Checkpoint into Jaffna
I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was in Medavachchiya this time last year. That is the middle point, at the time a hub of congestion between the south and the warzone. We heard that the war was finished over the military walkie talkies. It was announced the next day. Yesterday I went to see a puppy we’d picked up on the way back. It was full of parasites and throwing up on newspaper when we found him. About the way I felt. Today he’s big and healthy, still nipping at me like he’s a pup. Things have got better. For real.
All the coverage in the international press is about war crimes and the same old gripes. How we don’t have peace, no political solution, etc. Even Groundviews is the same old complaints. I’ve met people on all sides, however, but most are just damn glad the war is over. A lot of people are looking for the story they want, the story they know. But that’s over. The war is really over. This is good. Mahinda actually did good.
You know what people are thinking of on anniversary day? I’m thinking about why my eyes hurt, how little sleep I got last night. I’m thinking about a girl and the world and the bothersome length of my toenails. People are thinking about the floods and getting their kids to school. I called a former IDP now in Vavuniya, she’s looking for a job. Called Jaffna, they’re thinking about the new banking business, his cousin is visiting to maybe fix up the old house.
Sri Lankans are quick to forget, and now we’re pretty knee deep in our own problems. But we’re not knee deep in bombs, checkpoints, and weekly terrifying news. We’re starting to have normal problems. Which is nice.
Anyone to deny this benefit of the end of war is mad. You can dispute the cost and certainly mourn the deaths, I do. But to say nothing has changed? That this government is evil? That’s just not true. Life is better one year later. This government has made it better. And they are stable, which is one thing we’ve never had. Could they be better still? Hells yes. But give credit where credit is due.
The war is over. The press is freer (and more bored), human rights situ has improved, we are freer and can travel. People are not trapped in camps anymore. Are there still other major problems? Yeah, poverty, unemployment, corruption, abuse, etc. But these are normal problems. We’re starting to deal with stuff in normal fucked up ways, besides the constant bombs and guns. Which is good.
You know the best thing? I’m slowly getting the war out of my head. It’s starting to feel a bit empty, but still. I don’t have to listen to the old war rehashing (Sri Lanka is so fucked, UN should really do something). I also don’t have to listen to the other side much either (SL is the best ever, conspiracy under the bed). The old bile only seems to come up on this one day, a year later. The international community with ignorant, impotent indignation, Groundviews with its elite, verbose whine, the government with its blustery, marching pride, the nationalists with their blinkered, unthinking ideology. Seems to be coming up today, but the rest of the year they’re just relatives and friends.
Some people seem to still be fighting the war. I’m not. Peace.