By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
By Niromi de Soyza (Allen & Unwin, $32.99, softcover, 308 pages)
Violence cannot be combated with violence: this is one valuable lesson learnt by former Tamil Tiger insurgent Niromi de Soyza.
The opposite was her strongly-held belief at 18, but she does not have it now.
This memoir is about the coming of age, teenage idealism, shattered dreams and heartbreak, of leaving loved ones at home and about settling in another country.
It is also the story of her childhood in Sri Lanka, how she became a child soldier with the Tamil Tigers and why she left.
This is a compelling story of her time as a guerrilla, a child soldier, in a ‘bloody civil war’ that engulfed Sri Lanka for more than two decades.
In 1987, aged 17 years, she was one of the first female soldiers in the rebel army, equipped with a rifle and cyanide capsule. Niromi’s group managed to survive on their wits in the jungle, facing not only the perils of war but starvation, illness and growing internal tensions among the militant Tigers.
Niromi’s group managed to survive on their wits in the jungle, facing not only the perils of war but illness, starvation and growing internal tensions among the militant Tigers.
However, after the death of her friend, Ajanthi, de Soyza resigned realising that armed conflict would resolve nothing.
Of the 18 years she lived in Sri Lanka, one half was “idyllic” the other “nightmarish”.
Experiencing the terrible effects of violence early in life “taught me the transient nature of human life and not to take anything for granted”.
There is also a fervent wish: that the world sees the reality of human suffering brought on by armed conflict. No matter how noble the cause, we have to find better ways to solve differences.
Niromi now lives in Australia and has a simple goal: to live a life of no regrets.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.