As a teenage Tamil boy who witnessed many atrocities firsthand in Northern Sri Lanka, I know this well—'nobody survives a war whole.’ Like some Eelam Tamils, I was one of the lucky ones. Those of us who witnessed the era of Sri Lankan brutality and war, which left many Tamils to be displaced and stateless, must always remember this.
There are no winners in a war, only survivors. Since the time the survivors arrived on friendly shores far away from Sri Lanka, they have been living in two worlds. One with loss, grief, and haunting memories. And the other with peace, prosperity, and profits. One is painful and the other is gratifying.
Personally speaking, my fate and choice have forged my Tamil and Canadian dual identity: I'm an accidental Sri Lankan by birth, a proud Canadian by choice, and an unapologetic Tamil by heritage.
However, a few things were nagging at me as we headed into our Remembrance Day of our fallen heroes. Then the consciousness started creeping in, there it was, in the nether recesses of my mind, niggling away. Then I remembered.
I attended my first fallen Tiger’s funeral in Point Pedro in 1984—Ranjan Lala died on July 13th of that year. He gave his life to Eelam at the prime age of 24. Since then, I have heard of many, including some of my friends I grew up with, who gave their lives for the Tamil freedom cause.
I don’t know if you are a conservative or liberal. I don’t know if you are religious or not. I don't know if you believe in the afterlife, or believe there is heaven and hell. I don't know if you believe in weird conspiracy theories, or believe there are aliens on the other side of the moon. I don’t know if you supported or hated the Tamil Tigers. What I do know is that right or wrong, many brave, selfless men and women—rooted in Tamil pride, fought on our behalf and paid the ultimate price.
Some gave a foot, a leg, a hand, an arm. Some gave their health, their sight, and their hearing. Some gave up sleep for restless nightmares. Some had unknowingly traded sanity for insanity. And not every fighter that died, gave their lives on the battlefield. Those who didn’t die in the battlefield, came back only to die in little bits and pieces until there is nothing left of themselves. Some gave all, but for sure ALL gave something—to prevent Tamils from being a historical footnote of Sri Lanka.
Many of the thousands who gave their lives for the Tamil freedom struggle in Sri Lanka must have known their death was imminent. And yet, their courage and dedication created the greatest liberation struggle in the history of Tamils. In the end, they endured the ultimate assault. For the living, remembrance comes in flashbacks and nightmares—collateral damage that is seldom tabulated.
Sri Lanka can kill Tamils, and destroy properties, but it can never conquer the hearts and minds of the Tamil people. We must commemorate the ‘fallen’ while in our search for Tamil Eelam because we don’t want to be conquered by the evil designs of Sri Lanka. No evil can withstand the strength of people whose time has come.
You may ask where is this Tamil Eelam?
Late Colonel Kittu [Sathasivam Krishnakumar] was once asked the same question by an Englishman connected with the British Refugee Council: “you say Tamil Eelam, but where are the boundaries of this Tamil Eelam that you talk about? Show me.” Kittu aptly replied: “Take a map of the island. Take a paintbrush and paint all the areas where Sri Lanka has bombed and launched artillery attacks these past several years. When you have finished, the painted area that you see—that is Tamil Eelam.”
Eventually, as the slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka slips from living experience, its historical understanding must be preserved, advanced, and remembered. To that end, putting all the politically divisive bickering and differences aside, it is okay for decent human beings to mourn the loss of other human beings on November 27th.
Maaveerars' bravery and self-sacrifices like Ranjan Lala and Kittu’s should be recorded in golden letters in Tamil history and should be inscribed in the conscience of every Tamil. Diaspora Tamils of this—and future generations to come must make sure neither our history nor the passage of time will deny these selfless brave souls their honorable due—nor, will they be forgotten as a footnote to Tamil history. Tamils must show fidelity to history and to their memory.
We will never forget your heroic sacrifice!!
என்றும் மறவோம் உங்கள் வீர தியாகத்தை!! 🌺 🌺