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Darkness and Terror

The shadow of the giant palm flickers through the rubber trees
The stream falls weeping by the bamboo clump
The visage of that darkness now smothering father’s grave- stone
Drifts towards me, terrifies me.

The shirt I hung to dry beside the well that’s near the grave
I forgot to bring it in this afternoon
Is it still out there, hanging by the well?
Go Brumpi, run and fetch it for me soon

Only this morning I bathed at that well by the shade of the
vatakeiya bush
But I can’t think now how it looked by the light of day.
The dark black dark, armed with quills from the kitul palm
Comes with the bamboo to swallow me.

The same blackness that blurred the stone by the well
Now creeps up on the porch
Stone-throwing poltergeist dark that blacked the road
It comes — here – by my hand!

I cannot stir. I dare not turn.
Only the dark, what else? But I fear it

Sister, little sister, go strike a match quick
Light the lamp in the living room.

Translated by Ranjini Obeyesekere



Some More Notes on Blood

Even though I have got used
to seeing blood each month,
I turn dizzy and shocked
When my child comes to me
screaming with a finger cut,
as if it was the first time I saw blood.

Blood vies then for love and anxiety
manifests incapacity.

The cold blood of
an assaulted woman
may slither down
as the disgusting blood of a dead tarantula
as the sticky colour of her violated soul.

The blood from the body
of a murdered infant
oozes out
so silently
so childishly.

Those who shed and cause to shed
more blood on battlefields,
have been honored by the leaders
elevated by the blood of others.

The entreating senses of human souls
have been scattered on the blood-stained walls
of torture camps in zeal for punishment.

The bloody smell of malevolence,
the bloody odor of the hunt,
the same blood freezing in the boisterous streets,
the blood diffused from and dried on tombs,
continue to follow me
as the print of death

Translated by Thava Sajitharan



You wanted to escape
to a world of safety
a re-enactment of pictures
in cards sent by faithful
relatives, of spires,
churches and coniferous
woods in that temperate

It was a slow awakening,
it didn’t take long to
see that it was a landscape
to be viewed from afar,
the waft of cedar from
gloomy fog-laden woods
alien and bare stifled
dead memories of
another wasteland.

Reaching that other country
was like treading unknown
rain flooded paddy fields
way back home,

you clutched your passport
like a prayer book and
hoped that you did not
slip under the murky depths
in a new land.

The statistics weren’t too
comforting, unemployment
was on the rise and soon
you work three shifts
in order to survive,
you bow your head into
the warm recesses of winter
clothes and avoid public gaze
hoping that the chilling air
will thaw in this new found home