Ash – The Dubliner

2019-05-19 Terri Smeighs

(Photo Credit: Terri Smeigh)

It was her first day in Dublin and she was famished. The bloody flight was delayed by 3 hours’ courtesy a technical snag. ‘Technical snag’ – the refuge behind which every airline seeks to take cover to mollify angry and frustrated passengers. And in so far as Ash was concerned, it took very little to get her angry. A dynamite waiting to detonate, her nerves always seemed to be high strung. Ash, the very heart beat of Venky. The day he knew she would be going off to Dublin, his world turned topsy-turvy. He could not envisage a day without her presence; now he would be forced to endure a future that had Ash at its periphery.

He called her with a mixed element of anticipation and trepidation. “Hello!”; “Hello, hi” she answered. It was always Hello and Hi. “How was the flight? Where are you now?” “It is bloody overcast and I am at a quaint red bricked place that calls itself a steakhouse and am famished!”

Venky quelled a laugh that spontaneously rose from within. His Ash – bull headed, frank, candid and confident. He knew not how he would exist without her presence. But she never left him.

(Word Count – 199)

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit HERE

To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, click HERE

The Lazy Wait for Digestion – Food Court Rules to enforce Civility

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(Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

This afternoon our team decided to lunch at a Food Court famous for its Chinese delicacies. While we anticipated that there would be a long wait and were ready for it, what we were not prepared for was a shockingly inconsiderate and insensitive attitude shamelessly displayed by diners who had preceded us and had the run of the table.

I wish to dwell – as an illustrative example – upon one table that had three occupants. Since they were on the verge of finishing their lunch, my friend and I took our places at a respectable and strategic distance either side of the table. We expected to be seated within the next five to seven minutes. The food must have been really scrumptious because all three plates were licked clean with only the bones left as evidence of consumption!

But much to our chagrin and bewilderment, neither the two gentleman nor the lady showed even the remotest signs of finishing their post-lunch siesta. Choosing to completely ignore two hungry – and by this time angry too – souls restlessly shifting their soles, the three contended and satiated souls went on laughing, frowning, guffawing, whispering and occasionally finding the time to pick their teeth. The topic under discussion must have been so pressing so as to affect international diplomatic relations or so trivial as to veer towards the asinine. Totally fed up with such intransigence and incivility, both my friend and I decided to demonstrate the dark side of our patient selves. We looked straight into the eyes of the offending troika whenever they locked into ours and shot derisive and furious stares at them. Alas our penetrating gazes were more water off a duck’s back than shooting silver daggers!

By now the queue had also considerably lengthened and the number of famished souls looking for a place was akin to a swarm of bees humming to get to their hive. The decibel level at the food court now reached alarming and ear drum rupturing proportions. But none of these facts had even the slightest impact or influence on the three debaters. They either had a permanent and lifelong right over the table or their ample posteriors were glued to the seats from which they could be separated only by taking recourse to professional help. But their condescendingly happy faces revealed that the latter could not have been the case.

Finally, courtesy four Good Samaritans at an adjoining table we were able to finally seat ourselves. But unfortunately the plight which we were forced to endure befell the next set of hapless eaters. A poor man balancing a steaming hot cup of tea in one hand a sheaf of papers tucked under the other looked as if he was ready to be even imprisoned for committing murder. Fortunately, he was saved from such a dangerous scenario when the three stubborn idiots finally pushed back their chairs, heaved their heavy and pompous posteriors and ambled away. I had half a mind to give them a standing ovation followed by three tight slaps on all their cheeks! From its ugly beginning to its ungainly end the drama lasted close to an hour– yes you read that right – 60 bloody minutes!

