The pearl of the Indian Ocean, once the envy of the east, now torn and battered, gasping, clutching at the last straws to survive another day. Is it the end of the civil war or just cease fire for another eruption, for another day for another cause?
A lot has happened since the start of the civil war, loss of my friend and then my departure to Australia. Before I go any further I like to dedicate this story/writing/rant to my late friend Lalith Gunesinghe. This is not all about Lalith. But Lalith’s passing was the main reason for me to analyse what happened, what went wrong in my place of paradise.
I have no illusions of changing the mindset of the Sri Lankan’s, but I do hope that I make at least an iota of difference in someone’s thinking, especially of those from Australia, or at least amongst the young generation to make them think, make them aware of what actually happens in a war. More importantly when you hear it on the news, it is just data and that of distorted data, words such as “casualties” are thrown around, just a mere number, their names are not important, I understand that there are too many of them, but there lies a real person, he is a dad, a son, a brother or even a friend. This person is going to be missed by all, and not just for that moment, but for years and years to come.
My name is Uma Sivapalan. To a Sri Lankan this name would explain that I am a female of Tamil origin and most likely a Hindu. My friend Lalith Gunesinghe was a Sinhalese male.It is, if the name was Mc Donald it is very likely the person is of Scottish decent, likes the bottle with the walking man and has a good command of the“f” word. Lalith’s name doesn’t really stipulate that he was Buddhist, but most likely. Some of those who converted to Christianity during the English colonisation did not change their surnames. But Lalith was a Budhist from the Kandy region. Upper Class. My forefathers came from the North of the country Jaffna. Again from the right class and stock.
History is usually written by the victor. But what saddens me most is not that History could be biased. But, we use history for the wrong reasons. We should learn from our mistakes, but preserve the good. We constantly do it in reverse.
Sri Lanka is a very small Island with a big population. Most of us are not even Christians, but we believed in “go forth and multiply”. It is made up of Sinhalese (majority), Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. Languages spoken are Sinhala, Tamil and English. Not sure why we did not adapt Portuguese and Dutch. We took their surnames and cooking but not their languages. Thank god we didn’t look to the English for cooking tips. We stopped at sipping the tea. We copied a bit of the singing and dancing from the Portuguese as well. Budhism and Hinduism came from India. With the invasions of the west, some of us converted to Christianity. Islam came from the Arab traders.
I think what baffles most of the westerners who have visited the island is that, if you take the individual Sri Lankan, he is a very peaceful and lovable person. They are renowned for their generosity and friendship, how can such a lot then be involved in a terrible war, where they killed their own. Yes, we killed our own. Yes, you can separate them as per their language/dialect they speak. But, we are really the same. Some Tamils, who are now residing in different countries, have taken a stance to say that theyare not Sri Lankan’s. I understand their reasons, but finding it hard to condone it fully.
We look the same, brown skin, black hair, dark eyes etc. Act the same way when someone asks you “are you from India?”. I am still to witness a Sri Lankan, who takes more than two seconds to say, “NO I AM FROM SRI LANKA ”. We respond as if we’ve been called a pariah. In this we become SriLankans. It may be a tiny isle, but it has its own identity, New Zealand is not Australia.
As a Tamil, I understand why some of the Tamils have disowned their birth place. I sometimes wonder if I am a Sri Lankan or an Australian. Am I being unfaithful to Australia, when I secretly wish Sri lanka doesn’t lose badly in the cricket? Am I being unfaithful to Sri Lanka when I support Australia over my birth place? For some Aussies they can’t understand why I don’t support Sri Lanka, for some others it definitely has to be Australia, I have adopted this country that means I should support everything Australia. If not I am being unfaithful. It’s not that easy or simple. It’s like when you get married, now you have another set of family and an extended family. Just because you love your husband doesn’t mean you hate your parents or siblings. The love and affection you have for you’re in laws will depend on each ones experience. And hence the reason why migration either works or doesn’t work. The answer is not one size fits all. It depends on both parties as well. And if you love or hate your birth place will depend on your individual circumstance. I will revisit this area again later, why for me I cannot join the collective hate nor love for Sri Lanka.
It is now over 25 years in Australia, most of it spent in Sydney and the last ten years or so in Adelaide. Altogether I have lived more of my living years in Australia than in Sri Lanka. Does it make me an Australian or Sri Lankan? Legally yes I am Australian, but within me who do I want to be? More importantly what does the rest of Australia accept me as?
I feel like an adopted child who is extremely happy with her adopted parents. Have the same anguish and disappointment of my birth parent Sri Lanka. I did nothing wrong, but she still let me down. I don’t really care, I am in a good place, in fact I am in a better place, the best place, but it still hurts.
The above is a story I am currently in the process of writing. I was not going to publish this until I completely finish it and analyse it, as I have a feeling I am going to annoy a lot Tamils as well as Sinhalese with I say and reveal.
The reason for me to publish some of it today is because My New Island Paradise Australia is showing signs of falling pray to racism. I am really upset and annoyed. Every time a foreign celebrity, accuses Australia of being racist, I keep defending and say “Nah” they are just open about what they say, absolutely amazing people. Just a small minority is spoiling it for everyone.
I am posting my story because I want you numb nuts to know that there is nothing amazing about going to war. Not within your own country. You may not know it, but this is just a paradise. Please don’t spoil it because your kids wants Kung Pao Chicken for dinner and not your pot roast.
A vote for Pauline Hanson is a vote for racism. Come on guys we can do better than that. I am not saying we don’t have issues with refugees and migration. But we need to address them in a democratic way.
Imagine if your child is born being hated. Where do you think he will end up. That’s exactly where you are sending the Muslim kids to. Straight to ISIL. In my view anyone who engages in hate speech/rally is also a Terrorist. Well, if you see a bunch of Muslims gathered and say bad things about Christians what would you call them?
I am skeptical about churches and priests after, what I’ve heard of the horrors that happened behind certain doors. Yes, I am angry with all the churches and priests. As in my mind even if you didn’t commit the crime, you allowed it to go on, so you are guilty too. You don’t want to know what I think of Cardinal Pell. But do I then go on to hate my neighbor who is a Catholic too?
The question of whether Islam is a religion of Peace or not is another ludicrous argument. All religions are meant to be peaceful, But every religion or it’s followers manage to make it as vile as possible. Every religion, at one time or another has been the cause of some misery. Because religion is in the hands of the man, he will twist it and turn it to suit him. Let’s stop blaming religions and blame the actual culprits. Let’s stop generalizing a whole group of people and address the individuals who commit the crime.
I think I have vented enough. World Peace seems far away. But, ever the optimist, will sign of demanding for one.
Daily post word prompt: Island