The Way It Is

We can’t sing certain songs
that speak of our glorious past or our
identity. We are shamed. Tunes
hummed softly to walls that sometimes listen but
don’t record words barely coherent they
brush cheeks against hard surfaces
and sigh to winds passing outside. We
can’t be proud of our
history, the long winding road
of deeds that made us who we
are, those many, many years of development,
innovation, education,
love for humanity and the land we
live in, the great strides we
took into the future that brought us
here where we are, right now. We
are ridiculed, made to feel stupid, those years
slowly erased from memory one word at a time,
dissected, analyzed and thrown away as
not being worth a cent. Our
history. My history that sleeps crammed tight
inside cupboards, imprisoned behind glass
walls in a white man’s home, forgotten, yearning to
return but held back by words agreed with
forced signatures while mothers watched
their infants balanced on swords. We
aren’t allowed to practice our beliefs, our
religion of non-violence. We
are looked down as being inferior practicing an
ancient wisdom they claim has no place
in this new world order rolling in. Everything is being
re-written to suit the white man
somewhere. We
are forced to accept the white man’s ways
and beliefs, his lifestyle, his food filled with things
that harm our bodies. We
are persuaded to sell our values, our businesses,
infrastructure, money making properties that are
made to look as disasters, failures in our
incapable hands, handed over to foreigners with
no idea of their true worth, to appease
buffoons in political power. We watch helpless as our
lands, those many tufts of earth that make up
this place we call home, nurtured with the blood of
warriors that died to save it for a future,
are torn up, lines drawn for
ownership claimed from foreign shores.
Slowly, slowly we
change, turn once again to become slaves to
whiteness this time not controlled with
guns held against us
but through agreements signed in cold climes
behind hushed doors. We
are compelled to obey the rules
follow the oil man’s religion. Shroud our
women in darkness. Our
words are twisted like vines, tied up,
strangled. Simple meanings deconstructed, what we
meant is portrayed as something negative, ugly,
best left unsaid thrown into the gutter. We
become nothing. Beaten up our
backs curved in surrender aged beyond our
years. Coerced
into submission to the white master
oil master coming in different clothes, speaking
through different tongues sliced in two, sugar
coated to please
controlling through regional bullies,
political prophets and
religious puppets, money exercising utmost
authority while debauchery reigns,
reigns, reigns and thugs party with not a care in
the world and the police cheer and the public
cry foul and no one listens for ears
hide inside potholes and words roll in the dirt
desperately waiting for the rains.

© 2016 Shirani Rajapakse

2014- the Year that Commemorates Global Catastrophes

2014 is a significant year for anniversaries of disasters. While all attention seems to be on the centenary of World War I this year is also significant as it the anniversary of several natural catastrophes that took place around the world. It’s the 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian tsunami.

Several events to commemorate the anniversaries of the natural disasters are being held in Leeds, UK in November.

  • “Reframing Disaster” a conference connected to an AHRC-funded research project led by Dr Anthony Carrigan, entitled ‘Representing Postcolonial Disaster’ will be organised in November as part of a week-long series of activities designed to coincide directly with the anniversaries of the Bhopal and South Asian tsunami disasters.
  • It will include an exhibition by world-renowned Indian photographer Raghu Rai (the first photographer to document the Bhopal disaster), to be held at the Tetley Gallery (http://thetetley.org/).
  • Launch of the Tsunami anthology by Moving Worlds.

Those interested in participating in the “Reframing Disaster” or presenting papers go here. Note the last date to submit is September 7. You may query at the site. For details on the project Representing Post Colonial Disaster go here.

Reid Avenue

 

Photograph curtsey of "Stand Up for Trees" page on Facebook.

The trees are falling,

falling down along the avenue

 

flanked by the law, the arts

and the house of the intellectuals.

 

Helpless we watch the machines hum as a piece

of history is cut down to the ground.

 

Fallen sentinels of the past struck

down by the follies of the present that no

 

one dares oppose while

beauty is destroyed and the earth torn

 

apart. Green gives way to concrete.

Planted by an ancient they spread themselves far

 

and wide. Up above, the branches swelled

to cover the skies. A canopy

 

of green for the people to walk

through. Hugging the earth below them

 

stretching their roots to take hold of their home.

“Old roots,” the men sniffed in disdain, “old

 

roots decay and bring danger to

all,” they claimed. The machines marched in,

 

the people protested, banners in hand to no avail.

The birds added their songs of alarm

 

beseeching, beseeching for the trees to stay,

homeland in the skies tumbling to dust.

 

Their high-rises groaned in anguish as the machines cut

them down. Tears in the skies stopped,

 

stunned at the affront. Darkness

descended a

 

wasteland they will raise. Twinned with the desert

what more can you hope?

 

© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse

 

Photograph courtesy Stand Up for Colombo’s Trees on Facebook. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/116812511815589/?fref=ts

 

India

Terror Nadu’s eunuchs huddle in the Lok

Sabha impotent to the cries of a thousand and one

voices in the valley up north. They dance

 

to the tune of the nautch girl

 

from the south now too old to lift a foot, an arm

in dance so she wags her tongue instead.

Terror Lalitha the fat wields her truncheon and a few

hundred innocent tourists are molested

by her mob. It doesn’t matter

that some are Tamil, the kind she is trying to save.

 

She has no cares for the likes of anyone

 

from her neighbour. The vote is all she lives

for, has been doing so for the past

several years. She is nothing and everyone knows it,

an old actress with naught to show her worth,

except a widening waistline, millions

plundered from the citizens, yet few want to

voice it.  The battles in Terror

Nadu are fought over political fault lines

 

Lalitha vs. Nidhi the corrupt

 

who hides his shame behind sun shades

and goes into battle to rule with no care for

the people on the street. Refugees

 

raped and killed in camps

 

in his own home while Delhi’s old men

blinded by power and hate bend in supplication to

the false Gods from the south.

 

© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse

India unconcerned about safety of refugees

A child was raped and murdered in Tamil Nadu, India’s backyard of terror yet neither the government nor the politicians seem concerned.

Srija, a six-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Tamil Nadu recently. While police have succeeded in apprehending a suspect all is not over.

Srija was a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee living with her family and many others in the N. Mettupatti Refugee Camp in Tamil Nadu. What is strange and rather disturbing in all this is that Tamil Nadu’s Jayalalitha has been silent. Jayalalitha who portrays herself as the advocate for the rights of Sri Lankan Tamils, calling on the Indian government to get tough on Sri Lankan authorities is keeping mum on a human rights violation in her own state.

Is it that she is unconcerned when Sri Lankan Tamils are abused in her own backyard since this does not provide her with publicity as much as if a Sri Lankan Tamil was abused in Sri Lanka? Are the Sri Lankan Tamils a means of propping her up in power and of no concern to her beyond that?

The lack of interest shown in providing adequate security to the hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu seems to be a point. This is however not the first time that Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have been subjected to abuse. But neither Jayalalitha nor the policians at the Centre seem concerned.