My joy’s turning sour.

My mind is in disequilibrium, as most things in Sri Lanka are right now. I was ecstatically happy two days ago, but now things seem to be turning sour.

The president, encouragingly, has made a statement, Thursday, saying, “Ensuring that the nation’s outpouring of joy at the defeat of terrorism, leaves no room for anyone’s feelings to be hurt in any manner is the greatest tribute we can pay to our Motherland.”

However, this may be a little too late to reverse the harmful effect that some of the celebrating yakkos have had on the Tamil Sri Lankan psyche. There are reports of taunting, of forcibly getting people to raise the flag, of publicly burning and flogging effigies of Prabhakaran, of revellers requesting money from Tamil shops to fund their parties. This makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I don’t believe this is the most prevalent manifestation of celebratory joy. The few people on the street I spoke to yesterday were not of that mindset. They seemed aware of the need for a political solution to address the needs of Tamil Sri Lankans and they were not just celebrating a Sinhala victory, but the end of a long war and the hope of a better future for all Sri Lankans. One of the main things cited was the end to the fear of bombs. One guy told me that in his neighbourhood they had got together and made kiribath which they were offering passers-by, sometimes perhaps a little insistently, dhansal style. I asked him whether they were offering the kiribath to Tamil Sri Lankans as well, and he answered me rather sternly that this has nothing to do with ethnicity, that they are sharing their kiribath and their joy with everyone because they are so happy. I felt his intentions were pure.

However, it makes no difference whether this was the sentiment of the majority of people who stayed in their own communities and neighbourhoods and partied it down. What was seen by the Tamil Sri Lankans were the minority of people who decided to venture into the majority Tamil areas of Kotahena and Wellawatte in their flag laden convoys and trample on sensitivities at a time when Tamil Sri Lankans were feeling especially vulnerable. This is truly sad.

I wish more Tamil Sri Lankans would join in and share the joy that most of the rest of us feel at the end of this long war. I wish they would have faith in a better future for us all. I wish they would feel less afraid to come out and express themselves. I wish they’d convince their concerned relatives abroad that things are getting better. I wish they would want to participate enthusiastically in the procees of constructing our collective future. But how can I expect them to, when some of them are being exposed to this humiliation at the hands of a few thoughtless idiotic Sinhalese? Aiyo. May moda yakku ratama kanawa.

It is true that many Tamil Sri Lankans have been saddened at the death of Prabhakaran. This is something I am trying hard to understand. I do not see this as a rational reaction, because in my opinion his existence made their lives much much worse. However, I can see that he was their loudest and perhaps only effective voice (largely as a result of him killing off any other contenders) and I can understand that to many of them he was larger than life. Maybe I can even understand why some of the less rational would have regarded him as a hero. However, I find it very difficult to understand why many of them immediately felt less safe when they heard he was no more. This I think is a prevalent feeling among some of the Tamil Sri Lankan community and it is something that I am really trying hard to get to grips with. This seems to me a product of warped logic. I would have thought the opposite were true – that Prabhakaran’s existence actually made Tamil Sri Lankans less safe. There was an expectation of being less safe long before any of these celebrations started, and as far as I am aware, as distasteful as some of the reports have been, there are no reports of Tamil Sri Lankans actually being harmed or threatened.

Despite these problems we have in understanding the other community and how it is feeling at the moment, we should all realise that this is the immediate aftermath. It’s only been two days. Feelings are running extremely high and low. We are all trying to grips with things. We need to give each other time to process things and come to terms with this immense change in the staus quo in our own ways. We can only try to understand and express our opinion. Trying to force it down another’s throat is how we ended up fighting this long war in the first place.

However, these fisrt few days are also the ones that leave a mark. A confused mind is a very suggestible mind. At this time of great change, when people are trying to figure out what is going on, what is going to be their future, the people who stand up and say this is how I think it should be, this is what we are going to do are the ones who will get the most attention and set the tone. In this light, while understanding their reasons, I think it is a tragedy that Tamil Sri Lankans are either feeling too vulnerable to speak and participate, or are choosing not to do so of their own accord.

I wish the TNA MPs had turned up to parliament on Tuesday.


12 thoughts on “My joy’s turning sour.

  1. Finally, I’m happy that there’s someone who somewhat understands what we are going through. Yes, you have good reason for thinking that we feared under Prabhakharan, but the truth was, he was the only strong voice for the Tamils. All the others were mostly doing it just for the perks and the high lifestyle (such as our dear political Murali), but he was the only one who was doing it genuinely for us. Yes, I still can’t bring myself to accept the fact that he was killing civilians just because they were leaving for safety. My dad was recently telling me that there was a time when no-one, not even the vociferous JVP or the SLFP, dared to raise an insult against Tamils for fear that they would get assassinated….such was the self-respect that he gave to us Tamils…I still can’t accept what he did in the final few months, but this is the reason for the overwhelming sadness among Tamil people. And like u said, Ravana, the idiots who try to rub it in us by forcing us to carry flags don’t really help in a time when Mahinda seems to have a genuine commitment to give equal status to us Tamils…

    • ‘There was a time when no one not even the vociferous JVP or the SLFP dared to raise an insult against Tamils for fear that they would get assassinated’

      So.. only the fear of assassination kept the vociferous JVPs and SLFPs and maybe JHUs from raising insults against Tamils?

