As the saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going’ this is how the soldiers are being trained, so naturally they are being shaped to be strong — physically and mentally — mighty and tough.
Their shelter is the underground bunker, which is made out of corrugated sheets, logs, sandbags and cadjans. Their food is cooked at a battalion head quarters, at times they also make something extra like an onion sambol or coconut sambol. One might wonder how they do it.
Even I was surprised to see a cultivation of green chillies surrounding their bunkers. If their bunker is facing a waterfront, they would fetch some fish to add something different to the menu.
What I found out from them was that they have learnt to be content with the small things in life. One example I could recall is inside the bunkers there were plenty of poems (Kavi) written by the soldiers.
“Tharu perunu sanda pepunu ahasa yata, Amawakadha wagaee magay sitha” – This was written by a soldier who was on duty all throughout the night and he was touched with the beauty of nature. At the same time considering the deep meaning of this poem he shows his feelings of how much he misses his loved ones.
“Nil wan ahas kusa tharu keta babalanawa, Bunker thulata ea samada deswaynawa, Vesak sandhin mulu padasama nahawanawa, sethin math pansala watha egilanawa.”
This was written by another soldier who was unable to go home for Vesak, but still he was visiting the temple in his imagination. Their creativity, sensitivity and as I mentioned earlier the simple way of living is exceptional.
Mosquitoes singing throughout the nights, inside the bunker or out side is no more a hassle for them. I heard that they never use mosquito coils because that might pass a hint to the enemy. Instead what they use is coconut husk and Kohomba leaves. Would one believe how ingenious the soldiers are, using all these little tricks, they stay awake day and night to ensure the security of the civilians.
Talking about their teamwork, they are trained from the beginning to never leave your colleague at the enemies mouth.
These soldiers have the ability to communicate with the Tamil speaking civilians. Some of them might not be fluent in Tamil but the basic knowledge is being given and they carry a booklet with the essential words. So basically they have a very good rapport with the civilians.
They have been given instructions to treat them as mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers. It is not a hard task for them to do so as they generally visit their homes after one or two months. What I figured out was that when they are in the battlefield there is nothing which could turn them back until they meet achieve their target.
Their religion comes first at all times especially before they leave on a mission. I even saw statues and pictures kept inside and outside the bunkers. After spending some time with them what I figured out was that the respect they have towards nature and the people has given them more strength to carry on with the humanitarian operations.
I will not keep an end to this feature. I will let one of the Muhamale soldiers to do that with a unique and lasting notes of ‘Kurutu gee’ which was written once again inside a bunker: “Perata thabana paya passata ganna nehe, Uthuray satana jaya gena misa enney naha” which means the step taken forward will not be taken back for any reason without winning the Northern war”.