Hon. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga,
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
Dear President Kumaratunga:
I got all choked up when I heard of your announcement to adopt a
‘Tamil’ child orphaned by the tsunami. What a wonderful gesture it
is, for the ‘ethnic’ Sinhalese president of the country to adopt an
‘ethnic’ Tamil child, at a time when the country is torn apart
precisely by this ‘ethnic’ difference. Your secretary’s statement
that it is a ‘personal decision’ and not a ‘political’ one, adds to
the nobility of your decision.
In an era where your neighboring country, India, has experienced
difficulties with adoptions across ethnic and religious lines
(Brahmin v. non-Brahmin, Hindu v. Muslim), your intention is indeed
a courageous one and I commend you for it.
I would like to, however, ask that you to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s
advice in a similar situation.
Gandhi was fasting to protest the Hindu-Muslim riots, where the
Hindus and Muslims were killing each other. A remorseful Hindu, who
had killed an innocent Muslim to avenge the killing of his son by a
Muslim mob, approached Gandhi to beg for clemency. The Mahatma said
to him: “Go adopt a child… Be sure it’s a Muslim child… Only, raise
him as a Muslim…”
Please adopt a Tamil child, Ms. Kumaratunga, but be sure to raise
that child as a Tamil.
Be a good mother and talk to that child in Tamil. Teach him/her the
Tamil language (you have to learn it first, of course). Sit with
that child, all day if you can, and teach him/her the wonders of
his/her heritage– the arts, the music, the drama, the literature,
the customs and the magnificent history. Raise that child to be a
proud Tamil – A Tamil child has every reason to be proud of the
Sri Lanka, painfully divided along ethnic lines, needs a magnanimous
gesture like the one you have just announced.
Only, please do it right.
Sincerely and with warmest regards