‘I can’t remember my sister’s face’ – the story behind ‘Stranded’ by Sivasubramaniam Kajendran


Stories find you and not the other way around sometimes—Siva Kaja’s story just burst on me without warning. It was not a by-the-book introduction. He sent me a photo of his exhibition STRANDED on FB and I asked him to send me a write-up that I could share with my friends in Sri Lanka.

‘Call me and I will tell you the story behind my exhibition’, he said, and – little realizing that he would find it hard to convey the meaning in written English – I insisted that he write something first.
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In Benghazi today or Jaffna then, the teachers kept on teaching despite the shelling!

The BBC reported this today on a school reopening in Beghazi and I was reminded of what the Jaffna teacher said …

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Do you remember Johnny Batta? The irony of it all…

A comment on De-Mining Sri Lanka: A Job for Widows and Survivors

Screen shot 2016-01-19 at 11.40.22 AMRead Smriti Daniel’s article on Al-Jazeera published on 12 January 2016. Enter a world you didn’t know existed, but one which Vimaleswaran Gunamala, Ananda Chandrasiri, Damian O’ Brien of the HALO trust —and even His Excellency the British High Commissioner James Dauris, who previously in Columbia knew de-mining and HALO’s work and visited Kilinochchi last May—are fully aware of.

This is Mahumalai, Kilinochchi in the baking heat of a northern sun.

The LTTE laid a circle of explosives around a well where soldiers might stop for water or in the gardens of homes they abandoned to the advancing Sri Lankan army. Mines have been found in pots of curd and plastic cricket bats.

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Music, healing and sincerity: A few insights for those who wish to engage

I didn’t know Tanya when I published  sometime ago about her event at the Kennedy Center. I didn’t know of sjc87initiative the organisation that invited Tanya to the North until I engaged with Australian Diaspora when  I published about a refugee Ranjini in Australia. Now I know both and decided to get their input on the event, how it took place and what we can learn about engaging with the war-affected children in post-war Sri Lanka by the Diaspora. [Read more…]

‘To Unite or Not to Unite’ is THIS the Question ?


Gaya Fernando

I agree with Elijah.  Not the old prophet on the frontispiece of the King James’ Version but young Elijah with tousled hair and same appreciation of quirky Sri Lanka as I.  But then Elijah and I are from the same land.  When I saw his Youtube testimonial on Sri Lanka Unites a long time ago I said to myself ‘watch that space.’  A few days ago Elijah sent me his essay on Reconciliation.  I read it and knew that I would need, as I generally do, a quiet moment to reflect on it and introduce it properly.
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Never Again : 31 years ago the ashes of the Jaffna Library were scattered in the wind

31 May 1981


“On this day 31 years ago, the Jaffna Public Library was burnt down by the members of the Sri Lankan security forces. All its collection of more than 90,000 volumes of books turned to ashes within hours. This act of cultural genocide left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the Tamil speaking people.”


Ashes – to the Jaffna library


by Rasika Jayakody


History’s footprints
are ash.

There are ash people,

ash places,

ash memories,

and ash eyes.

This library,

the one you see,

is ash too.

There were ashen people here,

wearing ash spectacles,

sitting on ash chairs

and reading ash books.

Those ash books

contained ashen lessons;

the lessons of 1981,



and onwards,

ash years;

and the ash walls here

still recall

the ash words

heard on the ash day.

Where would all this ash go,

one day?

maybe there is an ocean,


an ocean of time,

made of ash

and ashes.

The ash ocean,

will kiss

the ashen shore of


the city of ashes,

and caress

the ash heartbeat of my nation,

“Sri Lanka maatha…”

The featured part-image of a burning book was part of the Colombo Art Biennale’s exhibition in 2009.





Images of the Week    May 19-26, 2012

A Journey of Remembrance and Transformation together !


iSrilankan wishes to remember today the people who lost loved ones, livelihoods, homes and identity in the long ethno-political war in Sri Lanka. Diverse and some yet unknown sorrows could make this nation and her people grieve without end.

I could grieve and move on.  A grieving father could grieve a lifetime.  A mother who still awaits in her heart in a Kandyan home for that MIA son in the Sri Lankan Army who fell in Killinochchi is perhaps not celebrating the end of the war and its verdict of certain death of her son.  A Diasporan caught up with the burden of guilt and identity is torn apart by what he owes to his ‘people’.  A child whose first ten years was marked  by the death of one parent and abandonment by another, faces the breakdown of social structures in the North due to war and cannot be cared for adequately in the post-war situation. She is growing in grief.

One day is not enough. Yet this is a time to remember the fear and horror that should never return : The terrible suicide bombers in the South, the child soldiers in the North, the shelling of civilians having dinner and doing their homework and getting married in the North and East, the terrible civilian deaths that marked the final battles, the many parents who lost their children to war, to paramilitary abductions and assassinations, and the fatigue and emotional exhaustion of all Sri Lankan people both home and away who have no energy any more to dwell on the carnage, war and related themes. It is human. We are all half-dead it seems at times with remembering.

There is much to grieve after. But there has to be transformation for us to breathe as individuals and to save our energy for those worst-affected by war.

And we are transforming.  Not at the pace that we may wish to see yet there is transformation. Society is today very concerned about issues of impunity that would have gone unnoticed during the war. A Buddhist monk attacks a mosque in an act of impunity and violence and there is no bloodbath and civilians take a stand against impunity; the mother has formed an organisation for war widows and the father stands still and quiet in the Diasporan silence asking revenge from no one; the child finds a good children’s home thanks to the supportive network as well as the functioning system of public service in Jaffna; the young Diasporans are not willing to be brainwashed and ordered around by ‘middlemen’ and messengers’ and are willing to find friends in all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka; the SLU network is doing good work and networking the young people to prevent future division. Countless people, organisations, clubs such as Rotary and others are helping to transform the post-conflict society in Sri Lanka based at home and ‘abroad’. And they count for something.


The Never Again series will look at Srilankans both in Sri Lanka and living in the Diaspora who are agents of transformation and who are willing to engage with communities in their own country and in Sri Lanka to prevent a return to conflict. iSrilankan will share their journey  motivated by love for their people and guided by good sense in this post-confict societal transition.


Dear People of Thambapanni


ARVINTH, North London :

Hello Lankan Fellas! If there’s a day that makes us all Lankans celebrate together, well that would be the great ‘Sinhala-Tamil New Year’.

And I never understood the meaning and I never understood why this was called Sinhala-Tamil new year rather Tamil New Year. May be it’s just cos I was born in the late 80s and was brought up in one of the beautiful districts of the Island called ‘Jaffna’. [Read more…]

An Avurudu Wish for Savi !


There are many Avurudu Kumaris and Avurudu Kumarayas-in-waiting ! They need your SUPPORT, your GOOD SENSE and your BELIEF in HIS or HER RESILIENCE.

This is a time for engagement and realism; a time to cast aside emotion and plunge into action.


An Avurudu Wish for Savi ! from iSrilankan on Vimeo.

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