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(Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

What has been set out thus far, rather than being an isolated incident, is an occurrence than plays itself out with increasing regularity and irritating frequency across a multitude of food courts. Hence with a view to obliterating this uncivil behavior I propose the following 10 rules to be enforced at Food Courts so that discipline that has not been inculcated gets forcibly enforced. Under these rules the stringency of the rule is linear to the postprandial time spent by the offenders at the table:

  • People sitting for > 7 minutes would be necessarily required to pay for double the amount of the food that they have consumed. This would exclude taxes, surcharges and cess which would be an additional levy;
  • People sitting for > 10 minutes would be required to pay for the bills of those who are seated at tables to their left, right, front and back;
  • People sitting for > 15 minutes would be foisted with the responsibility of washing cutlery for the exact number of time which they spent in deliberations post consuming their food. Hence the cutlery washing would occupy a minimum of 15 minutes;
  • People sitting for > 30 minutes would have their photographs taken and affixed/pasted/nailed/glued to the walls of the Food Court with their impropriety detailed out in BELL MT FONT SIZE 13 below their pictures. This photograph would be displayed for 30 days succeeding the day on which the offense was committed;
  • People sitting for > 45 minutes would be permanently barred from entering the said Food Court and would be given a Badge of Dishonour. This Badge of Dishonour would be displayed at the entrance to the Food Court for a period of 6 months succeeding the day on which the offense was committed;
  • All these rules would be displayed on every table, at every shop in the Food Court and at the entrance of the Food Court itself in English as well as every regional language and dialect that is the preserve of the region where the Food Court is located;

While the aforementioned ‘rules’ are a mere figment of my imagination and purely intended to be a humorous exposition, I seriously and desperately hope that a modicum of sense and sensibility possesses the one kind of people who seem to be under the impression that the practice of civility is purely optional.

Mother Nature and Hell Boy

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(Photo Credit: Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash)

The dry wood satiated the raging appetite of the fire as the flames leapt higher and higher. The crackling sound as the firewood snapped was as crystal clear and resonating as a pistol shot. A menacingly howling wind exacerbated the calamity further as the whistling force spread the orange glow in all directions. As brave and determined firemen struggled with their hoses to douse what seemed to be a hellfire threatening to consume the entire forest range, this was Low Siew Kuan’s worst nightmare coming true. The Director for the Conservation of Bio Diversity and Prevention of Flora and Fauna, Siew Kuan had yelled hoarse about the perils of Climate Change.

In conference after conference, meeting after meeting she had painstakingly, patiently, and poignantly warned about Greenhouse gas emissions, via the greenhouse effect, causing the global temperature to increase and the climate to change. She warned that such an effect enhances the likelihood of wildfires.

“Hah” a CEO had snorted derisively in response. Undaunted and undeterred, Siew Kuan continued, “Why? Because warmer temperatures exacerbate evaporation, meaning the atmosphere draws increased moisture from soils, making the land drier.”

Capitalism however trumped Coniferous forests as companies continued their slash and burn policies. SK watched in horror as the antlers of a red deer stag were set ablaze making it look like Mother Nature’s own version of Hellboy. As the fire engulfed the deer’s elegant frame, Siew Kuan fled the scene with tears of angst and anxiety streaming down her anguished face.

(Word Count: 249)

#TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya

For more stories for the week, please click HERE

The Bee Keeper of Sinjar – Dunya Mikhail

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Nadia Murad was a 19-year-old going about her life with a prosaic bent of mind when fighters from the Islamic State rounded up the Yazidi community in her village of Kocho in Sinjar District, Iraq. What followed was a tale of indescribable horror and dread. Exterminating close to 600 residents of the village, the rabid terrorists took into captivity Nadia and 6,700 other Yazidi women. Employed as ‘sabaya’ or a sex slave, Nadia endured wanton torture and unspeakable torment. Repeatedly sold on slave markets in Mossul, Tal Afar and Raqqa, Nadia was raped at will by her ‘purchasers’, physically beaten and burned with cigarettes. Adding to her woes was the fact that she lost 46 family members – that included her parents – in the ISIS massacre. After enduring an agonizing twelve months of captivity, Nadia managed to escape and flee to a refugee camp in Duhok, Northern Iraq. Now a resident of Germany, Nadia is engaged in spreading awareness about the atrocities committed by ISIS and their mindless genocide against the Yazidi community. In 2018, In 2018, she, along with Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

(Ms. Murad’s powerful speech in the United Nations in her role as the Goodwill Ambassador for preventing Human Trafficking)

