Here is Pradeep Jeganathan’s proposal for a giant model, dedicated to remembering all who died in Sri Lanka’s long civil war. Imagine what it would be have a model like this made for your own city. It is an amazing idea:
Let us layout a large map made of concrete or granite somewhere in the country. It must be to scale with all its mountains and valleys, rivers and reservoirs, forests and cites. Let it be, say, 500 metres in length or more. Let us mark on this map the place of every violent event that took place within its shores from the April 5, 1971 to the May 19, 2009. It cannot be comprehensive of course, but it can be representative, no ‘sides,’ but in the sense of a random statistical sample. Identify survivors of these selected events. Record what they remember, not about politics, not about violence, nor about who did what to whom, but about their loved ones died in that place. That’s all, a narrative of their love and attachment, which will also be a narrative of loss, pain and grief. Let us take these recordings made in the language the survivor chooses, and translate them also in to the other two languages of our country.
The idea is to place these recordings on the map of our country so that any one, especially, our children can listen to them. This map then will be filled with markers, of stone also, simple and yet distinct from the terrain it represents of death.
Let us walk on this map– it is a large map, remember, and we can walk on it; respectfully of course — as we walk our country, and we can visit and revisit, in some small way, at each place someone died.
As we walk this map, then, with simple portable playback device with pre-recorded disk, yes, like a iPod, and a pair of supplied head phones, which we obtain from the administrator of the site as one does in some museums now, we should be able to listen at each place that is marked, by selecting number, like k324 on the device to a narrative of a survivor that pertains to that place.
Listen, take it in, and perhaps move on to another spot. It will take hours, of course, perhaps days, to traverse this map.
I do not offer panaceas; nor can I foretell the future. But I do think this may be a better way for us Sri Lankans to reconcile ourselves to our violent past.