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Reflections from Mullivaikkal: Remembering What Was Lost, Part 1

As part of a series marking 15 years since the Mullivaikkal atrocities, we share a reflection from home.

The following reflection is taken verbatim from an interview conducted by the Adayaalam Center for Policy Research. It was originally published in May 2020.


I am from Vadduvaaakal, Mullivaaikaal. Before the war I was a fisherman. I used to do all my work no matter how much work I had. I lost both my legs in a Kfir attack during the last days of the war. I wanted to die when I knew I lost my legs. I asked the doctors at the hospital where I was being cared if they would please kill me with an injection; but they helped me recover.

When I came home from the hospital, I spent most of my days in a wheelchair. People were hesitant to talk to me because they thought that if they talked to me, they had to help me. Even the organizations that supposedly helped people didn’t prioritize me as someone who lost both legs. Many people interviewed me and promised they would help – but no help came to me. At some point I got tired of sitting around waiting for someone to help, so I went fishing again. I tried so hard to change the mentality that I could no longer work.

I do more work now than when I had both legs. The determination that I should not depend on anyone and the mentality that my family should not ask for help from anyone forces me to work hard alone. However, I can’t help it if people still see me as disabled.

I didn’t get any help to have a steady job for myself even though I asked for help in several places. Society has only accepted me now after I had achieved a stable position in my life through my own work and strength. But I’m glad that society has accepted me now, even though they didn’t when I was having a hard time. Feeling isolated and lonely is extremely dangerous. Even though the acceptance I have now comes quite late, I’m glad I have it – it makes me stronger.

I can’t do some of the work I did when I still had my legs. For that kind of work I depend on someone to help me, especially when I go fishing. There are also nice people and those people try to help me because I am disabled. Others avoid me because they don’t want to be the ones to help me.

Only a few government offices and banks have the facilities needed for the disabled. In other service offices, it is difficult to find a seat, receive services early, or use the restrooms. Some people say that people with disabilities are given priority and their needs are met. That is not true.

See more reflections on our website