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Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009 !!

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This is the time when the world rings out the old year and rings in the New Year.

Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009.

The ushering in of a new year is usually a happy,festive occasion. It is a time of renewed hope where we look forward to the future with optimistic confidence.

I must confess that I was in no buoyant mood on December 31st. Reflecting on the sad events of 2008 simply made me gloomy and despondent. The loss of a loved one was particularly saddening.

When friends asked me about my prognosis for the new year I felt even more despondent and gloomy.

There was very little to look forward to for the new year. The economic recession, declining markets, depreciating housing prices, global warming, rise in xenophobia and hate, increasing authoritarianism and erosion of human rights etc on a global scale depress me.

In Sri Lanka things get bad to worse as war escalates and envelopes.Corruption, misgovernance, nepotism, racism, egoistic clashes at high levels, erosion of democratic values, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of transparency, deteriorating economy, human rights violations, rise of neo-fascism etc ravage the land.

With President Mahinda Rajapakse declaring 2009 to be a year of triumph for the armed forces and senior LTTE commander “Col” Bhanu responding with the proclamation that 2009 would be the year of destruction for the armed forces the only sure thing in the new year is that war and more war
would occur.

What this means is that there would be death, destruction and displacement. The nature of things in Sri Lanka is such that the long suffering Sri Lankan Tamil people would have to bear the brunt of all this.

I tried hard to discern a silver lining in this dark cloud looming across the political horizon.

I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of a glimmer at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

Nothing worked and I was down really down.

I didn’t even have the strength and energy to go through my long-planned project of launching my own weblog in 2009.

It was at this stage that I began checking my e-mails in the evening.

There was one from Rajan Kadirgamar, my former Principal at Jaffna College, Vaddukkoddai where I did my A-levels.

The mail had his new year greeting and words of good cheer.

There was this quote from Louisa Haskins in his mail. This is what it said:

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the new year.

‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the darkness’

And he said :


Principal Kadirgamar had an explanatory note about the quote.

The above words were quoted in the traditional Christmas Message in 1945 by King George the VI th, the father of the present Queen.

It was just after the end of World War II and to our family, the end of the Japanese occupation of Malaya.

My father who was the pastor of our Church in Seremban, Malaya quoted these words in his sermon at the Watch Night Service on December 31st, 1945.

I was 17 years old at the time and those words were indelibly etched in my memory.

Soon we ventured out into the ‘unknown’ to Jaffna and to Jaffna College in early 1946 and I can bear testimony to those words that the path to us as a family these 63 years was ‘better than light safer than a known way’.

Mr. Kadirgamar ended his mail thus:

“….Grace has brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home…”


After I read this mail I felt better. As I pondered on the lines

“Put your hand in the hand of God. IT SHALL BE BETTER THAN LIGHT SAFER THAN A KNOWN WAY”

………. I began feeling better. Began feeling at peace with myself.

Sri Lanka is home to the four major religions of the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

[Pics by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai]

Places of religious worship exist in all parts of the country.

Let the noble values espoused by all religions prevail.

Let there be true spirituality and everlasting peace.

As for myself, I shall enter the new year by placing my hand in God’s hands. It’s better than light and safer than a known path.

“….Grace has brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home…”



Email: dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

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  1. Our best Wishes for a prosperous and peaceful

    2009 and all the sufferings of our people in

    Srilanka will come to an end.

    Senthi Uncle, Neela Aunty Rukshi and Yogan.

  2. All the best & Happy New Year

    Dear Mr.Jeyaraj,

    Congratulations for your new endeavour (blog), May all your ambitions come true!

    ‘I tried hard to discern a silver lining in this dark cloud looming across the political horizon.

    I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of a glimmer at the end of the long, dark tunnel.’

    I was worried to read those line of yours, not only because you are some one whom we all love and respect, but because I know your predictions hardly go wrong.

    For example, a few months back after the capture of Akkarayan, all the people were talking about capturing Kilinochchi. But you said it would be a better tactic to first goto Pooneryn and to Paranthan and then To Kilinochchi. And the army did exactly that!

    You are a great journalist and a great asset to the people of Sri Lanka. Many Newspaper readers in Sri Lanka read your articles though they don’t know that you are living on the otherside of the planet. Thanks to internet we are lucky to have you at home.

    Not only English readers but also Sinhala readers are reading your articles translated by Mr.Ayub. Fullpage articles of your analysis appear in the most popular Sinhala daily, ‘Lankadeepa’. My mother don’t miss it.

    Not only newspaper readers but commuters in Colombo may have read your name hundreds of times, when they look around the walls of our capital months ago. That’s when The Bottomline and previously The Nation campaigned aggressively with thousands of posters all over Colombo with the heading of your defence article in their papers.

    Well as for your fears for 2009, to us Sri Lankans it makes not much difference, because we never had a good year for the last few decades. But many people have hope that if the LTTE’s brutal, lunatic, stupid, inhumane and non compromising leadership is removed we might be able to live without fear. When fear is less there will be better chances for a successful negotiated settlement.

    Since we already have 17th amendment in place, under a peaceful environment there will be better chances for gradually increasing their powers, including police powers. Even under the worst scenario (i.e. no more devolution), with provincial councils honest and clever Tamil politicians can build on the lives & aspirations of SL Tamils with the help of all parties including GOSL, India and the diaspora.

    Still that’s just a dream. War is far from over and such peaceful environment is still illusive. The god’s will seems to be a lot more carnage and bloodshed in SL, as SL forces get closer to last bastions of LTTE where there are a lot of civilians being trapped.

    Anyway we will continue to keep our hopes high,
    which is better than a state of hopelessness that
    dwelled in our hearts many a times in the past.

  3. Your skill is very much required to express the loss of Lasantha Wickramatunga who was fatally shot on Thursday morning as he drove to work.

    This is an act against free expression and you need to put pen to paper to articulate what it means to the people of Sri lanka.


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