We know forests can heal. Poetry can heal!

Thachom Poyil  Rajeevan (1959-2022)

Death is a known unknown.

In the early eighties when a large number of my close friends were killed or disappeared, I wrote several elegies, dirges and verses in different genres of poetry to heal, cope and prepare for my own death. I did not know about Rajeevan at that time. We belong to a same generation. We shared several important poetic and political imaginations. We also shared a few chronic illnesses accrued over time.

Rajeevan, my dearest, I knew you were admitted to the hospital.  I could not connect at the last minute. The adamant and irreverent self and smile of yours was the last image that still remains in my mind when I said goodbye to you before leaving for Pattambi in January 2020.

We already made plans to meet in January and February 2023.  Now, it was just a wish unfulfilled and a dream floating around.

It was in January 2020 I spent a few days with him at his home in the middle of a forest he was planting.  In the cool mornings after coffee and breakfast, we walked into and around the forest you were creating. Every tree selected and planted, every shrub selected, located and planted, like the way you choose words and metaphors and place them in your poems and novels. We exchanged Tamil and Malayalam words for plants, flowers and birds. You wanted to come to Jaffna to see the giant Malai Vembu  ( Melia Dubia) tree that is still covering our heritage home.

To my knowledge, there are two poets whom I know were devoted to creating forests. You are one. The other poet was W.S. Mervin. There may be others as well. As W.S .Mervin once said: Both poetry and planting were increasingly truer expressions of the same thing: reaching for the unknown and being in relationship to the world.

I am in grief.  We are in grief. A sad goodbye.  We know forests can heal. Poetry can heal.




Cheran Rudhramoorthy

Cheran is a Tamil Canadian poet. He was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and was forced into exile. Currently, he is a professor in the department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at the university of Windsor in Canada.

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