that too would have been possible. If only things were different, but sadly they are not. The two pilots who flew the last failed mission and died would have been good at their trade, flying little aeroplanes in the night and navigating at tree top level is no easy task. Unfortunately for them, theirs was a wrong call of the toss. The fact remains that all who died for the Eelam cause were part of a revolution they believed and revolutions are mostly evaluated by the results they achieve. You either win or die. Revolutionary romanticism lost flavour after the days of Mao’s Long march and Castro’s Sierra Maestra. Mao and Fidel were victorious and became world leaders. It is always a champion’s parade; the vanquished usually gets blamed, scorned and forgotten.

The North is bleeding and the South is bleeding, both have bled for years with many a failed attempt to bandage the wounds. The tragedies of war had straddled everyone and spared none. No less sad by any means for either side and no easy task to rebuild lives connected to those who were bombed or needlessly destroyed in battle uniform or worse, in trains and buses where the totally innocent paid high prices for a conflict they hardly knew anything about.

The conductor in Butthala walks in crutches and the visually handicapped Jinadasa still cries for his daughter who died in the Fort Railway station blast. Priyantha is paralised, only guilt, being seated in a bus that blew up in Katubedde.

These stories I know and there are hundreds more. Then there’s the blackened ruins of
Mankulam or the still smouldering fires of Kilinochchi where amidst the rubble the remnants of a broken doll or a cheap plastic toy car without wheels could be found, maybe a torn photograph of family that managed to get to Toronto. The innocent were always present and became the expendable, they did not vote for the war, just suffered the tragedy and the trauma mostly choice less, whichever way you count.

“It is them or us” is an unarguable equation and what we are left with today is the incredible arithmetic of the missing, the maimed, the displaced and the dead.
Maybe the year 2010 would change things and military success will gradually convert to a political settlement and result in social compatibility where the two war waging fractions will find solutions of peace. Maybe then I can drive down Buller’s road and my friend Mani (I will write about him another day) who is making omelettes at the Movenpick in Zurich can go home to visit his aging parents in Velvatathurai.

And when the sun climbs again next year through the vernal equinox and the avurudu time begins for the traditions to be respected and followed, I like to think it will not be a Sinhala and Tamil matter anymore, but a Sri Lankan celebration where we all can proudly call OUR NEW YEAR.

It is time we dreamt of such and lifted at least our little fingers in support of reconciliation. Maybe we can share a thelgana ceremony and do ganu denu across racial separations and light a Sinhala, Tamil Muslim wick of a lamp for prosperity and call ourselves one nation.

When the Air force Mig jets gather cobwebs in the Katunayaka hangers and the ones who wore ammunition belts around their necks return to their homes to their loved ones, wouldn’t it be a beautiful day; something sacred to hope for, something worth the wait.

Capt Elmo Jayawardena