This week I visited some war displaced children who’d come to Colombo for treatment. Just to see, and sorta let them know that Colombo is not uncaring. That’s the source for this Sunday Leader column. I always wake up late the paper is hard to find, but it is almost always available at the Bamblapitiya News stand at the Galle Road/Dharmapala Junc, across from the Milk Bar. And the Laugfs on Havelock Rd. I think Frederica is doing good things with the paper and I recommend picking up a physical copy. I also recommend waking up earlier. I’m hungry. The article is also available online and excerpted here (slightly less edited version).
I visited some warzone kids at a hospital. They’ve come here for treatment. Good kids, bad wounds. The nurses and doctors are doing a great job, bless them. I saw a little boy, couldn’t be no more than three. Double amputee, but can still coax a smile. Little kid sitting nearby, burn wounds all over his chest. He was shivering, in pain. I can’t speak Tamil for toffee, but this one baby was balancing on her mother’s knee, just looking at me. So I looked back, and smiled. Hard to look into her eyes and think about who or what or why. Hard to blame anyone or make any moral calculations or anything. She’s just a little kid. And she’s Sri Lankan too.
I came with a local hero, in my opinion. She believes that those kids and families are Sri Lankan and that they deserve our full compassion and support. I suppose many of us would say that, but she does something about it. She’s been visiting them for weeks and they know her. I was just a tourist there, but I could see that they appreciate the simple time and care this woman has put in. She’s Sinhalese, but she’s reaching out to them, and I think that makes a big difference. Just to know that we care. That they are not forgotten. That they are Sri Lankan too.
I know it must gall that it seems like the South is celebrating while these people suffer. I watch local music videos and they’re full of martial songs now, scenes of singing interspersed with guns firing, artillery firing, soldiers with bullets around their chest. OK. I support the troops. Our men and women have done yeoman service to push the nihilistic, sociopathic LTTE back. I also understand that we are fighting in civilian areas, and that this has very real consequences. The LTTE using human shields and firing on fleeing refugees certainly does not help.
However, I do not glory in war, especially as a Buddhist whose first precept is to abstain from taking life. I mean, I’m a terrible Buddhist but I at least feel guilt. I understand that killing happens, often in my name, and I even support it sometimes. Still, I see no particular glory in war. Necessity perhaps, but seeing artillery and gunfire in music videos honestly nauseates me. Those bombs and bullets land somewhere. Yesterday I saw a martial video with guns a’ blazing. Today I saw a four year old kid with a bullet in his ass.
The interview with Keheliya Rambukewella is also, er, interesting.