In her eviscerating, emotional and extraordinary book, “The Bee Keeper of Sinjar”, the Iraqi-American poet, Dunya Mikhail chronicles in a searing and poignant manner, the travails, tribulations and tumult of a multitude of Iraqi women abducted by the ISIS and subject to unimaginable acts of barbarity. While it requires nerves of steel and a heart of stone to get through till the end of Ms. Mikhail’s book, it also leaves the reader with a hope that emerges out of the very cockles of the heart. The reason for this surging optimism goes by the name of Abdullah, a former bee keeper who has dedicated his very existence, resources and determination to rescuing these vulnerable women from the despicable, diabolical and dreaded clutches of their sadistic captors. Using an elaborate and highly complicated networks of informants, smugglers and known Samaritans, Abdullah working in close co-ordination and co-operation of the Office of Kidnapped Affairs, meticulously pores over maps, prepares painstakingly in advance, plans escape routes and plucks the desperate women right from under the very noses of the ISIS before transporting them to various refugee camps.

The harrowing tales narrated by the women makes for some incredibly painful reading. Nadia a young Yazidi woman was sold on the sex slave market for 100,000 dinars (about US$85). The sale was made in a warehouse post an inspection exercise as a process of which the buyers selected their picks like choosing watermelons and after smelling the girls carefully. Nadia’s ‘buyer’ was a man from Chechnya and he carted away Nadia along with her three children (aged six, five and one), to a four-story building in the Tishreen Dam region. Mercilessly beating and raping her in front of her children, Nadia’s captor also had a penchant for “passing her on for a day or two, like presents being borrowed, a practice they called rent.” Nadia and her children worked for twelve hours every day making rockets for the Daesh. “They gave my five-year-old daughter the most dangerous job, tying together the detonation lines. At any moment a mistake could explode the bomb right in her face.”

If young women were taken captive and abused to satiate the sexual appetites of the reprobates, a worse fate (if such an extended misery was to be even possible) awaited the elderly women, the men and the little children who refused to be separated from their families. The Daesh separated the elderly, the men, and the obstinate children from the eligible women and either buried them all alive in makeshift pits or shot them down in a torrent of gunfire.

Ms. Mikhail also elucidates to her readers that even in the midst of savages there can be found miraculous examples of beacons of empathy. A shining example is that of the seamstress Reem. The daughter of a Daesh member, Reem smuggled Zuhour a mother of two in her warehouse, right under the nose of her unsuspecting father before the resourceful Abdullah whisked the trio away to safety. Reem did not even bat an eyelid before putting herself in a ridiculously dangerous position in trying to rescue Zuhour and her children.

The myriad cast of characters facing an existential crisis courtesy the ISIS ways, may be distilled from the assemblage in any refugee camp. In the camp at Arbat, for example, the occupants include Iraqis, Syrians, Kurds, Turks, Assyrians and Persians. There are people from many different regions taking shelter in the camp. Shabak and Christians fleeing from Mosul; Syrians escaping Kobani; Yazidis bidding goodbye to Sinjar, and Muslims escaping across the Tigris from al-Anbar on small skiffs.

This arresting work contains its own bit of gallows humour as well. As Ms. Mikhail writes, some women discovered ingenious techniques to ‘trick’ the Daesh and minimizing the grief caused to them. According to one of the captured women, Badia, who was purchased by a Daesh member originally hailing from the USA, there existed five tricks for escaping the Daesh: “the first trick was to stop bathing for an entire month, until she smelled so bad that the fighters would stay away from her, refusing to buy her. The second trick was to claim she was married, and that the little child beside her was her son. The third was to pretend she was pregnant in order to avoid being raped, if only temporarily. The fourth trick was to say that she’d just stepped outside with her girlfriend to get some air. The fifth trick was to call “the American Emir”, (an influential Daesh member originally from the USA), to make it clear that she was not trying to run away from him.”

The Daesh viewed the captured youth as potential enlistees for both their missions and martyrdom. With this intent they proceeded to give the boys intensive training. As the mother of a boy named Ragheb recollects, “Ragheb was forced to train for four hours every day, learning how to kill, how to chop off people’s heads. They would also teach him Quran for two hours a day and fight for another hour. They have classes on everything, from how to wash your hands to sex education, from impurity to handling an animal, from genetics to just about anything you can imagine – and things you can’t imagine. And finally a personalized sermon to convince him to die for God, so that he’ll be rewarded in heaven. They have special passes to get into heaven that are handed out at the end.”

