Posts Tagged ‘Speak Out’

Staying in Shape

By Admin - February 12th, 2014

Staying in Shape

February 12, 2014

Thangachi’s Corner: Staying in Shape

Updated every other Wednesday, “Thangachi’s Corner” is a bi-monthly feature that discusses relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

There are some of us who work a strict exercise regimen. We schedule daily workouts in between school or work and feel energized all day long. We are constantly eating healthy foods as a result and feel antsy when we’re not able to get our daily fix of an elevated heart rate.
There are some of us who are fairly conscious of the importance of an active way of life. We don’t quite get in a daily workout, but we go on regular runs, or engage in the occasional visit to the gym. Perhaps there are phases in our lives in which we are particularly devoted to exercise, but we always end up settling into a moderate cycle of physical activity.

And then there are some of us who wait until the Olympics hit every few years before we realize that we’re totally out of shape.

Yep. Enough said.

Active exercise, on top of a nutritious diet is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. While we become accustomed to attending Phys. Ed classes as children during elementary school, it becomes harder to maintain the same level of activity once we reach adulthood. After all, other priorities always seem to interfere. Still, it’s imperative to maintain regular sessions of exercise throughout the week, and this can be accomplished in a variety of different ways:

1) A regular trip to the gym. Get yourself a subscription to your local gym. It costs an arm and a foot, so take the fact that your wallet is getting significantly lighter as motivation to put the subscription to good use by working out regularly. Professional gyms are stocked with great exercise equipment that you may not have at home, and if it’s any incentive, some of the treadmills may be connected to televisions—hello, multitasking.

2) The use of workout videos. Not all of us can afford a regular subscription to the gym. We may neither have the funds, the time or the regular means of transportation, so regular trips to the gym are rather impractical. No fear, welcome to the age of Internet—workout videos can be readily found online. Whether you choose to follow a Beachbody program such as Insanity or P90x, or my favourite, Fitness Blender, workout videos provide a means to learn new workout techniques within the home.

3) An enrollment in fitness classes. Perhaps you are not the sort of person who can work out alone. Studies show that people are more likely to stay physically active when they share workout goals with another individual. In this light, it may be beneficial to enroll in fitness classes. This can be of a various sort—dance, pilates, yoga, or even a form of martial arts. The goal then becomes to not only maintain a healthy, physical lifestyle, but to do so while learning a new skill—two birds with one stone!

4) Participation in sports. Sports are a great way to stay active. Not only are they played in groups, but they engage a ton of muscle groups and are a fun way to increase the heart rate. You can either get a couple of friends together and set up regular games, or join a community center’s sports team and meet new people in the process. Either way, it’s a sneaky way of getting in your regular bout of physical activity!

5) A regular jog routine. Perhaps you are a solitary exerciser. If that’s the case, a daily jog may be just the thing for you. You can go for a morning run or an evening one, but fill up a light water bottle, plug in your headphones and just get going. Solitary jogs can be relaxing if you run at the right time and place—they’re a great opportunity to work through problems in your head and serve to loosen up the muscles before or after a tough day. If you feel you need a goal to work towards, you can even train yourself for a marathon!

While not many of us are going to end up at the Olympics, we can all benefit from physical activity in our daily schedules. Coupled with a healthy diet, exercise serves to control weight, combat health conditions and diseases, improve mood, boost energy, and promote better sleep.

And while you may feel lazy before a workout and come up with a gazillion reasons not to exercise, you are almost guaranteed to feel accomplished and pleased with yourself afterward.

Thank you, endorphins.
About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author whose motivation to write usually kicks in when she’s supposed to be occupied elsewhere. She is an avid procrastinator who sees potential novel ideas as movies in her head. Maybe one of these days they’ll make it onto the page. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.

Manvaasanai: The Beginning

By Admin - February 8th, 2014

Manvaasanai: The Beginning

Written By: Keera Ratnam

Manvaasanai is a new feature by Keera Ratnam that tells stories of back home. Keera is an avid artist and writer. Keera Ratnam was the recipient of the Top Talents 2013 Visual Arts Award.

