Wednesday, July 24, 2013
By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
My maternal Uncle was a Doctor at Ragama General Hospital. He was at work as usual, when violence broke out in July 1983. As a dedicated, and soft spoken Tamil gentleman, he was afraid, and concerned about his safety and his family’s safety in Wellawatte, when he heard the news about “Black July”. He was helpless, as he was far away from home. He could do nothing. He wasn’t brave enough to travel from Ragam to Colombo.
Black July: Never Again; Never Forget
But the staffs at Ragama General Hospital came forward to help him. Staffs of Ragama General Hospital covered him up with a white sheet (as they cover a dead body), placed him on a stretcher, put the stretcher in a hearse, and have driven through many streets with fear, stopped by the Sinhala mob on the way. They have bravely lied to the mob, “we are taking a dead body” more than once until they safely reached my Uncle’s house in Wellawatte. He had to pretend to be dead. There was no mobile phone facility in 1983 to check about his wellbeing, once he was on the move through mob attacks. Ragama General Hospital staffs have helped him to reach his home safely. His family was not at all sure about what was going to happen. He was ever grateful to the Ragama General Hospital staff for taking a collective risk to safeguard his life. But, after the traumatic journey from Ragama to Colombo, he was traumatized, he was in tears while shivering whenever I as his niece used to discuss the matter.
He shared with me the unforgettable word “is there a Tamil?” asked by the mob all throughout his harrowing journey from Ragama to Wellawatte.