A Sri Lankan War Story

This page was first published on the 30th of April, 2017 and last updated on the 2nd of May, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.

war photoThe reason I chose this story for my students of English Literature is its powerful use of imagery, sensory appeal, descriptive language and other literary devices.

The morning chill was still in the air and the dew dripped from banana leaves as we ran though fields and approached the road.

The line above, taken from “Life as a Female Tamil Tiger”, is just one example of the writer’s powerful use of language.

But who is the writer of this story? This story, published by the Telegraph UK, gives a first person account of a young girl’s experience in her country’s civil car. Whether this gripping narrative is the work of art of the war survivor herself, or it was transcribed by a Telegraph editor, I am still to find out. What is sure though, is that this “real life short story” is a literary masterpiece that depicts both the horrors of war and the beauty of literature.

In my childhood days, my country had its own share of trials, tribulations, conflicts and ups and downs. But little did I know that the problems we were experiencing were child’s play compared to those faced by these strange people in a distant land: the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

It seems that I was completely oblivious to this three-decades war that ran parallel to my childhood, teenage and early-adult life. No radio station covered the Sri Lankan civil war. No newspaper ran articles about it, and no television station broadcasted it. Or at least, not to my noticing. And if they did, it was certainly not an issue well talked-about anywhere that I was aware of.

It wasn’t until around the year 2007 to 2009, when the war intensified, and was about to end, that I became aware of it and what was going on. I learned that the Tamils – an ethnic group characterized by dark skin and straight hair – were waging a war against the Sri Lankan Government. They were fighting for an “ethnic Tamil State” in the Island of Sri Lanka, and they claimed racial oppression by the majority Sinhalese population.

I learned too about the notorious cyanide glass capsules which Tamil fighters strung around their necks in order to ingest and commit suicide if they saw that they were about to be captured. As they put it “it was no honor for a Tiger to be captured alive”.

The Tamil Organization gave their fighters the name “Liberation Fighters of Tamil Eelam”, but they were known around the world as “Tamil Tigers”. The leaders of the Tamil Tigers boasted of having created the first suicide bomber and claimed that terrorists in the Middle East were copying them when they blew themselves up. Indeed, Tamil Tigers were recorded to have been the pioneers in suicide bombings.

The Tamil Tigers Organization was heavily criticized for recruiting child soldiers and for using women and children as “cannon fodders”. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were labeled as a terrorist organization by the United Nations.

The leader of the Tamil Tigers, Prabhakaran, once said “freedom is never given, it must be fought for and won.”

This certainly isn’t true. And I hope that this touching yet brutal depiction of life inside of a war zone will inspire you to pursue a policy of peace rather than war. Remember, it is better to “cast your bread upon the waters” so that after many days, you will find it back. Always remember the “Power of Walking Away” and that there are really no winners in a war.

This story by a Sri Lankan war survivor is not only touching, heartbreaking and inspiring, but it captures and holds a piece of history deep within its well-written lines. It gives insight into Sri Lankan history and so many aspects of human life. On top of that, it contains all the elements of a good plot.

Read the full story by clicking the link below.


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