March 26 2012

Mother nature was not doing me a favor, the weather was sticky and
humid. The change from 14 degrees to 38 degrees was too drastic for
me to handle. I felt sweat drip down my temple making a trail that
lead to the bottom of my ear. My eyes red, face swollen and limbs
aching, all from the uncomfortable 10 hour transit at New Delhi
Airport and lack of sleep since the day of my departure from Canada. I stood with all my backpack holding on to my father’s hand luggage. He
was in deep sleep and didn’t even realize that we reached our final
destination. I tapped him, “Appa…Appa…we’re here,” I said. He
opened his eyes and looked at me. His eyes were red and his face was
also swollen. He held on to my arm and tried standing up. His back was
hurting and couldn’t stand properly. “Ennum konja thooram than
..Appa…elumpungo”. I told him we only had to walk a bit more. He smiled
and took his luggage from me.

My father was a darker gentleman. He was
in his mid 60’s. He had difficulty walking on his own due to his
spinal injury. There was a long line up, the only way in which we were
told to assemble to depart the plane. As my father and I reached the
exit, a air hostess from Jet airways wished us a good trip and helped
my father down the stairs. As I came down the stairs I looked around
and saw nothing but trees and cement. The air was extremely humid, but
had no scent and no breeze. I felt like I was an egg frying in pan and
at that moment only one thing came to mind was I just wanted to shower
my self with ice cold water, this was the only way to freshen myself
up. As we waited by the plane a streetcar pulled up to retrieve
passengers, we got on. The streetcar lead us into the Sri-Lankan airport. It
was definitely not what I had expected. It was small, but very clean. 

As my father and waited in line to show our visas and passports, my
father asked me if I remembered this airport. I was young then my
father said. He said, “I visited this airport twice, once when I was 18
months old and when I was 3 1/2 years old, when I migrated to Canada”. 
He remembers the day that he left my mother and I behind to migrate to
Canada, and how we waved to him farewell in this very airport. Things
changed over time he said. Yes, he is right, things did change but I
was just too young to remember.

As I glanced around I felt like as if
I was at a shopping mall in Canada, but with very low
air-conditioning. After clearing thing at the customs office, I
headed down the escalator to retrieve my luggage. Stacking all of our
luggage on one trolley, I told my father to follow me. As we walked to
wards the exit an officer stopped my father asking to see his
Sri-Lankan passport. I walked towards the officer giving him my fathers
passport and told him that we don’t have Sri-Lankan passports. ” Oh you
only have Canadian passports?” he asked. I nodded my head. ” You are
only Canadian citizens?” he asked. “Yes”, I replied. He nodded and
wished us the best of luck on our trip. As we walked across to
passenger pick up I noticed that, those who had Sri-Lankan passports
were asked to open up their luggage for inspection. I was amazed with
the power of my Canadian passport and was happy that my belongings
weren’t examined. 

At the passenger pick up my cousin and aunt waited for our arrival. My
cousin noticed my father and waved his hand. I quickly pushed my
trolley towards them and waited for my father to join. My cousin and
aunt looked at me with happiness in their eyes. “It’s been 18 years my
dear, we missed you so much” she said as she gave me a warm hug and a
kiss on my forehead. My cousin whom I call Anna, meaning big brother
took my luggage out side. Out side the air-conditioned Airport it was
10 times the heat.

Wiping my sweat off my forehead, I took off my
cardigan. Within 15 minutes our van pulled up in front of us. I sat in, removing my shoes and letting my feet breathe. Next stop, Vavuniya
said my cousin with a smile.” Aaru manithiyalam edukum Vavuniya poha,” my aunt said. She was
explaining to my father that it takes 6 hours to travel from Colombo
to Vavuniya. I looked out side the window. I saw palm trees, coconut
trees and colourful tropical flowers. It was a country filled with
lots of vegetation. After a long six hours in the van, my cousin
finally said that we have arrived at my aunt’s house. It was late at
night, 10:15 pm to be exact. It was dark, but I could still see the
silhouettes of the tree and houses. There were lanterns and small lights
that helped view things in the dark.

