Caught in the Winds of War DM discovers war-torn long-lost twins

26 October 2017 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Have you ever lost contact with any of your siblings for any reason? Has desolation filled a void in you that was created because you were unable to meet and talk to a loved one who was close to you since childhood?  Of course, some of you must have endured such a nightmare sometime during your lives.  

Siblings can be separated due to various reasons such as adoption, immigration or problems which are personal or family related. Regardless of whatever reason they have disappeared, we want them back in our lives. Some people don’t even know where their siblings live. Locating your long-lost sibling can refresh the phenomenal bond.   

Once you locate them, the growing pit in your stomach intensifies and the impatience to meet him or her starts heightening in the depth of your mind. You survive each day, expecting to reunite with your sibling with whom you lost contact years ago. An indescribable feeling mixed with excitement takes control of you until you physically meet your brother or sister.  

When the Daily Mirror met Nirmala in Tamil Nadu, she told us that she hopes to travel to Sri Lanka in a few years time to settle here

It’s never too late to experience great things. The Daily Mirror unearthed a story of identical twin sisters who were separated twenty eight years ago in Mannar due to the thirty-year armed conflict between the LTTE and the Government forces.  

They hadn’t met ever since their father, forced to flee the country, took a boat from Mannar to Tamil Nadu in July 1989, taking with him one of the twins. This was the time when the war was intensifying. The two sisters had reached age 16 when they were separated. The other twin sister remained in Colombo with the mother at a time when their hometown, Mannar, came under a shell attack.  
This writer met Vijaya Nirmala in a refugee camp in Gummidipoondi, Tamil Nadu, last March, where

Sri Lankans reside. Nirmala, now a forty four-year-old mother, was the twin sister who fled the country with her father. She told me about her long lost twin sister named Vijaya Mala who was born just three minutes after Nirmala, in 1973. According to Nirmala, her sister lives in Navalokapura, Sedawatte, Colombo.  

The Daily Mirror went in search Mala. The first day of the search ended, to no avail. Nevertheless, on the second day, a woman who resembled Nirmala opened the door to the eleventh house, we knocked on. It was Mala, the one, we went in search of.  

We showed her recent photographs of her sister Nirmala who shared similar features that of her. She was over the moon literally, as it was the first time she saw a photo of her twin sister.   

Breaking down in tears, Mala said she would love to meet her twin sister whom who both have similar traits. “I can’t wait to touch her, hug her and feel her,” she blurted out.

Neither Mala nor Nirmala had old photographs of them, given that the tense situation in Mannar made them flee their hometown leaving all their belongings behind.  

Though they were unable to meet each other for more than four decades, they have been in touch via telephone. Both had tried hard to find the contact numbers of each other.   

“Our father, of Indian origin, tied the knot with our mother, who hails from Colombo. The marriage raised the number of family members to eleven; six brothers, three sisters and the parents. There was a time when all of them lived together in Mannar. However, the war that was intensifying relocated some of the family members in another part in Sri Lanka and sent some to India,” she reflected.   

Meanwhile, a terrifying look spread across her face when she spoke of her two brothers. They have been reported missing since July, 1989.  

“When my sister Nirmala was preparing to leave Mannar by boat, the Sri Lankan Army captured two of our brothers, aged 21 and 23. Sundaran and Sekar were captured and it was alleged that they had connections with the LTTE. But, they were innocent. The soldiers had told my father and sister Nirmala that they would release our brothers after questioning them. But, the brothers never returned. They haven’t been heard of since that warm evening,” Mala reminisced.  

They hadn’t met ever since their father, forced to flee the country, took a boat from Mannar to Tamil Nadu in July 1989, taking with him one of the twins. This was the time when the war was intensifying. The two sisters had reached age 16 when they were separated. The other twin sister remained in Colombo with the mother at a time when their hometown, Mannar, came under a shell attack

Not only Mala’s brothers, thousands of similar people are still missing and have been unaccounted for, according to credible reports. However, despite years of searching for clues in the attempts to locate Mala’s brothers have been unsuccessful.  

She said, “I spent years searching for them in Mannar. Everyone in Mannar told me that both of my brothers had been killed by the Army along with seven other youths belonging to different families. I didn’t believe what they said because I strongly believed that my brothers are still alive. I still cry over them. All I want is to hear the good news that they are still alive,” Mala said, with tears rolling down her cheeks.  

A few years ago, the father of these twins had died due to an illness, inside the refugee camp in Tamil Nadu. Mala said that she was devastated after hearing of her father’s death and said that she wasn’t able to see him for the very last time as financial difficulties didn’t allow her a trip to India.  

She said, “For our good fortune, our mother still lives with me. All the other family members live scattered in different parts of the country. Only my sister Nirmala is living alone there. We would love to see our sister. But, travelling to India is impossible because I don’t have the money for that,”she said. 

When the Daily Mirror met Nirmala in Tamil Nadu, she told us that she hopes to travel to Sri Lanka in a few years time to settle here. She is waiting until her daughter completes her education.   

Her sister Mala said that the day when both sisters meet will be a day filled with overjoyed cries, tears and heartfelt embraces. She further said, “We lived happily and peacefully before the war. I remember how all of us used to gather in the kitchen, waiting till mother prepared dinner. I remember how our brothers tried to annoy us by cracking lame jokes and attempted to carry us on their shoulders when we frowned at them. Quarrels were put to an end by our beloved father. Those 16 years were the most beautiful moments in my life that will be cherished till forever”. 

Pics by Kushan Pathiraja

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