Black July riots, I was 59 years old. I was living in Wellawata
with my six children and husband. Though I was born in Jaffna,
we had been living in Colombo for many years. My husband was working
as an Engineer within the Irrigation Department and many of my
children were studying in the Colombo schools.
On the first
day of Black July, Sinhalese men armed with cubs and knives rampaged
through the streets. I stood inside my house not knowing where
to run. I knew I would not be able to run away and escape in time
so I ran to my Sinhalese neighbor’s house. I did not even
have time to change out my night dress or grab any important documents.
She hid me in the house. Though I was protected, I waited in agony
– not knowing if my family was safe.
learned that my husband’s manager sent him home early along
with a Sinhala driver for protection. The car was stopped many
times along the way however the Sinhala driver would simply state
that they were both Sinhala and that he very well supported their
actions. Another Sinhala family friend saw my children walking
home and picked up them along the way.
my anxiety, my neighbor frequently ventured out to the front of
the house and to looked out for them. Within a few hours, we were
all safely reunited. However, we were not yet out of danger.
began to grow as to whether our neighbors were hiding us in their
house. The members of the mob were constantly walking around the
area and questioning the whereabouts of our family. So, the neighbor’s
son decided to hold a party and invited many of his friends over.
He blasted the music to give off the impression that they were
celebrating the occasion.
when the violence had subdued, he and his friends quietly escorted
us to the refugee camp set up within the Ramakrishna Hall nearby.
I felt humiliated walking in with my nightdress. Sadly, many others
were suffering from injuries or distressed about missing family
members. After all our years living in Colombo, I could not believe
we were all in such a position.
recollect the events of the following days however we moved from
one place to another around Colombo until we were able to able
to find and afford another place of our own.
of the Black July, it was quite certain that we were not safe
in Sri Lanka. Slowly, my children began leaving and building their
families in various countries around the world.
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