This is the English version of a war diary that a LTTE fighter, known by his nom de guerre Malaravan, maintained – and which was found by fellow guerrillas after his death in November 1992. This diary of combat – and emotions – is an important piece of historical record of a violent movement that got destroyed in the very nihilism it preached. Malaravan was from a family of writers, and so he wrote movingly of the ups and downs of an uncertain life.
Of course Malaravan (real name Vijinthan) firmly believed, like so many others, that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would never get vanquished. “The enemy is stronger than us in numbers and weaponry,” he wrote. “Our strength is in our determination, belief in our goal, and our love for the land and our people.” In the final analysis, however, the LTTE’s zeal for Tamil Eelam got crushed by the superior arms and weapons the Sri Lankan state possessed.
In what was originally titled “Por Ulla” (War Journey), Malaravan faithfully records the stealthy preparations behind LTTE attacks, vivid descriptions of fighting, raw courage in the battlefield, agonizing deaths, hardships in war, frustration with Tamil civilians not on the same page vis-a-vis the Tamil Tigers, suicide attacks and more.
The book was originally written in Tamil in 1990, about a major battle in Sri Lanka’s north that year. It was the year the LTTE broke a truce with Colombo and went to war. The translation took place in 2007, by when the Norway-sponsored ceasefire was in tatters. Even then “I did not for a moment imagine that the society that created Malaravan would be destroyed”, says the translator, a Sri Lankan Tamil from New Zealand. It is this inability to see the LTTE’s demise that has left many Tamils today bitter and frustrated, and wondering what went wrong.
Here is what Times of India reviewer had left out from the translator’s comment which the reviewer had used selectively as follows, “I did not for a moment imagine that the society that created Malaravan would be destroyed”.
“When I translated Poor Ulaa in 2007, I did not for a moment imagine that the society that created Malaravan would be destroyed. At that time I was only hoping to inform the world through Malaravan’s writing about the nature of the society that created him. Things have changed since I translated the book, but his writing still stands out to inform the world about much that continues to be misrepresented or blacked out.”
Times of India review proves, if proof is needed, of the many ways the elite of the world continues to black out the true nature of the LTTE society.
N Malathy (The translator)
A wonderful and moving account by a True Eelam fighter .I got the kindle version of the book from amazon.com and it is worth a buy .
It is true that the LTTE’s struggle to gain a homeland for Tamils has not for example been compared to or even portrayed in the same light as Kurdish fighters, Palestinian civilians and groups, but alas like the islamic terrorists that practice extreme jihad and have no purpose other than religious fundamentalism and otherwise have no founded basis for their violence. However, the LTTE in many ways had its flaws and attacked its own people for not conforming readily to their ideologies, and were guilty as well in spreading propaganda. To understand the LTTE’s stance is an important and critical step in determining the circumstances of war, to not would exercise extreme ignorance and bias for one side of the conflict. The problem was that despite many people trying to shape an objective view on the LTTE, the LTTE itself saw no value in that and lead a solitary struggle. No matter how much people try to present them, ultimately the LTTE shunned the opportunity to show the world their purpose and not lead an ostracized assault. To completely shun the international community and the western countries for a lack of transparency is not a wise judgement. Many countries did at one point take the group seriously to help them through democratic means, but the LTTE made many technical and strategic errors that debilitated them in the end, not to mention that their tactics were getting more and more brutal; many questioned their ideologies and goals as something for Tamils or just power-hunger exercised by the elites within the group through terror. Seeing the actions they took suggests that political liberation for Tamils was second place to annexation of land and power in the end. This is something that hugely discredited them in the Tamil community, because in the end, who seemed like their only defenders only looked out for their interests and agenda of power and dominance, and became just like others on the list of those who do not understand the Tamils’ need for freedom. The LTTE in theory would have sounded like a true revolutionary group, but in reality though that could be farther from most truth about them.