“I locked the door of my house, put the key in my pocket and left the area as quickly as I could,” explains Singaram, a Sri Lankan Tamil originating from Adampan in the north-west of the island. “When I left with my family we didn’t really know when we would be able to come back or what we would find when we got here.”
Formerly a successful rice farmer, Singaram and his family abandoned their house early in 2008, as the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) launched an offensive against the rebel forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE). He returned three weeks ago to find that his home, once a sturdy and spacious residence, is now in ruins, demolished by a bomb and stripped of all its fixtures and furniture. Just visible on a piece of charred and crumbling brickwork that remains intact is the Tamil name that Singaram painted on his house when he built it. Poignantly, it reads ‘Shanti Illam’, or ‘Peace for All’.