Photo courtesy of CNBC


How to select keys for the door

when you know the gatekeeper all

too well, when chance and destiny

carry the same code words,


when love no longer depends

on brute desire, when warships

and helicopter gunships gathered

on the sea, in the sky, and citizens


ran from market to house to cellar,

rosary beads in fingers and wind

lashing hair of their young warriors

who defended the land until


the land bled and the land dried

and those who managed to flee

returned to pick up the deeds still

in civilian hands. This is Jaffna


today, a proud city, unbowed

but circumscribed by the state’s

occupying army that will

not represent its minorities,


asking them to make amends,

to adjust, to work within

constraints, to argue about

even the right to handle


local security, poll taxes,

licenses to fish and till

and cement the pot-holed

road. What sad fears


are propagated by

disinformation gurus

in Colombo, that

the unitary state must


be held together with

a bayonet from a

surveillance tower,

and plainclothes spies,


and breaking bones of

the odd scribe who

looks too closely into

the never abandoned well


of hope and water and pride.