Colombo, Identity, Poetry

Meeting a VIP London, Summer, 2008

He asked me
how it was that I could be
was it 50%?
if my mother was Sinhalese
and in that case
whether I was 50% burgher
or whether I had one quarter Belgian
blood in my veins

It was a bit tiresome
to explain
to say I think 1/8th means 12 and a half percent
and then another 1/4th is Dutch
and two 25 percents on either side
makes me 50% Sinhalese
(but I cannot be sure, I could be 25% Tamil with my Kandyan blood)

And I couldn’t do the
math in my head
because I was jet lagged
and sleep deprived
and I was tempted to say
last time I got sick
they did a FBC sir,
I think there were the normal
of plasma
and white cells
but I was a bit low on the red cells
you see I don’t eat red meat sir
and I was always a bit anaemic.