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Routine Struggle to Eke Out an Existence

Routine Struggle to Eke Out an Existence

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Feb 26, 2014
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02/26/2014

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By Latheef FarookNagadeepa is one of the islands of the cluster of islands off Jaffna peninsula. Sinhalese call it Nagadeeepa. To Tamils it is Nagadeevu hile the !uslim descri"es it as Nainativu. The tiny !uslim community of Nainativu perhaps may "e the smallest community of its kind in the orld. #"andoned "y all they live in isolation in the islandhich lacks even the very "asic facilities. $oever they seem to "e a god fearing andcontented lot despite hardships and misery hich% over the years% have "ecome integral part of their life. Though they remain cheerful% their faces speak volume for their endless sufferings and the struggle ith poverty and hardships. &uring a visit to Jaffna during the second eek of Fe"ruary '()* + made it a point to visit Nainativu and meet the people there. +t is an almost to hour ,ourney from Jaffna. The access to Nainativu is from the village of -urikattuan of the island of unkudutivu/ "y a '( minute "oat ride over the alk Bay. The island of unkudutivu is connected "y a causeay over the alk Bay to -ayts% the largest island of the cluster. -ayts is in turn reached "y a longer causeay% again over the alk Bay from the city Jaffna. The total distance% land and sea% from Jaffna to Nagadeepa is around 0( km.1n arrival they ere 2uite pleased to meet us saying that 3not many people visit us4. 5armth and happiness on seeing us ere shon in their facial expressions.  #mong them as !ohamed -haniffa ho is regarded as the head of the community. + met them in the mos2ue after noon prayer. They ere all relaxed and forthright during their conversation.
 
Sandy road leading to !uslim areas alm leaves used to erect fences around their
 
houses #ccording to -haniffa there are '6 !uslim families and the total num"er is )'7. This includes omen% children and the aged.Tracing the circumstance hich led their forefathers8 to settle don in the island -haniffa said several centuries ago their forefathers from -eelakkaraia in the +ndian state of Tamilnad% used to visit the sea in and around Nainativu in search of conch shells hich they sold "ack in +ndia. $e said sangu% for example 9alampuri Sangu% has "een in great demand in +ndia and thus his forefathers had a thriving "usiness as these items ere found around Nainati"vu seas.1ver the years they "rought their families and settled don to continue their search for conch shells. Thus it is not easy to esta"lish exactly hen they settled don. 5ith conch shells "ecoming rare they turned to fishery industry. #s time ent on they came to depend fully on fishery industry. They said4 fishery has "een a very tough ,o" as they struggle daily ith the stormy sea to eke out their existence. They leave in the evening and return home in the morning.The families anxiously aait their arrival in the morning. The omenfolk in general ake up for morning prayers and from then onards keep looking at the sea aaiting their family mem"ers to return.This has "ecome routine. +n fact it is a day to day struggle full of anxiety .$oever over the years they got used to this.There ere days hen they have good catch and there ere days hen they return ith only a fe kilos of fish. There are days hen they cannot go to sea due to stormy eather. 1n such occasions they "orro money to meet the day to day expenses .They do this until such time the eather improves and they go to sea and return ith some catch. -haniffa said "orroing money hen they do not go to the sea and returning the money hen the catch as good has "een routine affair.They said that ever since &ecem"er '((* tsunami fish population as drastically reduced and no one knos hat happened.They said hardly anyone is concerned a"out their plight and no one comes. Fe years ago arliamentarian #.$.!.#:ver visited the island folloed "y a Sri Lanka !uslim congress leader ho promised them Rs ;(%((( to "uild a parapet all for the graveyard ad,acent to the mos2ue. # !uslim philanthropist from !aligaatta visited once and helped paint the mos2ue and provided them pipe ater. $e continues to send monthly Rs ;((( to maintain the imam of the !os2ue.

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