When my father was my age
JR came to power.
17 years later he
Elected the PA
And saw 10 years of Chandrika
Before he passed.
My father saw 83, he lived through 88,
Saw Murali-Ranatunga-Darryl Hair,
The World Cup in 96. He didn’t see
Malinga, the doosra, T-20
And when he died he had no idea
Of Boxing Day’s now forgotten Tsunami.
I remember once, long ago, I don’t know,
He said “Shit”. He said, “I can’t
use none of my names: Ranil, Joseph or Perera”.
It was nearing an election, if I remember right.
Ranil was Wickramasinghe.
And then he had Joseph Michael.
Noone knew whom he voted for.
On this, his grave was more the vocal.
We knew he voted Peoples’ Alliance:
Like many men of that time, he was fooled by CK.
Like many kids of his age, he may have
Adored Ms. Sirima.
What he may have felt for 17 years
Of the prime of his youth: watching
A government that he disfavoured,
A rule that he mis-believed in, policies
Rights and rituals — so unlike what he had in mind?
Wonder whether Chandrika’s days were cooler for him.
Among kiths and kins known to be kings of the word
He often sat, tapping his glass, unheard;
Unspeaking, mostly observing;
Maybe, tossing in his mind what he had
Read in The Times. Debating,
Forgiving or forgetting crimes.
When he was 42, it was, after 17 years,
That Chandrika came leading his cause.
Cousin tells me he was once a Marxist,
Preaching Marx to his ten year niece
Many a year before, when he was 22.
When I knew him he had a family which he, so, was pushing through:
Hair thinning (like Karuna’s),
Fat collecting underneath his bones.
Sitting silently, eying the traffic of files
From his office desk come and go.
Made me write some poems to the Gratiaen Prize
That they may think a bit high of 14 year guys.