Images of Jaffna

The rebuilt Jaffna Library at sunset. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva

Beauty buds from mire

And I, a singer in season, observe

Death is a name for beauty not in use

(Irving Layton)

What and how do you write about Jaffna? I had mused the whole day wanting to share some photos but unsure if I could find the right words. This was my fourth visit to Jaffna. The excitement this time around was no less than during my first when I was an impressionable child. So, somethings never change –the flight to Jaffna still took off from the Ratmalana airport, and I still had my face pressed to the window watching the azure blue sea, the changing coastline, recognizing Puttalam and Mannar but trying to guess what the huge lakes and islands were.

Jaffna then was markedly different from any Southern town I knew. It was neither barren nor brown as I imagined. My memories are of the upright Palmyra tress, large colonial houses, the Fort, the ladies in brightly coloured sarees, the Palmyra thatched fences. the ladies are there still beautifully adorned

Photograph ©Chulie de Silva

When I asked children finishing a football match whether I could photograph them, they were amused at first but then eagerly clubbed togther.

Young football players opposite Jaffna Central College. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Jaffna Central College. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

We stumbled upon the Dutch built Maternity hospital quite by accident. The long corridors of this maternity wing are sadly in need of repairs.

Corridor linking the cottages. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The hospital shaded by a canopy of trees. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva

But the splendor of a bygone era is still very visible.

Rogers cottage is one of the cottages that a family could rent/lease for the confinement of a lady of the family. They came from far away towns armed with all the cooking paraphernalia and the cook and stayed in the cottage. Interestingly, one of my colleagues brother was born there when his father served as a judge in Jaffna.

Roger's Cottage. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva

The city is slowly but surely limping back to life. In a way it is strangley quiet, no mad traffic and it is almost like stepping back to what life was in the fifties.

There are only a few cars and those are also like the old Cambridge and Austin cars. A few new high speed bikes are there but the majority still use push cycles. It is not uncommon to see a mother in a saree one kid in front, one at the back or a couple on a bike like the old song “Bicycle made for two.

Despite the strains and crises that people would have lived through the past three decades or so the indomitable spirit of the Jaffna people lives on.

The rebuilt Jaffna library attracts many young visitors. These children are from a Children’s Home for orphaned and destitute children and they were being introduced to the library by their English teacher Anthony Quinn. Apparently his father was a great fan of Quinn. The youngest Kanuga at 2 years seemed a tad overwhelmed and kept close to mum Jathna 22 yrs old.

Jathna and Kanuga at the Public library. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva Visitors to the Public Libray Photograph ©Chulie de Silva.

Quinn, too had injuries sustained when his house came under shelling but hobbled along cheerfully.

Introduction to to books and reading. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva

And as we heard from many keeping Jaffna as a centre of excellence in learning remains very much a priority.

Anthony Quinn. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The staff and students of the University of Jaffna and the Advanced Technology Institute were eager for progress, for knowledge, with an unabridged keenness to be involved with the development of the wider society.

Megala, A Higher National Diploma IT student at the Advanced Technology Institute. Photograph ©Chulie de Silva