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The “Flying Pigeon” Rider who sang “Una Paloma Blanca”

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by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

From Shenuka to Niromi:True Tale of a “Tamil Tigress”-2

Gaining acceptance for military training by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) organization and being inducted into the movement after a one to one meeting with tiger leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran was a great achievement for the author of “Tamil Tigress” at that juncture in her life.

The seventeen year old girl whose nom de guerre was going to be “Shenuka” in the tigers had realized her long cherished goal at last.

What is remarkable about this act is the fact that neither she nor her friend had been forced into recruitment or arms training. The choice of embracing the LTTE thereby risking life and limb was a voluntary act done willingly. Similiarly when Shenuka opted to quit the LTTE a year later she was allowed to do so with the tigers themselves ensuring she reunited safely with her mother.

This conduct by the LTTE may be hard to believe when viewed against the backdrop of how the tigers behaved later when expanding the number of their cadres.Likewise it may also be perplexing as to why young boys and girls joined militant ranks voluntarily and courted martyrdom willingly in a by gone era.

Forcible recruitment or conscription had become an established practice of the LTTE in the years of the new millennium.It had reached dizzying heights during the final phase of battle.But there was a time when the LTTE and all other militant movements did not engage in recruiting forcibly or conscripting.This was during the early years of the Tamil armed struggle.

Intensive propaganda was conducted to encourage youths to join voluntarily but no force was used.This was because the various movements knew that a conscript would not make a good guerilla.Conviction and not coercion was of paramount importance.Motivation could not be imposed through force.

This unwritten code was first violated by the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) and Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) during 1989-90 acting on instructions of the Indian espionage agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).

LAKSHMANA REKHA

The EPRLF and ENDLF crossed the “Lakshmana rekha” by abducting and conscripting cadres to strengthen themselves in the face of armed resistance proffered by the LTTE towards the Indian army and its allies in the post-Indo-Lanka accord period. These cadres were later forged into a military outfit known as the “Tamil National Army”.

After the Indian army began leaving Sri Lanka, the LTTE unleashed its fury on the so called Tamil National army. The tigers were aided and abetted in this by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The conscripted recruits were no match for the LTTE and thousands of hapless youths were massacred by the tigers.

The annihilation of the India-sponsored Tamil National Army by the LTTE demonstrated clearly that forcibly recruiting youths and turning them into a fighting machine was a doomed venture.

Ironically the LTTE too began forcibly recruiting youths in later years demanding that every family should provide a “hero or heroine from the house”(veetukkoru veeran allathu veeranganai)

Just as the unwilling cadres of the forcibly recruited Tamil national army were exterminated by the LTTE,the forcibly recruited tiger cadres were also killed in very large numbers by the advancing army in the Wanni.Young boys and girls with minimum training and no previous battlefield experience were thrown into the front against a sophisticated army that outnumbered and outgunned them.

“SURRENDEES”

Thousands of these conscripts perished in battle. Mercifully a large number of them surrendered in droves during the final days of the war to the armed forces. The bulk of these “surrendees” were housed in detention camps. They are being released in batches after undergoing a process of rehabilitation.

This terrible phenomenon of forcible recruitment was totally absent at the time the author of “Tamil Tigress” whom I have dubbed as “Sharmila” joined the SOLT in 1986 and the LTTE proper in 1987.

To understand why a talented girl with bi-lingual fluency like her hailing from an upper middle class,Christian family studying in an elite school opted to join the LTTE it is necessary to know something about the prevailing situation then in Jaffna.

There was a time when 30-35 armed Tamil groups calling themselves liberation movements were functioning in the North and East.The joke then was that one gun,two cycles and three youths were enough to start a movement. This proliferation however diminished gradually with many groups becoming dysfunctional or merging with other groups. Some were banned or destroyed by the LTTE.

Seven major groups made their mark in Jaffna and carved out a niche in the annals of history by the mid –eighties of the previous century. They were the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) led by Prabhakaran, Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE) led by Umamaheswaran, Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) led by Pardmanabha, Eelam Revolutionary Organization(EROS) led by Balakumaran and Shankar Raji, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO) led by Srisabaratnam, Tamil Eelam Army(TEA) led by “Panagoda”Maheswaran and Tamil Eelam Liberation Army(TELA) founded by “Oberoi “Thevan who himself was killed by the tigers in 1983.

“SEMI-LIBERATED”

All these organizations were active in Jaffna peninsula which had reached a “semi-liberated” state by mid-1985.The armed forces and Police had ceased moving about within the Peninsula and the various Tamil armed groups were wielding power and ruling the roost. The Jaffna based Govt servants,corporation employees and teachers were getting their salaries from Colombo but obeying the dictates of the gun –toting groups.

The process of shutting down Police stations in the Peninsula had begun after the PLOTE attack on the Anaikottai police station in July 1981. In May 1985 the Jaffna Police station itself was attacked successfully by the LTTE. Thereafter all effective Policing ended. Local poicemen in civils would go to the Jaffna fort and sign up for duty. A police post with non –uniformed cops was maintained at the Jaffna hospital.There was no uniformed Police presence.

The Army too facing innumerable landmine attacks began curtailing their movement.Things took a turn for the worse when New Delhi imposed a ceasefire and arranged for peace talks in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu in July-August 1985.The armed forces were confined to barracks.

The different groups then set up positions around the military installations. The tigers had the lion’s share in setting up these defences. When the talks collapsed and fighting erupted again the armed forces found themselves virtually boxed in.

pic courtesy: Sajeevana Centre

Thereafter the war situation in Jaffna changed. The cadres from different militant outfits known generally as “podiyal” or boys set up sentry points around the security installations. If and when the army attempted to move out the militant bases in proximity were alerted by sentries. Immediately other cadres with heavy weapons would rush to the spot and mount resistance. The army would regularly venture out from camps,meet with resistance and return to base.

