We Regret To Inform You That Your Condolences Cannot Be Accepted At This Time

We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time. At present, both our pain and our hope defy that word, which has been offered and denied us, which we need and do not need, and which in any case we cannot accept, because they (your condolences) will not reach from what has happened to what will come.

We find the word condolences stunning in its insufficiency for past and future.

We evacuated our homes in the light; we vanished from our homes in the dark; we walked away from our families, toward the weapons, and wished that we could turn around. Our bodies entered the earth in places we cannot now identify, and so we are everywhere, blown to dust. By both dying in and surviving this place, we will live here long after your condolences become a ghost in your throat.

We joined others’ battles, willingly and unwillingly; we walked forward on paths not our own when the paths we would have chosen were closed to us. We were incidental; we were vital; we were enemies; we were friends; we were disputed; we were uncounted. In a small country, we felt far away from you. In a small world, we felt far away from you. We were your people and not your people.

We could not wait for you to remember us.

We perished and survived and were less and also more for it. Some of us had little money and little food; we had children. We lost our children willingly and unwillingly. They were torn from our hands; we fought to keep them with us; we pushed them away from us to save them; we held them close in the hope that we might take their bullets and thereby die before them.

Some of us did, but some of us lived, and so the memory of this will outlast even the children we fought to save.

In the rush to escape this bloodletting, which has been its own kind of war, our ears fell to the ground, and so we cannot now hear your condolences. To survive, we had to shut our eyes, with which we would have seen what was in yours. We closed our mouths against hunger and anger; we knew and did not know our families, friends, fellows, and leaders, who hunted us, ran with us, and died with us.

We faced ourselves from all sides. Some of us lived. We are still here. We regret to inform you that your condolences cannot be accepted at this time.

End of War Special Edition

  • Dilkusha

    I can only imagine what it must be like to be in this situation….not to feel anymore. Thanks for bringing out the pain of our fellow humans, hopefully the human spirit can begin to feel again and hope again.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    No words can describe my feeling when I read Mr Ganeshananthan’s very poignant piece.

    I am grateful for your words which describe the different emotions or numbness and apathy we felt when we fled and when we watched our loved ones taken away, killed, abducted, arrested and maimed.

    We finally learnt to accept whatever obstacles the world throws at us and not be intimidated. Since we have experienced it all we empathise with those who are still suffering and will strive to tell everyone what the war was like.

    Thank you once again

  • jayathilaka

    what awonderful piece of writing the reality of war.

    “Those who takes arms will will be killed by the arms” Lord Buddha

  • jcnars

    Beautifuly written…the only meaningful poems are those written by those who went thru’ life and death and know what it means to be still alive:

    ” We lost our children willingly and unwillingly. They were torn from our hands; we fought to keep them with us; we pushed them away from us to save them; we held them close in the hope that we might take their bullets and thereby die before them.”

  • Humanist

    This is the most evocative and powerful statement I’ver read in this special issue so far. Thank you, Mr. Ganeshananthan.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Dear Humanist, that’s Ms. Ganeshananthan. :)

  • vivimarie

    Wow. Thank you for this.

  • xman

    it should be noted that V.V. has never ‘known’ war and has only been to SL a few times. And that just to colombo and galle i think. This is just what she though/thinks war would be like. the poet/writers view. not someone who has seen it or lived it or been shot at or shelled

  • Humanist

    My sincere apologies. Come to think of it, perhaps only a Ms. Ganeshananthan could have written such a nuanced piece.

  • Humanist

    P.S. I just came to the realization that you are “the Ms. Ganeshananthan”. I loved your book “Love Marriage” – it has the same nuanced sensibility as this piece of writing. It doesn’t matter the least to me, unlike to xman, that you grew up in the diaspora. I wish more people in the disapora had your sense of perception and humanity.

  • Tanuja

    Clearly put Humanist! It seems like xman doesn’t realise that there are other dimensions to the war. One does not have to essentially experience the war to be pulled down, dehumanised and tormented by it. In fact many of the Tamils living in the South or in Central Sri Lanka have not been ‘directly’ affected by the war!

  • Sujeewa

    who gave condolences? For those who walk to weapons to show their might and dogma, it shud only be a warning. If you try it again mate, result will be the same. You’ll be blown to dust again.