Reflective thoughts from a Sri Lankan refugee… now a prisoner…but free!


I have completed 4 years and starting the 5th year since I came between these bars. I desire to recall all of my feelings and my own land which is fresh in my memory like my shadow. I owe to Kristalo Hrysicos, whom I consider as my sister, for all these feelings. She is burdened with all my pains and fully understands my feelings by living in me.  My nation is a place of warfare. We are not vagabonds, but we don’t have a country. As like others created in the world by nature, we too were created by the same. Our birth was not an exception. But the laws created by men as policies are weak. These laws are overruled by those who are mighty and make slaves of the weaker sections of society.

On the other hand those who were elected by the people are said to be the leaders of the democratic country. These weak laws and policies make tribes like us orphans. My own land where I was born is a borrowed land now. We have our own language, custom, culture. The one such is the game “Kuttansoru”, (a small pot that children use for pretend cooking).

This is the game “Kuttansoru” that now I am thinking of here inside these bars. This is the 5th year, I don’t know anything about the outside world. I am also human. I too have feelings, desires, family, and society, like you. All that you enjoy in the world like comfort, happiness and sadness; I too have the right to enjoy them in the world. I was also created by nature.

Since the right has been denied to me, I compare my childhood days with the present situation that exists around me to find happiness. Yes! That was real happiness! This happiness can be compared to a poor, hungry and thirsty farmer working in the field. The mirage engulfed him and he went near the water. The gentle breeze came and the mirage joined the breeze and sank into the water and from there got up and embraced the farmer. His nerves kindled thousands of feelings in his skin!

I repeat again the basis of these feelings is Kristalo Hrysicos. Yes, she came and gave
toys a day ago. These toys were really beautiful. But I never thought that those toys
would remind me of the fond memories of Kuttansoru. The wound and the pain in the
body created by the war, and the pain and hardships in the camp were pestering me that night. But the morning was a prosperous one. In the afternoon I went to the dining hall, burdened with those toys given by Kristalo. Now there were almost 60 toys. In this refugee camp, the families have children, like coins to the currency. When those
children speak different languages, it will be like coins falling on the ground. It is
language for those who can understand, but music for those who cant.

How can I share my feelings? In the first place I have to thank Kristalo. It was she who
brought those toys. She is responsible for this feeling. I don’t know how to share it. But it was those toys that started speaking. The truth is Kristalo can hear that language but not understand it. Yet I am sure that she would understand the language of the toys at a feeling level through this story I narrate to her.

Yes, the toys began! Why the night is full of dead bodies of toys! I am not living with
the feeling of motherly care created by nature. I was a male. The society gave this
definition for me, creating in me a violent nature. Due to this I can’t understand the
language of the toys that motherly feeling naturally created for females. Will it be only
for those who are aged? No! Now toys speak not to me but female children. How?

In the hands of a sculptor, stones become statues!
In the hands of a warrior, stones become weapons!
In the hands of a goldsmith, stones become gold!

Those toys which went in to the hands of children became children and the children became mothers! I become a child in my thoughts. My thoughts went to the place where I was born.  Five people who played kuttansoru with me are now not on this earth because of the cruel war. Even my brother is not on this earth. In this game cooking in a small pot, I was a helper in that game because I can’t speak properly. No one calls me by my name instead by my nickname ‘Konnai’ (a stammerer).

Uma, who is she? She will call me often and give me work. This was affecting my
mother very much. My mother will say “this konnaiyan only will marry you”. Those
were the helpless words of my mother. That age was a holy one I did not understand
love and lust also was not seen. Now is 36 years since I lost that age. Uma was the
heroine of that life. Now I don’t even know where she is. The war not only destroyed
life but also the social structure and relation. But her face still lingers in my soul. Uma
was a forgotten soul till yesterday. Today the language of the toys asked adjustment,
bringing up of children, our social discipline religious worship rites, even family
violence will be involved, as a conclusion.

Vimal, his father is drunkard. He will be the one who will bring chaos in the game. He will act like his drunk father and spoil the game. Elders did not teach us these kinds of feelings but we were performing all that was happening around us and through feelings expressed to be Kuttansoru game.

The holy feeling created by nature, but as days went by it was changed and lost. Now
there are only wounds and pains created by war. Nowadays the videogame creates
violent thinking like; shoot, kill and leave only enemies in the minds of the children.
Even here in the camp children are pronouncing only these words.

Toys speak. If only these toys were able to bring out the motherliness in the children. If
silence and beauty mingle with the feelings of men, then that also will be considered a
language, toy talk. The children embraced the toys. They spoke Tamil. They gave them baths, put blankets and the children of Iran put their hands on the mouth and made a kind of noise.

That was the symbol of their culture. The child who spoke Tamil sang Thalattu (lullaby)
which was our culture. They showed the feeling of motherhood of the children very openly.  They spoke to toys in their own language and replied that the toys also spoke to them in return. That a beauty of the facial language. I don’t know the alien language but they spoke the motherly through their facial language. I and the toy are the same, both of us don’t know the language. But those toys make the children speak with motherliness. Being human I am not able to speak to them with motherliness. But those toys did. Toys talk. The reason why I get this feeling within me is because I live on with the life of Kuttansoru. My old memories are making me happy, which is so good and pleasant.

One child falls down from the chair, the mother is busy talking without being bothered about anything. The officer takes the child and hands it over to the mother and says something in the English which she couldn’t understand. Due to the cry of the child the
faces of all the other children changed. Only one child spoke to toys these words. “if it happens to you I cant bear up that” where is the motherliness of the child’s mother when the child fell down from the chair?

I would like to share my feelings of one whom your government considers to be a terrorist.

Their on fence is comparable to the life of a bird. I have lost my life and the right to life. You can check my room as often as you want when I sleep…if I ever sleep! I can’t even decide my food. A life of freedom is not even inside the iron cage that I am in. I am also human being but I don’t know my future. How should I live? I don’t have that freedom also!

Still I too have got many feelings like you. But why is it like this? Because this government only has accepted me as a refugee. Yet the same government pronounces me to be a terrorist. As a remedy they say. But don’t they take even their dogs out for a walk? Or don’t they shout in Parliament for slaughtering a cow in Indonesia to be a crime.But those in authority never understand that we human beings are being cut off from our relations, our families inch by inch. There should be a law to solve the conflict in humanity and to make all live in equality. But because of the failure of the law in maintaining the equality of human beings, we are persecuted by our feelings. It is the situation around me which pushes me to this suffering. Thoughts created in the mind of a man create pain and side effects which changed the way he acts and thus leads him to different path. It may lead him or her to the extent of even making them a terrorist.

Here I would like to recall the lines of the Tamil poet namely Kannadhasan, “every child that is born in this world is good but to become good or bad is in the upbringing of its mother. It is true. Whatever the society gives to the mother she gives to the child. My mother gave me only soft feelings. Those feelings are still living in me. Though I am surrounded by situations which spoil that feeling I try to overcome them and live. Now I often get chest pains. I may embrace death in a few months. I don’t worry about that. My aim is to say how I live as a soul among your social workers in your society. Just 2 months ago I felt Uma’s love again. This is pure because the wound created by war and the feelings of a hopeless future make me suffer day and night.

Translated from Tamil to English by Bro. Arul Raj SDB & Edited by Fr. Dominic Matthews SDB

Also see G’s other writings on Peril :
I see the moon and the moon sees me
I am not the owner of this feeling

and Margaret Mayhew’s “The practice of hope” on Peril

Author: G

‘G’ Tamil refugee in Australian detention since 2009

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