Friday, 17 February 2017

A sandesaya to Gamini Fonseka

Tell us of the roles you play
the scripts that come alive
as you walk and walk,
speak and say nothing,
in your gaze and gesture,
out there in those other locations
among the other heroes
supporting casts
props and equipment.
Tell us about that life,
the parameters
within which they capture
moment and a love note
a kiss and an arrow;
the contortions of the human condition
the comedy, tragedy and other undefined things.
Tell us about the play of power,
of dignity and arrogance
the slippages
between ‘possible’ and ‘impossible’,
loose words, and
silence that draws from the eternal verities.
Tell us about the heroines,
the casuals,
the portraits shattered with gunfire
the images that were not bullet-proof
but which survived.
Tell us,
in this land beyond recall,
how tall you are,
how commanding;
give us the dimensions
of profile and bearing.
Do you, for example,
hold the screen in a clenched fist
or in your determined eyes,
or have you disappeared
in the burning black-white frame
of your own exhalations
or crushed like the cigarette-ends
you ground out
to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
as per script
or out of it,
as was your way?

[first published in 'The Nation' in October 2006, a few days after his death]

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