Chenkalady IDP girl by Spring M
Was having lunch. Chinese. Gorgy Porgy. Strange, but the consensus seems to be that the war is going well. That the end is in sight, and that all is worth it. Makes me choke on my cuttlefish. Reminds me of all the mistakes of the past, particularly Iraq. Land comes easy, like pride before the fall. And people will pay any cost to have this war just over and done with. Even a whole lot of dead and displaced, mostly Tamil. However, I still feel that vile compromise hanging over the city like a bad smog. The batches of Sinhala youth loitering on street corners and checkpoints with guns and bad memories, whole Tamil families living on the battlefield, unable to move. Because I know it’s easy for me as a Sinhalese to say, and survive, and feel this war as in inconvenience. Because my race gets me through checkpoints. Because I don’t live in the North. But people do, and they’re just as Sri Lankan as me. And they’re suffering.
I remember the tsunami. I remember brushing off the first news lightly, going back to whatever. My family was on vacation, I was home alone. Then you could sorta feel it, a dread, dripping urgently through the radio spectrum – phone calls, the television, the rising counts, information, then the abject shock. And everyone rushed out to help, in whatever way they could. For about two days before the government stepped in and banned or blocked everything it was inspiring. Then it was a grind, as the politics set in and they banned rebuilding within 100 meters and held up goods at the ports. But I still remember that feeling, that consciousness that people didn’t have food or water or shelter, and that I felt bad about that. That it was worth waking up early for, and doing something about. I remember that restless urgency. And sometimes, if I step outside of the daily churn for a minute I feel it still. I can feel that things are fucked up. I can feel that people are suffering. But I don’t do anything. Most of the time I don’t even feel. I wonder if anybody else does.
We cared about the people that were killed and displaced then. I wonder why we don’t care now. Because they’re Tamil? Because they’re poor? Because the LTTE’s violence gives us a karmic blank check?
This year about 1,100 soldiers were killed and 7000 wounded up to September. The government reports over 7,500 Tamil Tigers killed, but God knows how many civilians are mixed in or out of the body counts (source: LBO). Almost half a million people are displaced, about 185,000 of them since 2006 (IDMC). The war budget for this year is $1.6 billion dollars.