Thursday, January 29, 2009


Another Incarnation of .... or
Best Interrest of the Power Politics

This time
The bombs
That smashed over Gaza
Have no eyes, ears
And the senses too

It's too brutish,
Horrible and horrendous
Devastating and destructive
It's genuinely
A merciless act of terror

But the bombs
That smashed over Wanni
Have eyes
Nice and beautiful
Lotus like eyes
And have wonderful ears too
Which differentiate the sounds
Of mourning and the roaring
And penetrate to ponder the dreadful

Those who smashed to pieces
Child or an elder
May it be man or women
Who bore the children
In a wrong place
And at a wrong time

The bombs
That smashed over Wanni
Have incredible sense of sensibilities
That targets only the evils
And it becomes
Another God Incarnation

In order to save
The saints of democrats
From the hands of
Demonic terrorists
The inborn destroyers of
World peace and order

January 2009S.Jeyasankar

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Date:13/01/2009 URL:
Back Book Review
Liberal thinking in an embattled society

AJ: The Rooted Cosmopolitan — A Festschrift: Edited by Chelva Kanaganayakam; Pub. by Tamiliyal; 27B High Street, Plaistow, London E13 0AD. Rs. 250.
Men of ideas and letters — teachers, litterateurs, and journalists, for instance — shine best when they work from settings to which they can relate to the most.
This collection of writings A J: The Rooted Cosmopolitan by and on Aloysius Jayaraj Canagaratna (1934-2006) (AJ), the Sri Lankan writer, critic, translator and journalist, is not only a tribute to a person; it is also a flashback to a country where decades of militarism has eclipsed the quest for intellectual pursuits.Intellectual expression
AJ’s succinct observation made in an (unpublished) book review of one of Sri Lanka’s intellectuals, K. Sivathamby, sums it all: “Like Prof Sivathamby I too wanted – and want – to be both a Tamil and a Sri Lankan living on equal footing with other citizens of Sri Lanka. And I certainly do not want to be treated as a second-class citizen: this is a feeling shared by many Tamils in Sri Lanka.” As another contributor points out, despite being “traumatised by the Sri Lankan state’s military adventure in the North,” AJ was “always sceptical about the grandiose plans of Jaffna Tamil nationalism.”
Conflicts invariably bring out the best — and the worst — in a society. Militarised civil conflicts, like that which has ravished Sri Lanka for over three decades now, broaden the canvas for expression of ideas.
There are broadly two choices open to members of embattled societies, particularly those who have the ability to articulate both the popular sentiments and the undercurrents of a conflict, and are willing to stand up and be counted. They could choose distant, safer climes to espouse their ideals, or do so from the thick of things. By all accounts as presented by the writers in this book AJ chose the latter; and he did so with a sense of intellectual commitment. As one of the book’s contributors, Rajan Philips notes in the piece Jaffna’s Literary Soul: “AJ stuck with Jaffna through its years of trial and tribulation. He walked the fine line between the occupying army and the infighting militants, but without sacrificing his intellectual independence.” Cosmopolitan
Of the several roles donned by AJ, that of a journalist from a troubled society merits detailed study. As editor and publisher of the Co-operator, “The journal of Jaffna’s once vibrant cooperative movement,” or as a moving force behind the unique, but now defunct Saturday Review, AJ’s role as a journalist is summed up by Philips: “He did not become a ghost writer or apologist for any of the Tamil groups, as many others did. AJ was not brought up to be a supine fellow traveller of any group, although he had views – critically reflective views – on all of them.” One of Sri Lanka’s leading intellectuals, the late Regi Siriwardena, in his article, which gives the book its name, sums up AJ’s approach to life aptly: “…together with his cosmopolitan culture and broad international awareness, AJ was also an intellectual deeply rooted in the soil of Jaffna, in its life, experience and language…” The book, published by the London-based Tamiliyal, has two parts. The first part is a collection of essays on AJ, with a selection of essays and reviews by AJ making up the second part.
The book is a flashback of not only the life and times of one of Sri Lanka’s accomplished writers, but also of a time when intellectual resistance was the norm, rather than an anachronism. The articles and narratives are a reminder of how rapidly liberal space can shrink when militarism overtakes a society.
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