Identity, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Post-War, Youth

Ramblings of an outsider in Jaffna – 1

I’ve moved to Jaffna on work. Everyone I know seems to think I’ve done something great and inspiring, to have moved here to help people. Firstly, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else for having moved here. I felt that being closer in “proximity” to issues that matter to me, would on some level bring me solace by means of contributing in some way to justice being served to a community that has long been deprived of it. So there really is nothing exceptional about my “move” as it were.

My biggest fear when moving? Well, I guess it had to be the issue of, acceptance, or should I say, the lack of it. To be considered an “outsider” imposing on a way of a life I knew and understood very little of. Or worse yet, to be thought of as a “wannabe” trying to appease my guilt, clear my conscience or worse yet, do my bit of “charity” for the year. The prospect of being hated, resented or worse “tolerated” under duress was not appealing. Especially when I knew there was enough justifiable cause to hate and mistrust. Three decades of being “the other” cannot be erased overnight. Not that I expected it to be the case, but still, it was unnerving not to know how I would be received. To add fuel to the fire, I couldn’t even speak Tamil.

I watched her as she opened her bag of clothes and started searching inside it for her pack of cards. (A pack she told me had been given to her by a former boarder, when she left the Convent). Two full bags of belongings. And that was everything she possessed in the whole world! She had lost her parents and brother to the war. Her second brother worked part time at a Kade in town, and her sister was studying at the University. She now lived at this Convent. This was where she called “home.” She wants to become a “Sister” once she finishes her studies, she says. I laughed and said that if that were to happen, the Convent would be “mudinchi” (meaning “finished,” but, I’m sure my Tamil was all wrong. But she understood what I meant, and we both had a hearty laugh anyway.) She’s 19 and only sitting for her O/L’s this December. She had lost 2 whole years of schooling when her parents were killed in 2006, because she had to run the house whilst her brother worked and her sister went to campus. “I couldn’t cook and study at the same time,” she said shrugging her shoulders. “So I stayed at home and cooked,” she said, and then added smilingly, “now, I’m studying again.” And that was that. No tears. No sighs. No blaming anyone. That was just it.

My first significant interaction with “the other” was at the Convent. Much to the amusement of my friends and family, my current abode “happens” to be a “Convent”! I’ve come across a group of extraordinary girls here. Not only did they receive me with open arms, they were sincere. Their “reality” had seen the worst of “both sides,” which seemed to have helped them conclude that there really weren’t any “good guys” in this war. They had brothers who’d been forcibly recruited and brothers who’d been detained. They’d had family members killed by the army and by the LTTE. So, as far as they were concerned, my Sinhala identity bore little consequence to what they’d been through. I’m sure I’m over-simplifying things here, and I’m sure there are still girls who have their reservations about me, but by and large they’re warming up to me. And for that, I’m grateful.

I told her that the chain she was wearing was lovely and asked her who gave it to her. She promptly took it off her neck and put it around mine, saying her “appa” (father) had given it to her. At which point I refused the gift saying that it was from her father and that she should keep it. She just smiled and said, “you like it no, so I want you to have it. My appa won’t mind.”

There are 54 other girls boarded here, most of whom have been displaced at least once in their lives. Many of them are from outside of Jaffna, who’ve come here to work, school or attend University. Nobody should have had to go through and witness what most of them have. Living in absolute fear of their lives, seeing their family members fall down dead in front of them, hoping and waiting endlessly for a missing brother, mother or father to someday reappear – I wonder where they find the strength to carry on with their lives.

Every day I get back from work, they’re all studying intensely for exams, going for tuition classes, doing their homework, getting about their daily chores, sharing a joke, humming, returning from sports practices and of course never forgetting to ask me how my day. It’s almost surreal how such normalcy can exist after so much trauma. I can’t begin to imagine how hard and painful their lives must have been, and still continue to be.

They are my mentors.

  • Atheist

    Hello Marisa de Silva,

    So you are now working in Jaffna? I presume you are boarded at the Jaffna Convent. I hope to see you in Jaffna quite soon as I visit my old residence in Nallur road every now and then. Hey, Marisa, Nona, just look for the grey haired woman in a monk haircut. Also, I’ll be wearing Tibetan pants.

    By the way, people in Jaffna don’t get upset with non-Tamil speaking “visitors”. Plenty of Sinhalese and Burghers have lived in Jaffna without even knowing so much as to say “po da”.

    Keep them coming. There are plenty of gullible people out there.

  • Marisa de Silva

    “Keep them coming. There are plenty of gullible people out there.” Not quite sure what you mean here?

