13 September 2023

Enduring solidarities

['The Morning Inspection' is the title of a column I wrote for the Daily News from 2009 to 2011, one article a day, Monday through Saturday. This is the 220th article in the new series that began in December 2022. Links to previous articles are given below]    

Political borders were redrawn and certain assets were divided through the Indian Independence Act 1947. That’s what came to be known as the Partition of India, coinciding with the dissolution of the British Raj in the relevant territory.  The logic or otherwise of this act has been debated endlessly since then. Words and bullets have traveled in both directions. All over a line drawn across a piece of paper and, with time, engraved in imagination associated with nation. Let’s not dwell on the bad news which has filled newspapers and clouded the airwaves.

There have been solidarities that have ignored borders. The wind passes over them, the sun minds not the foibles of the species. And, in rare moments, lines are made absolutely irrelevant.

I remember the year 1996. Many Sri Lankans, especially cricket fans, still talk of 1996 and Sri Lanka winning the Wills’ World Cup, defeating Australia in the final played in Lahore. And most of those who were glued to television sets throughout that tournament remember a moment when Sri Lanka was made to feel small by certain countries.

Australia and the West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka citing security concerns. The two teams would forfeit their respective matches against Sri Lanka. Eventually, Australia beat the West Indies in one of the semi-finals and, as mentioned, went on to lose the final to Sri Lanka. A bit of poetic justice, one might say.

The better, more compelling and indeed indelible poetry came before the tournament started. India and Pakistan virtually said, ‘no, not in our region, we will not let anyone belittle Sri Lanka off the ground.’ A Wills’ India-Pakistan XI traveled to Colombo to play a friendly ODI against Sri Lanka.

Indians and Pakistanis played together, in a single team. They played together against Sri Lanka, that’s what the scoresheet shows. In fact they were all playing together, celebrating the sport they all loved but more than all that, celebrating commonalities that went beyond the game, the idea of a nation and even a region. Borders were crossed, yes, but then again one could say borders were erased.

India and Pakistan would rekindle the rivalry a few weeks later in a quarterfinal encounter. Obviously the citizens of each country would have cheered on their respective heroes. India won and faced Sri Lanka in the semifinal.  Again, citizens would have cheered their teams. Sri Lanka won. The final was played in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. It was as though Sri Lanka was playing at home, because the Pakistani fans overwhelmingly supported Arjuna Ranatunga and his men.  

Somehow, somewhere, something had happened that made national boundaries meaningless. Put another way, one could argue that while the cartographers were not troubled and lines written on a piece of paper were not erased or altered, things that were bigger than borders and  boundaries had been affirmed.

Notions of a larger South Asian political entity someday in the future, then? No. Nothing like that. It was, I feel, about solidarities that are not amenable to body-checking at borders.

On Monday the 11th of September, 2023, India thrashed Pakistan in a Super Four match of the Asia Cup in Colombo on the back of two spectacular centuries, one by Virat Kohli (122 not out) and K L Rahul (111 not out), and a splendid effort with the ball by Kuldeep Yadav who took 5 wickets for 25 off 8 overs. It would have pleased Indians and made Pakistanis sad. 
A few days from now, the captain of either India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (they aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, despite having lost to both Pakistan and Sri Lanka) or Sri Lanka will lift the Asia Cup. The particular citizens would no doubt be thrilled and would feel proud of their team. At some level a few people would cheer something else: a home and home and home and home Super Four, a home and home final and the home team winning a trophy.  That’s solidarity that cannot be scripted. That’s solidarity that cannot be legislated. That’s solidarity that endures.

And on that note, for what it is worth, led me add my voice to those who would love to see a full India-Pakistan series including tests, ODIs and T-20: ‘Come, play in Sri Lanka, this time not to send a message to those who willingly or otherwise belittled Sri Lanka, but to affirm a common regional love of cricket and by way of allowing Sri Lanka to say, yet once again, “Thank you India and thank you Pakistan for that memorable gesture 27 years ago.”’


Other articles in this series: 

Coco 'Quotes' Gauff!