With the mobility of armed forces being restricted on ground the war intensified in a different way inside the Peninsula . Besieged armed forces began firing long range artillery from within their camps against the elusive enemy outside. In many instances these artillery shells fell on civilian dwellings and structures as the militants were living amidst and among the civilians. There were many civilian deaths and injuries.

Another outcome of the new situation was the beginning of aerial bombardment and strafing. Helicopters would bomb or fire down upon perceived or suspected militant targets. Aeroplanes would throw down bombs. As in the case of artillery shelling, the aerial strafing and bombardment also caused many civilian deaths and destruction. In such a situation much resentment and hostility grew in the minds of civilians against the armed forces. These flames were fanned by the local media.

GUARDIAN DEITIES

In such an atmosphere of conflict and danger the Tamil armed groups began assuming a larger than life heroic image. They were projected as the defenders of the people who were preventing the army from moving in and causing harm to the people. Tamil media described them as “Kaaval Theivangal” or Guardian deities. The armed groups were referred to as “Punitha Iyakkangal” or holy movements.

The armed groups also began to fill the vacuum caused by the rupture in civil administration and law enforcement.They set up “Inakka sabhaigal” or conciliation boards comprising respected civilian supporters to inquire into alleged offences of a civil nature. Their decisions were endorsed and enforced by the movements. Alleged offences of a criminal nature were inquired into by the movements themselves. Those found “guilty” were penalized by the movements who acted as “judge,jury and executioner”.

The armed groups also imposed taxes on businesses and individuals. They issued stamps. They manufactured alcoholic spirits. They engaged in small industry. There were also notice boards at various junctions with up to date news bulletins of the war. There were also public boxes where one could drop complaints or suggestions.Private TV stations also flourished.Some groups like the LTTE ran their own TV and Radio. Several Tamil journals and tabloids were published by the different groups. The privately owned mainstream Tamil newspapers toed the militant line.

in Jaffna – by indi.ca

Many disturbing developments were occurring in this “Shangri-la” of the Island’s arid north. There was much rivalry among the armed groups to establish supremacy.This led to internecine warfare in which the LTTE triumphed militarily over the TELO and EPRLF and caused the PLOTE to cease overt functioning. The TEA and TELA went out of circulation. The EROS maintained an uneven ,uneasy relationship with the LTTE and survived.

There were also many human rights violations. Persons suspected of being traitors, informants or dissidents were punished most often by summary execution. People were detained in abysmal conditions and interrogated and tortured. While accusing the “Sinhala dominated state” of repression the would be liberators of the Tamil people were also turning slowly into mirror images of their alleged oppressors.

PET MONKEY ”BELLE”

It is against this backdrop that the LTTE emerged as the foremost Tamil armed group in Jaffna.Despite its abominable conduct in many spheres the LTTE did retain an aura of heroic valour. The tigers impressed the people particularly the youths through their projected image of dedication and sacrifice. The sight of its colorful military commander Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias Kittu whizzing around in a double –cab with his pet monkey “Belle”sent young hearts racing “pitter-patter”.. The sight of young, handsome, dashing tigers on their motor cycles caused many eye-lids of girls to flutter.

Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias Kittu

The elaborate funerals and homage for fallen fighters instilled among the people, a feeling of admiration and gratitude for their sacrifices. The prevailing atmosphere and mood was one in which the tigers were seen as saviours and protectors who needed to be supported no matter what their acts of omission and commission were.

It was in such an environment and period of time that the “Tamil Tigress” author opted to join the tigers.Apparently her decision to do so was met with disbelief and even skepticism by many of her contemporaries and acquaintances.

This was mainly due to her family background,upbringing ,interests and aptitudes. It was difficult to accept that a person like her would willingly join the LTTE and fight for liberation.

Even the LTTE leaders who interacted with her seemed to have misgivings about her decision to get arms training. One reason may have been due to doubts about her ability to withstand the rigorous life of an armed guerilla. Another reason may have been genuine reluctance to pluck a talented young girl from school and expose her to great risk and danger as an armed fighter.

Thileepan

Muralie who recruited her first into the LTTE’s student organization SOLT was hesitant initially into enlisting her for arms training. Thileepan the political commissar was totally opposed to the idea. He tried hard to persuade her to continue schooling and make a decision after two years. Even the tiger supremo Prabhakaran in his first meeting with her had wondered aloud whether a girl like her from a relatively privileged background could undergo the harsh, hard life of an armed guerilla.

It appears that Sharmila’s outward appearance, interests and way of life made many who knew her react negatively to the news of her opting for military training in the LTTE.

DETERMINATION

”Sharmila” through her determination managed to convince them all.

I have been gathering some additional information about her in the past weeks. Many of her classmates and schoolmates remember her vividly and retain many memorable anecdotes.What I have learnt enables me to form an impression of the author of “Tamil Tigress” at the time she was a student in Jaffna.

“Sharmila” as I refer to her at this point seems to have been a girl with an aptitude for languages and a flair for the creative arts.As a student at Holy Family Convent(HFC)Jaffna she had topped the class in both Tamil and English. She had also won prizes in speech, essay,poetry and spelling competitions in both languages.Sharmila has also written and acted in plays.One play she acted in was staged at the Jaffna university.Her close friends at HFC were Ajanthi (who joined the LTTE with her) and Shereena who now lives in North America.

One incident remembered by her former classmates was one where she had an argument with the Tamil teacher Sr.Yolande (who is now the principal at HFC). The clash was over the “Ramayanam” written by Kambar. Sister Yolande’s teaching was contested by “Sharmila” who interpreted Kambar differently.

