Hear My VOICE: Arumugam Varatharajan ~ “I want to feel “belonged””
The time is 12.10PM, it is lunch time in Sri Lanka. The scorching Sun shines bright in Jaffna, North of Sri Lanka. Arumugam Varatharajan (56) wrapped in an old Blue Sarong and wears no shirt as the weather is balmy. He is seen busy stitching bags at his small tailor shop in Kondavil~ Jaffna district. A ladies’ bicycle is parked on the wall. His shop also has candy, shampoo and pen for sale. A piece of used sack is placed on the steel pedal of his old USHA sewing machine to comfort his tired feet. A straight line of White Holy ash from the nearby temple still stays on his forehead amidst non-stop sweat, which proves he is an ardent devotee of Goddess.
“I left my ancestral home in Kaankesanthurai, which is in High Security Zone (HSZ), in 1990 along with my family. Ever since, I have been living in a rented house in Alavetty in Jaffna district. My ancestral house was destroyed during the war. I still treasure those old memories of living in Kaankesanthurai with all the relatives” says Arumugam Varatharajan while his fingers race with an old USHA sewing machine needle.
He was a farmer before the displacement in 1990, he followed his forefathers. Later, he turned into a tailor and began to stitch bags, dresses and footwear.
“My average daily income is Rs.500/=~Rs.1,000/=. I have some regular customers. I work 365 days to earn an enough income to look after my family. I have three children who are still schooling. I want to educate them well, and make them understand the human values which are currently being forgotten” continues Arumugam Varatharajan.
People visited their houses and properties in the High Security Zone (HSZ) in Jaffna district. Arumugam Varatharajan too has visited his ancestral house a few times.
“I am looking forward to go back to my house and live in Kaankesanthurai before I die. I want to continue with farming there. I feel being myself, when I am in my own house and surroundings. I easily connect myself to the place, where I was born and raised. I feel the “belongingness” whenever I visit Kaankesanthurai, which brings the most happiest memories ever. I feel lost being displaced and living in another place. I am unable to fit in another place. I neither wanted to leave Jaffna nor Sri Lanka. I want to continue living in Jaffna with my family” continues Arumugam Varatharajan while his eyes get filled with tears, but he tries hard not to let them roll down his cheeks.
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