(Available at Vijitha Yapa Publications –Sri Lanka)
Vannathikulam,my short novel was initially jotted down as notes when I had just been initiated into the Veterinary Profession, and later worked at Medavacchiya from 1980 to 1983.The events ,I saw and experienced formed the nucleus around this short novel and written fifteen years later in Tamil. The events visited by me in this short novel were between 1980 and 1983 and these are three important years for those who are bent on writing Sri Lankan history.
During the my course of work I visited Sinhala village’s border Tamil area s of North and East. Many incidents that took place during my stay at Medawachiya affected me deeply and left indelible marks in my memories.
The Sri Lankan racial riots of July 1983 was not accidental. or spontaneous .It was meticulously planed and carried out by many politicians of that era. Seeds of discord sown in the early 1980 resulted in the pogrom of 1983 and subsequent armed violence. .
Although politicians among all communities followed the policy divide and rule for their benefit, average people on with their day to day work with out racial differences. I too during this time lived and worked among humble Sinhalese folks through sheer necessity
This novel is an admixture of true events and a fictional love story where two souls from the different ethnic background fall in love and want to live in a bond while overcoming many problem s arising through ethnicity
I am very grateful to Mr K Kumarasamy popularly known as Nallaikumaran, for translaing my original Tamil novel into to English, He is equally at home in both English and Tamil .He has already translated many works Tamil to English and vice versa.
I am indebted to my friend DBS Jeyaraj, renowned political commentator and regular contributor to news papers ,for kindly writing a forward to my for not o,as he had already done to my Tamil Version.
I would like to thank Ambi Ambikaibalar going through the manuscript and helping with many suggestions.
I am wish to express thanks to Lionel Bopage for kindly writing a forward and comments
I am also grateful to Mr. HLD Mahidapala,one time editor, Sunday Observer Sri Lanka for giving final touches to the manuscript and valuable comments, and his act of generosity not easily forgotten
The Yarldevi train crowd had eased at Vavuniya. It was not troublesome to get down at Medawachchiya railway station. I had luggage in both hands, but I was able to get down from the train on to the platform without any inconvenience to other passengers. Only five passengers got down at Medawachchiya. They had only hand luggage and appeared to be in a hurry. I was able to understand that they were Government employees.
I walked slowly while looking at them. Only one of them smiled at me. I did not know whether the others were worried about some domestic problem or they had some anxiety over the two holidays that lapsed in the weekend. Their faces showed signs of tenseness.
I decided to talk to the person who smiled at me and introduced myself. “I am Sooryan. I have come to Medawachchiya as a Veterinary Surgeon.”
“Nice to meet you. My name is Suppiah. I am working as a clerk in the Labour Office.”
“This is my first appointment.”
“Oh! I see.”
Both of us got into a bus.
“Mr. Suppiah! Can I find a place here to stay?”
“You can stay at our Government Quarters. I will meet you in the evening. You see the Veterinary Office over there,” said Mr. Suppiah walking towards his office.
Mr. Samarasinghe greeted me at the entrance to the office. He must have guessed that I am the newly appointed Veterinary Surgeon. Both us went inside the office. Two employees, Menike and Jeyawathy, also welcomed me.
I spoke to them in the ‘Sinhala’ that I knew and took my seat. While I was attending to some files and letters, Samarasinghe gave me a lunch parcel. I took it and thanked him. After having lunch I felt relaxed and comfortable. Several thoughts crossed my mind.
I was born inJaffnaPeninsulaand I had my education too inJaffna. I had no opportunity to familiarize with the Sinhalese people. While studying in college I heard about students being victimized by the introduction of language-biased standardization by the Government, I started to hate Singhalese. I showed my hatred by showing defiance at several places. However, when I went to the University I was able to understand certain aspects better. I understood that pressures of politics were different from Governmental rule.
Medawachchiya was an electorate where Singhalese farmers lived. When I got into the train I had in mind my father’s advice to work very carefully with the Singhalese.
In due course of time, I inquired about the employees in the office. Menike came to the office daily fromAnuradhapura. She dressed according to the Kandyan custom. This was more attractive than the way the low-country Singhalese dressed.
“Menike! Are you married?” I asked her casually.
“Not yet,” she answered shyly. Jeyawathy was about 40 years of age and she had two children.
Samarasinghe was a jolly good fellow. He spoke very freely. I heard that he got married very recently.
I came out of the office at about 4.00 p.m. The sun was bright. I saw Mr.Suppiah coming towards my office. I took my bags and walked towards him. He took me to the government quarters.
The government quarters consisted of several rooms. I saw many slippers lying in the portico. Mr.Suppiah took me inside the quarters and showed me a room that was allocated to me.
After keeping the bags in the room, I came out., Three inmates came to me and introduced themselves.
“I am Rukman, working in the Ceylon Transport Board,” said one. He looked like a college student.
“I am Gamini and I am attached to the Irrigation Department,” said a short person.
“I am Gunadasa, working in the Public Works Department,” said a middle-aged person.
While we were talking, Rukman went towards the kitchen saying that it was his turn to cook. Though he looked like a college student, he showed determination in his voice. Serving me food Rukman said that I was their guest. His cooking was excellent. I thanked him for his superb meal.
A person came hurriedly and said, “ Sir! I am fromDelft.” The moustache and holy ash on his forehead showed that he was a Tamil. His name was Ragavan. Later I came to know that Ragavan and Suppiah were the only Tamils who lived in the Quarters.