PETALING JAYA: For many of their lives, Vishva and his spouse Vathsala lived in a time of conflict. The couple hails from Jaffna in Sri Lanka, the place Vishva had solely been 5 years previous when the civil conflict began in 1983.
Vathsala, who’s also called Jana, was born after the battle started. The horrible conflict would final for over 20 years.
Talking with FMT Way of life, Vishva, 45, recalled having to hunt shelter in a bunker when he heard bombs at residence or faculty. But, he stated, regardless of these atrocities, life went on: individuals acquired married and had kids.
What was celebrating the Pageant of Lights like throughout a time of darkness? “There was no Deepavali celebration throughout that point. No Ponggal, no birthdays, nothing,” he shared.
“We had no meals,” Jana, 39, chimed in.
In 2002, issues grew to become extra peaceable. “That 12 months, we have been very completely satisfied. We thought there could be no extra conflict and it will be the beginning of a peaceable life,” Vishva stated.
Throughout Diwali, “we went to the temple, visited family and friends, and picked up ang pow”, Jana added with fun.
Alas, tragedy continued to mar their lives: in 2006, Jana’s father was fatally shot on his method residence from a temple.
The couple tied the knot in 2011 and, the next 12 months, made their approach to Malaysia. Though the conflict had ended two years prior, it had left scars: Vishva had been injured in bomb blasts and likewise misplaced his older brother. Jana had been shot within the foot, and a bomb blast had critically wounded her colon and uterus.
Suffice to say, the newlyweds have been greater than prepared to go away their previous behind.
Whereas shifting to Malaysia introduced a glimmer of sunshine, Visvha and Jana quickly discovered that life as asylum seekers wasn’t as rosy as that they had anticipated.
“There are millions of individuals who grew to become refugees after leaving their nations, their households, on the lookout for a peaceable life. Arriving in a brand new place, they’ll’t present training for his or her children; they don’t have any rights even for the smallest issues,” Vishva identified.
For the pair, challenges have included discovering everlasting work, despite the fact that they’ve been labeled as asylum seekers since their arrival. They hope to be granted official refugee standing by the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) quickly.
However, Vishva and Jana are attempting to make the perfect out of their state of affairs. Through the pandemic, for instance, they began a YouTube channel, “Yarl Tamil Kitchen”, the place they share cooking movies akin to Jaffna-style hen curry and puttu.
To this point, they’ve over 20,000 subscribers.
Requested about Deepavali in Malaysia, they stated the season is definitely extra festive in comparison with their time in Sri Lanka. But, amidst the fireworks and opulent decorations in purchasing malls, it could seem to be they’re on the surface trying in.
“We’ve got by no means celebrated Deepavali for the previous 10 years right here,” Jana revealed.
“We don’t assume a lot about Deepavali or most celebrations as a result of now we have monetary difficulties. Our mother and father again residence are additionally going through monetary challenges,” stated Vishva, who added that his mother and father are affected by coronary heart and kidney points.
Regardless of these hardships, the couple graciously hosted the FMT Way of life crew to a feast of hen peratal, saffron rice, sambar, eggs and kesari – dishes that remind them of Diwali celebrations again residence.
As anticipated, the whole lot was scrumptious – the hen was tender and completely cooked, the rice aromatic, the sambar thick and spicy, and the kesari, sizzling off the range, merely decadent.
However what made the meal additional memorable is the heat and hospitality most Malaysians are identified for, practised by foreigners who’re searching for refuge on this nation and who solely need a greater, happier life.
“I want that this Deepavali will deliver good occasions forward, that we’ll have a good time as refugees and have a greater life,” Vishva stated.
“Joyful Deepavali to all.”