2021 Apr 25
“So now, let us listen to theirs. Let us listen to their histories and their ‘now’, let us listen to their perspectives on reconciliation and peace.”
Voices of Peace by Sarah Kabir is a book that belongs to the unheard storytellers of war and willing ears. This book brings together narratives of 10 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres and 10 Sri Lankan Military (SLM) personnel. It is not only an account of facts and figures of war and its experiences alone. Serving as a platform for proactive discussion, the book, lets the reader reflect on how we can move forward as a country by exploring the contributors’ insights.
‘Moving forward’ isn’t the only purpose of these narratives. The author reinforces the idea of ‘Positive Peace’ which isn’t just a post-conflict state where violence is no longer seen physically. It’s a state of understanding of the unpleasant consequences inflicted in the past and present, whereby we move to sustainable peace through reconciliation. The book is given a concise introduction so that the readers can easily navigate through the content and its purpose. The author’s progressive motives shine through in the introductory remarks.
“At the same time, it’s your duty to not place the whole burden of running a family on your wife. You can’t use the war as an excuse for keeping out of family matters”
The themes of family, mutual support and maintaining equilibrium in times of war and post-war are highlighted in the narratives. How the storytellers feel about the situations they were put in or took up willingly and their beliefs are completely personal to themselves. Thus, the reader needs to have an open mind at all times.
“Law and order were well-balanced under the LTTE. That is why we are struggling now— because law and order is unbalanced and as a result, so is everything else.”
The process of identifying and diversifying the range of the ‘storytellers’ itself shows the commendable effort that has gone into research. Within these pages are genuine accounts of the front-liners of a war that raged on for years in Sri Lanka. The different narratives come from the Army, Special Forces, Navy, Sea Tigers, Air Force, Imran Pandian Brigade and more. In the author’s words, the stories vary from “those who followed orders and who gave orders”.
Some storytellers who are part of this book, have bared themselves for the first time with their country’s well-being in mind. They speak their truths to seek reconciliation and create an understanding towards a progressive state of peace, perhaps in themselves as well.
Explorative than enjoyable, this is a great intimate read about the past, present and future.