It took me back to being a small boy in SriLanka in the mid-1980s. The country, which had until then seemed like aparadise, erupted in flames and fear and anger. I had just turned eight and Iremember listening to a radio broadcast with all the grown-ups in my family,reporting on what was happening across the country. The broadcaster was talkingabout people being squeezed in twos and threes into used car tyres and set onfire whilst still alive. I was playing with some small sea shells under thetable on which the radio sat. My uncle who was the tallest and strongest personI knew was standing by the radio, and I heard him starting to cry. Then mygrandmother turned the radio down, telling the other grown ups to get me and mybrother out of the room. I remember carrying on playing with the shellsafterwards, outside the room. I distinctly remember thinking, as long as I havethe shells, and I am playing with them, I’ll be okay.


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