Rohini Mohan’s debut novel touches upon a sensitive topic: the Sri Lankan war against the LTTE. There have been books written about this war from the point of view of the Sri Lankan Sinhalese but for the first time, the horror of the war has been brought to light from the point of view of those affected the most in the conflict-the Sri Lankan Tamils. The author chooses three characters, each diverse in their experiences but united in the grief and suffering during and at the end of the war.
The first of these people is Sarva. He is a young, handsome man in his late twenties. He is abducted while going to work by the TID, the dreaded investigation department for terrorists and is tortured so as to confess his links to LTTE. Sarva recounts the petrol bag dumped on his head; his inability to see anything for hours afterwards and the sexual harassment suffered at the hands of the investigators before finally escaping the country to seek asylum in the UK.
The second person is Indra, Sarva’s mother. The author is highly successful in portraying her anguish and suffering as she goes about preparing the daily meal for her son and taking the bus from the village to visit him in prison. Her suffering is amplified as none of her family members seem to want to do anything with Sarva.
However the character that has the most depth in this narrative is Mugil. A Tamil woman, she first comes into the picture when she watches her fellow soldiers in the LTTE being raped and killed by the Sinhalese soldiers from above a tree. Mugil’s journey has been captured very effectively by the author: right from her childhood; to her recruitment in the LTTE; her training and finally, the time when she and others like her have to flee the north of the country in order to escape the Sri Lankan forces.
What is common in these three people is the fact their helplessness at the situation they find themselves in, their efforts to make their lives easier and their anger and frustration at their leaders who left them to fend for themselves. For in the end, their dream of a Tamil Eelam remained just a dream.
For the first time, a journalist has attempted to look towards the oppressed in the Sri Lankan Civil War and dared to question the methods of the “oppressors”. This is a heart wrenching story that needs to be read.