Category Archives: female empowerment

Two Sri Lankan Tamil Voices from the North Today

Frances Bulathsinghala, courtesy of Daily FT, 5 August 2016, where the title reads “Post-war voices from the north.” The emphases in highlighted colours, however, are additions by The Editor, Thuppahi

Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu: Rajini is 46 years old and an ex-LTTE Commander with a 10-year-old daughter. She is a widow. She has few visitors. Tamil politicians are rarely among them.  Occasionally she chases off military officers who enter her premises in her absence and make themselves at home for hours in her garden. She flies into a rage at them. She informs them that they have no right to enter her garden in her absence. They accept, grin, make some lame excuses and good-naturedly lope off after the cursory examination of the military reference documentation that is as important for ex-militants in post-war times as it was for civilians in peace times. 

It is peace. At least there is no gunfire now. Of the memories of fire that continue to burn in hearts and minds we do not know.


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Homemade Culinary Art in Surviving the Eelam Wars

Vidya Balachander, 9 October 2016, whose chosen title is. Cookbook Tells The Story Of Sri Lanka’s Civil War Through Food.” ….….

Even if you knew nothing about Vijaya, her haunting portrait would likely give you pause. She peers out of the page, unsmiling, her silver hair pulled back and her eyes conveying an unspoken anguish. From the accompanying narrative, we learn that a few years ago, almost overnight, Vijaya became her granddaughter Anjali’s primary caretaker. Her daughter, Gayathri, set out to find nutritious food for the family amidst heavy shelling, at the violent end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, and never returned home. In the years since, money has been scarce and fresh vegetables in limited supply. But Vijaya and her granddaughter survived on creamy, coconut milk-laced sothis, mild gravies that act as soothing antidotes to the scorching cuisine of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated north. Sothis are a common part of everyday meals. But seen through the lens of war — and Vijaya’s lingering loss — this simple side dish acquires a new depth.

aa-vijaya After losing her daughter during the war, Vijaya cares for her granddaughter Anjali. Despite not being able to afford freshvegetables, she cooks nourishing sothis or stews made of coconut milk.–Palmera

It is this exploration of food — both as a source of sustenance and a repository of memories in the context of war that makes Handmade, a cookbook published by Palmera, a not-for-profit organization based in Australia, different from the other Sri Lankan cookbooks to have come out in recent times. Continue reading

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The Rajasingams and Their Profound Legacies

Rajan Hoole, being the text of speech delivered at Trimmer Hall, Jaffna, 22 September 2016… and reproduced in the Daily News with the title “The Rajasingam Legacy: A Quest for Quality”

  rajasinghamsin1990parentsofdrrajani aaa-rajasingambavinck-rajasingham

After nightfall on 21st September 1989, Rajasingam Master called on his bicycle at my mother’s home quite unexpectedly and delivered his pithy message, “Rajini has been shot.” His voice showed no evident emotion. After a brief exchange of words, he turned back. He was stoic, incorruptible, who lived by his strong sense of duty. Master, his wife MahilaAcca, and their daughters, Nirmala, Rajini, Sumathy and Vasuki were familiar to us from childhood days in the St. James’ Church choir. Had Master been more ambitious during his university days, he would have left his mark as an outstanding mathematician in our university. What he did as a school master at Hartley and Jaffna College was no less important. His zeal for catching hold of students who seemed to be in need of inspiration and getting them to work Mathematics problems remained a passion with him to the end of his life.  rajani-t Rajani Thiranagama nee Rajasingam

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Lakshmi de Silva: An Inspiration as an Academic

KS Sivakumran in Daily News, where the title is  “Lakshmi de Silva – an academic to reflect upon”

aa-lakshmiA remarkable translator, teacher and a poet in English and perhaps in Sinhala too is the unassuming and scholarly Lakshmi de Silva. She is one who had encouraged me to write and was persistently asking me to bring some of my articles in the press to be collected in book form. Last year, Vijitha Yapa Publications published a collection of 26 poems of her under the title Reflections running to only 35 pages qualifying its stature as a booklet. Invariably a printed book should have at least 50 pages according to the National Library Services Board. And yet the quality of her poems is uniquely of a high standard in the classical sense. Continue reading

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Tigress Rathika Pathmanathan’s Turbulent Journey, 2006-16

Zahrah Imtiaz in Daily News, 16 August 2016, where the title is “Rathika–A  Succcess Story”

At 23, Rathika Pathmanathan has borne many names; orphan, LTTE combatant, Ex-LTTE combatant, call centre girl and finally writer and activist. Her journey has been long and arduous and as she stood in a crowded auditorium at the OPA, for the launch of her maiden book of narrative stories and poems in Tamil, ‘There is a darkness called light and I grope for myself in the thick of it’ (with Sinhala and English translations), last week, she stood as a testament to what successful rehabilitation needed to be.

AA-rathika 22 Rathika Pathmanathan

“This book is an honest declaration of my feelings and thoughts during and after the war. It bears the scars of that time,”she said and added that it was a project undertaken to record the sufferings of the people who went through the war. “I am surprised at the courage I have gained to be able to speak before a large gathering today. A few years ago, I did not know a word of Sinhala, we didn’t know what ‘Kauda’ (who are you?) meant. I was depressed and had no one to talk to and as I lay in hospital in Colombo, I started to write poetry.

“As I kept writing, I felt more relieved and empowered, so I kept writing. The writing calmed me down. This book helped me get out of depression and learn to live a better life,” she explained. Continue reading


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The Seductiveness of Indian Women: Cricketing Stars in Love

Sudatta Mukherjee, writing about “SEVEN  foreign cricketers who married Indian women” …

ckting stars

tait plusAustralian speedster Shaun Tait tied the knot to Indian model Mashoom Singha on June 12, after a four-year courtship.  Continue reading


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Deloraine Brohier on Lineage and Memories

Carol Aloysius, courtesy of the Sunday Observer 26 June 2016, where the title is “My Parents’ Genes shaped My Life”

One of Deloraine Brohier’s most vivid and fearful memories was living in snake infested circuit bungalows- the transit homes for the wandering Brohier family headed by Ceylon’s first Ceylonese Surveyor. “My father, Dr R.L Brohier joined the exclusively British run Survey Department in 1910 and retired in 1949. The youngest in a family of three, I spent my early childhood travelling with my parents to wherever my father was sent. My first memory is Ratnapura when I was about five. Like all the circuit bungalows we lived in, it was beautifully landscaped and overlooking the Kalu Ganga. Unfortunately, it was snake infested”, she recalls, still shuddering at the memory.  One encounter in particular stands out, if only because it was so terrifying.  ” I was just four, and liked rolling on the carpet. One day, I sat on what looked like a big bump under the carpet. Thinking it was a cushion, I began riding on top of it like an imaginary car. Then, my father noticed the bump moving. After instructing that I be carried away without frightening me, he hit it hard with a club. And a huge snake slithered away!” Continue reading

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