I ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY THE VIOLIN
Mrs F, 66, reflects on life before and during the conflict in Jaffna, the importance of music and faith in her family and her strength in withstanding the tests of conflict.
In her interview, she also talks about her childhood in Jaffna in the 1940s and ‘50s…
‘Back then in 1947, it was a peaceful time; we lived happily. I was the fourth
child born to my parents. We used to live all together, my mother’s siblings
and her relatives. Everyone was supportive of each other. We grew up happily…
At that time, we didn’t really know much. We were ten children at home.
Our elders had to make sure we were doing our work and then we had to look
after our younger siblings and help our mother. Back then, we weren’t referring
to our father as ‘Appa’, but as ‘Aiyya’. We completed the tasks we were told
to do and stayed at home, raising cows, cleaning large walls, time passed with
helping our parents.’
…her experiences of identity and the ‘Other’ in Jaffna and London…
‘My father was Tamil. You only saw Muslims when you went to Jaffna Town.
At that time in 1947 and 1957, you would only find our people in
Vadamarachchi. Merely in Jaffna Town would you encounter Muslims.
Back then it used to be such a curiosity. Here, in London now, we see
all kinds of people.’
…the role of young people in the protest movements of the 1960s…
‘Whilst we were studying they started the satyagraha movement in the 1960s
at schools. We were sitting in Jaffna at the Mutavelli [open grass field] during
one of the satyagrahas. It was organised through our school. The Thamil Arasu
Kachchi [Federal Party] made a call for school students to participate and we
all went there in our white uniforms and sat down there at the Mutavelli…
Then, we were all patriotic. We had the will to sit down and struggle. Later,
large protests were happening but I never really went there. There was a
sense of fear then, and I retreated more and more.’
…and her impressions of life in London…
‘Things are OK here. My son is looking after me, my children and me. I want to
take up a little job to help my son but I can’t find anything. I’m thinking about
working as a violin teacher somewhere to earn some pocket money. Things are
getting more expensive. My son is looking after me but I don’t want to always be
a burden to him so I’m looking for something.’