      No darling. Insulting Tamils, depriving them of their civil rights, discriminating against them have never been part of those parties’ political agenda/philosophy. If you think about it there are things that are simply not done/out of place/unnatural during certain eras. Having the above attitude/philosophy/agenda re Tamils would be so not 20th/21st Century. Any mainstream political party which had such a philosophy would be laughed out of the political arena.

      No the only vociferousness they display that is open to an offensive interpretation is when they deny the Tamil people the right to have race specific political aspirations i.e. the right to wield political power within a political unit a) where they are the majority b) which corresponds geographically to the Kingdom of Jaffna that was in existence at the time of the Dutch invasion. The above mentioned political parties justify their vociferous denial of the Tamil people’s right to rule their own areas thus;

      “No race inhabiting this country has special territorial rights over any area of this country. The whole idea that a particular race living within a country can claim ownership to a particular territory is so racist, so passé and so not 21st century. All races calling Sri Lanka their country have equal rights to every inch of territory within this country”.

      Mention subjugation of one race by another, mention political autonomy for Tamil people so they can be a Power so that checks and balances and safeguards will be established against marginalization and it provokes further outbreaks of vociferousness;

      “Historically this island was a unitary state. The sovereign writ of the ruler was effective throughout the land. During some periods of our history various south Indian invaders managed to wrest the northern territory away and rule it. Like any self respecting country the rulers and the people felt an irresistible imperative to unite the country again and did so time and time again. This historic imperative exists unchanged over the millennia in the Sri Lanka’s ideologysphere finding hosts in Sri Lankans. It became operative the present ruler and brought about the inevitable conclusion.

      With these historic conquests came a Tamil population that swore allegiance to the invading ruler. And so a historic imperative to separate the northern parts from the Sri Lankan state also exists in the Sri Lankan ideologisphere finding hosts among the Tamil people. They should resist this imperative and get integrated in to the Sri Lankan Nation”.

  2. I think the President should make it very clear to these ‘Yakko’ fringes that intimidation and humiliation of Tamils will not be tolerated in a united Sri Lanka.

    After all, this very small ‘Yakko’ element is the one that will undermine all attempts by the saner majority to rebuild this country.

    Tough action should be called for and taken against such elements!

  3. There is nothing that others can do to your joy, if it is turning sour, only you can turn it sweet.
    I just sent about 500 individual emails explaining what ACT is and asking to help. What have you done? How about a link to ACT from your popular web site. Yes I am working on putting it on my site as well, as soon as I finish sending out emails (my site is not that famous in any case 🙂

  4. Sinhalese have a share of idiots like everyone does. No need to counter that there were sick celebrations in some places.

    But what I was thinking was whether the Cricket Tragic is a idiot or not. Looks like he is against LTTE killing tamil civilians who tried to escape in the last few months but not a single word about the sinhalese LTTE used to slaughter all these years. I would like to remind you sir that this line of thinking would also not help either.

  5. @Liberal Lanka

    Look, if I started on the fact that LTTE has killed sinhala civilians, I could also go on about how Tamil civilians are treated cruelly by the SLA and the Police…I do criticise the LTTE quite often when talking with people, but, like a friend recently told me, I have never heard of a case of LTTE members raping Sinhala women, but can the opposite be true of the SLA?

    SLA have also committed countless atrocities, so please don’t get me started.

    I feel this discussion should not continue on this thread as Ravana is trying to get a very important point across. Such trivial arguments doesn’t really help his message…

  6. Can’t help but butt in: Liberal Lanka and Cricket Tragic – just cause ‘they did it’ doesn’t make it okay for ‘us to be doing it’ (whoever you define as us and them). Wrong is still wrong regardless of who did it or who started it.

    But err yeah, nice post Ravana. The yakkos are really spoiling it for the rest of us, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised!

  7. Awesome post Ravana. It is everything that I’m wondering! If these “yakkos” (I don’t even know what that means but I assume it to mean yobs!) are the minority than surely people should have seen the LTTE as a minority and most Tamils within SL not treated the way they have been?
    It’s worse especially when the “yakkos” have been targetting those Tamils that have lived/are trying to live harmoniously with the Sinhalese.

  8. You’re right, it is sad that Tamils feel unsure about their future, especially at this point in time but you would feel the same wouldn’t you if you saw this ridiculous Royal-Thomian behaviour that seems, at least to the outsider, to be fuelled by death? It is possible that people are celebrating a possible end to terrorism, the unification of the country and the end of a terrorist organisation. But if they’re celebrating death, even the death of a terrorist, then what’s to stop them from celebrating yours someday? In the same brash, crass way?

  9. Good article. You’re dead right about the fact that a bunch of hooligans in flag convoys is giving a bad name to the majority of people at a time like this. As for the Tamil people and Prabhakaran’s demise – maybe its the fact that his existence did bring their claims into the open arena (albeit through fear rather than diplomacy). It may only be natural that they wonder whether things would return to pre-1983 reality with no more threat of Prabhakaran and his suicide cadres. However, I truly hope that this regime gets its rear in gear and proves to them and the world that Sri Lanka has changed.

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