Rohini Mohan in conversation with documentary filmmaker Callum Macrae

On Saturday November 22nd, Williamsburg's UnionDocs will host a discussion between No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka director, Callum Macrea, and author of The Seasons of Trouble, Rohini Mohan. 

The discussion will be preceeded by a screening of Callum Macrae's documentary, No Fire Zone.

The feature length documentary starts in September 2008, recounting the horrific final 138 "days of hell" at the end of Sri Lanka's 26 year long civil war. As the Sri Lankan government had banned the international press, the film is disturbingly composed of the devastating mobile phone footage of the victims and perpetrators living through the violence on the ground.

Both the film and the book focus on the experiences of individuals, each centering on everyday stories marked by Sri Lanka's civil war. Mohan's The Seasons of Trouble limns three disparate lives tangled by the aftermath of war.

Guernica recently published an excerpt from the book, introducing the story of Mugil, a former child soldier. 

Mugil didn’t bother asking her sentimental mother to take pride in her decision to join the Tigers. Instead, she kept it straightforward. She told Mother that she should not miss her. “Only one of your children is leaving,” she said. “You have three others. You won’t even know I’m gone.”

A resounding slap left Mugil’s cheek burning. “Are you mad?” her mother yelled, as expected. “You are a baby! You don’t know anything!”

And so it went all evening until her father came home.

Even before he had stepped inside, Mugil ran to the door, and said, “Appa, I’m joining the movement.” She was sure her father would take her side. Worldlier than her mother, he also understood the Tigers better than anyone she knew. When his friends’ son had signed up recently, Father had compared it to the Catholic tradition of giving up one child to God’s service.

But now he was silent. Mugil was his firstborn; her loudness and spunk energized him, and made him laugh. One of her sisters had polio, and the other was a touch-me-not, easily startled, her eyes wide with a fear of everything from pressure-cooker whistles to cycle bells. “Lost causes,” he called them. The last one, his only son, was barely seven. Of all his children, it was Mugil he had been hoping he wouldn’t lose, even though he had always known she was the most likely to leave.

Her father quietly acquiesced while her mother never stopped berating her, but no one asked Mugil why she had chosen the movement. And so in the tradition of so many youngsters who joined the Tigers, Mugil left a note at home one day, writing about her desire to go to battle with her generation so that her elders and the children of the future would have a country they could call their own.

To read the excerpt in full please visit Guernica.  
To purchase the book please attend the event, or click here.

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