all towns are
one, all men our kin.
Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
Tribute to Thamilselvan
3 November 2007
Thamilselvan has bid us adieu unexpectedly. Many will be gloating. Many will be grieving. Some will be smiling. Some will be weeping. Those who hated his guts will gloat and smile. Those who loved his dedication to the acuse of Tamil liberation will grieve and weep.
For me, that Thamilselvan had lived and served the Eelam Tamil community for 40 full years itself is commendable. He literally faced death daily since he dedicated himself to be an LTTEer. He had served in the battlefields of Eelam and he had survived battle wounds. He could have been an easy target for any Sri Lankan crackpot, when he passed through the Katunayake entry-exit point or when he boarded the Sri Lankan government’s air-carriers. He had escaped set traps of the adversary. That on November 2nd Friday, Thamilselvan succumbed to the guile of Grim Reaper, when he was engaged in work with his five dear colleagues Anbumani (Alex), Mihuthan, Nethaji, Aadchivel and Maavaikumaran, is nothing to be ashamed of, though pain-filled.
I have not met Thamilselvan face to face, even once. So it would be presumptious for me to write about Thamilselvan, when there are thousands who have dealt with him directly and were influenced by his courage, duty, dignity and leadership. But I was pleased to talk with him on phone once. That too, only for ten minutes or so. The 6th session of the so-called ‘Peace Talks’ between LTTE and GOSL was held at Hakone, Japan, from March 18th to 21st in 2003. Somehow, he had traced my number and gave me a courtesy call, just before the LTTE delegation’s departure from Japan, with an added compliment ‘We read you’. He wanted to meet me in person and expressed such wish for ‘the next time visit’. But that ‘next time’ never came. On April 21st 2003, LTTE announced that they would no longer be a party to the sham ‘Peace Talks’, forced by the international brokers.
I was then nearing 50. I was a bit dazed, when Thamilselvan addressed me with the courteous and formal ‘Aiyah’ (reserved for elders). It was the first time, I had been called with such a prefix, by a fellow Eelam Tamil. I felt aged! I’d have expected that he would address me with an informal ‘Annai’ (elder brother). But, it also made me feel what a full life Thamilselvan had lived in the service of Eelam Tamils at the youthful age of then 36. The position he held as the designated political spokeperson of Eelam Tamils for over a decade is an honor he had earned fairly.
The heroic deaths of brothers and sisters younger than I in the service of Eelam liberation, invigorates me. Though Thamilselvan will be physically missing when I visit our homeland next time, I look forward to meeting him in spirit, in the appropriate venue. To the memory of Thamilselvan and five fellow LTTEers, I offer the following poem ‘The Martyr’ penned by Herman Melville (1819-1891) on April 15, 1865, to a fallen idol and leader Abraham Lincoln. Thamilselvan and five fellow LTTEers also fell on a Friday, like Lincoln.