To quote Nadia Murad, “the daily routine for Daesh is taking drugs, reciting religious songs, going to fight, and then coming home and raping women.” Even after being liberated from the vice like grip of the ISIS these women are scarred psychologically and physically for most of their lives. According to psychotherapist Dr. Nagham Nozad Hassan, the plight of survivors who get pregnant after they are raped is the worst. They develop conflicting feelings between “motherhood and the desire to get rid of Daesh embryos.”

The world is indebted to people of the likes of Abdullah. In spite of immense personal tragedy (he lost his brother and some family members to an ISIS mass slaughter), this former bee keeper from Sinjar has dedicated his life to bringing hope to those teetering on the brink of hopelessness. Ms. Mikhail with her haunting book does yeoman service to the noble deeds of Abdullah by bringing them out in the open for the whole of humanity to admire and emulate.

The selfless and heroic Abdullah has the last word. “With the money I made selling honey in Iraq and Syria, I was able to help save female captives – and I rely upon the same skills in my new work. I cultivated a hive of transporters and smugglers from both sexes to save our queens, the ones Daeshis call sabaya, sex slaves. We worked like in a bee-hive, with extreme care and well planned initiatives.”

We offer our deepest gratitude and respect to him!

Walmart: Diary of An Associate – Hugo Meunier (Translated by Mary Foster)

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Hugo Meunier informs us that he is an ‘immersion journalist.’ This means – more or less – that in the event you are either a celebrity and/or a celebrity who is getting married, watch out for a mobile toting serious faced, tuxedoed individual (in this case, a man) who is not only trying his best to act serious behind a pair of cool looking shades, but is also trying to fool the security guards into gate-crashing the wedding. By the way, his tuxedo is invariably, rented.

Meunier in the introduction to his book, “Diary Of An Associate” confesses that he likes field reporting. He also educates us – with what reads like more than just a dollop of pretentiousness – that he leaves ‘mundanities’ such as the Lance Armstrong doping debacle to the reporting preserve of others. His preference is more towards the kid from Boucherville and the PointeCalumet beach who shoots steroids for seemingly no apparent reason. With the same element of impetuousness, he also provides us with a sample of illustrious events which he has successfully proceeded to invade – Justin Trudeau’s wedding and a party organized by Guy Laliberte, the ‘top dog’ of Cirque du solei, where the excesses were so exacerbated that international model Naomi Campbell and seven time Formula One Racing Champion Michael Schumacher, nonchalantly engaged in a conversation paying barely a hint of attention to two stark naked women acrobats perched next to them. As Meunier goes on to further amplify his prerogatives – “the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the famine in Niger, and the war in Iraq would have to wait.” A singularly stellar example of how best to prioritise alternatives in the order of their vitality and importance!

So it did not come as a complete surprise to his boss, Katie at La Presse, when Meunier proposed covertly immersing himself as a Walmart ‘Associate’ for a period of three months at store 3094 in the Saint-Leonard neighbourhood of Montreal. The reason for such an intrusion? A penchant to “live Walmart. To feel it, see it, rub shoulders with its customers, its bosses; to experience it physically and psychologically; to witness this reality; this is essentially what motivated my project.” Wow! Sounds great from a social, rational, metaphysical, cosmological and even an anthropological perspective! The ghost of Sam Walton would be shedding unconstrained tears of experiential bliss!

Muneir also takes the pain to educate us about a few jaw dropping facets that makes Walmart. “Since the 1990s, Walmart revenues represent 2.5% of America’s Gross National Product (“GNP”); according to Nelson Lichtenstein and Susan Strasser, Walmart’s success marked the end of the domination of American economy’s industrial sector; Gilles Biassette and Lysiane J. Baudu argue that ‘Walmartization’ of America consists of a conversion to an economic model based on importation, distribution and optimization of logistics chain, more than the industrial and manufacturing excellence that General Motors long symbolized.”

Great! Now that we have armed ourselves with information more than adequate, sufficient and relevant for 3 months of undercover employment, let us rub our hands with unfettered glee and begin without much ado! Time to do the hard yards.