“Sharmila” was also devoted to the Tamil poet Subramania Bharathy referred to generally as “Bharathiar”.Subramaniya Bharathiyar sang of Tamil and Tamils and India and India’s freedom.He also sang of women’s emancipation and envisaged a liberated woman whom he depicted as the “puthumaippenn” or novel woman.

Mahakavi Bharathiyar

“PUTHUMAIPPENN”

Enchanted by Bharathiyar ”Sharmila” thought of herself as the bard’s “puthumaippenn” and stubbornly refused to learn cooking at home.She also wrote poems and short stories in Tamil. Some of her classmates recall an intriguing practice by her. Apparently she would write a short story without an ending and pass it around her classmates asking them to suggest one.Later she would read them all and select the best “conclusion”.

Another aspect remarked upon by many contemporaries is her handwriting. It was strikingly beautiful. One of the things she did those days was to write Tamil poems and drop them off “anonymously” in the suggestion/complaint boxes maintained by the LTTE. The tiger cadres of that time used to wrack their brains trying to identify the writer. Finally it was her uniquely lovely handwriting that helped to identify her.One poem she wrote then was about the LTTE handing over bodies of dead soldiers to the Army lodged at the Jaffna Fort.

She also had a red notebook in which she engraved her poems. This notebook given to a distant relative in the EPRLF fell into LTTE hands when the former was attacked by the latter. Later the poetry book was seized by the Indian Army during a raid on a tiger camp. The red notebook got into the hands of an Indian army officer from Tamil Nadu who was immensely impressed by the poems.

Sharmila as a child had been fond of reading the children’s magazine”Ambulimama”. Her favourite feature was the Vikramadithan –Vethaalam story series. As a teenager she read various Tamil magazines. Her favourite writer in Tamil those days was Pattukkottai Prabakar who specializes in mystery and thriller stories.

Adventures of Tintin

The “Tamil Tigress” author was equally fond of reading in English too. As a child she liked to read cartoons like Herge’s adventures of Tintin and books by Enid Blyton. Her favourite books by Enid Blyton were “Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” series. Adventure books seem to have fascinated her in childhood. Later her interests changed to more serious stuff.

INTERESTS

Singing, dancing and music were also among “Sharmila’s diverse interests.Her first Bharatha Natyam “guru” was Gnanamani Chelliah .Later it was Vineetha Swampillai. Sharmila had performed at Veerasingham hall Jaffna and was also preparing for her imminent “arangetram” or public dance debut when she teamed up with the tigers.Instead of “Alarippu” and “Thillana” life became a “ruthra Thandavam”.

Sharmila had a penchant for music and could play the Piano, Violin, Piano accordion, guitar and the Veena. She could also sing well and learnt Carnatic music from the well-known classical singer Thilaganayagam Paul.

Like most Jaffna schoolgirls she was an avid listener of Tamil film music and an ardent fan of music composer Illayarajah and to a lesser extent KV Mahadevan and MS Visvanathan.Her favourite actor was Sreedevi.

She was also interested in western music. Needless to say like the majority of her generation Michael Jackson was “God”. She also warbled the songs of Rick Astley, Glen Medeiros and Phil Collins all of whom she liked. And there was ABBA of course.

Sharmila” was a huge success at a YMCA competition where she came first in solo singing “Una Paloma Blanca” by George Baker. Her group in which she was lead singer also won the group singing prize at the same competition singing ”Move on” by ABBA. She also sang (Alto) in her School and Church choir.

Apart from interests like music,singing,dancing,poetry and drama she was also good in painting and sketching and had some of her work displayed in school art exhibitions.

In contrast to her literary and artistic aptitudes Sharmila was not in the forefront in sports and games unlike her friend Ajanthi who represented school in netball.She was however junior and senior squad leader at physical training competitions and once came first at a district walking race in her age group.

Ranjan Madugalle

The “Tamil Tigress” author was also a cricket fan. She would play improvised home cricket with the children of neighbouring families. “Sharmila” was also a great admirer of cricketers like Australia ’s Dennis Lillee, England ’s Ian Botham, India ’s Chetan Sharma, West Indian Viv Richards and Sri Lanka’s Ranjan Madugalle.

FLYING PIGEON

Girls riding bicycles singly or in pairs or in groups was a familiar sight in Jaffna those days. The author of “Tamil Tigress” also used to cycle alone and also with her friends.She had a “flying pigeon” and used it to ride to school, to visit friends, to go for tuition classes and to drop in at restaurants like “Rolex” and “Subash” for snacks or for ice cream.

Both she and best friend Ajanthi were fond of dogs. Ajanthi who lived in Swartz lane with her family had a Pomeranian cross named “Rosie”. Unfortunately a coconut fell on her accidentally and Rosie was no more.”Sharmila” living in Rakka lane had three Pomeranians as pets. One was named “Scamper” after the dog in Enid Blyton’s secret seven. The others were named “Bruno” and “Remo”. These names were selected after perusal of the St.Patricks College school magazine.

Interestingly enough the girl whom I have dubbed as “Sharmila” had a nickname among boys in Jaffna then. She was called “Thalai Thadavi” or “head stroker”. This was because she had long wavy hair that was often unruly when she rode a bicycle. So she would frequently stroke and pat her hair while cycling thus earning the “thalaithadavi” nickname.

She and her friend Ajanthi were customers of the Jaffna hair stylists.”Shaggy Salon”. “Sharmila” used to have her hair cut like Princess Diana.Later she changed it to the fashionable “material girl”hair style.

The greater part of “Sharmila”’s education in Jaffna was at Holy Family Convent where she passed her GCE (OL) with 4 distinctions and 4 credits. It was for her Advanced Level classes that she joined Chundikuli Girls College which is the “sister school”of St.Johns College, Jaffna.

