The Public Enemy

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[By May 17-18th the LTTE was being cornered to what seemed to be an inevitable military wipe out. We were glued around TV sets, keeping an open ear on proceedings. On the same day, I began writing what I hoped was a poem of a longer scale under the working title “Through the Smoke”. In that decisive week, I managed to write extensively, compiling to my satisfaction no less than three cantos. But, subsequent distractions made me “lay the work aside” — to be taken up again, most probably, on another day. Here, I cite from the first sections of the poem]:

The Public Enemy

Crackers tell us the story of permeating glory
Along the bloodlines in multitudes
On song and feast even before
The President confirmed the beast was
Stilled and silenced.

Around the TV we sit switching between the
Rupavahini, ITN and the golden channel.
Their announcers’ earsore, a fast eating
Cancer on our funnels hum.
We turn to what through Jazeera,
Through NDTV come.

Crackers every five minutes, rumour,
Unconfirmed pellets of news rampage –
That his son is ridden of; he, too, was shot,
Though identification was yet to be done.
Facebook has already begun its own mayhem:
People updating their statuses on a guerilla death.

Four of us, glued, have the TV running,
Smirking at the reporters’ banter –
Reporters in gal helmets, mimicking fucking pioneers:
In the weeks to come newspapers carry interviews
Of “War Reporters” who braved it all up front.
Yeah right. It is a sign that the time is come.

Three of us are skeptical – that he has been killed.
We protest that he had, by then, retreated
Escaping onslaught in that final minute.
They tell us an ambulance was shot at and blasted
But, we don’t believe that he was actually in it.

For some strange reason, this all looks so unreal,
Unheard of – unnerving and, by vote, unwanted.
This ambiguous death of a branded terror-releaser,
Whose metal had kept the South all haunted, two
Decades of carnage and the ballast’s worth
In those years when no reports came home from North.

For some strange reason, I want him to live
And survive and escape – now that he had
Driven it and had nothing more to give.
His death, I feel, will have the whole equation tilted:
The ground that was gained and painfully earned
With paid lessons the majorities at death’s sledge learned.

For some strange reason he has to survive.
On Facebook I’m defaced
And friends mistrust my motherland kissing.
This is a country where, if you supported the West Indies against
Sri Lanka, they deem, on your land of birth you’re pissing.


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