poetry

Writing poetry has been a hobby of mine since I was a child, and I've used this medium to communicate emotions that I could not share through other languages of expression. My paternal grandfather, Chitrananda Abeysekera, was a celebrated poet, lyricist, broadcaster, and screenwriter in Sri Lanka, so whenever I write poems, I feel even closer to my ancestry and heritage.

Separated from its Continent  My homeland is shaped like a droplet.  It is a tear that carries the grief of my lost ancestors.  It is a bead of sweat that holds the weight of their guilt.  It is a drop of blood they stain on my back  as they bring me into this world.  ​  My homeland is an island separated from its continent, but I'm the one lost at sea.  - Gunindu Sithunada Abeysekera

"Separated from its Continent"

I wrote this poem on May 18, 2019 to commemorate 10 years since the "end" of the civil war in Sri Lanka. I wanted to reflect on my ignorance of the conflict growing up in the diaspora and to commit to learning and unlearning the nuanced history of this war that has shaped the course of my life.

භාෂාව (bhāshāva)  language  වචන (vachana)  words  ​  Whether through sound, script, gesture, or image,  I communicate the present with emotions from the past in my  ​  mother-tongue  මව් භාෂාව (mav bhāshāva). ​  ​  As rounded syllables and sharp consonants roll through my lips creating Sinhala’s poetic  ​  melody  තනුව (thanuva),  heritage  උරුමය (urumaya)  ​  echoes in each tune.  ​  Thoughts  සිතුවිලි (sithuvili)  ​  of how ancestors once used our language to express their  ​  joy  සතුට (sathuṭa)  sadness  දුක (dhuka)  fear  බිය (biya)  love  ආදරය (ādharaya)  ​  come to mind. ​  ​  Through my  ​  භාෂාව (bhāshāva)  language  වචන (vachana)  words  ​  I understand my  ​  present  වර්තමානය (varthamānaya)  ​  because of my imagined  ​  past  අතීතය (athīthaya).  ​  Through my  ​  භාෂාව (bhāshāva)  language  වචන (vachana)  words  ​  my experience of life becomes  ​  timeless  සදාකාලික (sadhākālika).
Sadhakalika Poem 1.png

"සදාකාලික" (Timeless)

I wrote this poem to reflect on completing my first year of creating and running my Instagram language blog, @SpeakInSinhala. Though I started this account to simply share daily words in my language, running this blog has enhanced my understanding of the world by allowing me to express ideas through a language that I could not do so prior.

"Anubhava"

I wrote this poem in 2019 to open my documentary film and M.A. thesis, "Anubhava." This poem is meant to capture the theme of my film and research, which surveys how the performance of Bharatanatyam in the diaspora is a form of resistance against colonial erasure and a medium to channel one's cultural heritage. The poem is narrated by my three interview subjects Janani Venkateswaran, Sukanya Kumar, and Ramya Harishankar. The visuals of mudras were choreographed and performed by Sukanya Kumar.