    • Ariana

      Hi Marrisa.

      Are you the lady who friendly with Shehan de Alwis? Just asking to confirm whether i know you or nor because i want to help for this Jaffna thing.

  • Amelie

    Well written and sincere, Marisa. Thank you for this.
    @Atheist: Wow, and wow again, you are some kind of cynical and nasty. What’s wrong with a young woman being sensitive and caring? Since when is THAT a crime?

  • Suvendrini

    A remarkable gesture of faith in the future. Good luck.

  • Rukmankan Sivaloganathan

    Hey Marisa

    Nice article. Will be there next weekend with the rest of the crew.



  • Visvan

    My fear is that you might do something to those people. Completely vulnerable to racist agenda that has prevailed since Anargika Dharmapala. Under him this racist race killed Islamic fellow citizens/Muslims (the very first ethnic war) in the 19 hundreds. They had to hide in the forest, the Ceylon Tamil Vellahla leaders failed to realize the next ones coming for them.

    I’m 20 and ill be back to work for these people after finishing my bachelors soon. We’ve got to show them opportunities in Colombo and outside the country. I hope you work in something constructive till there are no Tamils left in the country. See it works both ways. 🙂

    If this was a separate entity of a country/entity this would be have Singapore in less than 2 years. Also in the 70’s Jaffna was miles ahead in development than Singapore but your rascist race (disgrace to Buddhism) still living in its hard-core Dharmapala ideology bombed it to Stone age. President Mahinda Rajapakse is out of control and has promised to slowly implement the Southern ideology else he will be sent home.

    During the cease-fire there the Diaspora used its vast connections, volunteers, etc to re-build the place but your racist race, bombed. Was re-bombed, once again in 2009. The GoSL redirected all the international funds, aid, etc of this begging nation to the South. People died there of starvation, no hospitals coz they were the ones to be bombed initially whenever a war starts. It was a war without witness – why dont you write on something like that. There was no developments from the side of the GOSL for over 30 years in the North-East. Thats why the Tamil-speaking people have taken control of over 73 per cent of Colombo’s business all without a tiny bit of GOSL’s help.

    Remember you and the rest of the nation (except Colombo) have a trend of making fun of Yapana in every scale coz it was the cultural capital of the Tamils, war-zone, where terrorists are born, etc..Your [Edited out] gov killed 40,000 recently (A Harvard estimate puts it to 400,000 for over 30 years) and you are there to do what lady ? Please dont hurt them. As they fear the every instance of you , they might think you are a while van-interrogator ?. But i have no idea whether you are both a journalist and a part-time army informer. The reason she gave you her chain willingly is so that you might leave them. Remember the SL army being part of a UN team was involved in numerous rape cases in Haiti and was sent back. The country is now devastated by an earthquake now.

    Also the idea that the people look at you as if you am some drama queen is not something different. The people of Jaffna welcome the Western side of thought and society unlike the South living in its inferior complexity. Under the British Jaffna became the most privileged society with a PQLI index higher than any other region, except the cosmopolitan Colombo.

    Personally I am a King outside this country.

  • The rumblings are justified because of the colonial rule enforced by SL on TE.

    Democracy denotes social and political ideals, and a set of institutions and practices.

    The impact of human rights on modern democracy recognises human fulfilment as an effort to achieve autonomy.

    Human rights are not traditions, they are undeniable legal rights. Justice is never negotiated, it is demanded in any democracy. Legitimate political rights are asked and not begged.

    The problem in SL is, Sinhala only nationalism with no accountability for the rights and lives of Tamils has caused ethnocentric racism, human rights violations, state terror, war and Tamil genocide.

    The UN had and still has an obligation and a serious commitment to humanity, to ensure an accountability process that addresses violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in any part of the world, let alone in Sri Lanka(SL).

    To do this rightly, the standards, benchmarks and parameters based on iternational experience is vital.

    Obviously, wrong standards of rogue nations should not be copied for accountability.

    Why has this process taken so long in the UN to be enforced in SL?

