Saturday, September 29, 2012

For Janaka Ekanayaka and Sisitha Priyankara

There were two minutes of heavy silence
among ten thousand tired people
Yesterday at Hyde Park.
The music and the speeches, the chanting and the slogans.

Only the sound of the crows
searching for scraps
In the city’s humid afternoon slashed the air, thick with a thousand complex

Sweat soaked into our black arm bands and then dripped onto
The soil into which you both will go: The land you struggled in
Will take you back to keep you safe
But safe is not a place you chose.

You wore no uniform, carried no gun
So you will not go down in history as heroes
In records kept by the powerful and the greedy.
There won’t be bright statues of you
Built in the town centres
No hypocrites will visit you next year
With cameras in tow
No crows will shit on you.
But you were armed, remember?
Courage, strength, fearlessness
So hard to disarm
So difficult to combat with water cannons and tear gas.
What I am trying to say is this:
You will shine brighter than
Any medal you might have worn.
And our memory of you will  never rust
 in the rain of forgetfulness
or in the years of silence.

(Janaka Ekanayaka and Sisitha Priyankara were two very vocal and powerfully active members of a student movement called the Inter University Students Federation currently on a campaign to restore dysfunctional universities in the country back to normalcy, to restore the freedom of students and academics, to depoliticize and de militarize higher education and to compel the government of sri lanka to spend more on state education. They were killed in a road accident two days ago. The IUSF says it has cause to believe their deaths were not accidental)