The Student Leader by Nipuni Sulakkhana

“Where’s he? He didn’t come last night?” someone asked.

“No I called him many times, but it wasn’t working,” there was tension and depression as Kamal spoke about his roommate, Kumar, who was the leader of the university students’ union.

Two weeks ago, Kumar initiated an anti-ragging movement in the university.  Ragging has been a huge problem in the university.  The more the university administration cracked down on it, the more it went underground.  In the name of preserving a subculture some students supported ragging.  At the same time, the majority opposed it and Kumar was their representative.  Kumar was an attractive leader, even though he could not talk Sinhala fluently, he had charisma and had the ability to spell bound a Sinhala student audience.  At the same time, Kumar was liberal and had no racial prejudices.

Kumar’s main theme of the anti-ragging campaign was learning a culture is not ragging.  Kumar overcame many barriers for this initiative.  He had to face tough resistance as he struggled to march forward.  There were threats to his life.  And Kamal expected a violent response from the opposing camp.

“Kumar was dragged into a van”

“At what time?”

“Who saw it?”

“Asoka, in the morning.”

“Let’s go to Police.”

A group of students and the closest associates of Kumar went to the Police station.  However, they were met with the obstinacy of a police officer who told them that there was already a complaint against Kumar over his alleged involvements with LTTE.

Despite the large, motivated and noisy numbers, the students were dumbfounded.  They had no answer.  Ragging is a menace, but many Southerners would say without batting an eyelid that the LTTE was a bigger menace.

Kamal thought about Kumar’s Amma and Appa.  He could remember how they treated him with generosity and kindness when he was in Jaffna.  He vividly remembered how Kumar’s mother brought him his bed tea every morning when he stayed with them.  However, all that kindness seemed to have vanished with Kumar because his mother reacted violently when he told her about Kumar’s mysterious disappearance.

“To my boy, this thing happened because of you.  I told him not to be with you, Sinhalese.”

She was in tragic pain.  Kamal was helpless.

Kamal walked along the deserted roads of the university.  To him the whole campus looked like a graveyard.  Everyone seemed shocked by what happened.  Students were whispering in every comer.  Kumar’s ex-girlfriend Nimali was crying.  Kumar broke up with Nimali because her parents were strictly against their affair.  Nimali was hurt and went into depression and Kumar was very concerned about her during this period.

“Can he be an LTTE supporter?  No I don’t think so.  Whatever his background is, he loved humanity,” Kamal spoke to himself.

Suddenly, he received a call.  Kumar had arrived, a sarcastic voice told him.  Kamal did not know who the caller was.  The caller hung up rudely.  There was some commotion all around him. Students were running somewhere.  Lecturers looked concerned.  The admin staff joined the students.  Kamal joined them as everyone rushed like a river towards the university entrance.

When he got to the entrance there was a sea of people there.  Even the vehicles have stooped, creating a traffic block.  Kamal with the greatest difficulty cut through the crowd and reached the center.  Kumar was lying on the road, with a peaceful expression on his face … dead.

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