  • Marisa de Silva

    @ Visvan
    I presume you don’t get much space to vent Visvan, and therefore make the most of any, and every opportunity you get to air your frustrations. I don’t claim to know you, Visvan, so do both yourself and me a favour, and don’t assume you know me. This war was by all means a war without witness, if you did know me at all, you’d have known that I’ve written about the very things you’ve mentioned many times. Not that writing’s of any use in our country. I will tell you one thing though Visvan, don’t ever refer to this Govt as my Govt. As I don’t believe it represents or safeguards me or what I stand for. Don’t take your “King” status too much to heart, cos’ you don’t seem to have much else to offer than “hot air.” God help “your” people when you do decide to return. I wonder what good a racist like you could possibly have to offer? And lastly, don’t taint those beautiful girls with your jaded, cynicism. Unlike you, they are sincere and pure and have nothing to gain by being nice to me. Say what you will about me, but don’t do you dare bring them into it, they’ve been through enough, and don’t need to be dragged into your chauvinistic and pathetic agenda.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. You just have to forgive people like Visvan because we do not know what are the circumstances that lead him to behave in such a manner. May be it is something to keep in your mind that there could be many more like Visvans. I always try to see from their point of view andt so far I have failed. But I will keep on trying.
    Yes it hurts to read his comment, in the light of what you have written. (I do not know how I would have responded)
    You are already doing a great job and I was moved to hear about hear about stories of those girls. One person can make a difference. So your efforts might produce 54 ambassadors of peace and compassion.
    Your writings may have gone unheard but are you certain of that? I am sure there are many who recognizes you. Many may appreciate them and many may not. But I am sure you knew that already
    It is your government Marissa, chosen by people of Sri Lanka, you may not like it but you will have a chance to work on it soon. You cannot disown it, that is why it is called a democracy, even if it is not your choice. Yes I too have been looking for democracies but so far I only found thin veils called democracies. Yet I believe we can!
    Thank again for letting us know about you and your friends.

  • Travelling Academic

    Relax. Marisa means well. BTW, where is Nallur Road in Jaffna? I don’t remember one from my last travel, when I found Nallur to be on Pt. Pedro road. Or have they been changing road names — Singalese must be up to some mischief, no?

  • Atheist

    Travelling Academic,

    “Relax. Marisa means well. BTW, where is Nallur Road in Jaffna? I don’t remember one from my last travel, when I found Nallur to be on Pt. Pedro road. Or have they been changing road names — Singalese must be up to some mischief, no?”

    Ah, you poor little “academic” you! Seems you never travel after all. Ever cycled along Kacheri Nallur Road? No, I didn’t think so. So, I guess you never turned into beautiful Navalar Road either. Unfortunately, google maps are not going to give you that authentic experience.

    YOU must be up to mischief, no? ‘Travelling Academic’, my foot!

  • Atheist

    To Amelie,

    You said: “Wow, and wow again, you are some kind of cynical and nasty. What’s wrong with a young woman being sensitive and caring? Since when is THAT a crime” ?

    Amelie, it is good to be sensitive, but one has to differentiate between genuine concern and mawkish ramblings. If this makes me “cynical” and “nasty”, I wear it with pride!

  • justitia

    Today’s ( 18.3.2010 )news is that the Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe wants fifteen years to fully ensure human rights in sri lanka. The Plan has been approved by the cabinet, he says. I hope to be alive and walking to enjoy it.
    P.S Ban Ki Moon doesnt know how difficult it is.

  • Atheist


    Why are you so hell bent on mentioning your Sinhalese identity?

    To my knowledge, there are two Convents in Jaffna: Jaffna Holy Family Convent and St. John Bosco. There is a nunnery behind the Holy Family Convent, but as far as I know the Convent is not large enough to hold a big orphanage. Perhaps it has changed now. I would love to check this out on my upcoming trip. The St. John Bosco, a Carmelite Convent, never had an orphanage to my knowledge. However, there were young women helping out in the nunnery. The school held classes up to grade 6.

    My friend’s sister, a nun from St. John Bosco, now in Punchi Borella Carmelite Convent, is curious to know more about the girl who offered you her chain. What a remarkable gesture, she says.

    Anyway, I am sure the chain is not gold. If you know the culture, you will be aware that the chain is part of her dowry. Just because you are a Sinhalese, young, lady, she is not going to part with a cherished gift from her father. Would you?

  • Ranjan

    Marisa – “don’t ever refer to this Govt as my Govt. As I don’t believe it represents or safeguards me or what I stand for”

    singhalese progressives/moderates/lefties (or whatever terms are in fashion nowadays for those of a non-racist/ethnocentric bent) always have good intentions…BUT to what end.
    most Tamils both within and without sri lanka long ago gave up on the idea of there being a liberation of both Tamils and singhalese peoples led by a unified singhalese-Tamil progressive/left wing movement. As Sivaram, repeatedly pointed out, every time the Tamil people have been deceived and let down by their comrades from the south…

    the saner (“we are sri lankans first and then singhalese, tamils, muslim second”) singhalese will always have good intentions but have they ever delivered for the tamil/muslim people in bloody sri lanka. the answer is sadly no.

    marisa you carry on doing your good deeds – it makes you feel better, it may make a few individuals who happen to be tamil feel better, it may even make other singhalese armchair ‘progressives’ feel better about themselves. good for all of you.

    the point is by the the time singhalese civil society picks itself up (if that could ever happen…?) and introduces equality to all peoples in the island and including granting self-determination for the Tamil-speaking people, there will no longer be a Tamil constituency worth its name as the community will have been diluted and (forcibly) assimilated, murdered (maybe pogromed again?), driven into exile, kept like slaves (like the plantation tamils – who carry half the bloody sri lankan economy on the backs of their hard labour)etc etc.