RED AND BLACK

Students of both schools had the same red and black tie. She was in the GCE (AL) first year class when she joined the LTTE student organization SOLT and in the second year when she abandoned studies and went in for arms training.

This then was the author of “Tamil tigress” as a schoolgirl more than twenty years ago. She was a typical example of an upper middle class girl from a bilingual Christian family studying at an elite school in Jaffna.

As stated earlier it was a sign of the times and environment she lived in then that a girl of her background chose to leave a the comfort and security of family and home and begin a new journey into the unknown ,risking great peril, in pursuance of what she deemed to be a lofty ideal at that point of time in her life.

NEXT: VICISSITUDES OF GUERILLA LIFE

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com

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103 Comments

  1. You have given a good description of Tamil tigress author. Now we know who she really is

    Before I read DBS articles I sort of half believed articles in Groundviews attacking her. I really thought she was a fraud who was writing a hoax book

    But now after reading DBS I can see how Groundviews articles are wrong and misleading

    DBS has pen power. He can make me see the girl on a cycle smoothing down her hair and singing

  2. At last!Thanks DBS anna

    I really missed the 2nd part last week.I was waiting and waiting for you to write again

    I havent enjoyed articles like this ever before.You bring Shenuka and the old Jaffna back to life.

    I was 10 years old in 1987 when our family moved out to Colombo.I came to Canada in 1989. But I remember Jaffna and those days

    I am living it again through you writing the story of the Tamil tigress

    Thank you again anna

  3. Thanks for contextualising Sharmila’s book.

    Aaauthakkavatchi ( Attraction to weapons) was one way the Tigers and others used to swell their ranks in the early days.

    Looking back, it is funny how they managed to do the same atrocities as their fellow groups while maintaining a whiter than white impression.

    Good work.

  4. There were many talented Tamil youths and their views and creative works
    in the freedom struggle not yet come to the world surface. Malaravan is another author like sharmila.
    He wrote ‘Poor ulla’ (The war journey) which is compare to ‘Motorcycle Diary’ by se guve ro and fidel Castro
    In Latin American revolution . He also came from similar background from Jaffna, Malaravan got 8 D’s in O/L and studied st johns college and his father was a Doctor.

  5. Congratulations Mr.Jeyaraj on a wonderfully well-written piece.

    Thanks to you we readers are getting an up,close and personal look at the person who wrote Tamil tigress. We get to know her background and the context in which she joined the LTTE

    Looking forward to the next instalment eagerly

  6. The so called critics (pseudo-critics) Michael Roberts, Arun Ambalavanar, Muttukrishna Sarvananthan and Darshanie Ratnawalli were trying to mislead the readers by calling it a hoax.

    Thanks DBSJ for enlightening the readers, fantastic writings, great facts. I just cannot wait to read the book when it reaches our book stalls. I am sure this book will become a best seller. These pseudo-critics (charlatans) have made it even more popular.

    Hats off to Niromi aka Shenuka for such a wonderful book and to DBSJ for the two great articles on this, waiting for your third part.

  7. I believe I know this girl’s family.Her going off to the tigers then was talked about in our church. I am happy God has protected her and she is doing well now

  8. Oh we remember Malaravan.He tortured&killed one of our youths for talking back to him.Finally Kittu came and said sorry when we protested

    Dont compare this nice girl with that rascal

  9. As a Sinhalese this article by Jeyaraj gave me an understanding of why and how the studious Jaffna youths took to the gun. I think like this girl”Sharmila” many boys and girls from good families sacrificed studies and volunteered to fight for what they believed was right

    The lesson in this is that the reasons which led to this armed revolt must be addressed for genuine peace to prevail. Military suppression alone wont suffice

    Than You Jeyaraj for this

  10. When I first heard of the book “Tamil tigress” by “Niromi de Soyza ” i was angry thinking a Tamil tiger supporter was pretending to be Sinhala and doing LTTE propaganda against Sri Lanka

    But after reading both these articles by DBS my opinion has changed. He has portrayed the girl in a very sympathetic light and revealed so many details about her that now actually I feel a lot of empathy for her

    Thanks DBS. Continue please

  11. ‘For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’.’And there will be sign to you:You will find a babe wrapped in swaddlings cloths, lying in a manger.’

    Luke 2:11,12

    Merry Christmas Mr.Jeyaraj, Niromi and all other readers of this blog

    Thank you and wish you the same………DBSJ

  12. Dear DBSJ,

    Thanks for this fantastic presentation, both written and visual. As I was reading, it as if a film was playing in the front. I just want to put effort and improve my presentation skills , with you as the benchmark. As i had written earlier, I feel my english improves, when i read your writings. ( For all the blaw-blaw, bow-bow about about local languages, the fact is education, business etc is conducted in english in India and english proficiency is very important to move ahead in careers, except for politicians of Lallu Prasad Yadav types.)

    As for ‘ Sharmila’, I feel happay that she is leading a settled life with children. But , unfotunatley, many others sufferred and many died. After the end of the war, 1000s of people are still suffering. It is the duty and responsibility of everybody , who has a stake in Srilanka, to contribute to allevate the sufferings of these people.

  13. DBS, I have been reading your articles for years. Always thought you’d write a book after the war was over. I really think you should chronicle everything about the struggle the way you saw it.If historians, governments or truth commissions wont do it…it might as well be you…

  14. “…..PLOTE attack on the Anaikottai police station in July 1981. In May 1985 the Jaffna Police station itself was attacked successfully by the LTTE. Thereafter all effective Policing ended…………In such an atmosphere of conflict and danger the Tamil armed groups began assuming a larger than life heroic image. They were projected as the defenders of the people who were preventing the army from moving in and causing harm to the people. Tamil media described them as “Kaaval Theivangal” or Guardian deities…..”

