Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Without breaking all my limbs

Without breaking all my limbs was the term Amara used
When he said to his nine siblings
After their mother died
You let me stay in this house and eat and live and grow without breaking all my limbs

With some overseas and some dead by kidney or liver the rest grew angry and jealous of the adopted man, now forty, when their mother died and took away the house he lived in with her, caring for her the long years after his father

Instead he went to sleep in a school building
Built by Belgians 
With refugees from the north
And displaced families from all around
And people whose identity papers had burnt or were stolen or were left behind so no one had rights to redress or resettlement Singhala families, Tamil families, Muslim families. Amara the one single man the rest with children who call him "old uncle,"
Using the building at night as a sleeping place
And in the day clearing out, making room for the government kindergarten. 

Not all of your limbs were broken
When your parents were killed in the east in the first act of terror on the island

You were six maybe five
You knew your given name
You hid in the forest
You slept in the trees
You were different a stranger and hounded and used and chased and threatened and enslaved and attacked but not all of your limbs were broken 
and you could move
and you moved west
and you kept sleeping in the trees
and you kept being chased 
and you kept moving
and you ended in Mihintale 
where you slept in the street
and were found
Your adoptive father a healer
One who took no money
One who diagnosed on the spot
One who knew the herbs and soils
One who gave you his surname
And work
And when there was food, food
An old man already
And so many children
Your kind mother never had enough
you told me
Not even a sambol
As hard as you worked for them
And you sold lotus on the steps to Mihintale Dagoba
And you worked in the fields 
And you worked as a laborer
As a builder
As a carrier
As a helper
As a "waiter" 
As a tea bringer to the cultivators
As a carrier of sacks of pesticide powder
As a cultivator yourself 
Bending in killing heat
All your limbs weren't broken

No comments:

Post a Comment