Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seven Dreams [Ajith C. Herath]

Seven Dreams

First Dream -You never noticed

I was falling
From unimaginable points of infinity.
Mucky water surged
Through the streets of the city.
Moments before I fell
On to the water,
I woke up an infant
In a cradle floating among debris.
I passed men and women
Smiling and waving at me,
Wading through muddy water,
Gathering up their clothes.

When the cradle toppled
Into a sewer,
I leaned out,
Shivering and unbearably cold
I crawled out of the cradle
Eagerly following you,
But you never noticed!
Suddenly, someone grabbed me
And threw me back into the surge.
Once again I was falling and falling.
Just before hitting the ground,
I felt I was waking up.

Second Dream –Your kiss did not lift the curse I was suffering

The rain was endless.
You stared out of the window.
The mist from your breath
Blurred the Knuckles1 mountain range.

I was falling asleep,
Knocked out by chloroform,
When I woke up
From a tear slipping out of your eye.
Stretched out on the dissecting table
I stared at you.

Once, for the last time,
You held me gently and kissed me,
Opened the window and dumped me out,
Then left the science lab
Never to return to school.
And your kiss never lifted the curse I suffered,
Nor did I ever wake up, before falling.

Third Dream - The bridge that could not be conquered

Naked they made you kneel down on the bridge,
Tightened your hands on your back.
To save your life,
I screamed and scraped the earth
For the last rifle none of you ever revealed.
It had carved itself underground;
I could not find it!
Corpses were floating downstream.
Whenever I pass this bridge,
I fall into the waters with a wounded heart.
I am still falling.

Forth Dream - I saw the blue skies and the clouds

Sitting on a rotten plank bed
Under a passion fruit hedge in the detention camp
I was thinking of ways to escape.
Softly you whispered into my ear
That digging a tunnel
I might be able to see
Yet another blue sky with white clouds
Beyond a range of seven mountains and large forests.

When the public well was abandoned
And the water was calm at noon,
I sat on the rim of the well
And looking down
Found that tunnel.
The bottomless well revealed
Yet another blue sky and white clouds
From the other end of the earth,
And you stared at me through my own eyes.

Ere the images faded:
Blue sky, white clouds and your face,
I wanted to flee through the well
Before the waters were ruffled
By buckets of  detainees by the dozen.
Again. through an endless hole
I was falling towards the blue sky.

Fifth Dream - Blue tarpaulin pyre

When the cradle was burning
Along with the camp hut of blue tarpaulin,
You came out crawling
Your tiny hands and legs burnt,
As I was helplessly watching
Your fearful struggle.
Once, for an instant, our eyes met.
I will never know, if you noticed.
You passed fossilized me,
Fell into a ditch
And disappeared amongst
Dead bodies and smoke …
The ditch that protected you
Was leveled into a tomb by bulldozers.
As they faded into the distance
All I could see was that tiny hand
Above the sands.

Sixth Dream - As I was late, I missed you forever

I woke up in sorrowful vigilance.
Unaware, if it was early or late.
It was still dark.
All of a sudden, a feeling persisted
That someone somewhere was waiting for me.
Who and where was uncertain,
At times it might have been you.
The days ahead, the tasks and appointments,
Were torn off the calendar.
Only the months and days that had passed are remaining …

Walking along the A-9 road,
I cleared the last military checkpoint,
Yet nowhere could I see you.
As I was late,
I did not know, if you had left.
I was in the Vanni2, but you were not there.
So I was sitting on the doorstep
Of a house in ruins
Waiting with your half of the cigarette …

Seventh Dream - The past shattered and floated away

Once the search operation had been completed,
The soldiers left.
And in the demolished room I found
Our group’s last portrait
Torn into shreds.
Lingering on those time-faded scattered pieces
Was our smile
Of the last moments we spent together
Just before going our ways
Towards unknown destinies.
I placed the pieces on the window sill
Wanting to mend them.
A sudden mysterious wind
Stirred them up.
Piece by piece they scattered
With the last autumn leaves
Moving to sites far away.
We had become tiny pieces of paper
Tumbling away in the wind.

Reflections on the Metamorphoses

Lying on a bed early at dawn,
Listening to the song of a bird
Is a dream
Which may collapse from a fatal scream
In yet another dream.

Who are you?
Dream by dream …
You follow me, while I follow you
And before we can meet
You escape
Only to reappear in different form.
Who are you?

