After the riots of July 1983, both my uncles were anxious to talk to me, at least according to my mother. I was not in Colombo when the troubles started, for I had a friend visiting from England and, after a hectic tour, to the ancient cities and Sinharaja and Lahugala and the east coast, we were relaxing at one of the cheaper Bentota hotels. When we heard the news, only at dinner time a full day after the troubles had started, I rang home, to be told that it was best to stay where we were, for the house was full of refugees. In any case there was a curfew in the WesternProvince, though we noticed on the next day that this did not prevent truckloads of obvious thugs crossing the bridge and heading towards Colombo to add to the mayhem.
We finally got home on Thursday the 28th, and it was then that my mother said that Esmond had been to Lakmahal often over the last few days, to check obviously on his mother and the rest, but also it seemed keen to talk things over with me. However, Nicholas was clearly panicking, and looking after him while the house was packed seemed complicated, so the next morning we took a bus to Negombo, to wait there until he could get a flight back to England. On the way we realized that chaos was building up again, but it was only after calling home that evening that we realized the full extent of the horrors of Black Friday, when there was concerted killing.