Pushparani (63 years)
‘’In 86’ I arrived in Colombo on my way to France. I stayed with a Sinhalese family. They were very caring. I still remember how they served me with fish curry and hoppers. Also, they had only one room and they gave it to me while they slept outside. Their house was small and they used to live in a ‘Thottam’ (Watte). When I came there initially I was a bit scared. On my way there we had to come through some paddy fields and we asked for directions from the farmers. They were very humble and helpful.’’
Pushparani was living in Mayilitti, Jaffna when the 83’ riots broke out. She refers to the Welikada Prison massacre that took place on that day as what most affected her, with her immediate concern about the safety of Varatharaja Perumal who was in Welikada at that time. She speaks sadly of the death of Kuttimani and Thangathurai who were part of the 53 prisoners who died on that fateful day.
She speaks of many people coming back to Jaffna in a ship, wearing the same clothes and in a very bad state but noted that most of them returned back to Colombo due to work commitments, once some normalcy was restored. These people related stories of being hidden away from the mobs by Sinhalese neighbours and friends.
Pushparani was part of the Tamil Youth Congress, as organizer of the Women’s Wing, and the Tamil Eela Viduthalai Iyakkam (TLO). In terms of the armed Tamil struggle she was one of the first two women to be sent to prison. She is also the author of ‘Ahalam’ a memoir of her times in the militancy.
P. Vijayashanthan – Concept, Photography & Editing
Tanuja Thurairajah – Concept and Text Summaries