July brings out many dreadful memories in the context of Sri Lankan politics. It is the month during which the subtle suspicions between Tamils and Sinhalese turned into a fully blown animosity, thanks to some unfortunate incidents.
Many lives were lost. Many Tamils who faced the brunt of the 1983 riots continue to remember them and some still live in ‘those’ days and therefore th ey tend to be doubtful of any efforts to solve the issue. Yes, there was violence, and it is probably the darkest period in Sri Lanka’s post-independence era.
Sri Lanka struggled for 30 years after the riots thanks to the war. Though the incident is remembered for the negativities, there were some moments where humanity prevailed over ethnic and racial differences.
Risked their lives
Many Sinhalese families risked their own lives to protect their Tamil neigbours with whom they had grown up and shared most part of their lives.
Many when remembering their ordeal do not forget to remember those who had helped them hide, or escape through safe routes.
Unfortunately, many of them could not thank them at the time due to many reasons. One reason is obviously the fact that the situation itself was not conducive to stop even for a moment to thank them. The other would have been that the thought of thanking them would not have crossed their minds at all until a few days, months, or even years later.
Some were fortunate to show their gratefulness over the years that passed. But some were not.
Even today, many would thankfully remember the good deeds but regret the fact that they had not thanked them for what they did at such a harrowing moment. “We don’t know who they are”
They probably would not get a chance to thank them at all. Some might be out of touch. But there are those who do not know who their saviors were.
Yes, many of those who protected the vulnerable were unknown to them and hence there is very little or no chances of them even identifying each other even if they bump into each other on the road.
The country has faced many times of tribulations where both communities were almost on the verge of going against each other. But, it was people like them that kept the country going.
There have been several other occasions where communities have stood by each other and making sure the country gets through times of chaos without much damage. The country is not perfectly alright yet, but it is not that bad either.
There are those who want to live as one, and then there are those who want division. But so far, the former has overpowered the latter despite all the scares over the years. Even today, there are many who despite being proud of their ethnicity or race, respects other communities and their values.
There is nothing wrong being proud of your ethnicity. But you must also respect the other communities as well.
Differences among people and communities are tricky. They can create conflicts and clashes.
But the differences make the world more colorful. Sri Lanka is beautiful, not only because of its natural beauty, but also because of its people, who are different from each other. Therefore, celebrate the differences. Be thankful for that. Be thankful for those who stood by you along your way even if you know that you wouldn’t meet them. They too are our heroes.
Published in the Nation on July 31, 2017