I stepped out of the van, holding
 my shoes in my hand and my backpack on my shoulder. I placed both
 feet on the ground, feeling the soft soil with my toes. It felt nice
 and moist. The air smelled fresh and sweet. It smelled like fresh
 soil, something that I could recognize but I wasn’t sure what it was
 exactly, but I knew I liked it.”How do you like it here so far?, asked my father.” “Its nice Appa I feel like Im at home, the air is
sweet I can even smell the soil,” I said. ” Ithu thaan pillai
manvaasanai” he told me. The smell of soil is what my father said, but
it was something more than that. It was indeed the smell of the soil
mixed with the sweetness of the palm trees and the warm air. But aside
from the nature, it was symbolic, it held more value. It was the
smell of home, a scent that I recognized because I was finally home
after 18 years. This was something that Canada didn’t have and
something money couldn’t buy, it was the smell of belonging. I felt it
in the wind, saw it in the sky, touched it with my feet as I squished the mud and taste it in the air. I was definitely home.

It is then that I realized that there is so much more that I have to learn, and understand. There is a lot to see and feel. I closed my eyes tight and took a breath. This is not a trip to reunite with my family, but where I will rebirth as I unravel my identity as to where I came from, who I am, and the history that my ancestors have carried. This is just the beginning.

Violence Within Our Tamil Youth

By Admin - February 2nd, 2014

Violence Within Our Tamil Youth

Written By: Ran Cakes

Last week, the McMaster TSA held a formal which was the spark of conversation for days after the event- all for the wrong reasons. I was unable to attend due to other priorities. According to the rumours however, after consumption of too many cups of “ginger ale”, the party became more violent than expected in that people started to harm one another. After the event, the McMaster TSA president posted this response on her Facebook page: “…And at first I thought I was disappointed because something MAC TSA execs and directors put so much hard work into was washing down the drain because of idiots that cannot control their feelings with alcohol in their system. BUT THEN I realized I’m more disappointed in the fact that OUR TAMILS CANNOT GET ALONG FOR MORE THAN 5 HOURS!?…”

It’s important to note, however, that this was not the first case of violence after overconsumption at a TSA event. I’ve heard of a case at another formal where a girl had to been carried out for obnoxious behaviour after having a bit too much to drink. Peers who have attended many TSA formals say that this happens a lot, so much so that it’s become the norm. I know of people who refuse to attend formals anymore due to fear of the violence. All this comes down to the question – why have our Tamil youth become so violent?

I’m not trying to make a general statement; I obviously know that not every young individual has a tendency to flip tables when they’re mad.

At the same time, I’ve been to many diverse formals, ranging from Chinese Student Association (CSA) formals, Afrofest (African formal) and formals from different faculties such as nursing formals. I can boldly say that never have I ever encountered such behaviour at any of the aforementioned events. But then again, I could just be at the wrong events.

Considering how the only people allowed access to these events are university students, it’s safe to assume that most of us belong to the same age group and have obtained a certain degree of education. Apparently though, education means nothing when your ‘boy’ needs ‘backup’. It’s embarrassing that these things have to happen especially after all the endless amount of work that is put into these events.

So we come back to the question, why do these fights start up in the first place? Is it the alcohol getting to our head? Maybe people are just trying to mimic something they’ve seen elsewhere. Or is it something we grew up with?

Could it be the endless amounts of Tamil movies we’ve watched as kids? Honestly, when was the last Tamil movie you’ve watched that didn’t have the main hero, who is supposedly an angel, beat up 10 guys to save a girl from being harassed? There are other realistic ways to solve conflicts. Instead Tamil movies love any opportunity to raise a fist.

Another reason could be within our parents itself. Even though it’s joked about, our parents did actually threaten us with ‘puttu’ sticks growing up. We grew up thinking violence is a way to make people listen. We’ve seen our uncles go to parties, drink their brandy, and then fight with their brothers, and then not talk to them for a couple of years.

I remember a case when I was in middle school of a father running over his daughter and her boyfriend with a car because he didn’t approve of the relationship. Many people in the community were conflicted. Some supported the father, saying he was just disciplining. No, that’s not right. There are always better ways to discipline a child.

There could be other factors of course. These are just things from our childhood that could be the reason of their violent nature. It’s unfortunate that things like this must happen and ruin it for everyone else.

What can we do to control our youth at these events? It seems as if taking away alcohol won’t help.

All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect’s views and opinions.

