The warmer sun had appeared at last,
The city was gliding into the summer’s embrace;
Looking for fat-free milk on the globalized shelves,
The sell by date stared at my eyes:
The mind-camera travels back in time,
Some eight years ago, to a nation strewn with charred bones.
Visuals unfurl on a television screen
Stationed at a boutique on a hill by the singing river;
Words typeset by a tall bespectacled fugitive
Show up in black on the library’s desktop;
In a rented room full of unwashed clothes,
Friends tell friends stories of friends
Broken and bruised
As loud cheers rock the streets where people served kiribath.
A woman in her thirties and two little boys
Cling firmly onto a tyre inflated with hope and life
Floating on a lagoon in the east,
Wading through the furious waters with
What is left of their battle-scarred bodies and souls;
They walk, they swim,
Performing all in-between acts and others all the way
As the shadows fall,
They emerge in a land in the west
Where the wind tastes salty;
A long moment of silence freezes the sea and the earth,
The woman adjusts the saree wound around her head
And counts the notes carefully,
Relief spreads across her face – there is some money left of the allowed,
Enough for tonight to feed the sea-sick children.
It is NOVEMBER 1, 1990 in Puttalam.