Sri Lanka – A changed country

Sacred Tears was many years in the making. The idea for the story came to me after the outbreak of civil war in Sri Lanka. I had spent all my formative years as a child and as a teenager on the island, growing up in a country that to me was both tranquil and beautiful. My wife and I were both Sri Lankan citizens at the time, resident in the US on special visas granted to international staff members employed by the United Nations. We were living in New York, working in the iconic UN complex on 1st Avenue and 42nd Street.

From UN to Sri Lanka

While at the UN, Sri Lanka changed

We had been to Jaffna less than a year previously to visit my wife’s grandparents who lived in the temple veethi in Nallur. I remember being advised at the time by a senior government minister whom I knew, not to travel to the north especially by road. Heeding his advice, we flew into Jaffna and came away with a sense of having stepped back in time to a place that was still many years behind the rest of the country. We stayed for a few days and while we were there, although there was some signs of civil unrest in the town, nothing prepared us for what was to follow.

The incidents that followed the massacre of the Sinhalese soldiers in Jaffna less than a year later made us realise that going back to our country of birth was not going to be a simple matter. Looking back at what has transpired since, there is no doubt that the communal violence in 1983 was the catalyst a few years later, for both of us to  leave our jobs at the UN  and migrate to Australia.

The story covers the period commencing with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the subsequent Siege of Beirut and ends with the outbreak of civil war in Sri Lanka. While the book is fiction, in this section I give the reader background information about a number of significant events in the narrative that shaped the history of both these small countries: the Siege of Beirut, the Sri Lankan Civil War and the Indian involvement.