In retrospect the 1971 insurrection seems a relatively tame affair, though it was traumatic enough while it lasted. I was in fact in Kurunegala at the time, having gone there for my usual April break, more sentimental than usual because I knew that it would be the last holiday of that sort. I had, to my surprise, for I had only done the entrance exam as a sort of trial run, won an award to Oxford for the coming academic year. I could not see Palm Court surviving till I got back; though in fact it did, albeit in greatly truncated form. Only Marie was there when I got back. Her father had died while I was still en route to England in August that year, and his sister Lilian followed him six months later.
My stay that April had been longer than originally intended. The police station in Kurunegala was attacked on the first night, along with police stations all over the country. The struggle had been violent, I gathered later, having managed to sleep through it all though it had kept Marie and her father quaking all night. But the attack was finally repulsed and after that the town itself remained secure. However, there were enough pockets of JVP domination on the road to Colombo to keep it closed for over a week. An almost continuous curfew was imposed, and we only survived in fact on the food that Fr. Jude and my uncle and anyone else who had curfew passes was able to bring.