From There To Here
» Read the Tamil version of this story
Author: Saisson Rajendran
Storyteller: Saisson Rajendran
Community Language School: Homebush Tamil Study Centre
Main School: James Ruse Agricultural School
The story of how we began a new life in Australia.
On the banks of Jaffna, the war torn scanty street stays still, quite and humbled by what has occurred. Beyond the horizon a miniscule figure on a bike could be seen. As the time laps the figure enlarges. A boy could also be seen. Unlike the father who is dismayed, the boy is elated. Laughing at a butterfly, the boy is told to be quiet. The boy does so. Yet again the street is abandoned. The future of the street, the peninsula, the language, the culture is unknown. For it could die as did the great Romans, their empire, their language and their culture.
On the other side of the bank there is a glimmer. The glimmer of South India. Here the greatest poets of the language bring the language together, stabilise the ground setting which too was broken. The greatest of the greats proclaim;
“As I lie, in my coffin, being taken around the village,
I should, I must hear the crying, the sadness in Tamil.
As the ashes of my body are thrown into the water,
I should, I must hear the sound of waves lapping across me in Tamil”
The language flourishes as it is nourished by the poets. The flowers begin to bloom releasing the fragrance of the language. The language is safe, for the time. On the other hand the culture diversifies in all aspects, speech, dance, and drama. The religious aspect stays well preserved. We now head back to the place where the language continues to diminish. The father and the boy reach home safely. It is decided that the family move to a place where they can lie down their heads soundly, and provide a safe haven for their children. They pack on the planes as a bunch of maggots on a rotting piece of meat. They take them and their families to a place which they know nothing about, all for their children.
They arrived as the convicts did on unfamiliar territory. They have to start from scratch, leaving everything behind including their possessions, wealth and livelihood to start a new beginning. Learning a new language, finding a job, finding shelter, all had to be done as soon as they arrived and there was no heading back. They left behind their childhood memories of playing underneath the shade of the coconut trees, eating mangoes as sweet as honey found on the mango tree in their backyard, see the peaks of the great temples and being woken up by the chiming of the temple bell, their adulthood memories of owning their own land and property, having a stable job. All of this had to be done, and did they complain as we the modern society would complain over the wrong brand of chocolate? As the newcomers settled into a land of hope, a land of multiculturism, a land we know as Australia, they decided to bring with them their language. For they say that;
“We are not distinguished by the village we live in, we are not distinguished by the country we live in, we are not distinguished by the religion we belong to, but we are distinguished by the language we speak!”
The Tamil tree has released a new seed in Australia. The seedling germinates due to the interest of the new Australian Tamils. Their love for their language is so strong, that not even the destruction of the world could break it. One says;
“I am a Tamil by heart. For every drip of blood my Tamils lose, a teardrop runs down my eyes.”
Not only does the language expand, the religion, culture and tradition follow it. The language is taught by the language schools set up in each area, the religion is demonstrated by the religious schools and temples, the religion and culture is passed down as hand me downs. Dance, drama and speech continue to flourish as it did two thousand years ago. The language is safe yet again. The language which sets us apart from the world, should, must be spoken, written, understood. There is a need to do this. We must understand this need and continue to show this in actions.
“Long live Tamil,
Long live Tamils”
By Saissan Rajendran
Homebush Tamil Study Centre