The bird that beseeched the prison

In June 2008, Thiruchelvam Thirukumaran was abducted at gunpoint by an armed group stormed into his house in Colombo. After  surviving a traumatic ordeal of torture and extrajudicial detention, he fled into exile. He has published three anthologies of poetry.

In a night
that was filled with
silence and rain
the hunters reached  the nest
and captured that bird.

For them –
It was an artistic pealing of quills-
As connoisseurs
They savoured the act
Of pealing
Each pinion, each nail.
Of course it was hell
but remembering its spouse
and the chick  
it was stoic
denying death.

Partly alive
some how it reached
a far away country-
getting used to those torments.
The memory of the spouse
and the chick  
is the soothing balm
to all its wounds.

Sailed past those seas  
and the mountains
away at another continent
it was destined to be here
a caged bird.

These efficient Whiteman
knew the art of destruction
without torturing.
Cold, loneliness and timeless protraction
destroyed its soul.
when almost flying and
fluttering were forgotten
they opened the cage
and let the bird free.

The bird which
stepped into the outside world
that was no more as before knew
neither to live nor to survive.

But still
reaching out to its spouse
It pronounced
That it would surpass all -
there would be happiness.
But then it was too late !

And now it begs the conquerors
to imprison it again
in the Cage.


Thiruchelvam Thirukumaran

Translated by Padmaja Narayanan


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