“And they still seek Eelam!” — Thayaharan Balasubramaniam’s tale of outmigration, Jaffna to Canada

Thayaharan Balasubramaniam, in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thayaharan.Balasubramaniam/posts/510376418989222#=

I was fortunate enough to buy my own place after many years of hard work and dedication. I have worked in a factory during my school days, worked at a uniform store and toiled in a factory floor helping build CDMA towers inclusive of testing after graduating from school. I helped so many during my school days either with their assignments (3 versions at times), better yet only had “Tamil” team mates for all of my final year courses. I took a beating in my GPA yet helped these gentle folks. Once I graduated from school, I realized that I was being used purely for their advancement and that the word “friend” was used rather loosely to describe a selfish relationship. My obsession with owning my place kept me going for the next 8 years and finally I have reached my target. Here is the real reason behind that obsession. Pic by Shyam Tekwani in Tehelka

Everyone has this dream about becoming a property owner. For some of us , its not just a dream. We are the obsessed ones who would go any length to become a property owner. Any obsession has its reasoning. Leaving Sri Lanka was the hardest decision my mother would have made in her entire life. Even when the shells were buzzing through and the bombs were falling, my mom was adamant that we will somehow make it through all the hardship that we were up against. She would often state that “We as a family haven’t harmed anyone hence god will ensure that we are fine under any circumstances”  very rare that someone who has a successful career and respect in a Town where they thrived for eons would pack up and leave to an unknown promised land. One day, things changed from bad to worse. My sister’s best friend was killed in an air strike.[i]Seeing how my sister was trying hard to cope with that loss essentially led to a change of heart for my mother. We decided to embark on this journey to Canada. The LTTE made it almost impossible to obtain the pass to leave Jaffna, through their so-called “kangaroo” system. We went to their pass office several times (At times walking up to 5 miles one way). With no solution in place we were left to wonder. One night, two folks came by our place. They were employees in the LTTE’s pass office. They asked if we were struggling to
get the Pass. After a brief exchange, they suggested that they can get us the pass. The cost is 7,00,000 Rupees or approximately $ 30, 000 Canadian Dollars. We didn’t have access to a massive treasure haul and decided to sell our house. LTTE did have another fun policy. If you sell a property, you had to pay 25 percent of the total value of the transaction to them to help retrieve the occupied land called “Tamil Eelam”.So we ended up selling our house to one of our relation and gave the money away for that ticket to freedom. Left with very little money, those employees had called for the taxi etc and we had to leave the next day without even notifying our kin. My mother literally had a breakdown and cried in front of the house as we made our way out of Jaffna. We left and came to this promise land and I told myself that me and my sister would buy a place in each other’s name. Its that obsession that led me to get my place. Even if I amass wealth and buy many more, nothing beats the trek that I travelled to get a place to call our own in a short span of time.[ii]

[i] This would have been bombing by the SL Air Force –see “Shelling Suffering of the Tamil People, 1990-91 – Ben Bavinck,”http://thuppahis.com/2011/09/15/shelling-suffering-of-the-tamil-people-1990-91-%e2%80%93-ben-bavinck/

[ii] My surmise is that this story relates to the early 1990s when the western part of Jaffna Peninsula was still in LTTE hands —Web Editor.

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Filed under historical interpretation, immigration, life stories, LTTE, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, world events & processes

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