In Memory of Questions

Rasika Jayakody

This poem was first published in June 2012. A comment by a reader urged me to post it again. I read it this morning…

Today you asked too many questions,

on ailment of love and unguent,

on lingering and moving away,

on promises, broken and to be made.

 

for which

I did not have many answers.

I forgot,

the pragmatism of leaving,

the knavish art of moving,

the forgetful lessons of passing.

 

But I tried to weave a smile

with an open bracket and a colon.

 

You spoke of dramas

that need to be ended,

I spoke of scripts

which are yet to be started.

 

and, the utterance

“Love me. But don’t express.”

 

I remembered a glass that seemed empty

because it was full only of pure water.

 

Then there was a moment…

the moment of moonlight

in angelic eyes,

the moment of silence between

mama yannam and gihin enna.*

*mama yannam, gihin enna are colloquial parting phrases meaning ‘I’ll be going then’ and ‘au revoir or ‘go now and return’ for non Sinhala-speakers.

Rasika Jayakody is a journalist who is presently working at the Ceylon Today newspaper in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is a poet as well as a political correspondent who has years of experience in journalism. His poetry is more or less based on love, humanity and politics.

Never Again : 31 years ago the ashes of the Jaffna Library were scattered in the wind

31 May 1981

 

“On this day 31 years ago, the Jaffna Public Library was burnt down by the members of the Sri Lankan security forces. All its collection of more than 90,000 volumes of books turned to ashes within hours. This act of cultural genocide left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the Tamil speaking people.”

 

Ashes – to the Jaffna library

 

by Rasika Jayakody

 

History’s footprints
are ash.

There are ash people,

ash places,

ash memories,

and ash eyes.

This library,

the one you see,

is ash too.

There were ashen people here,

wearing ash spectacles,

sitting on ash chairs

and reading ash books.

Those ash books

contained ashen lessons;

the lessons of 1981,

1983,

1987-88-89,

and onwards,

ash years;

and the ash walls here

still recall

the ash words

heard on the ash day.

Where would all this ash go,

one day?

maybe there is an ocean,

somewhere,

an ocean of time,

made of ash

and ashes.

The ash ocean,

will kiss

the ashen shore of

Jaffna,

the city of ashes,

and caress

the ash heartbeat of my nation,

“Sri Lanka maatha…”

The featured part-image of a burning book was part of the Colombo Art Biennale’s exhibition in 2009.