    Thank you DBSJ. As far as I remember (to my knowledge) the first police officer or army, I saw in real life was an IPKF/Indian police. To my memory, I only met SL army or police officer after IPKF war, after the route to Colombo/south re-opened, my first trip to Colombo and on the train. I have to agree that, the local media and atmosphere did influenced many (did to me) in Jaffna. As a kid I did felt they were the “Guradian Deitities”, all Shinhalese were demons coming to destroy us. I left Jaffna early 1991 and lived in Bandarewella for a year before moving out, where my neighbors were Sinhalese and Muslims. It was an awful couple of first months for me, until I forced my self to look up and say my first hello to my neighbors. That’s when I realized Shinhalease are not what I thought were….. It was my first awakening but after long gap this series building/helping me more. I am finding this part is different from others I read so far. I am learning a lot from this series, as I seen the setting as a kid, now reading this series as an adult (with matured mind)… eagerly waiting to read the next one soon….

  15. Its like walking down the memory lane of our school days. The scenes were similar in south too, during that time period.

    I’m not sure what is more readable ‘Tamil tigress’ book or DBSJ’s write up on her.

    Wonderful reading and gives a vivid picture of Jaffna in the 80s.

    Please do not keep us waiting for another 3 weeks to read the most interesting part.

  16. Sad story of how impressionable young minds wre lured by the false hope of liberation. You have captured the preevailing ethos of that period well DBS

  17. Yo Blood DBSJ,

    You real trooper for revealing great insight about this lass. Never would have thought that such an innocent looking face would have such an animated past.

    Big up home boy.. You are the greatest journalist ever… pretty simple… everyday you wake up in the morning and piss excellence.

    Merry X’mas to all…

    Suranjan Sooriyakumar

  18. Don’t spread lie if you don’t know Malaravan who is
    charm and nicer than you mr.Pasayooran, when he was in the field
    Kittu was out of the country and he fought ‘Pallai udaruppu Samar’
    and got Matrydom. Thank you.

  19. There are many exceptional stories out there be it about a an upeer middle class Tamils or Sinhalese.
    What is the need is to bring out each and every story irrespective of race.

    Wish all Sinhala & Tamil readers of this blog and all those in Sri Lanka and all over the world a joyous Christmas and a Peaceful New year.

    Power, Money & Fame…. came with none and take back to the creator, none.

  20. Dear DBS, Excellent article and presentation with George Baker selection,( I enjoyed it once again thanks to you) Tin Tin and Ranjan Madu. ( I went to see Tin Tin the movie at Liberty Cinema yesterday. Go see it) You always make a difference and sadly we don’t have journalists/writers like you anymore.

    More strength to you Comrade DBS and Happy Christmas

    Bandula

    Thank you Bandula. Happy Christmas to you too…………DBSJ

  21. Merry Christmas and wish you a happy new year. Keep your wonderful writing.

    Thank you.Merry Christmas&Happy new year………..DBSJ

  22. I think it is relavant to remind the readers another former LTTE cadre Shobasakthi authored a fiction ‘gorrila’ drawing from his real life experience. Though critical of LTTE he did not exaggerate. Also I was impressed by his witty style of writing.

  23. Made a great reading again, thanks DBS J. Not only did you help boost Niromi’s morale, but also did a favour by adding this article to your blog, as I noticed, even a few lazy readers have started reading her book.Me too, yet to finish.

  24. Enjoyed reading DBS articles on Tamil tigress. She is most talented and thanks to Jeyaraj we get to know the real person behind the author

  25. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, only journalist who will survive are the ones who praises the King and his extended family and partners is crime!!! so how can you expect good journalism from journalists from Sri Lanka? Good ones are either dead or disappeared or silenced by threat, or they must be depressed and given up jouirnalism for not being able to tell the truth!!!

  26. Nicely written DBS. reading articles about Niromi we get to know who and what she was and we get to know the history of the Jaffna life and society also.

  27. Lovely to read this DBS. I missed part one and went and read that also. I feel like I know this girl well. All because of your writing DBS.my best wishes to you both

  28. DBS

    You have written very truthfully about the LTTE of an older period and about how girls like Sharmila joined the tigers willingly

    But this wont be liked by many people who want to blame LTTE

  29. Very powerful writing by Jeyaraj. Brings Jaffna and this girl called “Sharmila” to my mind.Hope you will write more and more about her DBS

  30. Well said Sivali, you seem to fill into a Tamil’s shoe and think his problem through.

    The reason for emerging the militancy needs to be addressed. The risk of treating minorities as second class citizens of this island, while saying everyone is equal in SL is something that does not convince many in and out of the Island. Indications are GoSL trying to force a solution which is bandaid in nature to sail through the turbulents that it faces from its allies that helped to successfully waged and won the war. Such solution would lead to another rounds of militncy that maybe our greatgrand children would be suck into. No LTTE, extreamists of sinhalese are also happy that LTTE’s minace is over- this provides a best possible oppotunity to this current GoSL to resolve this issue unlike the previous one, but unfortuntely it is wasting times in shadow boxing.

  31. Reading what DBS has written about this girl’s schooldays I thought”My god!she’s just like me no?

    Both of us have been having same interests as students.Only she was in Jaffna and I in Kandy

    How similiar we are.In the same way how similiar Sinhalese and Tamils are

  32. DBS you seem to have painstakingly researched the real story of Tamil tigress. I think this series is one of your finest journalistic achievements

  33. When compared to the efforts taken by Jeyaraj to find out detailed information about Niromi de Soyza the unprofessional hollow “research and theory” propounded by people like Roberts, Ambalavanar and Sarvananthan lies exposed as shallow and one sided.