Thangachi’s Corner: Vanakkam—More Than Just a Word

By Admin - January 29th, 2014

Thangachi’s Corner: Vanakkam—More Than Just a Word

This post is part of the Tamil Heritage Month Initiative. Tamil Heritage Month seeks to celebrate Tamil heritage, culture, and history. Throughout this month and January, we will be providing you with educational material and poetry that seeks to help us celebrate and understand our culture, roots and heritage.

January 29, 2014

Updated every other Wednesday, “Thangachi’s Corner” is a bi-monthly feature that discusses relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

My Appappa doesn’t like the word, “Hi”.

It sounds a bit odd, to have a vendetta against a two-letter greeting word used commonly in the English language. But Appappa doesn’t believe in “Hi” because he subscribes to the use of a slightly longer, five-letter word deeply rooted into our Tamil culture.

And I don’t mean “Hello”.

Ever since I was young, my brothers and I were taught to greet fellow Tamil folk not with a hello and a handshake, but rather with Vanakkam and a very famous hand gesture in which palms meet in a salute. Vanakkam (five letters in its Tamil spelling) symbolically signifies a greeting from the soul.

While there are many different interpretations of the word and symbol, the most common one, and the one I grew up hearing, is that Vanakkam is a greeting between two souls, regardless of their status in life. The soul is viewed in a sacred manner, akin to God despite the age or character of its owner. While etymologically, the word Vanakkam stems from the root, “to bow”, referring to a respectful, reverent and worshipping gist, the greeting almost translates into a single phrase: “My soul bows to your soul”.

It’s actually rather lovely when you stop and think about it.

Vanakkam is a symbol of mutual respect between an adult and a child, between a rich person and a poor one, between a teacher and a student—it transcends man-made boundaries of classification to demand regard for every individual.

Living in an almost exclusively Anglophone society Canada, it is difficult for us to maintain our Tamil language in casual conversation. But being a single word, Vanakkam is a very manageable step in the right direction. It not only immediately identifies us as Tamil, but also serves as a link to our Tamil heritage.

So try not to hesitate in Tamil company—set aside your hello’s, bonjour’s and hola’s, put your palms together at your chest, and utter, as you greet one another, a warm and heartfelt:


Thamil : A True story

By Admin - January 28th, 2014

Thamil : A True story

Written By: Keera Ratnam

Drawing By: Abi Ratnam

Leaving your home country and coming to a new place is difficult. As immigrants we come to a foreign land hoping to live a better life, a life of opportunity and a chance to rebuild a better future. We come in hopes to create a family, and strengthen our culture. But it is not always that easy. Many of us are born in here, born in this land of opportunity and do not understand what it feels to be an immigrant. Many of us migrated when we were too young to remember our past. And many of us do not know of who we really are and how our families have came to this land, how our ancestors lived and what was the reason for us to leave our own land. Because many of us don’t realize what we have lost or forgotten about our identity and heritage and the true struggle that many of our people have gone through just to say who we are.

As an Eelam Tamil, the reason to leave and migrate was for protection. This was not just for life and survival but also for the protection and growth of an identity and race. When speaking the mother tongue was prohibited, the laws that were enforced restricted the growth of language causing the importance of identity became a concern. Many have left in search for new land, to start off fresh hoping to create a home in which they can allow their heritage to survive. Many fought long and hard, hoping for a new light to touch them, and bless them with a new state of peace. However, the struggle for identity was not that easy. Those who migrated had difficulty adapting to the new world, new life and preserving their culture. Those who stayed back lost their children, family and what they had reserved for many years. The many who migrated built new homes, new life but forgot to teach their children about their past and most importantly about the history of their ancestors.

In 2009, the standing of our people back home came to a collapse as the government and military turned its target to the Tamil civilians. The fight for rights and freedoms, turned in to a fight for survival. There was no place to hide, no one to trust and no place to go. The only solution was to flee the country. Flee to somewhere where the children wont get hurt, a place where there is food, and place where it is safe. I was one of the few that decided to leave. I lived in my country since birth, and so have my ancestors. I met my significant other in these very grounds and wedded him a year ago. I now have no choice but to leave. I had to, at least for my child that I bear with in me.

