Following the hourglass of human momentum, this space picks up the thread of the past four decades since that fateful 1983 landmark pogrom against the Tamil community in Colombo and beyond. It was then that the many conflicts and harmonies, issues both between ethnic communities and within ethnic communities, between rich and poor, between the English fluent post-colonial and others were eclipsed by the violence of civil war seemingly defined on ethnic lines.
Since 1983, the violence has never stayed tidily on either side but was without boundary. ‘Too many have died’ said Valentine Daniel, ‘to say more would be an oversimplification’ am quoting from memory from his work Charred Lullabies. Someone was sneering at us as the mortals were allowed their moments of hope during the peace talks in 1990, exhilaration as when we won the Cricket World Cup, and the interlude of the ceasefire of 2002. In Europe, I swore, when this long-awaited event had to take place just when I had reluctantly decided I might as well leave the island as the war looked as though it would never end in my lifetime. For good measure, the Gods sent the Tsunamis of 2004 to shake up the land and throw its people and homes and yes tourists too into a billowing wave that swallowed up forever, their physical human remains. Tragedy upon tragedy, grieving upon grieving, a nation stunned to its core!
Then at the end of the ‘unwinnable’ war in 2009, with its interlocking constellations of interests both on the island and overseas, in ideology and in reality, thousands of Tamil civilians of the Northern Province died, held as human shields by the insurgent rebels, and many young boys from the South perished in body bags. The nation gathered its rags, bones and soul and walked shakily towards a future without civil war.
In 2015, psycho-social services began in the North, the capital Colombo began to thrive and the tourists were everywhere.
Well, the moderate Muslims were not to be spared nor the tourists nor the peaceful progress of this nation. In 2019, extremist Islamic cell terrorism bombed the churches on Easter Sunday, the hotels, in an attempt to turn the nation upside down and unleash the beast. Yet Colombo did not burn. Our communities have shown great restraint, resilience and have not succumbed to full blown popular violence on the streets against an imagined ‘other’.
This space is a work in progress. It will keep the essential random energy by featuring a callout when someone or something moves ahead, transcends, emerges, when the dots join up and humanity prevails. This space will allow young people who wish to independently learn about the postcolonial conflict as well as the ways of our people, some GoodReads, a peek into the technicolour culture of our land and the ‘cool’ people who do not stagnate in hate or lose themselves baying their whole lives but get on with Life! After a war, such a complex time of many conflicts, it will take decades to emerge but some have not stood still nor waited for the next generation. Some have transcended, engaged, created organisational structures, networked with youth, upskilled, trained what-have-you for a need to invest in a differently imagined future where the land will not see war, insurgency and the talents of rural young people, students are supported and connected to their fellow-lankans in other districts. These initiatives criss-cross faith, ethnic, regional, class boundaries. This is a unique energy in our island and not all of it needs to be shared. Many prefer to stay unseen and work till the days of their lives, like grains of sand through the hourglass, is done.
That is what I know. This space has no other object but to share with the new generation and old, those within the island borders and beyond, especially with the curious young peoplem to whom Sri Lanka is their rootsland:
1. The GoodReads on BadEvents as I call the credible writings on the conflict that I have read myself.
2. The Resilience Series of how many humans of this land have with trudging feet and patient acceptance of every tragedy, every challenge, moved beyond the landscape of war.
3. Then & Now a snapshot of the momentum of the past decades since the civil war began.
4. Encounter, Explore and Engage!
In the spirit of common humanity inspired by our Own.