16 July 2012

29 years ago

It was almost  29 years ago.  There are many memories , many after-stories , many opinions  flooding my head …I had to write

(I have tried a few structures for this post nothing seem to work . So I am going for an abstract approach .)

The cub that , Appa durai ( fictional alias)  has raised in his Jaffna manor as a status symbol , grew up to be  a fine beast . In July it made his first kill. Attacked and killed 13. The adorable pet has  grown up to be a  man eating tiger.

Shock and gloom was spreading across the land.  The grieving hearts needed pay back .  Doubt of whether  we have crossed the point of no return , was slowly spreading . Vengeance needs to be directed at someone .It was them against us now .  As always there were people  waiting in the shadows for an opportunity.

Houses were burning , there was panic lurking in the streets and  Shankar and his family were hiding in our front room. His brother Ravi,  a 20+ year old man , who modeled his hair like Kamalhasan and sang Boney M songs ,  was trembling in freight . And Malathi his sister was trying to feed her son,  while my mother tried to calm the crying baby down .

කන්දක් ගිනි ඇවිලෙන්නේ 
හැන්දක් කිරි බීපන්නේ 
නැන්දත් නුඹ නලවන්නේ 
නින්දක් නොනිදියාගන්නේ 

…………That image still haunts me.

Mrs Illangakone Muller, the burger  lady who lived down the lane,  stood in the path of the mob and  vouched on the father the son & the Holy ghost that there were no tamil houses down the lane .   

ගෝන පන්තියක් ඇතී
අපි දුටු පන්තියක් නැතී
කළු එළු පන්තියක් ඇති
අපි දුටු පන්තියක් නැතී
සුදු එළු පන්තියක් ඇති
අපි දුටු පන්තියක් නැතී 

On 26thMarch 1983,  Thilaka Wijegunawardana (fictional name), who’ s stammer aggravated in stressful situations , could not utter a single word in Sinhala , when the mob leader asked him to repeat a few words . He was burnt in his car near Kaluthara .

Many years later ,  M…. gulped the remaining Rockland rum and coke mix in his glass , before he started relating  his experiences at the temporary camp in Thurstan college . His voice broke , when he spoke of how they were rounded up in the grounds and made to sit in the middle of a circle of machine guns pointed at them , to the news that tigers were attacking Colombo. Chills ran down my spine.  I wondered  what ever happened to Shankar Ravi & Malathi.

There are no black and white situations in life. Only shades of grey .

These are times we have lived through. These are times we’ve passed. And we suffered for three decades .  Some actions taken during those weeks tainted the lives and minds and decided the unfortunate  fate of the land for many years to come.

 But mainly because we forgot. 

We forgot how they were our neighbors, they forgot how we looked after them. We forgot the Mrs Illangakoons Muller , the everyday heroes who  stood up to the mobs.  We forgot  who raised the cub and who instigated the mobs , and why they did so. Also how and why people were made to buy in to ideas as time went by.  


  1. JP, Dude, this sounded more unbiased to me than most of the material I've read on the subject. Even now I keep telling my students life is shades of grey not just black and white.

    The only digression I noticed in this story is is Illangakone being a burgher name. You can use "Muller" or something like that, instead. Just a suggestion.

    henryblogwalker the Dude

  2. Dude, I think you would be interested to read this blog post written on similar series of incidents. I left your link there also, to make some waves.

    henryblogwalker the Dude

    1. Thank you. As for the grey nature of life, that is something I truly believe in. They become black or white as time goes by.

      Mrs Ilangkoon was her actual name :) (She was Chinese married to a burger, who has taken up the sur name). How's that for a story within a story ? :).

    2. Oh, really? It sure is a story within a story. :)
      henryblogwalker the Dude

  3. Replies
    1. Yes yes, I read your post too. I was 9 years or so old and was living in a peaceful Subarb ,in that sense my experiences were limited.

  4. Great post... My mother was pregnant with me when the riots broke. She was working in Colombo then and had to get somewhere safe before the curfew. Luckily she had some relatives close by, and went there, taking her friend with her. But she had no way of contacting my father because the phones were down...
    I think people need to remember/learn what happened, at least so that history will not repeat itself.


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