By Marisa de Silva (Daily FT)
Expectantly she comes to meet them,
her plastic bag of documents clasped tightly under her arm
Her face weary, and tear-stained,
but, ready to tell her story one more time.
White journalists, local activists,
big people from big international human rights organisations,
government commissions, the police, army camp officials……it’s all a blur now.
But, she’s spoken to them all.
They all know her story.
She came for every protest.
Wailed, screamed, held placards
and told any and everyone who would listen to her,
to help her find her husband.
And she would continue to do this at every protest,
before every camera, foreigner, politician
or government official……
She wouldn’t care who she spoke to, as long as someone would help her.
“Please find my son,” she pleads as she drops to her knees in tears before me
– her hands clasped in desperation over her head.
“Please find my husband,” she says as she clings to the white man,
whilst thrusting her plastic bag full of documents into his hands.
What happened to your son, he asks.
“They dragged him away from home,
with the promise of returning him the next day after questioning….”
“…..we went to the camp where we saw them take him to,
and they said there was no such person in their custody…”
We can’t make you any promises,
but, we will do our best to at least tell your story to the world.
“Please….just find my child….”
I’m sorry…..there’s very little we can do but we will try our best….
“Thank you. Thank you. Please…….I beg you….please just find him.
May God bless and protect you in your work.”
“We tried to hide them away, but they kept coming.
So we gave them our eldest, to save the other 3.
They said she’d be a martyr.
They said we should be proud…”
“Come fight for your people, they said.
Come fight for your homeland.
You will all be heroes.
Join us and fight for freedom!”
She didn’t come home from school that day,
and we never saw her again.
“Today we have no freedom and no children.
At least tell us where our children are!”
“I’ve told my story before over 800 Commissions, journalists, activists, Police and security personnel…
but, nobody has found my son…”
“Our children have not disappeared.
They were made to disappear.
They did not just disappear.”
“They both got together and disappeared our children.
We are like a desperate people lost in a forest.
Building roads and houses is not going to bring back our children.”
“I will never rest until I find my child…”
“Where are our children?” they wailed over and over and over again……
“…..they are most probably dead…” – Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, at an official Pongal Event in Jaffna, 15th Jan. 2016.
Is that all you have to say to them???
*This poem is written to commemorate the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, a global campaign taking place from 25 November to 10 December. It was written by a member of the Kavithé Collective – a platform for socially and politically engaged writing by Sri Lankans across the world. For more information visit www.kavithecollective.com Submit your own creative writing to firstname.lastname@example.org)