9/11 and the calm metal instrument of Salvador Allende's voice 

What a memory-keeper foregoes 

Whitman, Neruda and things that wait in all things

Thilina Kaluthotage's eyes keep watch

Those made of love will fly

Profit: the peragamankaru of major wars

Helplessness and innocence

The parameters of entirety

In loving memory of Carrie Lee (1956-2020)

Mobsters on and off the screen

Transfixing and freeing dawns

We're here because we're here because we're here

Life signatures

Sha'Carri Richardson versus and with Sha'Carri Richardson  

A canvas for a mind-brush

Sybil Wettasinghe's shoes

Love is...

A stroll with Pragg and Arjun along a boulevard in Baku

Meditation on tree-art

Daya Sahabandu ran out of partners but must have smiled to the end

Gentle intrusions 

Sleeping well

The unleashing of inspiration

Write, for Pete's sake

Autumn Leaves Safeness

 Sapan and voices that erase borders

Problem elephants and problem humans

Songs from the vaekanda

The 'inhuman' elephant in a human zoo

Ivan Art: Ivanthi Fernando's efforts to align meaning

Arwa Turra, heart-stitcher

Let's help Jagana Krishnakumar rebuild our ancestral home

True national anthems

Do you have a friend in Pennsylvania (or anywhere?)

A gateway to illumination in West Virginia

Through strange fissures into magical orchards

There's sea glass love few will see 

Re-residencing Lakdasa Wikkramasinha

Poisoning poets and shredding books of verse

The responsible will not be broken

Home worlds

Ownership and tenuriality of the Wissahickon

Did you notice the 'tiny, tiny wayside flowers'?

Gifts, gifting and their rubbishing

History is new(s)

Journalism inadvertently learned

Reflections on the young poetic heart

Wordaholic, trynasty and other portmanteaus

The 'Loku Aiya' of all 'Paththara Mallis'

Subverting the indecency of the mind

Character theft and the perennial question 'who am I?'


A degree in people

Faces dripping with time

Saji Coomaraswamy and rewards that matter

Revolutionary unburdening

Seeing, unseeing and seeing again

Alex Carey and the (small) matter of legacy

The Edelweiss of Mirissa 

The insomnial dreams of Kapila Kumara Kalinga 

The clothes we wear and the clothes that wear us (down) 

Every mountain, every rock, is sacred 

Manufacturing passivity and obedience 

Precept and practice 

Sanjeew Lonliyes: rawness unplugged, unlimited 

In praise of courage, determination and insanity 

The relative values of life and death 

Feet that walk 

Sarinda's eyes 

Poetry and poets will not be buried 

Sunny Dayananda 

Reunion Peradeniya (1980-1990) 

What makes Oxygen breathable?  

Sorrowing and delighting the world 

The greatest fallacy  

Encounters with Liyanage Amarakeerthi 

Beyond praise and blame 

Letters that cut and heal the heart 

Vanished and vanishing trails 


A forgotten dawn song from Embilipitiya 

The soft rain of neighbourliness  

The Gold Medals of being 

Jaya Sri Ratna Sri 

All those we've loved before 

Reflections on waves and markings 

A chorus of National Anthems 

Saying what and how 

'Say when' 

Respond to insults in line with the Akkosa Sutra 

The loves of our lives 

The right time, the right person 

The silent equivalent of a thousand words 

Crazy cousins are besties for life 

Unities, free and endearing 

Free verse and the return key

"Sorry, Earth!" 

The lost lyrics of Premakeerthi de Alwis 

The revolution is the song 

Consolation prizes in competitions no one ever wins 

The day I won a Pulitzer 


Ella Deloria's silences 

Blackness, whiteness and black-whiteness 

Inscriptions: stubborn and erasable  


Deveni: a priceless one-word koan 

Enlightening geometries 

Let's meet at 'The Commons' 

It all begins with a dot 

Recovering run-on lines and lost punctuation 

'Wetness' is not the preserve of the Dry Zone 

On sweeping close to one's feet 

Kumkum Fernando installs Sri Lanka in Coachella, California

To be an island like the Roberts... 

