One day it
was paradise, the next day it was paradise lost, lost forever.
1983 was a day like any other day. It was Monday morning and I
was at work. I was the supervisor of the Quality control laboratory
at Pfizer, Sri-Lanka. At 10:00am, we were informed that communal
riots had erupted between the Tamils and the Sinhalese and we
were asked to go home. I lived in an annex that I had rented from
a Sinhalese family in Ratmalana, close to my work place. My daughter
Audrey was a year old; I had left her with my in-laws. My spouse
walked 10 miles from work in the midst of the riots and chaos,
to his parent’s home to check on his family and my daughter.
I asked a Sinhalese co-worker to check on my parents on his way
home, since he lived close to them in Dehiwala, he never did.
My in-laws home was demolished
and they were sent to a camp at the Ratmalana airport. My parent’s
home was burned to the ground. My parents and siblings miraculously
escaped to the Police station and were taken to the camp at the
My spouse returned home, we had
no idea where our daughter or our families were. Curfew was declared,
a priest who had visited the camp, had met my dad and he informed
us that my daughter and our families were safe in the camp.
My spouse’s employer who
was a Sinhalese, offered to pick up our families from the camp
the next day and take them to our relatives home. He offered to
keep us temporarily at his office. He provided meals for us and
we were hiding in the office for a few weeks. When the curfew
was lifted, we decided to go to Batticaloa in the East. My parents
decided to go to Jaffna.
My paternal grandfather was a Senator and my dad had lived in
Colombo since childhood. Colombo was no longer a home for the
Tamils who had lived there for many decades.
The next few months were a nightmare,
not knowing what was in store for us. We were shuffling back and
forth from Batticaloa to Jaffna to see our families. In addition,
my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Some months later a friend of
my spouse offered him enough money to leave the country and go
to the United Kingdom to complete his Accounting Profession and
establish a home for us. He told us to pay him whenever we could.
God had turned our nightmare into
a dream come true. We struggled for a few years but we survived,
we established ourselves in London and immigrated after 5 years
to Canada, our peaceful home now for 20 years. We sponsored our
families, so they could live safely too.
We realized that we never walked
alone. Christ walked beside us through all these trying times.
I am a Chemist
by profession and working as a supervisor in a Pharmaceutical
Company. My daughter Audrey Mogan who wrote the poem “Tear
drop in the Sea” in the Akka Thamiza publication in 2000,
in memory of the riots in Sri-Lanka is now in Rwanda bringing
hope to other kids like her who are living in fear. She aspires
to work for the United Nations someday in the future.
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