Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

I had hoped he would carry me, now I have to carry him

Fisherman Aloysius Premathas with his son Premkumar who lost
both legs in the SLAF bombing of his village. Photo TamilNet
We are originally from Mayiliddi in Valigaamam west, Jaffna. My ancestors had been relatively well off fisher folk.
 
Driven from our home by an SLA offensive in 1990, we lived temporarily in Chunnakam.
 
Then we were forced to leave the Jaffna peninsula by the SLA's Sooriyakathir offensive in 1994.
 
I had to leave everything I owned behind.
 
Having no where to go, we spent our lives under the trees and in school buildings in Kodikamam for six months.
 
We sought refuge at Alampil in Mullaiththeevu but from there too we had to flee from the shells launched from the SLA camp in Mullaitheevu, ending up at Oddusuddan in interior Vanni.
 
At Oddusuddan, 40 km west of the shores, I was struggling to find employment. My family had to beg to survive.
 
When Mullaiththeevu SLA camp was overrun by the Liberation Tigers in 1997 we returned to Alampil again, where I resumed fishing and was able to feed my family.
 
We were slowly overcoming our economic hardship when tragedy struck again.
 
The 2004 December tsunami washed away all of our belongings. Luckily all members of our family survived.
 
After the tsunami, we moved inland to Mulliyavalai. Again, it was hard for my family, dependent on handouts as I could not fish.
 
From there we were again relocated in the interim refugee camp at Alampil.
 
Now this last bombing has again smashed our hopes of returning to a normal life.
 
When I was returning to our hut for lunch, I saw my son Premkumar going to the fishing vaadi, which is about 100 meters from our hut.
 
My wife served me lunch but before I had had a mouthful, there was a deafening explosion and my wife shouted that a Kfir had struck.
 
I shouted at my family to run to the bunker.
 
I got into the bunker with my family and looked at the place from which the explosion was heard – it was near the fishing vaadi.
 
I blacked out. When I recovered, I saw the vaadi enveloped in smoke.
 
I ran to see if my son was alright.
 
For a few seconds – though it felt longer – there was no sound from inside the vaadi.
 
Then I heard my son’s voice. He was crying for help.
 
I had no thought of the Kfir still above or anything else. I just ran and found my son.
 
He was lying in a pool of blood. His right leg was missing. No human being should see his or her child in such a state.
 
My wife, running to the scene, fainted.
 
During the ceasefire period I managed to put Premkumar at St. Charles School in Jaffna in the hope of educating him. He was doing well in his studies.
 
But recently it has been more and more dangerous for Tamil youths to stay in Jaffna. So we told him to come back home.
 
Premkumar is my eldest child. The next Pratheeskumar is thirteen, daughter Mary Pirameela is nine and Yarl Mannan is six years old.
 
I do not know how we are going to provide them the necessities all children have the right to have.
 
Premkumar is my eldest son. I had hoped he would carry me in my old age. Now, though he is only fifteen, he has to be carried by me. He is crippled for life.
 

My children, all of them born here are refugees since their birth

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.