ANONYMOUS MALE (BATTICALOA)
Anonymous (Batticaloa) was born in Batticaloa, Eastern Province in 1965. By his early teens, Batticaloa had begun to feel the effects of conflict after the 1977 riots. When he reached university age in 1983, his father abruptly sent him to India for studies. Police suspicion of Tamil youth in the area, along with the small allocation (25 seats) of university places to Tamil speakers, had raised concerns in the father for his son’s future. After university, unable to find employment in India or return to Batticaloa – which had become torn by war – he reluctantly moved to Colombo with his wife. Having finally settled into life and a career in journalism in the metropolis, he was forced to apply for asylum in the UK at the turn of the century due to the increased government clampdown of media in Sri Lanka. Here in the UK, he focuses his attention on his work and ensuring his sons, both in medicine, receive the best education possible.

FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER

Anonymous Male (Batticaloa) talks about the opportunities migration to
London has opened up for his sons.

In his interview, he also talks about social differences between Batticaloa
and Jaffna…

‘In Sri Lanka, each and every area, the people have different, different laws.
Even Portuguese and British time, they followed the laws. Mukkuvar is a caste,
the dominant caste in Batticaloa…Jaffna was dominated by Vellalar caste…
I belong to Vellalar but we are not majority in Batticaloa, we are few. And that
is the first thing. Marriage customs, also there are some differences. And their
[Jaffna] intention is always into studies and other things. They [Batticaloa] do
the cultivation and other things…And the Jaffna people say they [Batticaloa]
are low caste and they [Batticaloa people] say they [Jaffna people] are low caste
[laughs]. But nowadays everybody has started to marry and other things but
anyhow there are differences still. Still there are differences.’

…his experiences with racial profiling and standardisation policies during
the conflict…

‘One day I got in a bus at Kotahena…When the bus came to the Armour Street,
the Armour Street police blocked the bus. We get down and he sees my
Batticoloa identity, no problem, no questions [laughs], he just brings me to
the Armour Street police guardroom. When I went there, the [police officer]
of that guardroom – he’s not my age, my father’s age, nearly my father’s age –
he questioned somebody else and he called me and I went there. He asked
 me,
‘Where are you working?’ ‘I don’t have any work.’ ‘So what are you doing?’
‘Why?’ ‘I just returned from India. I just was studying there. My family is over
there but anyhow I…’ ‘What are you doing in India?’ ‘I have done my degree
over there.’ ‘Why didn’t you do it here?’ And I said, ‘No, I got these marks but
that’s not enough to get into the university.’ Very next question, he told me,
‘No, no, no, no, you are wrong, my own daughter has the same marks but she’s
in the university. Then I said, ‘That was the problem.’’

…and his adjustment to social life in the UK…

‘I have been here for ten years. My weakness is I am spending all the time with
BBC and my family. I don’t have any social life here because I lost everything,
because as you said, as a man repatriated, displaced from one place to another,
I am always thinking about my family and my job here and always thinking
about the studies of my children and other things, nothing else. I don’t have any
social life here. That is my very big weakness.’