Archive for September, 2008

Let Me Rest for Five Minutes or Chemmani Awaits

Monday, September 8th, 2008

“Let me rest for five minutes” the words still haunt me over and over. The deepest, saddest, cruelest words, I have ever heard. No one would interpret the underlying meaning of those words. They are not merely words. They are drops a heart bled; they are painful droplets a body shed; they are blooded tears from a dried pair of eyes; they are the cry of a wingless bird that wanted to rest in peace; they are the words caused by a dove of peace that spread its wings widely over the political sky. The words disturb the core of my senses when I am awake. Terrifying dreams lengthen my sleepless nights. Horror of those words danced around me, over my head, below my feet and inside me. ?“Let me rest for five minutes” ?“Let me rest for”?“Let me rest”?“Let me”? This is how her words died along with her they said. The words screamed in my head. A whirl of panic sunk me in its darkest, deepest waves. The words have not lost its strength and power even though years have passed. A decade of journey through the time machine has not succeeded in lightening the memories. Still fresh and terrifying, they haunted the mind, body and even that beautiful village?Chemmani*. Once a beautiful village, still remained beautiful with a camouflage of being peaceful. Underneath that peace and beauty lay the midnight horrors. ? Even though , there was peace in the country literally, there was no peace in the minds and hearts and surroundings. Not only the midnights but also the dawn, dusk and midday were frightening.  The vast Chemmani plain was chilled with the morning dew, mist of the dusk and overwhelming fear. The air was filled with frightening memories, haunting spirits and the rotting smell of corpses. The skin was always printed with goose bumps. The tiny dark hair on the brown skins stood straight like a bullet ready to be shot fast. Even the dogs sensed the restlessness of the minds and the air. They howled in the nights nonstop. ? Adding terror to the environment, there were stories of hearing screams at midnight. People who went out in the night came back fear stricken with stories of seeing dark mysterious images. The truth awaited in the dark to be revealed.? Jaffna peninsula is a mango shaped hometown of Tamils within the mango shaped Srilanka. An ancient city of Tamils, where their traditions, culture, customs and religion were preserved for centuries. Once praised for its high level of education, English speaking people and high percentage of civil servants.  Jaffna’s peace and tradition were intentionally destroyed by the state military after the capture of the peninsula from the freedom fighters in 1995. In all the countries where family is the basic structure of the society, and where women are the heart of the families, virtue of the woman is the firm foundation for everything. The military intentionally destroyed the virtue, the self-respect, and the dignity, of our women. Our families’ foundations were found deep down in the wells, or in the bushes, or on the beaches pushed away by the waves.? Corporal Somapala, a soldier in the Srilankan military, was arrested being accused for the military’s human right violations in the peninsula. A corporal, not quite innocent, but not to be accused for obeying his officers, to escape the blow of the punishment, revealed the truths that were buried in the dark. Shocking revelations echoed all around the island. Media flashed the truth to the outside world. A mass grave in the beautiful plains of chemmani was dug out. Mankind shocked to the core. Finally, Krishna and her family came out of the darkest grave with other four hundred skeletons.? Krishna, named after the flowers bloom in December, a month she was born, really was delicate as a flower. Being a only girl of a well educated, sophisticated family, she was brought up well protected from the external harms of the society. Her only brother Ramanan adored his little sister as a fairy princess. Dark curls of hair hung loose as bunch of grapes around her eyes. Beautiful little brown eyes danced with excitement and  joy. She was known for her intelligence around the village. Her family, friends and neighbour hood knew she would get the very difficult entrance to the medical college, her life long dream. ?On her way to the final exam, the gate way to her life time ambition to be a doctor, she was stopped by the soldiers at the check point. Soldiers were ordered to bring her inside the camp for a thorough checking even after she produced her student identification. Without the presence of a lady officer, a it was said in the UN charter, she was thoroughly checked not only once, but for forty times by forty men.  A small build seventeen year old girl with a delicate body soft as a flower was thoroughly checked all over her body inch by inch for forty times by giant like army officers. Born in a culture where sex before marriage, even the knowledge of sexual act is a taboo, she panicked with shock. She had never heard her mum saying anything about what to do when a man lay on top of you. She never heard of sexual intercourse and what would it do to her. Will it hurt? Will it pain? Will it be interesting?  Is it acceptable for the army officers to use her like that? The pain went through her answering all her questions when she screamed for mercy.? “Ah…leave me alone. It is hurting……Please”? Her words were left in vain each time a man abused her. First she begged not to touch her. Then she begged them to touch her gently. Finally she begged them to let her rest just for five minutes.? “Let me rest for five minutes.”  The beasts never let her rest a second.? “God, let me die in peace”, she prayed god to help her each time her legs were held apart. God never responded.? “Anna, help me anna, they are torturing me.” She cried to her brother believing he would hear her. Instead they gagged her mouth with a piece  of cloth.? She lost her blood; she lost her voice; she lost her hope in mankind; she lost her belief in god; finally she lost her senses falling into the darkness. Still the checking went on. On and on.  Finally, she closed her eyes not to come out of the fort of darkness, not to come out of the cruelty that tortured her body and soul, and not to come out the burial ground dug inside the camp compound. ?A jungle fire would not spread as fast as Krishna’s arrest news. Her mother fainted hearing the arrest news. What would have happened to her, if she had known that Krishi was already buried? Ramanan screaming “Krishi…..” brought all neighbors to their house. Next door neighbor, a friend, volunteered to go with them to the camp, not knowing he would not see the next day’s sunlight. The army, sensing the threat in the threesome, took them inside for an investigation. They were never seen afterwards. When they finally returned it was from the Chemmani grave, not from the army camp. Poor family died not knowing their beloved Krishi lay in the same grave. Krishna lay peacefully resting in the grave not knowing her mother and brother joined her in the death path to protect her all the way along. ?Graves opened their mouths gaping for a release. The rotten smell spread in their air. Horror and terror seized the environment. People avoided Chemmani road, but could not avoid the frightening chill of their hearts. Commissions were formed; media screamed for justice: the nations condemned human right violation; Somapala was released with the other accuseds not being able to prove guilty.? Chemmani awaits, with its terror stricken plains, justice to be dug out. Fear stricken faces await to be protected by humanities’ hand. Krishnas are still waiting down in the wells, buried in the zero zones, thrown in the forests, and preyed to the fish, to be found out; to be rested in peace at least for five minutes.