“Gowri”, said my husband. “Its time to leave.” We were boarding the MV SUN SEA, a cargo ship that carried almost 500 Eelam tamils. We were told that we would land somewhere safe, somewhere near by. Rubbing my stomach on top of my georgette saree, I looked down and closed my eyes and prayed. I whispered “ I pray to you God, I pray that on this trip as I pass the deeps waters, you will protect my child and let it live.” As tears rushed down my eyes, I felt the comfort of my husband. He wrapped his arms around me as I buried my head in his chest. At this moment, I began to cry harder. Pulling my face up, he looked down at me and wiped my tears. Kissing my forehead, he said, “Everything will be alright, I am here, we are in this together.”

Within two hours the ship was set to sail. It was crowded with teenagers, the elderly and families of four. There were about eight females who I noticed were pregnant. Everyone had there own sacks of clothes, not much but something to change into. Some had small pouches that had their ID cards, and a few photos of their loved ones. But almost everyone had one thing in common, the look of fear and doubt. They had the fear that they will not make it alive past the srilanka shores, and the doubt of how long this journey will take. I too was one of those people with the same doubt. After glancing around hoping to catch a familiar face I sat down beside my husband. It was too crowded to walk around, and I was too tired to try. Leaning back, I rested my head on his shoulders and fell asleep.

A month went by, and there was no sign of land. We were told that the boat would not land in India, it was not safe, not at this time. As the days went by, we grew hungry. Several of the children were weak and the elderly were gradually getting ill. Our throats were dry, no matter how much water we drank, and our faces were pale. We looked as if we were the walking dead, clinging on to the little life that was left in our bodies. What we have dreamed this trip to be was just a myth. We were traveling with Satan himself on our backs.

Weeks went by, and then two months. My stomach expanded and I could feel my child kicking inside. During my pregnancy, I was only happy the first 5 and a half months, and after that I boarded the ship. That’s when happiness turned into worries and the struggle to survive became my ultimate goal. As my child grew inside me, I grew hungry, the pain increased and I felt more homesick. The days that we were given food, my husband would feed me, and starve himself. He would save some of the biscuits and water for me, so that I eat well throughout the day. I was fortunate to have him there, alive and well, looking after me.

On my 8th month of pregnancy, we experienced heavy storms, winds and nasty waves. When it rained we huddled together in crowds, telling the little children to sit in our laps as we tried to keep warm. The young females who were on their periods, would sit in the corners. During this time, they would shiver. The grandmothers and grandfathers would take their sarees and extra sarams and tell the girls to wrap themselves with it. When it rained we would get soaked, and when a storm hit, we held on to each other with all our might. Each night we would pray. Despite who we were, whether or not we were related we promised each other that till we land on shore, we would hold on to each other.

There were several nights that I couldn’t sleep. I would watch over the children as they curled up in a circle holding onto their friends hands. Even though I was far away from home, away from the resting place of my parents, I found family. My family was my people, we did not care about each others castes, occupation, status and whether or not we were all the same religion. All we cared about was that we were Thamil. We understood each other by looking into each others eyes. We all went through the same struggle and wanted one thing for ourselves and for our children. We wanted freedom. The freedom that will allow us to preach our language freely and let our heritage grow. In this boat there was the elderly, the roots to my heritage, parents who were the foundation to a family and the children and youth who were the sprouts of tomorrow all locked up on one cargo ship struggling to be free.

After almost 3 months of travelling, we finally landed on the Vancouver shores. August 12th 2010, we landed on the coast of Vancouver, resting from our trip and awaiting to be accepted into a new place. Although we arrived to shore, we were still kept in the ship for investigations. The children and elderly were slowly taken out one by one. I was now hitting the peak of my Pregnancy. I was starting my 9th month and was ready to give birth within a few weeks.

September 23rd, a night that I would never forget. I was still in the ship, we were offered blankets and food, and were constantly checked on. That night I felt different. With chills up my spine I felt sick. I felt what seemed to be pain, but relief. On the morning of September 24th 2010, with little space with a little help from my family, I gave birth to a beautiful girl, my princess whom I carried for 9 months, across the deep waters to Canada. She was my daughter. With the help from my new my family that I made along this trip, I was able to deliver her and have her blessed by my people. They had named her Thamil. After all the struggles we all went through to come to this land, Thamil was the only thing that united us. Her name was symbolic, and she was the light to our struggle. Her name represented the very same Thamil that struggled to fight as an identity in my home country, the very same Thamil that classified the ethnic group whose lives were lost in mulivaikkal in the horrific massacre. Thamil was her name, forever beautiful and sweet. . It represented who she is, where she’s from and what her heritage was. She was a child who grew in the thorns of barbed wire and blossomed beautifully as delicate lotus in the shores of Vancouver. Wrapped in nothing less then the rags of her people, and surrounded by their love. She will grow and one day share her story, her birth and the reasons why she was born where she was. This will be apart of our history, and one day be a reason to search for our roots. Identity, heritage and language all play a role in bringing out a nation, group of people and a culture. It is what our ancestors fought for, and is apart of who we are.