    At the rate at which the SL shit State has been disempowering the Tamil speaking peoples and destroying the demography of lands where they are in concentration (a 60-70year long process), what Tamil community will be left in sufficient quantities and with sufficient economic and political strength to not be reduced to a powerless non-centralised scattered minority within the island?

    If you want to put your energies to better use, dont go up and help the people in the Vanni/Jaffna. Left alone they can look after themselves much better than charitable singhalese ever could. Stay in the south and fight vociferously for maximum self-determination on behalf of the Tamil-speaking peoples. Fight for their right to be able to decide how they are governed, by whom, what they do with their lives and resources in the lands of their historical habitation.

    Otherwise there is always the option to hop up north for a brief bit of wonderment – togetherness, reconciliation etc etc, meanwhile SL. govt singhalese sponsored settlement will continue apace in the vanni/jaffna and make everything nicely sri lankan!

    all this is of course is well and good for your grandkids – you can tell them about how there used to be these poor Tamil kids, in this place that used to be called Jaffna, “beautiful girls” who were “sincere and pure” and were caught up in a nasty war and when the war ended, you came up and were nice to them!

    (Tamil) children have “been through enough” – indeed they have. -

    p.s dayan jayatilleka is one of your biggest fans, as i have noted from his enthusiastic and prompt responses to your previous articles, does that trouble you? do you believe that D.J should be tried in an international criminal court on account of participation in the cover up of war crimes?

  • Marisa de Silva

    You seem to have a colossal chip on your shoulder so maybe until you decide to speak with some sort of civility, I think I’d rather not partake in the mud-slinging.

    @ Ranjan
    I’ll start from the end, I have no control over who my “fans” are and don’t think it’s of any consequence if or not I think Dayan should be tried for war crimes. I will say one thing though, before getting those who helped cover up, we need to get those who committed them, don’t you think?

    I saw the video you’ve posted up asa way back at the time it happened Rajan, believe it or not, I wasn’t living in a cocoon at the time.

    “Otherwise there is always the option to hop up north for a brief bit of wonderment – togetherness, reconciliation etc etc,”

    “all this is of course is well and good for your grandkids – you can tell them about how there used to be these poor Tamil kids, in this place that used to be called Jaffna, “beautiful girls” who were “sincere and pure” and were caught up in a nasty war and when the war ended, you came up and were nice to them!”

    I can understand why you’d feel this way Rajan, but you don’t know me or my intentions, so maybe it’s best you don’t make ad hock judgments based on your preconceived assumptions on the majority community.

    “If you want to put your energies to better use, don’t go up and help the people in the Vanni/Jaffna. Left alone they can look after themselves much better than charitable singhalese ever could. Stay in the south and fight vociferously for maximum self-determination on behalf of the Tamil-speaking peoples. Fight for their right to be able to decide how they are governed, by whom, what they do with their lives and resources in the lands of their historical habitation.”

    The only thing I’d achieve by “putting my energies to better use” according to you, is get my ass in prison. Not that I have much issue with that personally, but what good would I achieve? You do know the current climate we live in right?

    I’m not here to “deliver” anything to anyone, Rajan. I don’t think I wield that sort of power to start with. I’m sure the people here can very well manage without me, I didn’t claim to be anyone’s “Saviour” did I? And I’m sure as hell not here to do any “good deeds.” If you’d read my article, you’d know why I’m here, it’s nothing I’m trying to conceal.

    I agree with most of what you’re saying Rajan, and I presume lashing out at me must in some way make you feel better. What I don’t understand though is, where do we go from here? You want us to be divided on ethnic lines forever cos’ our Politicos’ are bunch of f up’s? You want us to remain on 2 camps, carrying our respective baggage for the rest of our days? What?

