Groundviews

The Silly Idealist

Photography courtesy Dev Policy Blog

Everyone called her a “Silly Idealist”.
Some said it fondly, some with contempt, some with anger,
and others even with disgust.
But, she didn’t care.
She truly believed with all her heart, in a one people –
a one country.
And nobody could deny her that dream.
Change would come.
And she was going to be a part of it.
Then everyone would see.

March 2009:

“Is it really true what they say?
Are so many people actually being killed?
So many people trapped inside?
Terrified to even move…eat…relieve themselves?
Infants seated amidst corpses wailing for their parents…
Inconsolable parents screaming in anguish,
Rocking back and forth,
Their children’s limb bodies in a tight embrace.
What unimaginable anguish and desolation.
It just can’t be true…”

“It is.”

“But, how can they do it?
Surely, the rest of the world will not allow it to happen?
I mean, WE are not going to let it happen…right?”

“They are, and we will.”

“No way!
I don’t believe you.
I would never let it happen.
You won’t either.
We HAVE to do something.
I mean, there MUST be something we can do!”

(Silence)

“C’mon guys!
You don’t agree with him do you?
There HAS to be something we can do.
We can, and MUST stop this!
This would not have been happening if it was our families out there right?
So, let’s do something.
I don’t know what, but I know we just HAVE to!”

May 19th 2009

“So it’s all over?”

“Yes”

“They say he’s dead.
They keep showing his body on TV.
So I guess he must be.
Twenty six years of war has finally come to an end.
The people are out dancing on the streets…
We are at peace at last.
We are united once more.
What more do you guys want?

June 2009

“They say 40,000 were killed.”

“But the Government maintains a Zero casualty rate no?
I know that’s not possible, but 40,000?
Doesn’t that sound a tad much?”
I hear the UN estimate is 7000.
What’s the obsession with these numbers?
Isn’t one civilian killed one too many?
Or do single digits not ‘sell’?”

“Of course even one matters.
But, they say 40,000 were killed.
I believe them.”

You don’t really believe that figure do you?
They would never have been able to get away with it.
I mean the UN was there.
Even the ICRC had access till almost the end.
There’s no way, it could have happened.
No way at all.”

(He smiled and said nothing.)

August 2009

“Hospitals are overflowing with the injured.
They can’t cope.
Patients don’t even have a place to lie down.
Let’s help out.
Let’s get together and take at least some essentials up to them?
And we’ll insist on delivering the stuff ourselves
So we know it’s actually getting to them.
We couldn’t do anything then.
So let’s at least do something now.
Okay?”

“Alright.”

“Did you see how that Sinhala nurse hand-picked those clothes to give the Tamil female former LTTE Commando in her ward?
Did you see how that young man was “laughing and chatting up” the young nurse and teaching her how to speak Tamil?
Did you see that nurse cleaning the wounds of that badly injured young boy?
If this is not reconciliation in the making, I don’t know what is?
Surely, you must agree with me?”

“This is Utopia. It won’t last.”

“Why must you be so negative all the time?
Don’t you see that beneath it all we are all the same?
Don’t you believe that we are all one people torn apart by selfish politics?
Surely you MUST at least believe in the human spirit?”

(Once again, he smiled and said nothing.)

December 2009

“So, they are calling him “Our King” now.
I guess you saw this coming all along huh?
Why don’t you just say it!
Tell me, ‘I told you so.’
I know you want to.
I concede defeat.
You win – I lose.
Well done!”

“I didn’t win. We have all lost.”

January 2010

“They say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’?
But, did you hear the news?
They’ve taken him.
So much for the freedom of expression in our Great Democracy.
All hail the King!”

“How the times have changed you silly one…” (he said and smiled.)

March 2012

A UN Resolution against Sri Lanka was passed.
We all waited on change with bated breath.
Nothing.

March 2013

Another UN Resolution against Sri Lanka was passed.
We waited and watched again.
Nothing.

March 2014

A third Resolution against Sri Lanka too has come to pass.
But we waited and watched no more.
Thousands subjected to enforced disappearance and hundreds languish in detention.
Dissidents have been gagged and the media is wrought with self-censorship.
The international community is said to be a threat to our great Sovereign.
Forced to look on from outside…
She was made a spectator overnight.
Now she sits behind her screen,
Angry at her foes…

Angry at her friends…
Angry at the whole world.
Unable to compose herself,
She sheds a silent tear for her lost Utopia.
That’s if it ever even existed outside her mind.

Everyone called her a “Silly Idealist,”
So maybe it’s a good thing she died.

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This article is part of a  larger collection of articles and content commemorating five years after the end of war in Sri Lanka. An introduction to this special edition by the Editor of Groundviews can be read here. This, and all other articles in the special edition, is published under a Creative Commons license that allows for republication with attribution.