    It appears that they have a personal axe to grind against Niromi whereas Jeyaraj simply writes what he knows without any hidden agenda

  34. Not only is this woman exquisitely attractive but also seems to be exceedingly talented. No wonder Jeyaraj is thoroughly immersed in writing about her. Must be finding it enjoyable when compared to writing about our ugly, talentless politicos

  35. reading this very illuminating article by DBS I am getting to know the girl behind the woman who wrote “Tamil Tiogress”. She is a girl of multiple talents. Kudos to DBS for earthing out these facts

  36. Excellent articles about Niromi by DBS.

    This well researched well written series by DBS on the “True tale of a Tamil Tigress” has exposed the theatrical gimmicks of some pseudo-academics.It has also placed the pretentious website”Groundviews” in very poor light.

    It was utterly irresponsible and unfair for “Groundviews” to publish these half-baked articles by Roberts and Sarvananthan tarnishing the image of Niromi de Soyza as a fake and fraud.

    Even when respected writers like Cooke and Jeyaraj wrote in Niromi’s defence the Groundviews people did not have the grace to accept their faults

    Instead they kept on promoting a controversial one -sided debate

    I also found Groundviews allowing people using bogus names to attack and vilify DBS Jeyaraj in the comments sections of their blogs regarding matters that did not concern them

    I hope Groundviews will stop its groundless campaign against Niromi de Soyza

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Yes.Some others also drew my attention to the unhealthy practice of Groundviews in letting persons abuse me in their comments section.

    I have never before allowed persons to abuse Groundviews or the editor or people connected to CPA through unconnected comments on my blog

    But I have started releasing a few critical comments like this to drive the point home

    If I start allowing the comments criticising GV and CPA a free ride on my blog it can be disastrous for all concerned

  37. It is only when I read Michael Roberts ranting and raving against Niromi de Soyza on Groundviews that I realized the significance of DBS Jeyaraj writing so extensively about the Tamil Tigress author.

    Not only has DBSJ defended Niromi’s integrity but has also confirmed her authenticity beyond doubt

    Michael Roberts and those of his ilk have been delivered the coup de grace

  38. Exactly, it is very clear that people such as Michael Roberts, Arun Ambalavanar, Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, et al were criticizing with a hidden agenda. None of them had any idea (inside story) of what actually took place during that period.

    DBSJ has cleared all their shallow and biased propaganda.

  39. It is good to see that DBS stands for the truth despite of opposition from jealous writers in Graound view.

    It was interesting to know how Michael Robert, Arul Ambalavanar tried extremely hard initially in their writings to convince the readers that Author of Tamil tigress Niromi was a fake and counterfeit who was never in the LTTE or was not even a Tamil.

    We need to understand she was a girl who wrote the book in early twenties ( 25 years ago) did not want to recall her painful memory for over 20 years ( it was in the interview ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FikCt-dimkE ) . finally author decided to publish two years ago. The book has minor errors. because of the minor errors , we cannot come to the conclusion that the entire book as a fake.

    We need to understand clearly The book is a memoir (about her life and it is an honest record) .It should not be interpreted as a ultimate solution to the Tamil issue.

    People merely admire the personality and appearance also lost the essence of the book. It is commendable a LTTE child soldier who turned around her life and wrote a book in English for the first time.

    We have been grown up in a culture, no one openly wrote a book honestly and lived for a long time by the armed groups as well as the Government of Sri Lanka. We never asked questions in the past. We are not trained to think rationally. True journalist cannot freely move around.

    I think if the admirers look at the cover and treated as another Ambuli mama, Tin Tin and any other James bond book then the author’s intention get lost.

    On the other hand , if the author of the book Niromi choose the path of a politician or take pride to running for popularity , definitely she will pay a huge cost.

    I read the book page by page , i understand the book is not meant for that purpose. i recommend the people to read with the right context. I am leaving here for readers to judge…

    However the deep questions about the voiceless people, children in the war affected Sri Lanka are unheard by many people. Again the book written by Niromi should not be treated as the bible to the solution to the Tamils. It is a memoir , clearly mention by the author.

    I really appreciate DBS , for giving the reader a balance and honest view that reflects in your article.

    Thank you DBS. Wish you a happy Christmas for you and your loved ones.

    Thank you. Wish you the same………….DBSJ

  40. Oh DBS!

    You’ve clobbered Niromi’s detractors with these two articles.

    Sarvananthan got kayoed and was carried out retired hurt.

    Roberts has changed track from doubting her authenticity to nit picking on Niromi for denigrating LTTE mode of fighting

    Arun Ambalavanar caught with pants down has changed sex and name to Rathnawalie and is uttering feeble sqeaks

    Only Groundviews continues to rake muck against her and you under the cover of comments by various aliases

  41. You have captured the 1985 -86 period in “semi-liberated”Jaffna very well DBS.I lived there then and confirm what you’ve written 100%

  42. Now I can place the girl. First I thought she was fraud.But now after reading this I can remember and place her. She and her friend both

  43. To add up the mid 80s in jaffna was Chuck Norris Sylvester Stallin Saigon etc had very impact on the teen agers,also if you are in certain group you will have some recognism in socity

  44. We all have fallen in Love with Niromi after this article by DBS. Thank you. But, this ground views must be exposed fully and what their agenda is . Who are they? What are they doing? Heard a puppy boy is running it and to the grounds where we all can view ha ha

  45. bandula at the outset i would like to wish you and your family merry xmas and a happy english new year.you have the answer with you if you want good journalist your government should become much more tolerant to criticism.one hopes that good sense prevails and journalist like jeyraj come back to colombo and make srilankan media a vibrant one in south asia.

  46. very nicely written articles both of them.

    I think Jeyaraj knows Niromi personally for him to write so many details.

    Wish both of you a happy Xmas and wonderful new year

  47. DBS always fights against injustice. In Niromi de Soyzas case well known academics attacked her viciously as a fake and counterfeit guerilla.

