Chronicles of a Tamil Freshman – Part 8

Chronicles of a Tamil Freshman is a story series featured on revolving around protagonist Tanya. Make sure to read Parts 123456, and 7 first!

Written by: Thagsana Rangarajan



He held out his hand, as Tanya laid on the ground hopelessly.

“Should I let him help me up? For all I know, he could be a crazy person!” Tanya thought to herself. At the same time, she realized that she had just channelled her inner Vadivelu moments ago, and was now sprawled awkwardly across the hardwood tiles in a crowded hallway. In short, she was the “crazy person”.

Tanya leaned forward and grabbed his hand, slowly getting onto her feet.

“Thanks,” she said quietly.

“Don’t sweat it,” he said with a smile.

He was about Tanya’s height, with a brown complexion. He had his hair tied back in a short pony-tail, and it swung slightly as students walked passed them. She could see that his eyes were dark brown, behind his black-rimmed glasses. He had no facial hair, but his facial features greatly hinted that he was of South Indian descent, or even Tamil. His blue jeans were worn out, with a few tears near the bottom. His purple t-shirt was ruffled, and in desperate need of ironing. The strap of his backpack hung over one of his shoulders. Tanya noticed he was holding a few flyers in his hands.

“My name’s Arun,” he said, as he handed Tanya one of the flyers.

“Tanya,” she said with a smile.

“Good to see some more Tamil faces around campus. Are you okay, by the way? That fall looked like it kinda hurt…” he said hesitantly.

Tanya could feel her face turning red. “Yeah, uh, I’m totally fine. Thanks,” she said, unconvincingly.

“Oh, and I like the look you have going on. You don’t normally see girls dressing like that,” he said, smiling.

Tanya stared awkwardly into space, trying to think of something interesting to say.

“Yeah…uh, it’s a new look I’m trying out,” she said.

She couldn’t quite understand why she cared so much about Arun’s impression of her. He wasn’t her usual type—that type being Prithushan, of course. Tanya shrugged it off, and stared at the flyer he had handed her.

Her mood changed instantly—she felt as though she was hit by a whirlwind of pain. She was reminded of a nightmare that she would never forget for as long as she lived. The worst part was that it wasn’t a nightmare, but a devastating reality. Tanya stared down at the paper, as a tear slid down her cheek. It was titled, Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day.

“It would be great if you could come to this event we’re holding on Friday. By ‘we’, I mean the TSA, Tamil Student’s Association. You should look into joining that too,” he said.

“I’ll be there,” she said, staring away from him, in hopes that he wouldn’t notice her distraught appearance.

“Good to hear. Well, I’ll see you there. Take care, Tanya,” he said, with a reassuring grin. He waved goodbye, and headed down the hall.

Holding the paper in her hand, Tanya felt her knees begin to weaken. She slowly staggered back and forth, trying to maintain her stance. Her head ached, as the painful thoughts began to resurface.

Tanya sat down on a bench, and began to recall the events that occurred nearly six years ago. On May 18th, 2009, a significant part of her life was taken from her. It felt as though someone had ripped her heart out of her chest, and threw it into an incinerator.

She was only twelve then, but old enough to understand the horror that had been taking place in her homeland. One day, she stood in the rain for hours during a protest, hoping that others would recognize how passionate she felt about resolving the Tamil genocide. She chanted as loudly as she could, in hopes that her words didn’t fall on deaf ears. She’d hurry home from school, and watch SunTV news, hoping to hear good news for a change. But there never was.

Instead she’d hear the same, bone-chilling newscast every day. Tamil mothers were being raped and killed; fathers were brutalized and tortured, while the burnt remains of their children were recovered in “no-fire zones”. It was as if the Holocaust was being re-enacted in a different country with a different target. They flashed images of mothers holding their lifeless child in their arms, lifeless bodies stacked alongside each other in the dirt, civilians leaving their own homes due to the fear of being bombed while they slept.

During this time, however, the Tamil community around the world stood at its strongest, side-by-side, in hopes of stopping the corrupt Sri Lankan government.

Tanya was motivated to be a part of such a cause, not only to save her people, but to save her cousin as well.

His name was Vithuran Srikanthan, and he was 22. Having recently graduated from King’s University in January, he had decided to visit family in Mullivaikkal for a few months. He graduated with Bachelor’s in Arts and Science, with the hopes of becoming a family physician. He felt that his sole purpose in life was to help others in any way that he could, and as a result, he was always there to lend a hand in any situation—whether it was auntie’s cooking, driving the grandparents to the temple on Friday mornings, or even helping Tanya with math homework in the afternoons.

She looked up to him her entire life, and had planned a list of things to do with him once he returned from his trip. But one morning, her parents received a phone call that sent her mom crashing to the floor. Her dad began crying uncontrollably. And she just remembered the words they kept repeating: “Vithuran’s gone”.

Within an instant, her life was turned upside down. She knew she would never be the same person again. And for as long as she lived, she would never forget the terror, grief and anguish that resonated within her, as well as the Tamil community, as a result of the Tamil genocide.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.



Thagsana Rangarajan is in her final year of a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories and hopes to publish a novel in the future. 

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