  • Anne Abayasekara

    Marisa de Silva’s article has a ring of sincerity. On reading the comments, however, I was saddened by the distrust and cynicism that prevails. Racism is not the monopoly of any one group anywere. Believe it or not, there are Sinhala people who feel the pain of the Tamils of the North whose
    suffering over the years has been unimagineable. Some of
    us are keenly disappointed over the lack of any concrete proposals by the Govt. to address the just grievances of the Tamils and other minorities and the absence of statesmen or women on either side of the divide, with the vision and the will to try to forge an united Sri Lankan nation. Marisa’s own courageous attempt to demonstrate her goodwill by living in Jaffna, should not be derided.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    Dear Marisa,

    I am glad you are finding solace in a convent in Jaffna finding out many were traumatised during the war.

    I am simply curious to know whether you attempted to visit refugees in detention camps duringthe war.

    This is boom time for Jaffna and especially for those from outside.

    Sadly The people of Jaffna have not still been incorporated in the business and construction plans for Jaffna. These opportunities of re-building Jaffna with foreign funds are being given to no Jaffna Tamils.

    Hope you enjoy the sea-food and th palm beaches there.

    The attempt by the govt. to slowly erase out the peninsula as the moeland of Tamils is succeeding.

  • Rajeev

    Hi Marisa, well done! I think what you are doing is great. Hope more people stick their neck out and do something positive rather than just write endless negative comments.

  • The whole problem is, the Tamils want to blow hot & cold with the same breath.
    Whilst enjoying the spoils outside the North & eslewhere, they too want the spoils for themselves in the North.

    Never is enough nor there a satisfaction. Always with a grouse.

    Like in Singapore, the population must be placed everywhere in the Country proportionately according to enthicity & everybody be provided an opportunity.

    I suppose, the Tamils will have vehement objections to this proposal as well.

  • Kathir

    Dear Comrade Marisa De Silva, Please dont bother about these racist Tamils .They are one of the worst reactionary group and very close to the Zionist.But most of them are migrated and living in foreign countries and talking about the Transnational Tamil Eelam.The tamil poor people who are living in Srilanka have lost their kith and kin in the past ethnic war. They are the people who need your service.Dont bother about these reactionary and opportunist tamil diaspora.
    The same Saiva,Vellala tamil rulling calss have very badly treated and oppressed the tamil low- caste people in the past .They are freed by the com.Banadaranayake in the start and then by the Communists.The communists fought an armed struggle against this oppression.I have to give you an example ,how these oppressed class people are treated by the Tamil rulling class.Once a low-caste boy was chased by the upper -caste thugs and he climbed in a coconut tree ,these hooligan cut down the tree and killed the poor boy.

  • Naren

    “The attempt by the govt. to slowly erase out the peninsula as the moeland of Tamils is succeeding.”

    As it should, as Sri Lanka should have no ethnic bantustans in any part of the country. Sri Lanka is for all Sri Lankan citizens.. If you want an exclusive Tamil Homeland there is always Tamil Nadu, run by Tamils and populated by 60 million odd Tamils.

  • Sri lankan

    thanks for the insight on your experiences in the Northern Tip of SL. we all know and we all believe the Govt in question is not the best but as off now that is the only choice we got. what you are doing is great. i am yet to see the so called remote controlled Tamil Diaspora doing anything constructive on the development of the north in SL?sad that they do not have the same enthusiasm they formerly had towards buying arms, drug smuggling etc. if they actually spent 40% of that money towards the development of the North or the tamil people of SL it would have helped the country significantly. but hey you cannot expect mutts like Mr. aethist or Mr Visvan to understand that can you? as their brain capacity is such that they believe what ever Govt is in power is known as the Sinhalese Govt aka Southern Govt ( hmm how sad such intellects should not be allowed to even make such assumptions) they forget the so called sinhalese govt has many tamils, muslims, burghers etc in its cabinet. its not the race that is making a mockery of the democracy in SL its the mentality and the way of the typical Sri Lankan man.if some people think that Jaffna would have been a another Singapore if it was run by the extreme racist tamil fractions which were evident 10 years ago. they are sadly mistaken . as the only singapore which was evident was inside the bunkers or the quarters of Prabakaran,

    anyway kudos on what you are doing sis. continue your work and always remember you will always get some monkey shouting from the gallery saying they know better than you. so like the age old saying goes ” empty vessels make the most noise ” lets just leave those empty vessels well alone.

  • two cents

    Thanks for the insight & sharing your views. appreciate what you are doing over there ad your riting.
    however I was not pleased to read one line ” don’t ever refer to this Govt as my Govt. As I don’t believe it represents or safeguards me or what I stand for.”
    yes this govt may not be perfect but this is what the Majority of the people have elected by democratic moves. we as a nation is trying to get everyone on the same bandwagon to accept this as One Country, One nation and I believe your efforts in the North are also in the same lines. How can you convince people in the North to feel as Sri Lankans when you yourslef tries not to be a part of it.

