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Sri Lankan Civil war explained to my friends

We were among friends sipping a beer at a beach bar when a friend of mine who lives in Jaffna called me. Since a time long I had the desire to visit that mysterious area, completely forgotten by everyone. Jaffna is an important place also from a historical point of view. The Mahavansa chronicles (the fourth-century Sinhalese epic poem written in Pali) report that Lord Buddha intervened to quell a brawl caused by two Naga tribal kings (one of the Sinhalese ethnic groups) fighting to divide a golden throne studded with rubies and emeralds.  After solving the problem, the two embraced Buddhism and built the beautiful Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya temple on the island of Nainativu.

We drove 7 hours to reach Jaffna at around 8 in the evening. Sharu, my right-hand man, Manju and Kavindu, my tour guides, also traveled by car for 400 km to get to Jaffna driving in turn. Narayan, the friend I met when I was studying in London, was waiting for us at the entrance to the city. Wonderful! It was the first time in my life that I entered Jaffna after the civil war had ended May 16, 2009.

“Vannakkam Dinusha” – Narayan greeted me. I returned the greeting hugging him strongly. He was back in Sri Lanka in 2010, just after the end of the war. “How nice to see you Narayan after all this time. When did you come back to Sri Lanka? “- I asked introducing the other travelling companions.

“Few years ago and finally I am at home, Dinusha” – he replied, sighing as he had already had enough from the wars … “Come on! Let’s go home. I think you are tired, I have already prepared dinner and the room!     

“I got into the car swiftly with a nod I indicated to the rest to hop in. Narayan took the lead starting speedily asking to follow him home.

It seemed impossible to me, I did not believe my eyes. On the way to Narayan’s house, many things came to mind, at least the ones I saw on television and other which told me about his native city. The urban center is very large and resembles the one of Negombo. The streets were overcrowded with people coming out of the shops and their offices.

Sharu suddenly braked. The car had come to an abrupt halt and we stood still there until the holy and protected animal by Lord Shiva had crossed the road. A group of women with slightly darker skin than ours followed the cow, also to cross the road.

“How beautiful the Tamil women are” – commented Kavindu.

“Yes, they are very beautiful, especially when they go to the temple for prayers: they dress with the sari and decorate their hair with fresh flowers” – I added.

We left when the bells were already ringing for prayers. Narayan took the road signaling to follow him again.

“We arrived there.  “ Here is my home. – said Narayan as he descended from the scooter Bajaj Pulsar. We got out of the motorcar and while Sharu parked it, we entered the house.

“Welcome home. It is not very big but quite comfortable. I hope you will enjoy our hospitality, “Narayan’s father said shaking hands.

The sacred pictures of deities were everywhere. The scent of spicy food mixed with that of the incense, just offered to the deities, was creating an unforgettable atmosphere for all of us.

“Dinner is ready!” – Narayan’s mother said, a small but beautiful, smiling and hospitable woman. She was maybe fifty but she did not show all those years.

We could no longer resist, the aromas of foods had stimulated our appetite. The head table was Narayan’s father and his mother was in front of him. I was sitting next to Narayan and the others took the other places according to their taste.

“It took us 25 years to share the table with us, as he once did” – Narayan’s father broke the ice.

“Already. This is my first visit to Jaffna “- I added. Narayan’s father swallowed the first mouthful of masala wade (a traditional food) showing us a photograph of himself when he was young.

But what I never understood is who wanted the war! Who asked to separate Sri Lanka! You Sinhalese and we Tamils have always lived in harmony since the Middle Ages.

In 1983, when the Tamil separatists began their battle with the state, a page of our history has been turned. They showed the world that Tamil civilians were demanding to separate from Sri Lanka. That was just a lie. Our people have always been peaceful and humble.

LTTE  (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) wanted the war to fill their pockets with money from commissions or contracts jointly with your corrupt politicians.

Indeed, when LTTE ruled north and northeast, it forced everyone to enlist to fight for the separation from Sri Lanka. At the time I was wondering: “Am I at my home or what do I have to ask for?”

I was born in Sri Lanka and raised in the country, I am a citizen of Sri Lanka and so what is there to be separated? Sri Lanka is the homeland for all of us, those born here are citizens of the country. LTTE did not believe and did not understand the simple reasoning. They always wanted to erect walls, social, religious and ethnic. They preferred to live apart from everyone else. Therefore they declared war against all the ethnic groups that lived in the then peaceful Sri Lanka.

One day, a boy from my class came to me crying at the school, when I was teaching. He told me that LTTE had forcibly recruited his parents for fighting. Over time, even in my class, many boys did not show at school.  They were also recruited against their will to embrace arms rather than hold the pen. Terrorists have neither heart nor culture. They kept destroying our lives in Jaffna. So the FBI declared them one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world.

They even used infamous war tactics to generate hatred against the Sinhalese. Many times they have carried out suicide attacks by killing several Sinhalese, both children and adults. How many resources have they destroyed in those attacks? At the end who has lost? The poor mothers have lost their children and they themselves have lost their parents, the brothers have seen their sisters disappear and teachers like me have lost their students. At the end of the day, we have all lost, both Sinhalese and Tamil.

I am sorry for the outburst. When those times came to mind, I can no longer control myself. Help yourself. Feel at home, Narayan’s father said, getting up from his chair and starting to serve those goodies. None of us had the courage to refuse. We looked at each other and emptied the dishes with much tasty!

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