Sri Lanka’s Bloody Easter

Indi Samarajiva
Apr 22 · 3 min read

I feel so sad. So physically drained. I hug my toddlers who don’t understand and thankfully can’t understand and think about all the people who won’t be hugging their loved ones again.

My heart breaks.

To attack churches and hotel brunches — on Easter Sunday. Just… families. My wife and daughter were at church. I frantically called and told them to come home, now. That church wasn’t targeted but as they left the police were outside and services were cancelled for the day.

Easter was cancelled.

I’m Buddhist but our family often goes to church. My children play in the aisles, poke people through holes in the pews. My 95 year old grandmother goes to church. This hits every Sri Lankan in some direct, immediate way.

I’ve been to all of those hotel buffets that were blown out with C4. The Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, The Kingsbury. They’re treats you go to with your family. We could have been there. You could have been there. It could have been like that.

It staggers me to think that people could have held meetings and planned such a thing.

Such organization of chaos. Such calculation of pain. I don’t know why human minds are put to such tasks. I don’t know what we did or what we do. The Eiffel Tower goes out, football games stop, message of condolences pour in from around the world. We close our doors, hold our families, call every single person in a phone tree. There’s the noise of helicopters and ambulances until a curfew hits, then nothing. The last lonely koha bird calls in the morning, yet to find a mate so late after the New Year.

There is a unity in grief. In this silence. As people line up to donate blood, as we check on each other, as we open our homes and hearts. But there is anger as well. And I fear where that goes. In India the BJP has somehow already fit this into their election campaign, which is repulsive. Locally people have started to blame Muslims, to say I told you so.

So let me tell you now. No group did this. Sri Lanka is a mixed country, some parts more than others, but intrinsically mixed. My children are half Sinhala and half Tamil/Malayalee, half Buddhist and half Christian, and ultimately whatever they want to be. I haven’t married a Muslim or a Burgher or an atheist and this is as half as I can go, but I could have, and my friends and family have. I know that the bonds of love and kinship are not defined by these categories. But the lines of hatred and fear too often are.

We too often take the word of murderers that they represent a group, over the words and actions of the far more numerous decent people getting on with their lives. I pray that this doesn’t happen here, and I can see Sri Lankans resisting it. I don’t know who did this, but I know that it wasn’t any group.

Every group disappears in an explosion. In that we are only human, and only flesh. And all so fragile. The destruction of the body leaves nothing, but blame must have a name. As we go from grief to anger to God knows where, we must resist that urge. We must stay human. We must stay together.

I mourn. I mourn for the lives lost, the families fractured. I mourn for our country, so recently out of war. I feel a weight in the night that’s only heavier in the morning. I hug my children closer and at the same time feel further away. I cannot be there with them, as they talk about Easter eggs, and I cannot begin to explain where I am. My heart is broken and my eyes are full of tears.

My son is coming back from his grandparents. My daughter is pulling my lip. I have to go. I’m so sorry, to everyone who lost. To all of us. Thank you to everyone for their condolences, please fuck off with the racist agendas. What’s been hit is our humanity. I guess that’s why it hurts all over the world. I pray that we remember that. That this Easter, something better rises from the dead.

Indi Samarajiva

Written by

Colombo liberal. Writer, father. Founder of YAMU and Kottu.