    She was condemned in court of public opinion through trial by media as a fraud

    But she was lucky I think because DBS came to her rescue.He took up her case and became her advocate through his journalistic articles. DBS has proved her genuineness very cleverly

    People whom I know who doubted Niromi de Soyza are now fully convinced she is a real, honest person after DBS wrote.They are now scolding her critics as rumour mongers

  48. By treading in unknown territory, the four clowns Prof. Michael Roberts, Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, Arun Ambalavanar, and Darshanie Ratnawalli have created a controversy which only helped Niromi de Soyza. Her book has become so famous, many are waiting to buy and read it. It may turn into a best seller.

    Thanks to DBSJ for thrashing their so called rational/logical arguments and exposing their false propaganda. These so called ‘scholars’ have lost their credibility by deviating from their known expertise and entering into an unknown territory.

  49. Arun Anbalavanar alias Netsathran sewwindian is the same guy who writes offensive stuff in the name of Ratnwallie

    He is a psycho I think who is obsessed by the Tamil tigress

  50. are you refering to the malaravan who was in charge at Ariyalai ? if thats the case he was a damm rascal who tortured and killed a youth from Paasaiyoor area (all documented in UTHR) and when IPKF came to take over Jaffna in Oct 1987 he was shivering between his parents inside a car at Nallur Temple!

  51. DBS thank you for writing this it takes me back on memory as we lived in Jaffna during that time too and i remember all the facts that you mentioned,its a walk down memory lane

    i remember the Colombo Jaffna bus trips on Safety Travles,VJS Express and many checkpoints

    Going to model market in the small vans starting from Kacheri Nallur road

    watching tamil movies on the local tv stations (selva,Regal and Vaheet)

    Being very happy and praying to God when the Yarl Devi ran intermitently that it wont stop again

    watching army convoys with fascination till their movements were stopped in 1985

    Please do write up more of life in Jaffna in 1980’s

  52. I think Niromi’s critics are silent now thanks to DBS defending her. I never expected DBS to write supportively for Niromi and reveal truth about her. I think her enemies were also shocked by DBS Jeyaraj’s sudden entry

  53. I have grown used to Groundviews being criticised by Sinhalese for being LTTE apologists. Now it seems they have an anti-Tamil agenda. It’s a funny old world.

    Whether one agrees with Michael Roberts or not he is not a “pseudo-academic” he is a real academic with a long and distinguished career in the groves of academe.

    DBS – I always enjoy reading your writing but I am a bit puzzled by some things in this one. Why does this woman have so many names? She publishes as Niromi. Her nom de guerre was Shenuka. You say several times that you have decided to dub her Sharmila. Why is that?

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Thank you for this post.

    The author of “Tamil Tigress” has her given names by parents.Her nom de guerre in LTTE was Shenuka.Her nom de plume in writing this book is Niromi. As I explained in my earlier article I was being a “tad facetious” in coining a new name for her”Sharmila”. It has the first letters of all her three given names in it.Since she does not want to reveal her real name at this point of time I “dubbed” her “Sharmila” to refer to her life in the pre-guerilla period.It was my whim and she has nothing to do with it.As I have stated before I do feel that there has to come a time when her real name has to be revealed. But until she feels comfortable in doing so I dont want to reveal it “hence” the advent of “Sharmila”

    As for GV I dont want to comment about what others are saying about it. I have been attacked and continue to be attacked by all shades of political opinion as this or that and so this is noting new. I suppose it goes with the territory.

    But I have two points about GV

    Firstly all these articles by AA,MR and MS were submitted by the writers for publication in “Transcurrents” but I did not publish them because it was obvious that the writers were wrong and unfair. Besides the “evidence” adduced was so flimsy and erroneous.

    Secondly I find GV allowing all sorts of “persons” to come and attack me personally in the comments sections of these articles on Niromi. I dont see any reason for persons to attack me in the GV for articles I write in the Daily Mirror posted on my blog. This is unprofessional and unacceptable

    I get so many comments attacking GV and CPA and the people involved. I have never released them

    But now for the first time I have started releasing a few criticising Groundviews over the Niromi de Soyza issue to convey a point home. I hope they get it

    By the way I dont think anyone is criticising GV as being anti-Tamil on account of Niromi de Soyza.

  54. 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 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.

    DBS Jeyaraj has done a great service in helping Niromi and her book from people like Arun Ambalavanar but the readers will not judge books based only on the reviewer’s opinions. Do not judge the book by different people’s opinion, instead try to get the book in your hand and evaluate yourself.

  55. Prof. Micahel Roberts (an Anthropologist), Mr Arun Ambalavanar (don’t know who this guy is) and Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (an Economist) tried to throw mud at Niromi de Soyza by picking on very minor errors but they failed miserably and now we see your article as an enlightening factor.

    Niromi is a successful Sri Lankan born writer in Australia and I am proud to see her book picked as one of the “Top 50 reads for 2011″.

    I think Dr. Sarvanadan, Prof. Roberts and Mr Ambalavanar are trying to ride on the fame of Niromi by accusing her without any credible evidence. Ms Ratnwallie on the other hand was ranting and raving due to pure jealousy.

    But I should admit, these 3 musketeers and their cheap criticism are doing a wonderful job in providing further publicity for the book. If I am the publisher of this book, I will send them a bunch of flowers with a thank you note for promoting the book.

