Tamil Diaspora’s bid to mislead us will not succeed
Says S. P. Thamilselvan’s wife
The widow of the late LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan, Shashirekha in an exclusive interview with The Nation goes back to her youth, learning Bharata Natyam, becoming a dancing teacher, meeting with the LTTE leader Prabhakaran and Thamilselvan. She recounts her experiences in the terrorist group-controlled north including the fate that befell her. The unknown agonies she suffered after the death of her husband and the plight all Tamil people fell into under the LTTE and the warning that the Tamil diaspora is trying to drag the Tamil people into danger and destruction are told by her in this candid interview.
By Chamara Lakshan Kumara
Following are the highlights of the interview:
Question: Could you recount the experiences of your childhood and early youth?
I was born at Bambalapitiya, Colombo and our family had seven members including our parents. My father had a shop opposite the Majestic City shopping mall. My mother was a housewife. I studied at St.Anthony’s Girls School up to grade three.
Q: Why did you leave school at that grade?
We left Colombo after the 1983 Black July and went to live in Chullipuram, Jaffna.
Q: Did your family leave Colombo for fear as you were victims of violence of the Black July?
Mobs set fire to our shop during that time and we went back to Jaffna out of fear.
Q: After going back to Jaffna did you go back to school?
I was admitted to Vaddukoddai Vidyalaya where I studied up to the GCE Ordinary Level.
Q: Why didn’t you continue your studies after the GCE Ordinary Level?
At school I became interested in dancing. I studied for dancing examinations and passed the level four exam. I became a dancing teacher but my parents had decided to return to Colombo by that time. My parents deciding to return to Colombo was one of the reasons that prevented me from going up for higher education. When they returned to Colombo I stayed back at Nallur. While I was conducting dancing classes I also took part in the public performances organised by the LTTE at that time.
Q: What made you stay back in Jaffna while your parents returned to Colombo?
It was about the year 1990 and my desire for higher education was lost. All I wanted to do was to further my career in dancing and achieve a high position in dancing. At the same time I was becoming sympathetic towards the LTTE. Therefore I decided to remain and refused to join my parents. My parents became very angry with me and they came to Colombo, angered over my decision.
Q: Did you continue to have relations with your parents after they came back to Colombo?
No. For a long period I did not have any relations with my family. I stayed with a friend of mine Revathi at Nallur. She was also a dancing teacher. I did Bharatha Natyam.
Q: How did you come to join the LTTE?
No. At the beginning I had not joined the LTTE. But when they invited me to perform in their public shows I accepted such invitations. During that time the area was under the control of the LTTE. When the Army recaptured Jaffna I went to the Vanni. Till I got married I had taken part in all the public shows put on by the LTTE.
Q: Why did you follow the LTTE into the Vanni. You could have remained in the area recaptured by the army?
Since I had lived in an area controlled by the LTTE I went to all the other areas that they controlled. On the other hand they sent me a number of invitations to take part in the public performances as a dancer.
Q: Did the LTTE pay you well for dancing in their public shows?
At that time I was paid three or four thousand rupees for each show and at that time I had enough money. Sometimes they presented clothes or dresses but there were times when I was not paid anything.
Q: It appears that you were a highly skilled dancer but it is difficult to understand how you came to be associated with a killer terrorist group. Any comment?
Since I had been living in an area under the control of the LTTE I did not feel very much to go to an area controlled by the army. On the other hand it was necessary for anyone living in a LTTE controlled area to obtain a permit to enter an area under the army and that was difficult. These were the reasons that made me remain in LTTE controlled areas.
Q: From when were you, Shashirekha, came to be known Isaichelvi?
After I got married to Thamilselvan.
Q: How did you come to know Thamilselvan?
I met him at a public performance and later the LTTE’s Anton Balasingham brought the proposal to marry Thamilchelvan.
Q: By that time he had become a physically disabled person?
Though he was disabled he had an artificial leg.
Q: What are your reminiscences of marriage to Thamilselvan?
Our marriage took place suddenly. Within a month after Balasingham brought the marriage proposal we were married. Prabhakaran and his wife Madivadini acted as the parents of Thamilselvan. Anton Balasingham and Adele acted as my parents. At that time Balasingham’s kidney ailment had turned severe and he needed to go abroad for treatment. Therefore he insisted that the marriage should take place soon. Even Thamilselvan’s family was not aware that we were getting married. When his mother who was living abroad had asked why she was not informed earlier Thamilselvan had said that he too was made aware only four days before the marriage.
Q: Where did the marriage take place?
It was at Pudukudirippu in the house Anton Balasingham was living. The members of Prabhakaran’s family including the parents of his wife Madivadini, Karuna Amman and many others were present. Nadesan was the registrar of the marriage.
Q: Did Prabhakaran and others in the LTTE have a frame of mind to take part or view public performances like dancing shows?
They used to come to see such shows.
Q: After your marriage did the LTTE help you?
We were given a house to live in but there was no special security though my husband had four security men accompanying him. When he came back home they came to leave him and when he went out they accompanied him.
FULL ARTICLE: Interview with Tamilchelvan's wife