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Peeking through my fingers

June 15, 2011

I haven’t watched Channel 4’s documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields.” I’ve read about it, talked about it, thought about it.   But I haven’t watched it.

It’s too much, and too bloody late. Literally.

Sri Lankan Tamils are the mousiest, most scared-of their-own-shadow people I know. We are conventional, bound by dated mores like horoscopes, caste and family honour.  We keep our heads down and study useful things like engineering, medicine and a bit of religion.  An arts graduate, who has read literature, music and painting,  is considered a bit thick – not as bright as the ones who can map out the human body or an equation.

We are not a people who expected to add so much to the horror of the twentieth century. We wanted to create doctors and accountants, not the first suicide bombers of the modern age. And we have no idea how to deal with the crushing, endless, brutal violence around us.

I used to think that surely, at some point, this war will end. I used to hope India would intervene. It did. It failed.

I have no language to talk about Sri Lanka anymore. And no words to describe how it feels when outsiders turn around and say “you know what, maybe it was as awful as you once said it was.”


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