A Sri Lanka born writer in the field of British literature, Karavai M Thayalan writes both in Tamil and English. In one of his books of 240 pages mainly in Tamil titled “Enathu Penaavil Irunthu” (Meaning From My Pen), he has included stories and poems from pages 191 to 239.
My purpose here is to review only this segment. I shall give details about the book at the end. There are three stories in the book. The first story is called “Loneliness”
I think young people in the island who are a little weak in understanding English can pick up the style of writing which can help learning the language fast.
Look at the following for instance:
“It was a sunny day. I got up very late. All the people in the house left home for work. Phone was ringing. I am not in the mood to attend the phone call. Just looked at the phone and laughed slightly. I stood up from the bed and looked through the window”.
In one place in the story, the writer says:
“I always cried about (this) unfair treatment regarding my matters. Crying and then becoming quiet is the style of any Asian woman. Some people say that this is the fate of any lady in the world. I don’t believe in such a kind of argument, which is totally wrong”
We notice at this point that the character in the story is a spinster who was brought to the UK against her wish from Yaalpaanam. It is her monologue that the writer reports.
The character describes herself in this fashion:
“I am so beautiful, with my slim figure, dressed in a loose lowing cotton dress. My crazy hair and bright blue eyes are not far from the colour of the sea itself. In my schooldays, many boys were after me. For some reason I was so strict on this matter. Therefore I could not get a chance to have a boyfriend. Now I regret that.”
Here comes an interesting part of the story! “My father was a freedom fighter. He died in a big battle against the Sri Lankan army. I asked my mum’s permission to join with the freedom fighters. She refused. That is why they all send me to London so quickly”
I do not wish to reveal the end of the story. Read it yourself. To me the end is the right one in the context of the circumstances.
The next story is entitled “Identity.” Let me identify the crux of the story as told by the character, a teenage girl.
“At my school I never am considered as an English child even though my present parents are English people. These problems arise because of my skin colour. No one has discriminated me for my colour, but at the same time they don’t want to accept me as one of them”.
The story is predictable as her foster father explains- “Yes Neeta you are not our own child. Your own parent may be or may not be alive now. Sixteen years ago we visited an Asian country as a tourist. That country had engaged in a civil war and was suffering. Lots of people suffered poverty in that war. You are from Sri Lanka. You belong to a Tamil community”
Finally the last story “Reflection” as a preamble Karavai M Thayalan writes:
“The month of July 1983 is named ‘Black July’ in Tamil history. This story moves through one person’s experience of days in Black July.”
For the benefit of humane and non Tamil-speaking people in the southern parts of the country, I give below the following passage in the story why the ethnic dissatisfaction led to a brutal and inevitable war between the disgruntled youth taking up to militancy as learned from the 1971 southern insurrection and the State’s defensive and attacking machinery. Just a few lines:
“Within two days everything has finished. Many people have died. Most of the escaped Tamils were sent to the camps. All the schools were turned into refugee camps. Most of the shops burned. Every Tamil home robbed, the people have lost everything they have saved for the last thirty years. I just escaped”
Then the story continues. It is not fiction.
I myself experienced the same. Fortunately, I didn’t witness the atrocious war that followed in the theatre of destruction of precious lives and properties on both sides of the divide. That story is yet to be written in full from the point of view of the Tamils in English and most importantly in Sinhala, because the majority of the majority (Sinhala) people are very nice and they are yet to know many true stories of the Tamil-speaking people.
It is undeniable that the most ruthless terrorist movement from the North was stopped from further action.
Please read the rest of the story and form your opinion. The ISBN NUMBER – 9780993532580