Saturday, November 14, 2009

A poem in tribute to K A Subramaniam by Poet Sillaiyoor Selvarajan

Comrades who have gathered here
To recall in a cascade
Thoughts of a great man called Maniam
His life of bravery, his conduct of humility
His broad outlook based on service,
To pay tribute to that immortalised soul,
Allow me a mere ten minutes to sing of my man.
Yes, I arrogantly referred to him as my man.
I called him my man
For there was such intimate fellowship between us.
Forgive me if I was wrong.
I said so since I was one who shared and lived among friends
In the warmth of his shelter with his wife and children
And comrades who united as one in the policies of struggle.
Forgive me if I was wrong.
Our friendship budded in my schooldays
Then we ran free. We were mere lads
Who parted company
In our adolescence, unaware of the revolutionary sweep,
Not knowing that we will meet again
To merge through struggles for rights that would dominate,
Through arguing the case for the oppressed and
The class struggle of the workers,
In political debate and in battles for cultural thought.
We met again in battlefronts, on the same side.
I met at St Henrry’s College, Ilavalai
Maniam, the meticulous student
Who preserved silence, with little time for chit chat,
A man of mystery,
An underground fighter who lives on after his death,
A leader who breaks his silence at the head of a mass rally,
A hero who did not sing and swear only to surrender,
A hero who achieved things without compromise.
Poetry stammers to describe that joy.
A silent tribute for Maniam–
The fighter who refused to be silent
And spoke up in struggle for the masses?
A silent tribute in place of a battle cry?
Forgive me, I cannot!
We have been captivated by the communist way
Along the path of Marxism Leninism.
We met. We spoke. We embraced the path
And entered the battlefield on different fronts.
I, in the front of art and literature, and
He, in the field of relentless action in struggle.
Having consumed the poison that
Emerged in the churning of the cement factory struggle
To feed the ambrosia to the folk*
He continued in struggle in the hartal,
In the militant demonstrations for equality in education,
To dedicate his efforts to working class struggles,
To lend his shoulder to the oppressed in caste conflicts,
To lead the way like the flame of the lamp
Amid ideological confusion in the worker’s unions,
To identify the issues by scientific analysis
Without losing heat by communal violence,
To work like a tusker and
Struggle with character to the end with relentless militancy,
And to lead a life true to the definition of a martyr.
I am a friend of KA Subramaniam, my man,
The personification of friendship,
The able master of egalitarianism.
Poetry stammers to describe that joy.
I recall the Comrade Maniam
Who identified the principles that prevent filth
From infiltrating art and literature and,
When I among others was tempted,
Stood behind to warn me,
“Hey, Selva, do not be baffled”, and show me the way.
Poetry stammers to describe that joy.
As the times of close relationship
Cast their shadows in my mind and soak my thought
Poetry stammers to describe that joy.
For me to sing of the times
When Maniam and I discussed in privacy,
The warm hospitality of his dear wife,
The sweet words of the three tender children,
Sathiyarajan, Sathiyakeerthi and Sathiyamalar,
Calling me “Uncle”
In a tone akin to the comfort of a cool spring,
I have not the words.
Poetry stammers to describe that joy.
The friend of the dispossessed, we have been dispossessed of you.
Maniam! My Marxist salutations to you!
Farewell Maniam! But
The golden moments of happiness I had with you,
The golden moments in which we shared
With sweet drinks and our majestic confidence in
The desire to make a new world,
They have not gone away.
Your little boys, your little girl, your son-in-law
And so many more whom you had aroused before you went.
Those are golden moments, tender golden moments.
Farewell Maniam! When you return
Your task would have been done.
The thoughts that you had,
The scenes of your great dreams
Would all have been realised.
Farewell my prince! When you return
With the desire for equality,
Communism would have blossomed on earth.
With aching hearts we would await your
Return from leave to see that new world.
Maniam! My Marxist salutations to you.

[This poem in tribute to Comrade K A Subramaniam was read out as funeral oration by the late Sillaiyoor
a close friend and a leading Sri Lankan Tamil poet.]
* Note: Refers to Hindu mythology where the Devas and Asuras churned the celestial ocean of milk with the
celestial serpent as rope to extract its ambrosia, and when the serpent spat venom Lord Shiva swallowed it to
save all living beings. Reproduced here with sincere thanks to "New Democracy"

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வணக்கம்! தங்கள் செய்திக்கு மிக்க நன்றி. அம்மா...வள்ளியம்மை சுப்பிரமணியம்

தோழர் கே ஏ சுப்பிரமணியம் 1989 விடைபெறுகிறேன் K.A.Subramaniam Commemoration Volume

தோழர் கே ஏ சுப்பிரமணியம் 1989 விடைபெறுகிறேன்  K.A.Subramaniam Commemoration Volume
Please click on the photo to download the FULL VOLUME in PDF