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VADDAI

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons 

I eat Point Pedro vaddai–urad dhal,
chillies, curry leaves, fennel, salt–
the packet forgotten until now

among treats I bought from a fair
in Colombo the last time I went
to the island home. Domestic trade

is back, Yal Devi train back, roads
rebuilt, but the puzzle misses something
still: the dead, our memories fading.

So this Maaveerar Naal, let us
remember all of the past: tens
and tens of thousand civilians

who died in bombing of tent cities,
the Tigers, Sri Lankan soldiers,
let us mark their sacrifice and rebuild

the bulldozed headstones. We need
to honor. We will not be rubbed
out here, or elsewhere, in Palestine,

China, Myanmar. We are not turning
the other cheek and we are not
carrying a gun, only the power

to witness, persuade, these words
to mark what has gone, what is,
and to ask what next for those

of us eating vaddai abroad,
at home in Point Pedro,
Kayts, Jaffna, the Vanni?

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