    As long as you call yourslef a Sri Lankan, whether you like it or not this is your govt Marisa as there is no other alernative govt in place. And ironiclly this is the same govt that paved way for you to go to Jaffna to write this article.

  • Palan

    According to the 2001 census Tamil -speakers within Colombo Metropolitan area actually constituted at 55% of the population.
    Read the following site to confirm it,

    http:// news

  • vikram

    I AM NOT HERE TO ARGUE WITH ANYBODY. what i want is your view of the same picture that both of us are looking at in some fancy art gallery somewhere.

    Everybody here, i want know your EMOTIONS, thoughts and opinions but mostly emotions since we are all humans have emotions. I am going to tell you a story and i want you to tell me if you were the main characters of the story what would your EMOTIONS be!!

    What I am going to describe to you, you might not agree, you might have hard time putting yourself in the shoes of these characters ( I am 20 years old and am only starting to realize how important it is to see things from the opposite angle than the one you have. Sadly large percentage of this world’s population is nowhere close to this). But it is very important that you do your best to see the view from the other side.

    So imagine this: you, your elder brother, younger sister, mom, dad, aunt, gramma, neigbours and everybody are so happy because the the white man who has ruled this place for 300 years is about to leave. Imagine the EMOTIONS that your are feeling right now! But your emotions are about to change when these other people ( this “other people” does not include 100% of the actual other people. This “other people” refers to anybody that matches to the following sentence or to persons that had the power but did not do anything to prevent the following things from happening) say, act, behave, enforce, educate, consume, socialize, play and talk in way that says your are an “outsider” “not one of us” ” you dont belong here” “you should leave now”. This doesnt happen over night. It slowly creeps up on you because you were expecting to be happy and jublious that the white man is not around anymore. but what really happened that the white man didnt leave, he just changed his skin color. So the OPPRESSION that was associated with the man did not leave the country when he physically left. So u start wondering, WHAT HOPE DO I HAVE FOR THE FUTURE???

    Imagine your EMOTIONS that are running through your brain, heart, veins and blood.

    Do you REALLY, really, absolutely positively belive that there is a such thing called a UNITED sri lanka?!? do u seriously believe in it? take a few minutes before you answer this questions. Just like how it takes 2 to tango ( latin american dance by 2 people) it takes 2 to be united. The Sinhalese are on the dancefloor saying that this country is united, ask yourself who else is out there on that dancefloor claiming that they live in an united sri lanka?

    I Hope to hear from all of you lovely people!!

  • Atheist


    You said: “You seem to have a colossal chip on your shoulder so maybe until you decide to speak with some sort of civility, I think I’d rather not partake in the mud-slinging”.

    There, there, no need to get so defensive. I was merely asking you a detailed question about your experiences in Jaffna – namely, the “Convent”. As most people, I like to separate fact from fiction, so hear me out first. You see, I love a good short story as much as the next guy, but I don’t appreciate people using fiction to manipulate facts.

    Why do you insist on proving the “purity” of Tamil girls? Are you a man from the dark ages that suddenly popped up on the Lankan scene? All this talk about “purity” makes me wonder where all the feminists disappeared to.

    It seems you’ve got all your little LTTE supporters backing you up. Please don’t pretend to scold them saying “I don’t know you”. You and your associates mutually reinforce your love of demonizing the ordinary Sri-Lankan people. How low can you go?

    I am afraid I have to go back to that good old saying that a Rasta man put so well to music: “You can fool some people sometime, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”.

  • Velu Balendran


    “don’t ever refer to this Govt as my Govt”

    If you feel so strongly about the plight of the Tamils can I suggest a very provocative idea? Renounce you Sinhala identity (as it is deemed to be synonymous with chauvinism, racism and unfairness) and take up the Tamil identity and urge others to follow your example to save the Tamils in SL from extinction!

  • Pigworth

    Hey Marisa,
    As long as a deed is done with a pure heart and noble intentions then you have nothing to fear. Don’t pay heed to the ramblings of the ones who will never return. They have become a generation of bitter and aimless souls lost in their own past.

    People die in wars. Its a known fact. Rebuilding broken and shattered lives is what is needed now. No point crying over the dead. We all had people die during the last 30 years due to the war. And I am glad that you are there instead of some of the people who Kings and what not and the other assorted vultures that seem to want a pieces of the Carcass that is Eelam.

