Left to right – Jude Pereira MP, Youhorn Chea & Author
As all of you know Sri Lanka politics is very complex. Any one, who touches it, is only touching a part of it. There is a story in Tamil about four blind people touching different parts of an elephant and thinking of an elephant in four different shapes.
If any one wants to make a story about Sri Lanka, then he has to be like Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian writer who authored the book ‘War and Peace’. By the way, this title has been used and misused by later day Sri Lankan journalists and commentators.
If we were to accept that communal seeds was planted after 1948 then young buds came out during 1975-80 reaching the pre-blooming stage during 1980-1983.
It was during these budding and pre-blooming stages I was exposed to world politics and if I had been living in Jaffna, I would have been in a militant movement.
On the other hand, if I had been in Colombo, I would have been caught in the July 1983 riots getting killed or becoming an LTTE sympathizer or its spokesman in a western country.
I was fortunate enough to live among Sinhala peasants at Medawachchya during weekdays, Jaffna at weekends and often commuting to Colombo and Kandy. These made me to see the ethnic problem from a different angle and not give a run-of the-mill kind of an approach.
It is always easy to view political events emotionally and we always wish to see them from political and religious angles. And where there is a racial or religious breakdown, responsibility has to be shared. It is the same as in marital relationship where one can debate about who has to take a greater share of the blame.
In 1983, I was able see many events, witnessing them and they have etched in my memory for ever. I could see the rot setting in but I was a silent witness and couldn’t do much to stop it. Again my stay in India for three years where I worked with Tamil refugees and militant groups helped me to sharpen and shape my political views.
After coming to Australia in 1987, I used to write to notes about my past experiences during the time I was unemployed. For more reasons than one they were put in cold storage. After Uthayam newspaper was launched, I starting writing my experiences which I gained as a Veterinary Surgeon. Some of these stories found their places in a book by EsPo, a leading light in the Tamil literary field.
One day I mentioned to him that I had a collection of notes that were enough to write a novella albeit I didn’t have the skill and experience to bring out one.
It was he who gave me all the encouragement and guidance to write the novella titled ‘Vannathikulam’. It was scripted by famous Tamil film director ‘Mullum Malarum’ Mahendran without my knowledge. Mr.N.Kumarasamy has voluntarily translated ‘Vannathikulam’ into English titled Butterfly Lake. During one of my visit to India, I ran into Mr.Vijitha Yapa and after a brief discussion he agreed to publish the novella. What I want to say is many events occur without prior planning.
When it was launched in Toronto, I received many critical comments from its readers. One comment was that the heroine in the story was not given her due place nor was her inner feelings properly expressed. My answer was that it was a love affair fictionalised to portray the turmoil in the community. The two human beings were able to find peace within them. Most importantly I was making a record of events that would never find their place in the Sri Lankan history. Finally this novella is not a literary master piece; it is a common thread among divided people in the country where I was born and bred.