Poem by Kasiananthan on the Tamil Diaspora and Eelam, trans by T Wignesan

Written by: T Wignesan

The Parrot and the Woodpecker may turn...
    [Sung by TEnicayccal Cellappa]        Translated by T.Wignesan
 
mAnkiliyum marankottiyum                    The parrot and the woodpecker

   kUtutirumpa tatayillai                             their nests to regain  nothing waylays

nAnkal mattum ulakattilEyE                    Only we  in all this world

   nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai                        our homeland to seek may not turn      

   nAtutirumpa mutiyavillai                        our homeland to seek may not turn

                            [Above refrain repeated twice]

cinkalavan pataivAnil                               From skies filled with Sinhalese planes

  neruppai alli corikiratu                             fire tumbles down in seething showers 

enkal uyir tamil Elam                              Our lifeblood   our Tamil Eelam

  cutukAtAy erikiratu                                      a simmering graveyard on fire

 

tAykatarap pillaikalin                               While mothers rave in pain  children’s

 nencukalaik kilikkinrAn                             breasts  the oppressor tears apart

kAyyAkum munnE ilam                           Long before they might ripen    tender

  pincukalai alikkirAn                                  the buds crushed from burgeoning

                                       [Refrain]

pettavankal UrilE                                   Those who begot us back home

 Enku rAnku pAcattilE                              tossing  turning in their longing for us

ettanai nAl kArttiruppOm                       For how many days might we linger on

 atuttavan tEcattilE                                  in the other man’s refugee land

 
unnavum mutiyavillai                                Without proper food

 urankavum mutiyavillai                              without sufficient sleep

ennavum mutiyavillai                                Unable rightly even to think

  innumtAn vitiyutillai                                  when will the day dawn for us

                                           [Refrain]

kitti pullu atittu nankal                              We who played at kitti pullu*

 vilaiyAtum teruvilEyE                                  joyously in the heedless streets

katti vayttuc cutukirAnAm                         There now tethered  others lie felled

 yAr manatum urukavillai                             no  no hearts pain for us

 
Ur katitam patikkayilEyE                       When our eyes light on letters from home

 vimmi nencu vetikkitu                           sobs prise open our brimming breasts

pOrpulikal pakkattilEyE                         By the flanks of battling Tigers

 pOkamanam tutikkitu                            there to be  our hearts throb and yearn

                                           [Refrain]

Note: * A competitive game played by hitting a small stick with a bigger one, the goal being to cover the greatest distance. Also called in Tamil Nadu and Malaysia: kavuntA kavunti.                                      

© T. Wignesan – Paris, 1995. From the collection: “Words for a Lost Sub-Continent” (2001). Excerpted from “Kasi Ananthan: Poet Laureae of Tamil Eelam” by T. Wignesan in Hot Spring: A Journal of Commitment, Vol. 3, No. 9 (London), December 1998, pp. 17-18.