Waking is Another Dream

What happened between 8 and 18 May 2009 in Eelam? Did no one write diaries? Did no one have cameras? Were there no poets there? Not a single artist? Whatever happened on that last day? What is the poetry that can emerge from a ‘wounded landmass’ where ‘no bird is able to fly’, where people ‘ate death’?


Nobody answered our questions.
To ask one of the dead, at least,
I went to the mortuary.
My corpse lay there,
The ribcage apart
and in place of the heart
there was a grinding stone.


Five frontline Tamil poets—Cheran, Jayapalan, Yesurasa, Latha, Ravikumar—lament the loss of their land, their language and thousands of people. They chronicle


the people who have learnt
to pose for hours
clutching with ease
the barbed wire
without getting pricked.


Translated into English for the first time by Meena Kandasamy and Ravi Shanker, these introspective poems tell us how and why ‘waking is another dream’ in Sri Lanka.