The Sri Lanka-born British writer’s story from Noontide Toll published in The New Yorker
The first night I stayed in Kilinochchi I was a little apprehensive. Most of us living in the south of Sri Lanka had come to think of this town as the nerve center of terror. As Mr. Wahid, my first Malaysian client, said, in English even the name sounded brutal—like the kind of town where you could imagine a Clint Eastwood character striding in and notching the stock of his rifle with yet another senseless killing. In reality, Kilinochchi had been the capital of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for years. Here the Tigers had had their civic center, their secretariat, their press conferences. This was the place where Tiger stamps, L.T.T.E. travel passes, G.C.E. school-exam papers, land mines, and black-stripe grenades were issued. The Eelam bank was here, Swiss style, before it came to a swift end in the final stages of the civil war. This was the place the Tigers had then destroyed, toppling the water tower and blowing up the municipal buildings, before evacuating into the ever diminishing jungle as the Sri Lankan Army marched in, guns blazing, for the showdown of January, 2009.