My name is
Maria Aulanandam, and I am a Black July survivor. Before 1983,
I was teaching in Trincomalee, and my husband was working at Overseas
Telecom Service. I was transferred to work in Colombo only one
month before the riots. At that time, my husband and I had been
married for about one year, and I was 9 months pregnant.
On the 25th
of July, my husband went to work and told me to stay home because
problems were starting there. Around 12 pm I got more phone calls
about the situation, and people started coming home from work.
My husband took some time, but finally arrived home by bus. We
were having our lunch and that is when we began to here people
screaming. We immediately headed to the back, through a corridor,
to the kitchen. In particular, everyone was scared for me because
I was pregnant. I had just gone to the doctor the previous day
and the doctor had informed me that everything was fine.
As we sat
in the kitchen, my husband and a few people were holding the front
door because thugs were banging on it continuously. They felt
a huge bang, and my husband had no choice but to open it. He begged
them not harm us, and told them he would give everything he had.
Even though the thugs were carrying kerosene, they did not harm
my husband. The previous day was salary day and our money was
in the room along with the jewelry. The thugs had taken everything
and damaged many things in our house. My husband had also kept
our engagement ring in his sarong, and even that had fallen out.
the thugs had gone to another apartment before arriving at our
place, and they told us to go and stay there. My husband went
over there first and saw that everything was gone except for a
big whisky bottle under the table. When he gave the thugs the
whisky bottle, they were very happy and left the area.
told us to go to that apartment, but I was very scared and did
not want leave. As we were walking over to the apartment, there
were blood droppings on the steps and I became very fearful. That
day I felt that the baby’s movements had reduced significantly.
We stayed at the apartment for the next six days and the people
there provided us with food. We wanted to visit the doctor due
to the reduced movement but we were too scared to leave.
On the 31st
of July, we left on a ship to Jaffna. At the hospital, we were
given very sad news; our baby was stillborn. After that we felt
like we were starting a new life because we had lost everything
including our baby.
got a temporary transfer to work at Jaffna Telecom, and he worked
there for about one year. The situation was still bad in Colombo
and our house was destroyed, but we had to go back. I found out
that I had lost my old teaching job, but I eventually got a new
and I came to Canada by self-sponsor. We chose to come here because
we could not find peace back home, and we still feared going to
work and coming home. While in Canada, I still think about the
people back home and the problems they are facing, and some day
I hope to go back. I feel the most important aspect of living
in Canada is the freedom.
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