There are lessons that we could draw even from monsters. One is how to lead a good family life. The world has seen many a butcher who would snuff out any number of lives unflinchingly but play the role of a dutiful husband and father at home.
We had JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera`s death-dealing oprichniki wreaking havoc on the country in the late 1980s. Thousands of fathers were put to a violent death, many of them in front of their children. And children were used in terrorist activities, mainly as couriers, and many of them perished at the hands of the bloodthirsty vigilantes. But, while the country was going through hell, Wijeweera led a near normal life holding his brood to his bosom in cooler climes.
Yesterday, we carried some pictures of Prabhakaran and his family from an album the army had found in one of Prabhakaran`s bunkers. Surprisingly, the man who has plunged this once peaceful country into a bloodbath and has no qualms about abducting others` children and turning them into cannon fodder is seen in his son`s `pool` showering fatherly love on his bundle of joy.
It was quite poignant that in one of the pictures he is feeding his daughter (in her childhood) with sweetmeat and fruit juice and in another he is dishing out cyanide capsules to newly trained child combatants. While he is `gamboling` in clean water with his son, some child combatants are having a bath in a muddy pool in the bush during a training session. To cap it all, there is a solitary child soldier standing guard, while Prabhakaran`s children are celebrating their birthdays and playing with expensive toys.
The dream of any father worth the name is to afford his children the best in life. Prabhakaran has been an excellent father to his children. Fathers, or parents for that matter, who ill-treat their children are worse than animals. Today, in the Leisureland section of this newspaper, Maneka Gandhi tells us that there are no bad parents in the animal kingdom. No wonder the Tiger chief is a good parent!
The Daily Telegraph medical correspondent Kate Devlin reveals in an article we carry today that `children whose fathers suffer from mental illnesses are much more likely to grow up to develop anxiety, depression and even addictions to drink and drugs`. Prabhakaran`s children must thank their stars that their father`s psychological condition has had no impact on them!
While the progeny of many politicos in the lap of luxury have become veda beri Tarzans in the concrete jungles of Colombo taking wild swings much to the consternation of the public, Prabhakaran has reared his children extremely well in the real jungles of the Vanni. They are reported to have done well in studies unlike their father who dropped out of school to specialise in criminal activity. (A few years ago, when the question of issuing a passport to Prabhakaran`s son came up, we in our small way argued that the boy should be given not only travel documents but also safe passage to leave the country through the KIA without embarking on a perilous sea journey.) We cannot but grudgingly doff our editorial hat to Prabhakaran where his parenting is concerned!
But, we hasten to add in the same breath that the Butcher of the Vanni cannot be forgiven for what he has done to others` children. His death squads have killed many children belonging to all ethnic communities in massacres numbering over 200.
Ironically, it is the children of the Tamil people Prabhakaran promised to deliver from their suffering through an armed struggle who have borne the brunt of his brutal violence. Recently, his killers chopped off both legs of a child who tried to flee the LTTE-held `no fire zone`. But for Prabhakaran s terrorism which brought about the present war, children in the four corners of this land would have been living peacefully without fear of bombs and bullets. Not even all the perfumes in Scandinavia will sweeten Prabhakaran`s hands drenched with children`s blood!
Prabhakaran is presumably a good husband. And some pictures we carried yesterday could be considered evidence of a healthy married life. In one of them, we have a proud Prabhakaran posing with his newly wedded wife (over two decades ago). The Tiger chief is to be commended for his faithfulness and devotion to his wife. But, hellfire is what awaits him for his dastardly crime of having churned out widows, widowers and orphans in their thousands for the past three decades.
It is not only Prabhakaran who has been living in clover together with his wife and children at the expense of others. So have most economic refugees masquerading as victims of the conflict and backing the LTTE`s terrorist war from a safe distance. They and their progeny have been enjoying a life of luxury which would not have been possible without the conflict. These diasporic Tigers have invested heavily in Prabhakaran`s Golden Key enterprise (aka Eelam Project). They cannot bring themselves to believe that their hero has mismanaged the project and their investment has gone down the gurgler. They are running riot in western capitals and hoping against hope, unable to bear the sight of their Eelam project collapsing.
They have no one to blame but themselves. Violence does not pay. Their Ozymandias is on the run and as for the dark empire he built, one may quote Shelley `nothing besides remains round the decay of that colossal wreck`, except, we add, some abandoned photographs redolent of an affluent past.
The only consolation of Prabhakaran and the backers of his craven terrorism may be that they have lived in comfort thanks to a bloody conflict they kept going for three decades.