Kavi Kolaya
Suicide of a University student, 1984

Twelve and a half sheets of paper

Closely written

All thatís left of a human life.

Is this document

Meant to tell me anything

Or is it just a record of a young

Manís unfinished, obscure history

So soon to be forgotten with the passing

Years and with a million other deaths

Facts that are now commonplace

In our everyday lives,

Could we not help him, then?

Is it language that kept us apart

Or the lack of pity

For those who suffer

But cannot talk?


I think of him now

So many years later

Discovering a yellowed scrap of paper

On which memory had scrawled those lines

What happened to his pages

On which his shadow fell

The pen or pencil poised over the thoughts

He poured out from his heart,

The ink long since faded, the ink dried up

The pencil stub diminished, the point blunted

Did the sheaf of papers give out

Or had he said all that he had to say

Long shredded those pages meant to record

His lecture notes filled with the complex

Histories of othersí lives, ancient epochs

Vanished dynasties?

Wasnít he like one of us,

What we speak, wht we write

Bears no significance to the living

For whom our tortured thoughts

Are only contrived fictions filled with

Artifice or if our words contain the truth

They are the danger signals

Their radiant light to be quickly

Snuffed out, the shutters lowered

Creating darkness blotting out the revelations.

Only the ruins of those past prisons

Stand as monuments that the unseeing

Pass casually by, crushed underfoot

Or churned in the dust by well shod foot

The smudged manifestos of lost, forgotten lives.
by Jean Arasanayagam.