    A least you are there to hold the hands of a girl who lost her parents and to show that the southerners are humans too.

    Where are those who wants to make Jaffna a Singapore? Still making money for themselves before they come and put $10 in the Convent till?

  • R.Gnanaratnam

    There are many convents all over sri Lanka that have orphans.So you admit you have no knowlede of the language of communication.So are you in a Jaffna convent. because you want these orphans to know that you are a singhalese and now you have decided to go look after them after the war.?
    we have heard many yarns from the visiting friends from the south.This could be chalked down too as one of them –an orphan was ready to take her gold chain which her father gave her to put it round your neck.?.Unbelievable.
    further no boarding school with boarders are not allowed to wear gold items .
    you will do a favor to go to a convent in the south and teach English to the singhalese orphans,since you know your mother toungue to understand and explain it if they are confused.
    empty vessel in the south are banging hard on old tins in the south.There is a lot o be done in the south to perfect democrzy.The need is in the south.

  • Thana

    Dear Marisa,
    Gret to hear you are living in Jaffna, I am setting up a training centre to promote Enlish language skills. The biggest challege is to find resource people. I would like to meet up with you please. I will be travelling to Colombo on 22nd and back to London on 24th. So if I am not able to meet you tomorrow, I would at least like to have a chat on the phone. Please email me your contact details.

  • PongalThambi

    @Visvan – No, Jaffna wasn’t going to be Singapore. Sri Lanka was. Singapore you might notice is multi-ethnic something the Tamil only homeland isn’t. There is an example of a Tamil only homeland like Jaffna you can look to to see if you were going to be Singapore – Tamil Nadu. Well, that didn’t get so high did it?

    From the South, Sri Lankans broadcast to all of India with Radio Ceylon. Eelam prefers to filter out any connection they have with the rest of the world and be only pure Tamil (Sanskrit – how dirty!)

    @ Ranjan

    Great to know you place so much faith in video provided from LTTE propagandists (WarWithoutWitness). Considering all the witnesses that have now shown up (including you buddy Damilvany who was released by the government) your stupid moniker doesn’t really work I don’t think.

    And, I would love to rid Sri Lanka of the cancer that is the Tamil only homeland. There’s so much better things the Sinhalese can do than wrangle with racists like you. You can live with only Tamils I don’t give a shit really..

  • PongalThambi

    @Visvan – racist race = Tamils wanting a Tamil only state

  • PongalThambi


    By removing a cancer I meant splitting the country. Rajan’s post was so full of poison.. Sorry to others who may be offended by the comment.

    But back to Ranjan, how are Sinhalese moderates supposed to emerge when the Tamils completely seclude themselves from the rest of Sri Lanka and wage a secessionist war of violence and terror on 90% of Sri Lanka’s citizens? A climate of war is not conductive of moderates..

    Argh, anyway, Ranjan will probably not respond. He’s probably run off to his local ‘boycott Sri Lanka’ gathering or to vote for the next leader of the LTTE.

  • Marisa de Silva

    @Thana, would be glad to help if I can. You haven’t given me an e-ad to mail you though?

  • Nimal Sandaruwan

    Sometime back Daniel Goldhagen, an prominent Jewish American historain worte a book called “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust”.

    I thought reading of the linked review on this book will bring some objectivity ans insight to the thouroghly subjective debate on Marisa De Silva’s blog.

    I will quote some excerpts from this review.

    “The principal theme of Goldhagen’s book is easily summarized. The cause of the Holocaust is to be found in the mind-set and beliefs of the Germans. A vast national collective, the German people, motivated by a uniquely German anti-Semitic ideology, carried out a Germanic enterprise, the Holocaust. The systematic killing of Jews became a national pastime, in which all Germans who were given the opportunity gladly and enthusiastically participated……
    Germans killed Jews because they were consumed, as Germans, by an uncontrollable Germanic anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews constituted the foundation of the universally accepted weltanschauung, world view, of the German people…..The politics of the regime was of only secondary importance. Goldhagen insists that terms such as “Nazis” and “SS men” are “inappropriate labels” that should not be used when referring to the murderers. Goldhagen seems to suggest that the only essential causal relationship between the Third Reich and the extermination of the Jews was that it allowed the Germans to act, without restraint, as Germans, in accordance with German beliefs…..
    As Goldhagen writes: “The most appropriate, indeed the only appropriate general proper name for the Germans who perpetrated the Holocaust is ‘Germans.’ They were Germans acting in the name of Germany and its highly popular leader, Adolf Hitler” ……….”Goldhagen gives the impression of not being particularly concerned with the impact of fascism on anyone other than the Jews. This callousness is derived from his narrow and embittered outlook: conceiving of the Holocaust as a crime committed by “ordinary” Germans against Jews, he is not especially interested in what Germans may have done to each other. At any rate, his thesis does not permit him to recognize the existence of any substantial opposition to Hitler among Germans.