Debts that can never be repaid in full

An island which no flood can overwhelm 

Who really wrote 'Mother'? 

A melody faint and yet not beyond hearing 

Heart dances that cannot be choreographed 

Remembering to forget and forgetting to remember 

On loving, always 

Authors are assassinated, readers are immortal 

When you turn 80... 

It is good to be conscious of nudities  

Saturday slides in after Monday and Sunday somersaults into Friday  

There's a one in a million and a one in ten 

Gunadasa Kapuge is calling 

Kumkum Fernando installs Sri Lanka in Coachella, California 

Hemantha Gunawardena's signature 

Pathways missed 

Architectures of the demolished 

The exotic lunacy of parting gifts 

Who the heck do you think I am? 

Those fascinating 'Chitra Katha' 

The Mangala Sabhava 

So how are things in Sri Lanka? 

The most beautiful father 

Palmam qui meruit ferat 

The sweetest three-letter poem 

Buddhangala Kamatahan 

An Irish and Sri Lankan Hello 

Teams, team-thinking, team-spirit and leadership 

The songs we could sing in lifeboats when we are shipwrecked 

Pure-Rathna, a class act 

Jekhan Aruliah set a ball rolling in Jaffna 

Awaiting arrivals unlike any other 

Teachers and students sometimes reverse roles 

Matters of honor and dignity 

Yet another Mother's Day 

A cockroach named 'Don't' 

Colombo, Colombo, Colombo and so forth 

The slowest road to Kumarigama, Ampara 

Sweeping the clutter away 

Some play music, others listen 

Completing unfinished texts 

Mind and hearts, loquacious and taciturn 

I am at Jaga Food, where are you? 

On separating the missing from the disappeared 

Moments without tenses 

And intangible republics will save the day (as they always have) 

The world is made of waves 


The circuitous logic of Tony Muller 

Rohana Kalyanaratne, an unforgettable 'Loku Aiya' 

Mowgli, the Greatest Archaeologist 

Figures and disfigurement, rocks and roses 

Sujith Rathnayake and incarcerations imposed and embraced 

Some stories are written on the covers themselves 

A poetic enclave in the Republic of Literature 

Landcapes of gone-time and going-time  

The best insurance against the loud and repeated lie 

So what if the best flutes will not go to the best flautists? 

There's dust and words awaiting us at crossroads and crosswords 

The books of disquiet 

A song of terraced paddy fields 

Of ants, bridges and possibilities 

From A through Aardvark to Zyzzyva  

World's End 

Words, their potency, appropriation and abuse 

Street corner stories 

Who did not listen, who's not listening still? 

The book of layering 

If you remember Kobe, visit GOAT Mountain 

The world is made for re-colouring 

The gift and yoke of bastardy 

The 'English Smile' 

No 27, Dickman's Road, Colombo 5 

Visual cartographers and cartography 

Ithaca from a long ago and right now 

Lessons written in invisible ink 

The amazing quality of 'equal-kindness' 

A tea-maker story seldom told 

On academic activism 

The interchangeability of light and darkness 

Back to TRADITIONAL rice 

Sisterhood: moments, just moments 

Chess is my life and perhaps your too

Reflections on ownership and belonging 

The integrity of Nadeesha Rajapaksha 

Signatures in the seasons of love

To Maceo Martinet as he flies over rainbows 

Sirith, like pirith, persist 

Fragrances that will not be bottled  

Colours and textures of living heritage 

Countries of the past, present and future 

A degree in creative excuses

Books launched and not-yet-launched 

The sunrise as viewed from sacred mountains 

The ways of the lotus 

Isaiah 58: 12-16 and the true meaning of grace 

The age of Frederick Algernon Trotteville 

Live and tell the tale as you will 

Between struggle and cooperation 

Of love and other intangibles 

Neruda, Sekara and literary dimensions 

The universe of smallness 

Paul Christopher's heart of many chambers 

Calmness gracefully cascades in the Dumbara Hills 

Serendipitous amber rules the world 

Continents of the heart
The allegory of the slow road