HOME
Through the generations finds its resting place on the idea of home. For our speakers, home may be a place in the past, the present or the future, in the imagination or in the physical comfort of community or family, in Britain, Sri Lanka, a homeland in the North and East of Sri Lanka or somewhere else entirely. Reflecting on home may bring up powerful emotions of loss or injustice, hopes of finding a solution to challenges in Sri Lanka or ways of relating to identity in different places and circumstances.

 

‘…I don’t think a return will be a return for me because I think people who’ve
had a similar kind of biography as I had have been lost somewhere on the way,
and there’s no real return for them anywhere, right. So it always seems like it’s
points of complacency and comfort but never real tranquility and peace. And
you’re always seeking but you’re never finding and always departing but never
arriving, right. So even if I go to Sri Lanka, it will never be what I ascribe to it,
what I project upon Sri Lanka, right. It will always be, it will never live up to
what I want it to be and it will never reflect the feelings that I have. I have all
of these romanticised ideas as you know of like how it would be to return into
a country where we are equal, where we are free, where we are able to rule
ourselves, right.’

SINTHUJAN VARATHARAJAH, 27, GERMANY

‘I love my country, all of it. And there’s still a hole in me…’

AMBALAVANER SIVANANDAN, 89, COLOMBO

‘It’s our mother tongue and this is the identity. We are Tamil. We are proud.
Tamil identity is, we are a very little minority group. Naturally, we are minority
plus now here we lost too many people, only a few people are Tamils now…
My husband says, ‘No, in late age, we need to go and settle there [Sri Lanka].’
He loves to go back. But still I am thinking because we have to think about our
children’s education.’

FEMALE, 49, JAFFNA

‘I mean I have two lives I would say, you know, one is this Sri Lankan Tamil girl
and one this girl who [has] grown up in Western world. That parallel world, it
still carries on, yeah, yeah…Britain? I like it. I like it now. I feel this is becoming
my home now. I have my freedom here. Britain allowed me to be who I am…’

LAVANNIYA LANGA, 41, KALUTARA

‘…Before I would overwhelmingly say I was British and nothing else. Until very recently I was British and I would say I am originally from Sri Lanka but that’s
all, whereas now I would say I’m British Sri Lankan now or I’m British Tamil. I don’t really say, associate myself with Sri Lanka, I associate myself with Tamils.
So I would say I’m from Sri Lanka but what I really mean and how I view myself is a British Tamil kind of thing. Although I’m sure I still feel a bit uncomfortable saying British Tamil because I still feel that I don’t know that much about my culture…’

ROHAN SARAVANAMUTTU, 23, LONDON

‘I will fight for Tamil rights until I die, that’s for sure [laughs], you know, makesure we are treated equal.’

PEARL THEVANAYAGAM, 58, JAFFNA

‘I have a dream, like Martin Luther King said, that I could maybe do some work in Sri Lanka, towards reconciliation and peace building. I have to brush up my Sinhalese so I can speak fluently, and from the work I’m doing here, I think, I know I can influence people in a positive way, in a non-threatening way, without getting defensive about my ethnicity and my religion, because I’ve no issues with it, because even now, when people say, ‘Are you a Tamil?’ I say, ‘I’m British, I’m Sri Lankan, I speak Tamil, but I also speak Sinhalese, I also speak English’ because I don’t want to say I’m a Tamil, that immediately separates me – maybe I’m a woman. I’ll use the things that bind us, not that separate us. And then when they say, ‘What religion you are?’ I just say, ‘I’m everything.’ And people are just saying, ‘What do you mean everything?’ I say, ‘I’m everything, I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Hindu,’ because I believe in all those things…Lots of good things are happening in Sri Lanka. I know there are lots of people working towards lots of good things…’

AMBICA SELVARAJ, 62, COLOMBO

I want to live in England. I’ve always felt quite at home here but I guess I don’t really know what I want to do in life yet because I haven’t experienced much. But I think it would be nice to go to Sri Lanka, not on work necessarily but just to help them out there, you know, just stay there for a while. It’d be nice…I want to become a journalist, which is my ultimate goal. I’m not quite sure what that entails yet. I don’t really know much about it but I think it would be really good. I would love to work with BBC and just for people to come from Sri Lanka in this country and be able to go to a higher position in this country would mean a lot. Because I’m a British citizen but my parents aren’t so I think it will be great for them to know that even though they haven’t been given opportunities, we have. Our parents push us to our full potential so I think it will be great to be able to work with BBC and just that would be my ultimate goal.

LAVANYA LOGANATHAN, 16, LONDON