27 October 2014

The lament of a Diaspora Tamil

Back to enforced participation in protests?
I am a Diaspora Tamil.  That’s what I am called.  Misnamed.  Technically I am an expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil, but the word ‘diaspora’ reminds people of the Jews and therefore makes a case where there is none.  Smart move by whoever started using that self-description.  Political smartness doesn’t percolate to us ordinary folk though.  It’s not like every Diaspora Tamil has equal rights and privileges.  Most rarely speak but everyone is spoken for -- spoken for by people who were not authorized to do so.  But that’s the lot of the unfortunate all over the world, displaced or otherwise, misplaced or otherwise, misnamed or otherwise.   

People back home think we are having it good over here in Europe.  That’s what I thought too of our people who came here before I did.  In a way it’s true.  We escaped the sound and fury that’s the bread and butter of warring parties.  Our children were safe from abduction, weapons training and being put on the line wearing a Tiger uniform with a cyanide capsule hanging around their necks.  There are lots to be thankful for.  Uninterrupted education for the kids, routines uninterrupted by bombs and bullets, less tense lives and of course enough of the good-life goodies that most people here have. 

But home is home and this is not it.  However harsh the circumstances, however unpredictable life was, there’s a heart-string that we just can’t rip out of some corner of the island that we once called home.  Our children don’t have that problem.  Their children probably won’t care.  We still do. 

That’s not all though.  For years, just because we happened to be Tamils from Sri Lanka, we were subjected to all kinds of harassment.  First of all some (not all) of us had to lie through our teeth to get here and stay here.  It was tough for the early birds.  But later on it became easier.  There was a network of lawyers to help.  Even now, I hear, in England there are lawyers, doctors and even torture-artists ready to help make a case for asylum.  It costs a lot of money.  The illusion of the good life is a good incentive though.  People will subject themselves to cuts and burns to obtain the ‘torture victim’ certificate.  The network will tell which courts and judges are friendly or naïve or both. 

Even if one gets residency without a scratch, it’s not easy.  For years we were harassed by the boys.  You all know who the boys were and are.  If you don’t know, ask Father Emmanuel.  He knows.  We had to pay not for services obtained but for being Tamils.  Or pay a different kind of price.  We didn’t run away from hurt to get hurt here.  So we paid.  Since we came as refugees, we had to maintain refugee-need, they told us.  We accept that.  It is logical.  So we paid up and they used the money to buy arms and keep the war going.    To keep the story believable we had to attend demonstrations where we were required to tell the world about the suffering of our brethren back home.   We did all this because if anyone asked we could say ‘Tamils are getting killed in Sri Lanka, we can’t go home!’  People here didn’t really know or care whether it was Tamil or Terrorist.  That was good.  They didn’t know that most of us did visit now and then.  We even had a good laugh about it.

Then the war ended.  It was good.  Some of us had got our papers, so we weren’t worried.  Those who hadn’t, were upset.  That’s how people had to create post-war horror stories of persecution. It went well with the word ‘diaspora’.   Jews.  Persecution.  Genocide.  It was a perfect fit.  No one asked us to leave.  And there were no more ‘visits’ from the boys.  Indeed, the boys had found it difficult to ‘visit’ even before the war ended. That’s because the boys were banned. 

We had it good the last five years.  We went home.  It’s all good back home.  No war. No landmines.  Even the Yal Devi is running now.  But just when I thought the tough times were over, I was ambushed.  Well, all of us were ambushed.  The European Court of Justice lifted the ban on the boys.  Damn! Damn! Damn!

It’s going to happen all over again.  The boys will want money.  They know how to make us pay, one way or another.  ‘Give or else!’ is pretty scary, my fellow Diaspora Tamils will tell you.  I don’t know what they will do with the money.  It seems that our brethren in Sri Lanka have figured out the boys, but you never know with them.    But right here, for me, things are clear.  So clear that a headache I thought had gone away is splitting me beyond belief. 

So if you thought I made it, if you thought life was good and the grass was greener, think again.  I am flowered, if you know what I mean.  Upside down, I might add. 

 [All this in a parallel universe of course]



Snoweater said...

On the dot, but it won't happen again. You and I and our children will make sure it doesn't happen again. We will take care of each other. Guaranteed

Shaik Ahamath said...

This is spot on with all its horrors. In UK the Protection Racket phenomenon died somewhat after the demise of the Kray twins but sadly emerged again by the LTTE fundraisers targeting the Tamil businesses. Never for a moment did I believe all those demonstrators were there on their own volition and I was right. The LTTE scour the telephone directories for Tamil names that most go ex-directory or enter a fictitious name.