Culture informs my everyday life in very prosaic ways, and this bleeds into my creative life in what I hope are more profound ways. "You Bring Out The Sri Lankan In Me" was inspired by Sandra Cisneros' "You Bring Out The Mexican In Me". What love could be more meaningful than one which makes a person feel in touch with their roots, their memories, their histories?
I vouch for no Sri Lankan experience but mine, and remain neutral on the nation's political situation despite what might appear to be insinuations of partisanship (these are in the interest of lyricism). I have chosen to not have a glossary primarily because I don't like the exoticization of a great deal of women's writing from my culture.
I write not to show off or even to share my culture - I write because I am my culture, and because I believe that if I am sincere in this, the spirit of the work is conveyed regardless of linguistic differences
You bring out the Sri Lankan in me.
The glint of tigress eye.
The monsoon of memory.
You bring out the Sri Lankan in me
The craze of poya night in me.
The dipping ginger biscuits in hot plain tea in me.
You are the one I would surrender other loves for,
share the sucking of the pulp off manga kotte with
screw the fashionable guilt over sura meen puttu with,
listen to the Kantha Shasti Kavasam with.
Comb my hair with olive oil. Call me Kannamma.
Make love to me with all the poems of red earth and pouring rain.
And I will be yours.
You bring out the Sri Lankan in me.
The accent like the surprise of sweet in mango pickle in me.
The lion emblem on all the embassy cutlery in me.
The dreadlocked snake charmer under a dreadlocked banyan in me.
The reheated idiappom and potato sothi at midnight in me
The waking up to the thud of a thalagoya on the roof in me.
The Mahavamsa in me.
The navaratna of desire in me.
The love of the coast in me.
You bring out the ingi idupazhagi in me.
The sapphire in me. The curves inside a batik-print caftan in me.
The baila like a baby on the hip in me.
You do. Yes, you do.
The Draupadi Amman of the blood in me.
The song of the Batticaloa meenmaghzal in me
You bring out the ceasefire breach in me
The seafarer's Serendib in me.
The forgotten railway in me.
The secret Catholic prayers in me.
The superstition and the weakness for synchronicity in me.
The superiority complex in me.
The pronouncing it idi-cologne and cer-awl in me.
The Ceylonese-Not-Indian in me.
The paan-not-roti, kochika-not-milaghai,
quisine-not-samaiyal arre, om-not-ama, no wonder
we think Madrasis are all buffaloes! in me.
The half-Madrasi, half-buffalo in me.
You bring out the insurgency in me
The diehard Marxist sympathizer in me
The Nuwara Eliya strawberries in me
The family scandals in me
The sneaking out during night-time curfew to buy a birthday cake in me
The weakness for chubby men with moustaches in me.
The enna vekkam, thangachi? Inga varungo! in me.
The panna-marram plantations in me.
The world's number one cinnamon exporter in me
The elephant fetish in me.
The writing final exams under the desk during an air raid in me
The Colombo Seven bourgeois in me.
The enda kunju! cheek-sniff kiss in me.
The wedding love cake and brandied fruit cake in me
The spitting thrice to cure a thristi jinx in me.
The ruins of Kandukulimalai in me.
The Buddha's tooth relic in me.
The cannons on Galle Face in me.
The riot in me.
You bring out the Ravana in me.
The yakshini curse in me.
The graffiti poets of Sirigaya in me.
The vesmuhunu devil mask in me
The Kandyan drumbeat in the soles of my feet in me.
You bring out the burning of the Jaffna library in me
The fall of Elephant Pass in me.
The tsunami camp rape survivor in me
The Black July 1983 in me.
The displacement in me.
The martyr for my mother's tongue in me
The dancing alone in exile in me.
The bells of St. Lucia's cathedral in Kotahena in me
The allegory of the woodapple and the elephant in me
The homemade chikku ice-cream in me
The coconut in everything in me
You bring out the refugee in me
The tearing up my passport on the plane to Canada in me
The asylum diaspora and the raging ghost of Dhanu in me.
This sorrow at my heels, my prettiest anklet.
bring out the suicide bomber in me.
You turn my heart into a hand grenade.
Because of you I have transgressed these borders.
En mannvasanai. En yuktam. Only yours. Only you.
En mannathil kudiirrukkiru viduthalai puli
Love the way a Sri Lankan woman loves. Let
me show you. Love the only way I know how.