We can forget all;
spurning the loss
of this miserable life,
with the confidence
sparked in a moment;
along the Galle road,
we race
with pounding hearts;

jutting from the burning car,
a thigh bone;
fixed on a spot
between the earth and sky
a staring eye;
no eye, but the socket
filled with blood,
On Dickman's road;

instead of black heads
bloddied remnants
of six men;
a piece of cloth
escaped the fire,
without a watch
a lonely left arm;
from the burning house
carrying the weight
of a cradle
a pregnant Sinhalese woman,

all these,
all these can be forgotten.
that late evening
when the clouds
descended to conceal
the tea bushes
where you hid your children,
When, after so long
with the little rice
in the pot
you waited, hiding
for the rise to cook
you were shattered.

How can I forget,
the broken pot,
the scattered rice?


R.Cheran |

Translated by Chelva Kanaganayakam

©  'Wilting Laughter': Three Tamil Poets | Edited and translated by Chelva Kanaganayakam | TSAR Publications (2009)

R. Cheran was born in Alaveddy in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and began writing poetry at an early age. His two early collections Irandaavathu suriya uthayam (The second sunrise) (1982) and Yaman (God of Death) (1984), together with an anthology of Tamil resistance poems, Maranatthul vaalvom (Amidst death, we live) which he edited in 1985, are all landmarks in contemporary Tamil poetry. He is currently a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Windsor, Canada.


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