“Why does an apple fall when it is ripe? Is it brought down by the force of gravity? Is it because its stalk withers? Because it is dried by the sun, because it grows too heavy, or because the boy standing under the tree wants to eat it? None of these is the cause… Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will is in the historical sense not free at all but is bound up with the whole course of history and preordained from all eternity.”
While there are so many reasons for a mere fruit to fall, Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy has raised the question about the myriad reasons there may be in the happening of other issues.
I observed the Eelam struggle, as an editor of uthayam, a monthly published in Australia and several incidents made a deep impact on me. Though there were many incidents I could recollect but the crucial one was the suicide bombing of Sri Lanka’s Army Commander triggered the final war. This novel was written after my reflection and conclusion, the Sri Lankan government alone, was not the reason for the defeat of the Tamils’ armed struggle in that country
A suicide attack is ancient. In, Biblical Samson derived prodigious strength from his uncut hair, destroyed the pillars of his prison, killed his captors, and onlookers, and died himself. We have read about Aravan’s sacrifice in the battlefield of Kurushathra in the Mahabharata. In addition, several instances of suicide squad attacks are found in our ancient stories too. Incidents of Japanese kamikaze – suicidal attacks with a bomb – during the Second World War caught opponents unawares. In current times, extremist men, women, and children have made suicide attacks. These are examples of sacrificing your life to destroy your enemy.
However, I had not read profoundly shocking incidents in the history of other entities, similar to the Tamil Tigers sending a pregnant woman continuously to an army hospital and then using her as a suicide bomber against an army commander. This violates the sanctity of motherhood and pregnancy and human society. How does one comprehend such a deed?
Many experiences the destruction of the lives, wealth, and possessions of the Tamils. However, the destruction of a Sinhalese family’s house located in the south by the armed forces – because they supported the Tamil Tigers – is the other side of the coin.
While thousands died in the Tamil Tigers’ attack on the Mullaitivu army base, seven soldiers hid in the water tank for several days and escaped with their lives. Several died in the Thunukkai torture camp of the Tigers, but some escaped with their lives.
Similar incidents made me ponder deeply. Still, I was not in Sri Lanka during the war. However, since the incidents were true, I have created my characters based on the reasons for those incidents through the media or personal contacts. Their cases have been made possible through fiction. Information is everywhere. The novel is about finding the causalities through the various threads of information and narrating the story.
There are several dark pages and many unfilled ones too in the last thirty years of war. Since it is unknown if these will be written by future historians, some of them have been created by the novelist’s imagination.
The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief is a plot. – E. M. Forster (English writer)
Those who have written about the war so far are those who took part in the war. Since I have never experienced war directly, the characters I have created are fictional. This novel follows them wherever they go. This is not a war novel. This is just the story of the victims of the Eelam war. If the reader decides that any of the characters are not fictional, it is based on the reader’s experience or his viewpoint of life. I cannot be held responsible for that.
There are victims of the protracted war in Sri Lanka in all three races. The numbers or the magnitude of the damage may vary. I see humans transcending ethnicity or religion. My characters have been selected from their respective communities to express the impact and their vulnerability. Some of my main characters have been portrayed as foreigners because many of them, and not only Tamils living abroad, are real characters in the history of this war.
I would like to point out one more thing here to help readers understand my political view as a novelist standing in the literary field.
I was one of those who thought that Tamils were pushed into armed conflict after July 83. Since the LTTE rejected two opportunities for Tamils to gain shared power more easily and killed several prominent political and community leaders, people like me who had earlier supported the struggle were forced to take the position that the LTTE was a greater enemy of the Tamils than the Sri Lankan government. While I have not moved from that position even an inch, I have documented my intention as a novel to ensure that such mistakes do not happen to future generations.
The mistakes of those who spearheaded this war must be written, but it is impossible to write about this war without describing the role of neighboring India. Many western nations took part towards the end of the war as well. The LTTE played a key role in this war but did not stop fighting the Sri Lankan government for the Tamils alone. It fought against other liberation movements too. It fought other ethnic races living within the country. It opposed the solutions proposed by foreign countries. They created a situation for themselves where they had to fight on many fronts.
Jungle predators do not hunt for more than their daily needs. They fight only to protect their lives, food, and sex. Even the rules of the jungle were not upheld in this struggle. Even supporters could not deny the bitter feeling that no justice or virtue controlled those involved in the struggle.
It is a well-known fact that Lankan politicians were at the root cause of this situation in many quarters. Politicians in the Sri Lankan government could have ended the struggle at the beginning. Unfortunately, they not only created and politicised the war, also changed it into a business. Similarly, Tamil politicians acted as spectators cheering leaders on the field.
Hence, thousands of the younger generations perished unnecessarily on both sides. The behavior of Sri Lankan politicians was like that of farmers satiating their hunger by cooking their seed grains. This war cannot be remembered that making the state or any race proud. No party won here; all that happened was destruction.
I have been observing this war and its aftermath for a large part of my life since childhood. I have tried my best to lessen the war and help its victims within the limits of what is possible for me.
Although this novel comes out at a time when the war is over, there is no complete peace, I feel like I can find some small consolation in dedicating this novel to the thousands of youths who joined the struggle in the 1970s, but were later killed by the Tigers (many of whom were my friends) and above all, to my beloved Padmanabha, Leader of the EPRLF.
The purpose of this novel is not to stir up old memories or emotions. Instead, clenching the sorrowful chapter finally. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I wrote this novel with the feeling that a son dissolves the cremated ashes of his deceased parents in the river Ganga.
Noel Nadesan. Melbourne, Australia