Artwork by Enbah Nilah

For Jack Malik, who encouraged me to experiment with Tamil in my poetry, and whose struggle to find his Suara is one that so many of us know all too well. Terima kasih, kawan.

Aayiram thirukkural vaasitte
en naaku indru
en kural maranthathu yen?

I am now without a voice,
I don’t sound like my
maatha,
pithaa,
guru,
or deivam.
I have no certainty in the currency
of words,
I have spent too many;
this inflation
rose from the collapse
of the foundation
with which I made meanings,
made sense of fumbling feelings,
nothing I say ever has enough worth
anymore,
I am poor!

But I am still tossing all my coins
into this wishing well of audience,
hoping that you hear the
resonance of who I used to be
or who I am yet to be,
in the spaces between my breaths –
so dissonant and distant,
but here’s to wishing
you’d still wish me well.

me, the mute poet
the crude puppet
pulling at the strings attached to its tongue,
strumming it to make sounds,
to make do
to follow cue
to cut through
with the truth
I have forgotten to speak.

I have forgotten to speak!
Exhausted all reasons,
and how am I to admit to this treason
when I stand among people who
still celebrate the privilege
of the peeling of skins
and bleeding on stages
to appease
those who are still needing
a little healing.
and I’ve let you down today.
I’ve let myself down today.

Aayiram natchathirangalai pinnum
en vaarthaigal indru
nuraigalaai aanathu yen?

Forgive this sorry soul,
I am sick.
But here’s to tossing another coin
into your wishing well,
wishing you’d still wish me well,
so I can inhabit this shell
of a person again.
I shall gain my voice tomorrow
when this illness passes
and leave things to grow
once more
everything
will smell of rain
and taste of earth
on the edge of rebirth,
and I will take a leaf out of your book,
and spread the seeds of gratitude,
so another poet can rest in the shadows
of the trees I have planted in your name.

Inthe nuraigalum
un karaiyai thodum.

 

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