By Piyumi Fonseka
Colombo, November 21 (newsin.asia): It is sad to see the communal attitude of some Sri Lankans including people around me. I felt like sharing this story with you all. Please spare a moment and read it.
Pictured with me are Sri Lankan Tamils who had fled to Tamil Nadu by boat to save their lives at the height of the war.
During my higher studies in Kerala, India, I wanted to meet Sri Lankans living in Tamil Nadu refugee camps and write about them.
Although I went with two of my friends from Chennai, I had second thoughts on whether the refugees would speak to me because I am a ‘Sinhala Buddhist’. However I did go to a camp anyway with the belief that as people of my country, they will talk to me.
What happened there is what you all need to know.
They first wondered why I had come to visit them all the way from Kerala. But after doubts were cleared they took me in and welcomed me as if I was like one of their family. They told me that I was the first Sri Lankan to visit them at the camp since they left Sri Lanka and settled in the camps in the 1990s.
The refugees told me how nicely they used to live in harmony and peace before the war in Sri Lanka, how dismal their lives in the refugee camp are and how longingly they dream about returning to their motherland.
But at the same time they were scared to go back, ambivalent about as to how fellow Sri Lankans will welcome them as a considerable number of them had affiliations with LTTE members in the past. They said all they wanted was to die in the country of their birth.
Simona, a 70-year-old mother of five, had a son in the LTTE who died at the age of 22 in the war. Her husband had also died in a shell attack.
“Before the war, we were living happily and peacefully with Sinhala people. We had a beautiful life in Sri Lanka,” she recalled.
The inmates of the camp did not let us leave without having lunch which was made in one of the houses in the camp. We were served rice with potatoes, beans and boiled eggs.
Those women who, I felt, were like my mother or aunt, hugged me and wished me good health. I was in tears.
As a journalist and a Sri Lankan, that day is cherished as one of the most unforgettable days in my life.
Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher, we are all Sri Lankans. But we are labeled as Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers. It is true that there are extremists in every religion. But, why are we looking at everyone with the same lens? We all have such short lives. Why waste time spreading hate? Wouldn’t it be the greatest victory for Sri Lanka if we all can get together as one strong army and work for a brighter future?