The Seasons of Trouble by Rohini Mohan

The Seasons of Trouble

  • Book:  “The Seasons of Trouble: Life Amid The Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War”
  • Author:  Rohini Mohan
  • Publisher:  Verso, 2014

For the past three decades, Si Lanka had been entangled in a brutal civil war that was estimated to claim around one hundred thousand lives, and displace another million.  This terrible war, that has officially ended on May 18, 2009, has been fought between the two main ethnic groups: the Sinhalese (which make up around 75% of the population), and the Tamils (around 12-15%).

Historically Sri Lanka has been a home to a number of different ethnicities, including: the Veddhas (the first and the oldest inhabitants of Sri Lanka), the Sinhalese (descendants of the migrants from the North India), the Tamils (descendants of the migrants from the South India), Burghers (descendants from the Dutch, British, Portuguese and other European colonizers), and some others.  Beginning in the early 1980s, when the government of Sri Lanka pronounced the Sinhalese to be the primary language of Sri Lanka, and made it difficult for the Tamil students to get accepted into the local universities, a separate military group, called LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was formed.  The LTTE quickly became infamous for recruiting Tamil children, staging political assassinations, killing own civilians, and fighting the Sinhalese government to establish a separate, independent territory in the North.

This fascinating book was written by a talented Indian journalist that has spent five years following two Tamil families that have been living through the horrors of the war.  One family had a daughter that at the mere age of 13 – joined the LTTE to become one of their fighters, also known as the Tamil “Tigers”.  Another family had a young son that was forced into joining LTTE against his will, spent a year in training, escaped to Malaysia, only to be later captured by the Sinhalese government, thrown into jail, and repeatedly tortured.

What went on behind the thin, barricaded walls of a Sri Lankan household; what made a child join a terrorist organization and fight for some unattainable goals; and what really happened to this beautiful country that made its citizens turn against their own neighbors?  You will find the answers to these questions, and more in this truthful and chilling narration.

“Mugil couldn’t believe the woman.  Lime juice?  Rice gruel?  Fruits?  Who had access to all of that in the camp?  Trucks from the Multi-purpose Cooperative Societies were allowed inside camp now, and they sold sugar, tea, biscuits, brooms, plastic mugs, rope and other items the refugees might need.  But the inmates had noticed with much consternation that most of the traders – Sinhalese and some Muslim – were selling essentials at a huge profit.  A supermarket had opened, too, run by the Sathosa chain of stores, and it sold, to Mugil’s bewilderment, largely ice cream and soda.  Vegetables, fruit and milk powder were rarely available, and inmates who somehow managed to get their hands on banana or some rice resold it – illegally, as they weren’t allowed to set up shops – to make a few extra rupees.  This, too, was gone in minutes, its disappearance usually coinciding with the arrival of a soldier.  An orange or watermelon, even a lemon, was a luxury.” (p. 171)

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