On reading Daya Somasundaram’s “Collective trauma in the Vanni- a qualitative inquiry into the mental health of the internally displaced due to the civil war in Sri Lanka” on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo[i]
Can you hear me?
Is this cacophony too loud?
In Colombo, Paris, Chennai, Toronto and London,
the Brothers, siblings and masters,
in tongues that speak of deafening half-truths,
concoct flawed histories of terror and relief.
Buried deeply under my homelands,
my story, my suffering, my blood,
vanishing beyond the senses’ reach,
long lost in other stories,
about nations and sovereignties,
about humanitarianism and genocide.
In garbs made of my precious memories,
hijacked, amputated and tailored,
of a not-so-distant past,
our lords and lands appear gorily guarded.
In the silence of the night I dream aloud,
of flesh pieces swimming in hot crimson blood,
of scarred bones and skulls,
of children starving and weeping,
of my fugitive self charting an escape route from armed four-legged men,
of strange, fire-spitting birds encircling the terror-struck sky,
of leaky shelters and barbed-fences,
of betrayal and enslavement.
“Ush! Dirty dreams! Banned, don’t you know?”
in stately fashion,
dragging my head off the filthy mats of the past,
steal my nocturnal freedoms;
my nightmare melts and melts into the hot, stifling air,
but soil-lovers rush past me
to swiftly pick up threads that they find useful.
Homeless, lifeless and limbless,
now my dreams stolen and butchered too;
but I have some linen,
unclean, blood-stained and shit-smelling,
for four full years and more…
Can I wash them tomorrow
at the CHOGM,
in the presence of all the kings of empires dead and alive,
at our altars where my siblings chant in resolute cries, “Boycott!”
in broad daylight,
for justice, truth and history’s sake?