Waking Is Another Dream

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Sri Lanka, small country, lies in the south tip of India. India and this Island country have many things in common with regard to history and culture.

Submitted: March 27, 2012

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Submitted: March 27, 2012




Poems Born on the Battlefield

\"\"Sri Lanka, small country, lies in the south tip of India. India and this Island country have many things in common with regard to history and culture. 

The Island has pretty long history of 30,000 years. Ravana, the great demon king, belongs to Sri Lanka. A tooth of Buddha is still kept in the sacred temple at Kandy. The Emperor Asoka’s missionary efforts laid foundation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in 3rd century. Even today ‘Theravada Buddhism’ exists there. It is also said that India had no information about the emperor Asoka until quiet late centuries. It is from Sri Lanka we got some historical documents in which there were a few fleeting references regarding this great King of India. 

In short, Sri Lanka has glorious history, culture and religious traditions. However, this Island has gone through very tough times from 1983 to 2009, as during the period a fierce war was fought between LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) and the Sri Lankan Government. A report says that the war claimed 80,000 to 100,000 lives over 26 years. Of course, this event has left many indelible scars on the face of the Island. The government says that the tigers were terrorists who tried to overthrow peaceful popular rule in the island, and therefore, it deployed a special military against them.  And, it succeeded to rout it out lock, stock and barrels. While the LTTE people held that it was sheer genocide on the part of the Government. They accused the government of violation of human right, too. 

Definitely, this phenomenon has hugely affected mass consciousness in the Island. Right from persons in high echelon to average poeple have suffered tremendously over this strife-torn period, and naturally, they spoke out their mind on the bitter facts in whatever means they found. The sensitive minds like poets have interpreted the infamous drama incisively in their writings. They rightly exposed the real face of struggles to the world.  And one can have the savor of their sentiments in ‘Waking is another Dream' poems on the genocide in Elam, edited by Ravikumar. In this small anthology, we find five poets – Cheran, V.I S Jayapalan, Yesurasa, Latha and Ravaikumar- express their anguish relevantly. They articulate how their land once prospered in a rich way has been reduced to the graveyard. They had everything of their own- the seashore, coconut trees, their small huts, their own language; and they moved about freely in their own country. However, they are now crippled within and out. Cheran’s small poem Wetlands brings forth reality of horrible situation. The poem starts abruptly.

My story began in these wetlands
soil that once clung
to the roots of huge trees
swaying  by the seaside,
is now seen on the surface
this land, where people
roamed about even in summer,
is transformed into a land of another language
in a matters of days
in this wetland, there are no coconut trees

there are no huts…

The war has almost effaced everything from the life of Tamil population. They are considered traitors in their motherland and killed in bomb blasts and heavy shelling on their houses. They are put to every possible brutality, regardless of genders or age group. It appeared that the government was hell-bent on weeding whatever belonged to Tamil Elam out of the Island. So there, the war was perennial affair and killing, the rule of the day. In a poem, Cheran depicts the gory scene in quiet appropriate words; the title of the poem is Apocalypse; and it reads as follows: 

The apocalypse happened 
in our own time
earth shaking in smokescreens
body splitting in satanic rain
fire raging within and without
night is howling flood 
dragging children, people
burning them in an inferno ...
...All of us have gone away
there is no one to tell stories
now there is 
a wounded landmass
no bird is able to fly over it.

until we return.

Atmosphere of violence had chilled minds and hearts of people who witnessed inhuman atrocities inflicted on the Tigers and even innocent civilians.Anyone whose dress looked like that of the Elam tiger or his / her hairdo resembled the rebel was terribly harrased. Once the military personnel came across a young woman with cropped hair. They halted her and questioned humiliatingly right in the street, suspecting that she must have some nexus with the LTTE. Really , the sky over Sri Lanka was overcast with great trepidation and death freely stalked down the roads throughout the length and breadth of country for over two decades.  Things were discouraging so much so that  even some bold persons committed suicide to get rid themselves of haunting frustrations. The case of  Poet,  Sivaramani, is a moving example in this respect. She was  a dominant voice among the  Elam women poets of her time. Frustrated, She committed suicide on 19 May 1991. 

Anyway, despite these blood-curdling circumstances, there were still a few poetic voices that came forward to resettle unraveled minds of common masses. They replanted hopes in their lives through their revolutionary poetry. Among them was the poet, Yesurasa. In one of his poems, he describes feelings of a mother who advises her son about life.

It is thus, my son
that life eats into dreams
your mind is the sky
overcast with clouds of darkness
even so, my son
you are not yet
the worthless fallen hair
still awaits you 
Be what you are
you create your own meaning
by yourself.

However great be the agony, it cannot put out the flame of hope in human mind.  We often see the wild fire burns expanse of pastures, giving them black and bleak look. But, as there comes first shower, a sea of green shoots surges up from the black ashes .Similar is the condition of human mind. Though it is withered and wilted in the sizzling sun of calamities for some time, it rises up with a new vigor and vitality as it gets an opportunity to bloom. Forgetting bitter experiences in the past, it focuses on bright side of life in the future.  ‘Waking is another dream’, no doubt, conveys the same message to the world. There are many good pieces of poetry in this book which uphold human values, like love, peace, non-violence, co-existence and mutual understanding. Indeed, it is a good read.

1) Waking is Another Dream
2) The Caravan Magazine  (Feb 2012)

© Copyright 2018 Prof Madhav Sarkunde. All rights reserved.

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