Who are we?
Following each other, escaping each other again
Through the mountains, valleys and meadows
That once we crossed.
Who are we?
Thousands of metamorphoses in a single soul,
Thousands of souls in a single shape.

Even now,
I can not distinguish myself from you,
As I cannot tell you apart from the others.
You are the prime universal matter,
While I am but the reflector.

With the second wave,
The corpses were flushed out to sea
And the swords were cleaned.
Everything but the difference
Between the quick and the dead
Was washed away…

The nights they want to erase from our memory
Knock on the doors
Of wrecked houses full of bullet holes.
The dreams that were dreamt
During sleepless nights
Now are but short notes in an old diary…
Paths never taken at the junction of indecision
Are blurring in the mist of time.

The cheap coffin which held your corpse
Was abandoned in the middle of marshland.
Yet I saw people in a procession holding up high
The golden baldachin of the killer.
The deception passed justly unnoticed,
As similar ones had recurred in cycles.

A frog nailed its soul to the dissecting table
Split its chest and took out its heart,
While, its tongue stretched out,
It enjoyed seeing its own blood flow.
“This is my blood which I had long determined
To shed for your liberation.”
From that time on, no-one would ever die of starvation.

The last prayer rising up from the sorrowful darkness
Of Gethsemane3 gardens
Did it not echo the holy truth
Revealed from Parileyiya4 jungle during the cold rains?

The harmonious calm of solitude
Experienced in a lonely school building in Bolivia
Or in the cremation chamber of Borella5 Cemetery
Or on the sands of  blood-soaked  Nandikadaal lagoon6,
Is the same silence remaining
At the far end of the universe
Which the human race will never reach
While lugging their bundles of sins.


Freedom can only be sensed
An eternal prisoner
Held in a dream of itself.

My dreams, while unacceptable now,
Remain my reality,
Though you have forgotten,
We dreamt those dreams
Together, a long time ago.

If this is a dream
I would love to live that moment
Just before falling on to the earth.
If this is life,
I would prefer to roam through my dreams.

Moving freely
Through time and space,
I would rather die forever unborn in my dream
Than surrender with raised arms
To a compromising dawn.

By: Ajith C Herath
      January 2010

English version by Dawson Preethi , Kalpana Ambrose and Karin Clark

 1.The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy and Matale Districts.
2. Vanni is the mainland area of Sri Lanka's Northern Province. It is considered as an integral  part of the traditional homelands of the Tamil people. For over a decade, it remained under the control of  the Tamil liberation fighters who ran a paralell administration. Eventually the Sri Lankan government troops who pursued a scorched earth policy gain control over entire Vanni mainland in 2009, after massacring tens of thousands of Tamil civilians and completely destroying entire villages.
3. Gethsemane  is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before Jesus' crucifixion
4. Parileiya Jungle-In Buddhist literature, Parlileiya jungle is described as a place Lord Boddha chose to live, in order to stay away from his own disciples who fell out with each other.
5. Borella Crematorium-The leader of  the People Liberation Front, Rohana Wijeweera,  who was captured by the Sri Lankan government troops for leading the second Sinhala youth uprising in Sri Lanka in 1989, was killed and cremated in Borella crematorium. The uprising was crushed by the government troops by massacring over 60,000 Sinhala youth.
6Nandikadal Lagoon-In May 2009, the final battle between the Sri Lankan government troops and the Tamil liberation fighters took place in the area surrounding  Nandikadal lagoon in North of Sri Lanka. It is widely believed that at least 40,000 Tamil civilians were massacred during this massive military onslaught

Monday, June 14, 2010

A note from a pilgrimage [Malathie Kalpana Ambrose]

A note from a pilgrimage

This note, a true experience of mine got written before the war ended.

The announcement that the war in the east has ended came out about a year before such an announcement, which resulted in jubilations completed with milk rice, was made about the war in north. A news item broadcasted on television just few weeks before fighting ended in east forced me to share this incident with you.

As usual the news was connected to war, which stopped my heart for a moment. My mind raced back one and a half years into the past. The year two thousand seven was a gruesome period of the civil war. It was the time government forces re-captured the sluice gates at Mavil Aru, which had been forcibly shut off by the LTTE. My memories drifted to Trincomalee district, of which Mavil Aru area is a part of. There was ferocious fighting going on in Muthur and Sampoor areas at the time. A group of us was sent from south to east upon a request to help out with the rehabilitation effort. It was an official assignment for me.

