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Sri Lanka Quietly Fades

Easter Sunday Bombings
 
There are these moments
when I feel the warmth of
Ammah’s chicken curry in
the cuddles given to me
by my children. We’re all
squished together like a
pan roll or three with just
enough spice in its filling
and crunch in its crumbed
covering.
 
Motherhood in a time where
bushes hide shiny foil wrappings
ready to explode Cadbury delights
all throughout Easter Sunday dinner.
 
Over water-turned-wine my tall
blue-eyed husband leans his face
to my left ear, like
he’s about to kiss me.
‘Just a heads up,’ he says instead.
‘Some churches in Colombo
have been bombed.’
 
I reach for the phone, 
shards of my children’s
broken chocolate Easter bunnies
all over the kitchen counter.

 

 Crowned in Sunday Best
 
A couple of hours later,
chocolate explosions cleaned up,
my children sleep.
 
I’m sitting cross-legged on my couch
seeing image-after-image in the dark.
Headline: More than 130 Dead
with Hundreds Injured.
Death Toll to Rise.

Ashen grey smoke surrounds
white buildings, brown bodies, empty streets.
 
Militia guard the surrounds
of popular hotels, heavily booked
for hoppers, dosais, curries, eggs,
fry-ups, East Asian soups –
enjoyed by locals and tourists.
 
I should know. I was there two years ago.
 
Churches are now darkened
like my living room
but with the blackened smoke
of charred flesh in faith.
 
Before, the bodies, with the same
hue as mine, were crowned
in Sunday best in the light of
a stained-glass Virgin Mary.

 

Fair-skinned Jesus
 

Headline: Multiple Bombs
Blast Across the Country, Killing 290.
 
Foreigners included in the death toll.
Social media blocked. Wait to hear
of loved ones. Wait among
bloodied saris, in disbelief.
 
Headline: The Death Toll Rises to 321.
The white walls, the statue of fair-skinned Jesus
in a toga style white robe flecked with red.
People missing. Limbs missing. Babies. Appahs.
Ammammahs. Chellams.
 
Headline: TV Celebrity Chef
and Daughter First Victims.
European fashion billionaire’s three children.
Other Europeans.
Two Australians.
Indians. Asians.
 
“International help,” the local authorities say,
“is on its way.”
 
Headline: 359 Gone.
Too late. Too late.
In a country weeks shy of its ten year
anniversary of the ‘end’ of a civil war.
 
My ancestral country knows too much tragedy.
Mass searches continue. Mass funerals begin.
Strands of white and black ribbons hang.

Sri Lanka Quietly Fades
 
Slowly, in Sydney’s inner-west,
I pull myself back.
 
Sri Lanka quietly fades, several clicks
and flicks away, to the back pages.
 
I watch my latte kulantaikal
play barefoot in the park.

 

This poem was produced as part of a series, published in partnership with Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. Editorial support for each poem published in A Sweatshop in a Red Room, has been provided by Winnie Dunn.

Go to Christine Shamista's profile to read more poems