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Tamilian in Paris


Photo courtesy of Global Justice Weekly

The restaurant served idly and dosai around

the corner from Notre Dame, before the fire,

in a perfect union of India and Europe, while

at my table a waitress asked for my order.

I recognized her as a fellow member of

the lost tribe. We spoke in French of how

she left the North as a teenager, escaping

bombs on rooftops and strafing of palmyrah

trees. She got out with an elder sister,

a brother sacrificed to the fight for Eelam.

I felt her sadness as she spoke, and how

twenty years later she has yet to return.

I said I wrote poetry, much of it about

the island and its uncivil war. I gave

her Sur l’île nostalgique, a book I wrote

about another island home, in Haiti.

But all islands are one, circles within

a circle, planet spinning in the deep

ocean of space but tied to light,

to the Sun. If I were to return

to Paris, would I find her again?

Would she have managed by then

to go back to that home spinning

in mind beside the Bay of Bengal?

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