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The boy won’t remember my touch. My coarse brown hands, my calloused bare feet. He will never ponder over my strange tongue; eyes wide open, as deep and sweet as my cargo of cinnamon. I think he has always sensed that, even as I arrived to you, knee deep in his ocean, I would depart: trailing after my precious boat.

You don’t know my home – whether it be Serendib or the oceans, Moorahah only knows – but it matters not. For your stories are here. In your dark orange dirt, your temperamental creek beds, your ancient, jagged waterfalls, your strange trees and peculiar animals that your deities ruptured into existence. You sing into being the same gods that we sing to, but in your own place.

I know that when you stop and allow a caterpillar to crawl onto you, that as it lurches from one finger to the next, you hold me back; for you are pointing also to my own pitiful state, reaching out from island to island, arms outstretched with gifts; the eternal visitor; and even still, pointing to atman, whatever it is that is inside us, indivisible, shuddering at death from one body to the next.

I know that when you put your hand over my chest, you do not feel me; you feel that which connects us, and, sadly, it is the same thing that connects you to this place, this dust swirling around our feet, this earth between our toes. And therefore connects me: binds me to something which is not mine. Your great, enormous space, across which we could walk for a hundred days into the desert and still come upon no sea. I’m sorry. It is not my own. Frankly, it scares me.

And I know, finally, that as you gesture to the sky and the seas – you gesture at what we call brahman, all around us; what is of course, the very same as atman, inside us; and that even though I depart, it is only my body that is leaving, for we shall see each other there, in the sky, in the deep sea, when we return – not only the two of us, but him also, and the children born to him, and those to them and beyond.

(words by S. Shakthidharan)



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