Seru Nuwara is a village fed with Mavil Aru waters, located below Muthur at the edge of Trincomalee district. It was a farming village. The life blood for them and their farming was the water from the river Mavil Aru. At that time their lives had been turned upside down by the closing of the sluice gates. By the time the water flowed, the fields that were planted on borrowed money have gone dry and young rice plants lay dead on the ground. We were provided accommodation in Trincomalee town and travelled daily to Seru Nuwara witnessing all this as well as the essentials of the war, multi barrel and artillery attacks. The whole area was consumed by the war, and the inhabitants had become refugees in refugee camps; at the same places they were born and called home. The main refugee camp was the village school. A decision to spend the night at home for them was a decision to choose between life and death. War had robbed everything from them. Even the school books, pencils and pens from kids. They were not interested in drawing or writing anymore, because they could not. The books and colors we handed over were received with such a glee by these children, like they were being handed stars from the sky.

It was the tragedy of a community that has been robbed of their pride and independence that I saw at Seru Nuwara. People who stood up with strong and straight back bones for centuries to earn their life from the earth were forced to hold up their hands begging for a kilo of rice from a stranger; to fight over a piece of cloth. Not only their livelihood was gone, but the temper and discipline of their lives horned by years of working with the earth was gone too. Together with the endless blue green fields, their togetherness was also gone. More than anything else, their children had lost their school and the rhythm of their lives. In its place was a gloomy uncertainty. The playground they played was taken over by canons and artillery guns. Every second, they shivered to the sounds of explosions.

During the few weeks we were on duty there, we were a part of these families. The love I experienced among them is indescribable. These people, who did not have a grain of rice to cook, for that matter who lost even their places of cooking, were sharing the only food they were able to made, ‘roti’, with us. We watched speechlessly the immense humanity that is being unfolded in front of us. Our feelings of gratitude were definitely not something that could be summed up in a simple expression like ‘Thank you’.

Each and everyday we got them engaged in activities, games. After about a month, all those children got together; even the ones who were so shocked and behaved like mute figures got over those feelings; to stage a drama. The theme was ‘Peace’. All they had was on fire because of the war and hate, but these kids were yearning for peace. Few of us joined with the camp inhabitants to watch their drama sitting on the uneven ground of a sun baked field, I still remember.

Even the dust that rose when those kids were acting brought life to the dying earth. At the end of the play, the main character gives his life in the name of peace. In fact many in the village have been killed in the war. The tears in the eyes of the people were for the dead as well as from the gladness they felt watching the abilities of their kids. From the happiness they felt, seeing the strength and hope displayed by their children.

Being close is dear to heart… where you feel the warmth of love. A hope, a wish to meet again is still a refreshing feeling. But… saying good byes are a heart wrenching experience. Especially when there is a thought looming in the back of your mind that you will not meet again forever. My words fail trying to describe my feelings that day, but clearly I became the most destitute refugee there when those little hands were extended instead of pieces of paper for us to write our phone numbers and addresses. There were countless feelings clouding my mind while I was holding those hands to write my address. There was love scratched across those palms. There was humanity as wide as to fill the vast gap between the sky and the earth. There were dreams of tomorrow. There was the difference between the lives of north and the lives of the south. There was the cruelty and the bitterness of the war, the war that was not theirs, mine or yours; a war of nobody’s and a war nobody wants. Then there was the unmistakable fragrance of the earth that belongs to all of us.

That was the picture etched in my heart from those days at Seru Nuwara.

Now to the news item on the television….
A number of people including a child have been killed by cannons and gunfire at Seru Nuwara….

The child who extended his hand towards me, full of love … had died again for peace…
This time around it is not just a drama….

For a second time I became a destitute refugee …. and  just kept watching…

The way ….the PEACE was unfolding….!

By: Kalpana Ambrose
[Translated By: Ransirimal Fernando]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tarkovsky [Lalindra Perera ]


I found seeping water from fountains' depth
Flowing along celluloid reels and reels
Dripping my senses with humidity and moist
Human stains remained in cinema scope

Light and space; shadows and voids
Filled with water clinging drop by drop
Sounds of aqueous turbulence
Made incarnation of memories

Tarkovsky, you are the 'Stalker'
'Steamroller and violin' maker
Nostalgic shades of dying memories
'Sacrifice' of light for the human being

-Lalindra Perera