The Light that Meets the Unshut Eye

Coming from Canada,
Comrade Shanmugalingam said:
‘Back in the home-village, when we were there,
the Vellaalahs did not let us learn at all.
Now that we are here, and start to study,
we are told: LEARN TAMIL!
Even back home, they studied
only in English.
Here too, they study
only in English.’
This is what it is:
he stayed here for two weeks,
but couldn’t meet Kalaichelvan.
The night before, they spoke on the phone.
‘Come tomorrow morning, I’ll be home,”
Kalaichelvan suggested.
When he got there at dawn,
bringing Kalaichelvan’s body down from the sixth floor
was the only thing left to do.
July 2006
Vellaalas: socioeconomically and politically dominant caste in the Tamil-speaking areas of Sri Lanka.
Shanmugalingam: an exiled Tamil public intellectual, here visiting Paris.
Kalaichelvan: a noted literary Tamil editor and publisher based in France.