I am dying, Eelam, dying

Article Date: 
10 Apr 2009

New Delhi, April 11: Velupillai Prabhakaran is in an unpredictable mood these days. Sometimes when his gimlet eyes fix on those around him, he looks murderous.

Sometimes he looks like a broken man muttering under his breath, I am dying, Eelam, dying, as though he were in some Shakespearean melodrama. Those around him are wary of talking to him when Prabhakaran is having a conversation with himself. When they see a rage building up inside him, they keep out of the line of his sight.

The only time they go to tell him something is to give the news from the battlefront. Sometimes the battlefront is four kilometres away. At other times it is less than a kilometre away. All the time the battlefield is shrinking. Sometimes they don’t have to tell Prabhakaran some of the news because he can hear it coming too. That is when the Sri Lankan shells come with a high whine and explode and body parts lie everywhere. It is not what the explosion does that is terrible. It is the sound of screaming that follows that is unbearable. The screaming goes on for hours without stop.

All the news from the battlefront is bad news. All the news that comes via the satellite phone is bad news. They couldn’t get the UN to intervene. This MP will try to do this but it is difficult. They couldn’t do this. They couldn’t do that. They had to shoot a few who were trying to break the cordon here. They had to fire into the crowd to restrain a rebellion there. All the stack of medicine was over and amputations had to be done without the help of medicines.

Water was running low. A thousand were dying of bullet wounds and other injuries. Many were already dead from the pain. There were no more ablebodied youngsters left to defend the last positions, should they look for older persons? More shells had fallen in such and such place and so many had been wounded and so many dead. Should they ask people to start burying those who had been dead for a day? Whenever he gets the latest bad news, those around Prabhakaran keep their fingers crossed. They have no idea whether he is going to burst into tears or start shooting at everything and everyone in sight. Often these days Prabhakaran feels he has been stabbed in the back with a knife that has Tamil lettering on its handle.

He had had the same feeling many years ago, when Rajiv Gandhi had corralled him into Hotel Ashok in New Delhi and coerced him into accepting the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. Then he had complained to V Gopalasamy that he had been stabbed in the back. “I feel like committing suicide,” he had confessed to V Gopalasamy on the phone twenty-two years ago. The lettering on the knife handle then had been English.

Anton Balasingham had translated it for him, clause by clause. Often these days Prabhakaran thinks of committing suicide.

Article Author: 
V Sudarshan
Article Source: 
Indian Express