My friend Thavarajah asked me of the landscape here in remote parts of Batticaloa looks like "Your Wild West." No I had to assure him. This looks like nothing in the world I've seen.
Flat green plains punctuated by palmyrah in groves or singly. Far clouds and serene lagoons shaded by mangrove and bursting with bird life. The Wild West? I don't think so.
The poorest villages I've ever seen. Bedraggled children nestled in the shade undone by heat and nothing. Houses few and far between, sunken, next to yards of rubble and waste. A goat. A cow. A dog. A rut. A claim. A want.
A road not a road and not a path. A place not a place and not an emptiness. A sadness not explained. A wind not felt or coldly felt.
In the veranda shade part of the family. The rest of the family standing by a makeshift gate, forgotten or transparent. Wraiths and ghosts and slivers and undone sheaths.
A politician grabs land and grows prawns. A sect bears garb and builds buildings and plants date palms. A cow finds an unlikely branch. An eagle soars. A crow makes only one sound.
A tractor trammels. A wheel bounces. A face follows yours but stops partway. There is no train. The ferry has stopped.
I use English but Tamil waits for me somewhere. Not in the dark and not in the light but poised and ready to unravel.