What follows however is a repetitive description that has at its core a never ending shifting of pallets, an interminable stocking – and restocking of – shelves, punctuated by lines of slapstick humour and funny analogies. Yes, the famous Walmart pep talk does exist as does a highly confidential internal document unimaginatively titled, “A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free.” Walmart’s allergy towards the act of Unionization is a phenomenon well known and absorbed across the globe. Unionization to the retailer is what the rays of the sun are to a vampire. Yes, the salaries are Walmart are so abysmal that at $11.05 per hour, a $1 signing bonus, the entry level pay translates to a meagre and abominable annual income of around $18,000. Bill Quinn’s “How Walmart is Destroying America (and the World) and What You can do about it” provides the whole ghastly lowdown about the pay (or the lack of it) at Walmart.

As is the case with any, or at least, many of the supermarkets, Walmart also has its share of abusive customers, who have an issue with looks, race, intelligence, stupidity, empty shelves, re-order levels of stock and most importantly, sealed and unopened products stacked upon racks. “A young woman came up to ask, very seriously if the five-by-eight-foot patterned carpet on sale for $30 would look nice in her dining room. “Difficult to help you madame, as I have never been to your place,” I candidly replied…….”I should really unroll one of them!” she finally cried, in a quasi-trance. Without waiting for my answer, she seized a carpet, ripped off the packaging with the enthusiasm of a child recognizing Lego through wrapping paper, handed one end to me and backed down the aisle to unroll it.”

The incredulous comparison of revenues generated every day with the revenues generated on the same day a year ago, the even more incredulous commuting habits of associates who leave home at 3.00 A.M to keep both their jobs and the timing of the bus, makes for some poignant, albeit expected reading. Allegiance to the three uncompromising maxims of Respect for the Individual, Service to the Customer and Striving for excellence is a given and this principle is absolutely non-negotiable. As is the famous “three meter” rule: the associate must smile at all times and when a customer is within three meters, the associate must greet the customer, ask if they need help, and if necessary, escort them to the products.”A description of the Crystal Bridge Museum inaugurated in Bentonville, the Headquarters of the behemoth in 2012 courtesy Sam Walton’s eccentric daughter Alice also gets a mention by Meunier

Meunier wax eloquent and witty on his shifts and schedules, on his colleagues’ shifts and schedules and on the physically taxing nature of such shifts and schedules, when he is not calling the swathe of customers, Walking Dead that is. The only part of the book that makes for some seriously interesting reading deals with the harrowing experiences of two former Walmart employees, Patrice Bergeron and Gaetan Plourde who succeeded in unionizing the Walmart Store in Jonquiere before a scathingly swift response from Walmart led to the closing of the store.

Finally, we are all euphoric to know that Meunier donated the total sum of $4150 net earned at Walmart during his three months of infiltration to two Montreal organisations. (Applause).

While you would not regret reading “Diary of an Associate”, you would not repent not having had an opportunity to digest it either.

The Sadness of Geography – Logathasan Tharmathurai

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For over three agonizing decades, the island nation of Sri Lanka was mired in an ethnic conflict that led to a wanton spate of massacres, mayhem and melee. This conflict, that pitted the Sri Lankan military against the separatist forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (“LTTE) divided Sri Lanka along ethnic lines – pitting the majority Buddhist Sinhalese-dominated government against the minority Tamil speaking population. When the dust finally settled over one of the longest sectarian strife in modern times, the damage wrought was unspeakable. Over 100,000 lives are estimated to have been lost, while the total economic cost of the war was estimated at US$200 billion. The Human Rights Watch also cast allegations of genocide against the Government of Sri Lanka under international law and published the relevant details in December 2009. Leading American expert in international law, Professor Francis A. Boyle held an emergency meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to urge to stop Tamil genocide by providing the evidence of crimes against humanity, genocide against Tamils and the international community’s failure to stop the slaughter of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.

Millions of people were displaced either involuntarily, inevitably or forcibly throughout the tenure of the civil war. One such individual was Logathasan Tharmathurai. Now a resident of Canada, Mr. Tharmathurai was forced to flee his motherland when violence manifested itself at the doorstep of his house. In his evocative work, “The Sadness of Geography”, Mr. Tharmathurai recounts his harrowing experiences both within Sri Lanka and abroad as he attempted, both bravely and foolishly to secure a passage to freedom, both for himself and his family. The son of a respectable businessman plying his wares in the small village of Sangkathaanai in the Jaffna District of the Northern Province. Mr. Tharmathurai let a life of contentment. As he postulates, “when I was growing up our house was by far the largest and most modern in Sangkathaanai. My father was very proud of that and always made sure that he was the first to have any modern convenience. We were the first to have running water and the first to have electricity. My father bought the first automobile in the village.”