The story above is true, based on the perspective of Gowri and how she had her child. She is now in Toronto living among us, happily with her family. Her courage and strength that she has displayed through out her struggles back home and on her trip, should encourage us to realize that we as the international tamil community should take our identity seriously. Not just as a way to identify ourselves, but also to teach our children why we have migrated, what we have lost, and most importantly why our language and heritage is so important.

A Cup of Greetings

By Admin - January 4th, 2014

A Cup of Greetings

Written By: Renishaki Kamal
One ring. One knock at the door.

My feet scurry down the steps to turn the knob and welcome the faces that have yet to lose their secrecy.
As the door opens, my face lights up as the reflection of those on the other side.
The door swings open and they all feel freed and welcomed in, in to a home that feels like their own.
“Come in, come in. It’s so wonderful to see you” as I lead the way to our living room with floral print sofas and a burnt burgundy coffee table.
My mother would turn to me as my father sits down, joining the guest as he continues to greet them. She gives me the signal. That eye blink, not a wink. It’s time for some chai because it’s always tea time and it’s the way to greet guests to our homes and hearts.
No matter the weather outside, it’s always an essential to sink in the sofas with some milk tea and side dish; oil drenched deliciousness! Chai, milk and sugar adds the sweetest touch to every conversation about others, others outside of our little circles but in the big circle we are apart of.
Who cares about the conversation, if the chai’s good the feelings at farewell will be left with a time noted for the next gathering.
Chai in the morning, chai in the afternoon. After a meal, before a goodnight. Why not?
If you ever come over, do come over, don’t worry about the chai, just bring good conversation!

This post is part of the Tamil Heritage Month Initiative. Tamil Heritage Month began in 2010 and seeks to celebrate Tamil heritage, culture, and history. Throughout this month and January, we will be providing you with educational material and poetry such as this that seeks to help us celebrate and understand our culture, roots and heritage.

Thangachi’s Corner: Your Dose of New Year’s Optimism

By Admin - January 1st, 2014

Thangachi’s Corner: Your Dose of New Year’s Optimism

Written By: Keerthana Raveendran


This is it, friends – the beginning of a brand new year. A fresh start, if you will.

Oftentimes, the New Year is an opportunity at a blank slate. We put aside our downfalls, our flaws and shortcomings in favour of forward thinking—this year is going to be so great. In the New Year, we tend to feel optimistic, contemplating all that we hope to accomplish in the months that follow, usually in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

But in all of this forward thinking, we often forget to reminisce backward and think not only about how far we have already come in the past year, but also of the joys we may already find in our past.

So if only for just a little bit this New Year’s Day, let us employ the wonderful tool that is the Internet, and take a look back at the inspiring, heartwarming and downright fantastic things that go right in our world, especially since we, in our own chaotic lives, sometimes focus on those that go wrong. Surely enough, cyberspace has much to offer—take, for example:

Read More.

2004 December 26th Tsunami

By Admin - December 27th, 2013

2004 December 26th Tsunami

Written By: Silence

2004 December 26th
An earth quake measuring 9.1-9.3 Magnitude on the rector scale devastated South Asia, causing a catastrophic set of events.
230000 Dead,
Families left with nothing
To Fend for Themselves,
Changing, Lives across the world
The Tsunami sparked a worldwide humanitarian response; 14 billion dollars raised and pledged in a matter of weeks
Little did I know that this would be a pivotal moment in my life. I remember waking up, ready for a family Christmas party. Excited to see my family.
The phone rang.
Cancelled? Why? Tsunami? What do you mean Tsunami? Are you speaking about the AXE body spray?
Tsunami – A series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, generally an ocean or a large lake. Caused commonly by Earthquakes, etc