    This is not only wrong in a factual sense. The irony of Professor Goldhagen’s position is that it renders him incapable of understanding either the cause of the Holocaust or its universal, world historical, significance.

    The fate of the Jews as a historically-oppressed people and that of the working class were inextricably and tragically linked. The downfall of the German socialist movement cleared the way for the destruction of European Jewry. The democratic rights of the Jews, indeed, even their right to exist, depended upon the political strength of the working class. The mass killing of Jews did not begin in 1933. Before a crime of this magnitude could be organized and executed the Nazis had to terrorize and destroy the intellectually vital, progressive and humane elements in German society.

    The Holocaust was, in the final analysis, the price which the Jewish people and all humanity paid for the failure of the working class to overthrow capitalism.”

  • Thana

    Hi Marisa,

    Thanks. Please send to [email protected]. lookforward to hearing from you.

  • Groundtruth

    @ Marissa. You sure have stirred up a hornet’s nest! It certainly wasn’t like this in 1948! I suppose we have to thank our politicoes whom you have rightly referred to in your last para above as “a bunch of f’cups” (I hope I got the spellig right!). Congratulations on your splendid candour. They are yet the favourites
    with the majoritarian voters!

    It is somewhat unclear as to the purpose of your article. Being a journalist I suppose were you merely trying to find out how those girls live in a convent in Jaffna at the end of the so-called eelam wars or what? Possibly there is more in store.

    By the way, did you see a Buddhist Vihare coming up right opposite the Jaffna Convent beside the water tower? Being erectd by the military on municipal land nilly willy despite objection by the Municipality. Any thoughts on that? Reminds one of the construction of the Anglican Church right next to the Dalada Maliagawa during colonial times. Are such times back again for the Tamil people or far worse ?

  • Marisa de Silva

    Groundtruth, I’ve passed that way a few times but, not really seen it. Will be more observant today. I wouldn’t be too surprised though, cos’ there’s one smack bang in the middle of Kili too. The Govt sure knows to send out a “subtle” message huh?

    As for my intent behind the article, nothing really. I write what I feel – what I experience. I happen to be living at a Convent right now and this was how I felt and what I happened to experience. That’s it really. 🙂

  • Atheist

    Marisa de Silva,

    If you are living at the Holy Family Convent, you can see the water tank from your window. “Groundtruth” mentions that a Buddhist Vihara is being constructed opposite the Holy Family Convent as we speak. Can’t you see it yet?

    The Holy Family Convent is on Main St, and the tank is located at the corner of Main St and Mt Carmel road. If you are zooming in your SUV to work you won’t be able to spot these things, however, if you happen to cycle or walk, you will see all and sundry.

    By the way, did you go to the Periya Kovil (Catholic Church) nearby? Anyway, Sister Jerome at St. John Bosco will be happy to meet you and get your services to teach English. They are still looking for you. Hurry! Hurry!

    Please don’t run away before I arrive there. I really want to give a pair of gold bangles to the girl that offered you her cherished chain.


  • Talie


    The map quest directors are looking for you. They are impressed with your knowledge on the layout of Jaffna and they want to employ you.

  • Atheist

    To Talie,

    Thank you! I am gainfully employed at the moment, but I will consider a job as a “map quest director” in Jaffna only after retirement.

    Unfortunately, this job will not be open to you as you have revealed that you don’t know Jaffna from Timbuktu. But of course, you can find a great job at
    Marisa’s company, well known for honest journalism.

    Hasta la vista

  • Groundtruth

    Not really seen it yet? Surprising for a journalist. Are you by any chance in total purdah when you leave the convent?

  • sha

    “They’d had family members killed by the army and by the LTTE.” I do not understand the logic behind every sinhala writer say this. The fact is LTTE killed some tamils only when they found that they were traitor in the sense when they found them helpig the army or government. Rarely you find such people who lost their loved once to the LTTE in the camps. Most of them are abroad as they may have lost olny a member in the incident and the others may have fled the area after the killing. The children in the orphanage are the ones who lost their family in the war due to a mass killing because of the government forces and there were plenty of such incidents had taken place in the past. So why can’t you people agree on that. At least describe them as ‘children who lost their loved ones in the war’ if u don’t have a heart to accept the facts