(Jaffna, at the extreme north of Sri Lanka, once used to be hell on earth for those who lived there. Now, however, the rebuilding is going on slowly, but still there’s a lot of gaps that we need to fill. Because just as you rebuild it, you need to keep it rebuilt for a long, long time. Granted, my poetry is terrible, but I wanted this to be out.)

Oh Jaffna,  plains once deep in sorrow and blood
Evenings cool, and life now coming back home.
Pretty town; Nallur Temple, red-gold, ah
Kiss the skies, great edifice, for just one
Am I who walks within thy mighty shade.
A silent prayer escapes our hearts now,
Heads turning to the market square;
Towards man and adaptation.

Oh Saraswati, goddess beside the hall of books!
Sacrifices made within your name.
But where was your strong arm when we needed you?
When flames and thunder struck from the depths of hell,
Licking your hall like raptorial tongues,
You sat, you smiled, you hoped…

Against all odds we prayed to you,
Against it all we fought for the mother.
The beast is purged now from your womb,
Saraswati, please sit no more! For within the books,
That love and the knowledge,
Purest wisdom of all passed eons.
Fill our hearts with Nirvana’s light!

Make our mother everlasting
Let her love us till all time ends!


11 thoughts on “FOR JAFFNA”

  1. I absolutely love this poem. You say your poetry is terrible, but let me assure you, that its not. I loved how you brought in Saraswati, asking her how she failed at saving those books, thousands of them! And while you do start with Jaffna, and all things people have to now adapt to, you end with something more general to all. Books are loved by us all, whether or not they were the ones that were burnt to ashes in Jaffna. Love the line, "Fill our hearts with Nirvana's light!" reminds me of the poem Murder by Nuhman (not sure of spelling) that we discussed at the workshop

  2. Yes Vasika, it's a beautiful poem and not terrible at all… It makes me want to visit Jaffna. I liked the ending too, specially the lines " Make our mother everlastingLet her love us till all time ends!"… The word "raptorial" brought dinosaurs to my mind 😉 Was it pure coincidence?

  3. Thank you, I just loved the Saraswati statue in front of the Library, that's all, and I always took the burning of the Library itself as a terrible blow to the people of Jaffna, and Saraswati is the goddess of learning. And those books contained so much knowledge that they are lost forever, that's why I'm mentioning them. They belong to Jaffna and are part of its great heritage, as precious as the people who live there 🙂 The poem, I intended to be a prayer to Saraswati, for the whole of Jaffna, to prevent any more losses in the future.

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