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The Second Wave : A True Story

By Admin - December 26th, 2013

The Second Wave : A True Story

Written By: Keera Ratnam

Starting over is what I was told to do. It was something I myself couldn’t imagine. But I had to, at least for my family. The thought of what has happened, will never leave me. I will never get it back, not this life, not this birth. It has placed it’s mark in my heart, and awakens me every moment of my life. Because what I have lost is my son. The child that I carried inside for nine months. The soul that lived inside me, that very soul that I gave birth to. He was the first form of life that made me realize the pride of being a mother, and the joy of having a family. But I have lost him now. He is no longer alive, and no longer with me. My son, my child, my precious baby, is no longer with me. What happened to him? How did I lose him? Hmm if I were to tell a tale, I would. But many times I would fail, because all I have to share are my tears. Only my eyes are able to hold him. And now, only my heart can bear him. He is a memory, and his death is my nightmare. It has been 9 years since I last saw his face. I remember it like it was yesterday.

December 26th 2004. It was the day after Christmas in the English calendar, but I don’t really follow all the holidays on the English calendar. Being Tamil, a minor ethnic group in my home land srilanka, I follow the Tamil calendar. As a Hindu, Christmas wasn’t a day of celebration for me, however my son had friends who celebrated christmas, so it wasn’t something I never heard of or experienced.

It was morning, and the clocked ticked slowly, taking almost forever to turn 8. I walked to the kitchen to heat some milk for my son. He wasn’t a fan breakfast, and only like to drink warm milk with a pinch of sugar. I poured milk into a pot and let it to boil. Looking outside the window I glared in the sky. All I saw was palm trees, and a clear blue sky. I squinted and fixed my eyes on a black cloud that I saw from far. It was growing, getting bigger and bigger as if it was reaching out to touch me.

We lived only 7 kilometres from the sea, in a town called puthukudiyurrippu located in the northern province of srilanka which was apart of the mulaithivu district. I stretched my neck and I tried to get a clear look. I could sense a storm, and pulled my shutters shut. Taking a deep breath I went back to wake up my son, and give my husbands morning tea.

My husband was sitting on the front porch reading the morning paper. I brought him his tea in a tumbler and placed it next to him. Walking back into the house, I went to the kitchen. Grabbing my sons plastic mug I poured in the warm milk from the milk pot. It was hot, and I could see some steam coming out. I blew gently as I tried to cool off the milk and then carried it to his room.

There he lay, fast asleep curled in his blanket. His cheeks shone as the suns rays touched his face through the window. I picked him up in my arms and pulled his head close to my chest and whispered in his ears, telling him that I brought him his milk. “Akash, chellam amma paal konduvanthurukuren.” Akash was my only child. He was only 2 years old. He was very active and loved to follow his father wherever he went.

Akash opened his eyes and murmured , “appa?”. He loved his father and looked for him every time he wakes up. I smiled at him and told him he can see his father once he drinks his milk. He nodded and got up to drink his milk.

After drinking his milk, he snuggled in my lap, stretching his arms out to hug me tight as he brushed his face against my dress.
Vasantha— vasantha!! My husband called from outside.
I picked up Akash and walked towards my husband.

“Inga vaa vasantha” he said and told me to look at some far ahead. He pointed to the sky, and told me to look at the black faded cloud that I saw in the morning. Looking at me, he asked what I thought of it. We both stared at it, it was indeed getting bigger. Was it a storm? A thunder cloud? No. It was the ocean. The waters of the sea lifted off the sea bed and made waves that erupted on to earth. Tsunami is what it was called.

Within seconds we were hit by the first waves. I screamed as my husband and I tried to run out of our house with our son. My husband quickly took my son from my hands and held on to him. With his other hand he grasped my wrist tightly and yanked me closer to him. But before we could run a mile, the wave hit the earth and swept us off our feet, ripping me and my husband apart. I screamed loud, shouting for my husband and son. The waters swirled and swirled bringing us higher and higher off the ground. My face was hit by the water making me feel tired and dizzy. I reached out as the water swirled further into the town trying to get a hold of something. Finally I felt the bark of a palm tree and grabbed on to a branch. I pulled myself closer to the tree and wrapped my arms around it. Across from me my husband managed to hold on to my son, and climb on a branch as well. He waved at me, signalling that he was ok. In my mind I was thinking, the worst is over and I just have to wait, but I was wrong. The worst was yet to come. What I feared was now about to happen. Within seconds after my husband waved to me confirming that he and my son was alright, another wave came in and destroyed our family.

