The man I love


At sunrise and sunset
In the hum of the bees
And the call of the koha
The sweat ridden buffalo
Slugging its way through the chiselled roads
Carrying the burden of her karma
In the skipping of white uniformed children
Hair well-oiled and plaited
School bags swinging
The screech of the traffic
The daily business of coming and going
I look for you

The man I love

Honest, funny and wise
Searching, methodical, ever working, ever seeking
Focused, disciplined, the reader, the speaker
The humour in his voice – baby the law is a jealous mistress
The human man
Maybe the only human man I met
Shaping me and my ideals
Holding the small of my hand and my bag
Proverbial “walk in military style” and “better late than never”
Dentist, worms, school bands, teaching me to write formal letters
Which has stood the test of time

“Be independent, never trust a man even if he is your husband
Stand on your feet”
Buying a Wolseley car, and hiring Banda to teach me
While he never drove or swam – his eyesight was poor
He said in justification
Loving me unconditionally even when I was with child
A mother and wife

Making me the woman I am

The Indian man from Uttar Pradesh
Never complaining of racial harassment or discrimination
But fighting for justice in a world so unjust
Poor but not grasping
Learning to speak in Sinhala to present his case
Taking me to the astrologer to show my palm
In the bliss of the dark room, magnifying glass on my palm
Then conversing with Professor Perera in the language of the Vedic
That I never understood until much later

Asking me to read the Bhagavad Gita
The Bible
Encouraging me to study Islam in school
And be free

I have searched for you
In faces that I meet
In hearts of men
You will forever remain
The only man I love

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This Poems Story

The poem provides an insight into my childhood, growing up as an Indian in Sri Lanka in the 1960s. It portrays the love between a daughter and her father who is her first and possibly her last mentor.