  56. I am not Sinhala or Tamil.I am living outside Sri Lanka for past 28 years. All I want to say is reading this articles by Jeyaraj given me lots of information and pleasurable satisfaction.I am awaiting more articles on this topic

  57. Great going Jayaraj. This girl Niromi was just like us as schoolgirl I feel. Keen to read further articles by you on her

  58. Arun has more his critism based on jaffna habits. If truth want to come out, need more critism not who support who?

  59. also remembered the Central St Johns Matches in early 80’s when i was a kid (came to a halt in 1984)

    I remember the shellings from the Jaff Fort and aerial raids,also the ppl who got caught to snipers at Bankshall street

    saw many bodies on lamp posts on my way to school

    saw new cars being taken away by force/robbed by the many terrorist groups in Jaffna

    ate ice cream in Subash cream house

    believe it or not even had sinhalese classmate and friend from Kurunagala at my nursery in 1981 remember his family too

  60. I certainly do not have any axe to grind in favour of Groundviews. Sometimes I find the articles there informative. Sometimes the comments are detailed and erudite. Often comments, as they do on other blogs, in the west as well, but particularly in Sri Lanka, generate more heat than light.

    Too often comments degenerate into pointless rehashing of ancient history (there is a lot of that on recent articles about Sri Lanka in the New Statesman). Too often commenters employ the scourge of anonymity to indulge in personal abuse and infantile “humour”.

    Many Sinhalese commentators have accused Groundviews and CPA of being in league with western NGOs who supported the LTTE.

    “this ground views must be exposed fully and what their agenda is . Who are they? What are they doing? Heard a puppy boy is running it and to the grounds where we all can view ha ha”

    “This well researched well written series by DBS on the “True tale of a Tamil Tigress” has exposed the theatrical gimmicks of some pseudo-academics. It has also placed the pretentious website” Groundviews” in very poor light.”
    I do not know what Groundviews’ agenda is can you spell it out for me?

    Incidentally, I found the comments in the New Statesman on both sides very depressing. What hope of reconciliation with such entrenched attitudes?

  61. Aah Jeyaraj,Hari Shok me article no aney?
    Seasons greetings Jeyaraj!

    Aah haa Nelum! Thank you aney. Compliments of the season Kella…………DBSJ

  62. All my doubts about Niromi de Soyzas authenticity are cleared after reading DBS. I think Niromi’s detractors owe her an unconditional apology

  63. What you meant by saying “pleasurable satisfaction”? What is your contribution towards reconciliation? Are you whether part of problem or happy about knowing what happened in past?

  64. When I read critical articles about Niromi de Soyza in Groundviews and the articles by DBS Jeyaraj I am able to sense the honesty and empathy in Jeyaraj’s writing as opposed to the others oozing with hatred

  65. Senaka, I had the opposite problem to you, I thought it was a Sinhalese trying to write a anti-LTTE book…how easily we assume and make an ass out of ourselves!!
    After reading DBS’s articles, I purchased the book and I can tell you, I’m hooked, as I am with DBS’s writing.
    Thanks DBS and Niromi…Happy 2012!!

    Thanks.Happy 2012……….DBSJ

  66. Hey DBS!

    Dont waste time replying to Groundviews. You go ahead with your writing which we relish. Cant wait to read next one on Tamil tigress

  67. I endorse you veritas.

    Funny how a lot of pundits who tacitly endorsed vilification of Niromi in Groundviews articles and vicious attacks on DBS by unknown persons in comments section are now coming out of cracks like cockroaches to pontificate on media ethics.
    Poobah!!

  68. Dear Mr.Jeyaraj

    I do appreciate your views on the unprofessional conduct of Groundviews in denigrating you.But my appeal to you is to ignore that scurrilous organ and concentrate on your writing. This is my humble request

  69. DBS Jeyaraj,

    I am with you DBS Jeyarajah’s article which lead us and confirmed Niromi is real person.

    The minority are still naked in Sri Lanka.a few is bold enough to tell the truth . Let’s Talk about LLRC,weaknesses , its recommendations and how they can be implemented as quickly and durably as possible.Other discussions (eg Niromi….) is insignificant.

    Suppose in her manuscript Niromi wrote: “…Soyza found herself in an ambush as part of a small platoon of militant Tamil Tigers fighting Indian government forces in a bloody civil war…” and an editor deleted the word “Indian” without knowing the significance, everything would be fine, wouldn’t it?

    Please DBS, shift the focus to the important matters which will bring the vulnerable minority people who are naked in the country we were from .I am looking forward new articles in the new year.

    Thanks for your valuable contribution for the year 2011.

    Wishing you a successful new year 2012

    Thank you.Happy New Year………….DBSJ

  70. The Groundviews project of destroying Niromi de Soyza’s credibility has been totally demolished by DBS Jeyaraj.So now Groundviews is attacking DBS through contrived comments violating basic tenets of decency

  71. Jeyaraj Anna

    The two articles on Tamil Tigress are very very good. I hope you will write a few more like that and make it a series. Its so good and so much of actual information.

    As a woman I feel your proving Niromi de Soyzas genuiness through these articles are commendable.

    Wish you very happy new year

    Thank You Thulasi.Wish you the same too……….DBSJ

  72. DBS
    Grounviews is attacking you because you have exposed their pretentious hollowness through these articles on Niromi de Soyza.

    All the ill-researched,scurrilous diatribes against Niromi were published only in Groundviews. They have a vested interest in vilifying Niromi and wanted her downfall as a coveted prize

    But you DBS have deprived Groundviews and its rag tag band of pseudo-academics that opportunity by your well informed detailed articles

    That is why Groundviews is violating all norms of decency and ethics in launching attacks on you

    I would respectfully urge you to not fall into their trap by engaging in a discussion or controversy.Instead please continue with your series of articles on Niromi de Soyza. Each line you write tears down the image of Groundviews and guttersnipes

    S

  73. What ever it is, an LTTE guy have no reespect for fellow humans!

    One Malaravan who totured and killed a person for beating LTTE men when they involved in a land dispute in Pasaiyoor. Toturing the person with iron-box and killed him. I saw the dead body.

    Who the hell are these criminals to kill others? Murdering and torturing are “charming” to you?

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