However, to say that his father led a queerly Bohemian existence would be putting it mildly – an understatement. In spite of having an extraordinarily devoted woman for a wife, Mr. Tharmathurai’s father commenced to have an affair with his sister-in-law before nonchalantly taking the latter as his second wife and proceeding to have kids with her. Growing up in a predominantly Tamil region, Mr. Tharmathurai was isolated and insulated from communication of any sort with the Sinhalese segment of the population. His blissful existence meant that he was totally in the dark regarding the simmering undercurrents which would soon lead to a full blown war of ideologies. Mr. Tharmathurai’s first taste of the ethnic conflict materialized on the morning of May 31st 1981 when the famous Jaffna Public Library, home to more than ninety-seven thousand books and precious ancient manuscripts containing irreplaceable artifacts of Tamil cultural and historical heritage was set ablaze. At that time, a boarder in the St John’s College in Jaffna, Mr. Tharmathurai and his classmates bravely tried to extinguish the fire but were prevented by an egregious bunch of security forces from carrying out their mission, thereby leaving the Library to burn to its unfortunate ruin.

The most searing and scarring impact of the conflict on Mr. Tharmathurai took place in one of the compartments of a train. On his way to visit his parents from boarding school, Mr. Tharmathurai was accosted by a bunch of Sinhalese soldiers and one of them proceeded to molest him, jeering and making fun of him all along. This nerve racking incident imbued a sense of hatred and anger in Mr. Tharmathurai towards the Sri Lankan military and before long he was recruited as a rebel in the ranks of the LTTE. The recruitment, however proved to a damp squib barring one spine chilling experience, as the new recruit’s job involved distributing pamphlets organizing collections and pasting propaganda posters.

Fed up with the entire scheme of things in his country, Mr. Tharmathurai then seeks to bolt the nation and head to Europe where his older brother Lathy was already stationed – in Paris.

The rest of the book recounts the traumatic experiences of Mr. Tharmathurai travelling on fake and genuine passports, being detained in a refugee camp in Nuremburg and the Rouen prison in France before finally arriving in Canada as an asylum seeker. The travails and tribulations undertaken by Mr. Tharmathurai make for some unsettling reading. From having been duped by an agent promising him a passport and divesting him of Rs. 20,000 (prior to miraculously recovering both his passport and money courtesy a chance encounter with a good Samaritan) that left the young man homeless, hungry and sleeping on a beach for four days in a row to a rough encounter with the guards in the Parisian prison, “The Sadness of Geography” reminisces about the plight of a young man who having his roots uprooted painstakingly tries to find a life.

Mr. Tharmathurai writes in a manner that is candid and unhesitatingly discloses even the most private of details. For instance, the episode of his getting molested in a railway coach is recounted in a simple, telling and matter-of-fact manner that both shocks and startles the reader. Recounting his traumatic time at the Rouen Prison, he writes, “Rouen Prison (also known as the Bonne-Nouvelle Prison) is located in the town of Rouen in the northwest Seine-Maritime district of France. Many years later, I learned that Rouen had been home to Nicolas Cocaign, the cannibal who killed a fellow prisoner and ate one of his lungs. Thankfully this happened years after I was there.”

In the end, Mr. Tharmathurai succeeded in sponsoring his family to Canada (with the exception of his father who died after being shot at by the military trying to make it to India via sea), by engaging in a frenzy of jobs. In his own words, “I would wake up at 7.00 a.m. and go to school. School ended at 3.30 p.m., and I would commute to work by 5.00 p.m. I did my homework during my commute. During the week, I would work eight-hour shifts and get home at about 2.00 a.m. On the weekends I would work fifteen hour shifts, starting at 10.00 a.m. and finishing at 1.00 a.m. the following morning. With overtime, I managed to meet the required income level – just barely – and sponsored my family…”

Unlike a multitude of unfortunates, Mr. Tharmathurai succeeded in all his endeavours, courtesy his intrepid and never-say-die attitude as well as a spate of good fortune.