By Arjuna Parakrama –
Never again that shoulder-shaking laugh from you —
Rising like a wave from nowhere, gone for good, and bad,
My mixed tenses defy sense for me as I describe
What cannot be, but is, so starkly suddenly, the end.
Difficult even at the best of times, extraordinary at the worst,
You fought every battle fiercely and had fun, irreverent but not mean,
I suspected then your arrogance was a pose, now I think I know
How studied disrespect walked your talk —
Age blunted the jagged edge; not if a principle was at stake.
Breaking rules was as easy as was brilliance for you,
Brash then, disdainful, brusque now, but always loyal, always right,
Maddening mix of cocksure and insecure, you are.
So learning to suffer fools must have been hard, though never knaves.
Steadfast, your distance lent perspective, brought you close,
Courageous then, physically more careful now, yet cutting edge ambitious,
Still rushing in, even in death, uncompromising, impatient most of all.
Your passion remained like abstract love, requited to no avail,
Those scars you hid, like the mistakes of youth
In the ocean of your smile, outrageously disarming, but,
Deep wounds, endemic to your work, cannot be wished away,
Making normal life irresponsible, beyond the pale.
Reporter, activist-scholar, social-critic, adventurer, friend for life:
All parts of you are outstanding, all cannot be replaced:
All lost, like that shoulder-shaking laugh.
No, gone but never lost. Kept alive, fragilely,
In your promise of abiding here with us, and ours with you.