The waves went over our heads, it was bigger and faster. It was higher than the tree tops and hit harder than ice. I held on tight to the tree I was holding on to, and screamed. The wave pushed me down and swirled me around. All I can hear is the sound of the waves and I closed my eyes and prayed that my husband and son are safe. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

As the waves went over the tree tops, it scooped up the earth and swept my husband and my son off the tree. The water moved so quickly as my husband attempted to reach out grab on to the nearest branch. As he got his grip and held on firmly on another branch, the wave moved faster, ripping Akash out of his arm. He slipped out faster than a bar of soap in wet hands. He was too quick to catch and the wave was too deadly to reach out into. In just seconds, Akash was swept away with the water. His small fragile body drowned in the wave, and mixed with water. His cries went silent, and his body would have sunk deep into the water hitting the ground and swirling back up. His heart beat would’ve stopped, and his lungs would’ve exploded with water and his body would’ve turned into rag doll, like a dead corpse that just moved as the water swished it’s way through the city. My son was now a dead body, just a particle, nothing big and nothing more than a tiny leaf in a pool of muddy water. The wave pulled back as it drained slowly back into the sea. My husband screamed hitting his head and chest as he yelled Akash’s name. Tears poured down his face. That was the last time we saw Akash.
His little hands, his beautiful smile and his sparking eyes was now just a memory. My baby is now just an image in our mind, that replays as we sleep. My loss was the seas’ gain, for the tsunami was the work of Mother Nature, and my baby was unfortunately a victim.

It is now nine years since his death. We have left our home, our country and our sons death place. I didn’t not get to see his body, or get to touch him. I was not able to burry him or see his ashes. I can never feel his tiny fingers wrap around my thumb. But most of all I will not hear him ever say amma in his sweet voice. The thought gives me chills, and makes weep. Because after all he was the first precious gift in my life. I decided I will carry him with me, in my heart over seas, to Canada. I have 2 children now. A daughter who was born three years after my sons death, and now a son. We live in Toronto, as a family. But no matter what happens, my Akash will still remain in my heart. And as I sleep I see him in my dreams, as I walk towards the room as he sleeps in peace waiting for me to feed him his milk.

To Family

By Admin - December 23rd, 2013

To Family

Written By: Kayalvizhi J.

When my brother was a child his word was ‘Akka.’ He would say Akka in this super cute way. With his chubby cheeks and bubbly self, he was the cutest little brother anyone could have. Yesterday, I told him a few of the many stories of him as a baby – from the way he would imitate Rajanikanth punch dialogues, to the way he would always cry to be held if he saw my sister or I, and of time he would hide behind us if he was afraid. Now that he is a grown teenager, far taller than me, he laughs when we tell him these stories.

Last night, my father, my mother, my brother and I stayed up just rehashing these old family memories – and I must say, it was very enjoyable. It was really something we did because my dad could not watch TV, my mom could not cook, my brother could not play his video games, and I could not use my laptop. While the blackout was a huge inconvenience, it brought us all together. We sat and talked, and had a good time doing so. Technology has become such a huge part of our lives that our reliance on technology has divided us. We are all electronically connected through social media, but our face-to-face interaction has decreased. Spending time with family is important. The bond of family, culture, and values can only survive through family time, and we need to make undivded time regularily to spend with our families. We sometimes forget that in the end, we work to spend quality time with family, but we work too hard that we don’t spend enough time with our loved ones.

There is nothing that brings people together like a crisis. The togetherness of family, the care and love everyone has for one another is most evident in times of crisis. The way a relative cares for whether you ate, the way a friend calls to see whether you have a safe place to sleep, all show you that you have people who love and care for you. We often take for granted the good people we have in our lives, but in times of crisis, we see who cares really. While this storm brought down electricity, heat and water, it brought with it gave us something invaluable – a provided us an opportunity to show our families and friends how much we care. It provided us an opportunity to bond with our families. Christmas has always been a big deal in my family, but this year, I feel like the blackout has brought together the real spirit of Christmas – family and love.