A response to Arun's review on ‘Tamil Tigress’

Letter to Editor
by Kumar

(August 25, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) I am writing in response to the review by Arun Ambalavanar on " Tamil Tigress" written by Niromi De Soyza, published by the Sri Lanka Guardian recently.

I had some reservation about the book ‘Tamil Tigress’ written by Niromi De Soyza so I watched the video published by Allen and Unwin Australia on Youtube about the book and I later purchased online to read the book. It is beautifully written and gives a clear understanding of the issues with a high degree of integrity. I realized I had wrongly judged the book by its cover.

It is one of the books published by a former child soldier who is reformed and who contributes back to the country from which she migrated to Australia, and to the voiceless people back in Sri Lanka.

In the review, Arun Ambalavanar made the comments below, trying to convince the readers the book is fake. Since I lived in the war torn area, in the contemporary period of the author, I can visualise and follow the journey with the author.

Arun writes:
“She writes about the murder of St. John’s principal “Anandarajan” (Pg. 39-40). His real name is Anandarajah. For foreigners, this may appear a minor mistake but the difference in Jaffna is of much significance and no local would commit such a mistake.”

The principal name is C.E. Anandarajan. What the author of the book mentioned is correct. I visited Sri Lanka recently and the new office building is named as “C.E. Anandarajan’s block”.

Arun writes:
“Author and her friend were sent to the frontline watch-post around Jaffna fort. (pages 94-105)”

I disagree with Arun. The soldiers were sent to the front line prior to the proper training. I have friends and relatives who were in the old LTTE Training Camp, sent to Jaffna fort, Sentries in the front line. They were given cyanide capsules (in case the Army captured them) and firearms to give them confidence even though they were not trained to use them.

Arun writes:
“She writes TELO and PLOTE were ‘banned’ at the same time (Pg. 48-49). Actually TELO was banned in 1986 April and PLOTE months later.”

Yes, TELO, a paramilitary organization, was banned in 1986 and a couple of months later PLOTE and other Armed groups were banned. Later, members of EROS were given the option to join with LTTE or get into to the normal life.

Arun writes:
“The very first paragraph of the very first chapter of the book opens thus: “The air was sweetly pungent with the smell of ripening bananas and palmyrah fruit.” She experienced this in 1987, two days before Christmas. Palmyrah fruit is available in Jaffna only in the Tamil venil kalam (Summer: June-July). Not in December which is the rainy season.”

I was in Jaffna in December 2010. During that period, I noticed the smell of the banana in my mother’s garden and palmarah fruit smell from the neighbour’s garden.

Arun writes:
“Niromi de Soyza characterises herself and a few of her Tiger friends as ‘enlightened’ and critical of the Tigers’ policies and practices at times when they were still members of the LTTE.

Yes, some of my friends were critical but they were unable to speak openly; they shared among like minded friends within the organization and later they left the LTTE.
Arun writes:
“The most used popular swear words in Jaffna…”

…and then lists down the words. I presume the author’s intention was to not list down the swear words used in Jaffna.

Oh I wasted my time to respond to the reviewer. I really wasted it.

I stopped for a while to find out about Arun’s background, who is a self claimed poet, and finally found him from a social network.

Arun Ambalavanar has the following claims about him in facebook:

Job Title –tea boy
Research and Analysis Wing
Tea Boy · Feb 2001 to May 2009 · Delhi, India

Graduate School
Col.Karuna Military Academy,Kiran, Batticaloa
Kopalasamy Mahendrarajah Institute of political Philosophy,VVT,Jaffna

I clearly understand why he writes the review in such a critical way of the author without any analysis of the book. The school he says he graduated from is a rogue school. He has a very biased opinion.

We have been brought up over 30 years not to ask questions against the organization or authorities or were expected to get permission before we ask questions! We have to accept our mistakes and move forward. The time has come for us to accept the reality...

I would encourage the readers to accept the fact people have different ideas and opinions.

I am sending my reply so the readers will not judge books based on only the reviewer’s opinion. Do not judge the book by the cover. Get the google review about the book Tamil Tigress, or browse google to watch the video clip and try to get the book in your hand and evaluate yourself.

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