(For Sunila Sundari Janet Abeysekera)

Twenty-six years have passed.

Our first meeting,
North of Colombo,
a house on the beach.

flowers and creepers;
Beyond the fence,
fearful and shy
lovers trembling in passionate embrace.
Waves breaking incessantly.

For both of us
the agony and haste
of flight to safety.

The spark of righteous anger
a straight line on the sea,
unswerving we stayed the course,
reaching the Hague
where dawn and dusk
merged as one.

“Goluhathavaththin thunveniyamatta”  -
your  music my lullaby.

When  Subha was born,
I heard her cry
I saw your tears.

Scattered like floating lotus
defying land and time,
our wings gained strength.

Your life the essence of kindness.

Divided by land and sea and space,
our dreams
a constant bridge.

“Son, where are you?
I don’t hear your voice,
send me your picture.”
The messages you sent.
The telephone bursting with

A short life,
what did we learn?

We are puddles
created by chance;
not crystals of love;
poetry, music and freedom
remain always entwined;
we can tread on fire, or
defy the wind;
we cannot lose our lives.

This year in the Hague
when we met,
my farewell was final.
From you
a smile and a tear.

R. Cheran | September 11, 2013

Translated from Tamil by Chelva Kanaganayakam


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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