Colombo, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Poetry, Politics and Governance

Overseeing the Farm

Planning a visit home is not easy
for a Tamil returning to Jaffna. First,
he needs to fly into the international
airport at Katunayake and pass
through customs like any traveler.

He may be asked to step into
a back room, to answer why
he carries the Economist
in hand luggage, or stickers
from the World Wildlife campaign

to save the tiger, given that
such animals have not been spotted
on the island in thousands of years,
if indeed they ever sauntered through
the wild grass or paddy fields.

He may be grilled about
family members in Wellawatte,
and what career he pursues
in the Scarborough, Ontario refuge
where wild and liberal creatures found

a home before conservatives took
over in Ottawa; he may be whisked
through secondary, and into a waiting
vehicle for a fast ride to the upstairs room
at CID headquarters where he will meet

his guide, his helper, who will say,
come friend, the campaign is lost,
give me a few names of laggards,
dreamers still in the foreign networks.
We must root out the germ.

Human beings have almost
eradicated polio, why not this
virulent, regional strain called
Eelam? Unfortunate, the cricketer
who failed a dope test,

and the others charged
with fixing matches, and
the Tamil policemen, who trained
in the hot sun for weeks to march
in the Victory parade for Eelam War IV,

told they cannot, on orders
of the President’s security detail.
What the hell, machan,
in paradise only Man is vile, said
the preacher who visited the island

in ancient times. Now we are renewed,
climate savvy, the A-9 Highway
is open to tourists beyond
Elephant Pass, but not yet, without
permission, to returning Tamils,

Hambantota boasts a deep water
port, and all our teenagers will
receive mandatory training
in military arts, which should help
them run animal farms in the far North.