Human Rights, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

A night in war time …

Earlier today, a friend sent me an email saying he was reading Dr Rajan Hoole’s “Sri Lanka: The Arrogance of Power“. Michael gives a brief summary of the book, which I won’t go in to, and concludes the message with a poem, suggesting that “sometimes a poem in a few lines can express what a 1000 page treatise never can”.

The poem is by a Miss Sivaramani Sivanandan, which can be found reproduced in the book.
This is what Poole wrote about the poet in his forward to the book:

The Tamil people would become liberated only when there is freedom for the creative use of the energies of their men and women. The best have been pushed into a frustrating life of dissidence. Its effects on a sensitive mind can be seen in the despairing poems of Miss. Sivaramani Sivanandan who was finally driven to suicide.

I found the poem powerful and I’ve cut and pasted it here, from the email I received this morning:

A night in war time
by Sivaramani Sivanandan

A burst of gun fire
Shatters the stillness
Of a star filled sky
The meaning
Of children’s stories

In the little
That is left
Of day
They forget to make chariots
Of palmyrah huts
And play kittithatu

They learn
to shut the cadjan fence
on time
and differtiate between
barking of dogs,
not to question
and be silent
when questions possess
no answers
they learned all this
like sheep

They tear off
The wings of insects
Make guns
From sticks and logs
And kill friends
Imagining them enemies

These are the games
Our children play
In the long night of war
Palsied by terror
Have our children grown