Extracted from ‘An Anthology of Poems from classical Tamil: The Purananuru’ translated and edited by George L Hart and Hank Heifetz.
This is part of our selection from the Purananuru, chosen to represent some of the feelings of the Tamil people as, two years on, they remember the events of 2009.
Tinai: Potuviyal (general heroism)
If a child was stillborn or what emerged was only a mass of flesh
though they though it not yet human my ancestors treated it as such
and as they should, they cut it with a sword! Has it come down
to their descendant sitting and suffering like a dog in chains, unable
to restrain himself, begging to be given a little water through
the magnanimity of people without generosity or to be granted
food that may calm the fire within his belly within this world?
Ceraman Kanaikkalirumporai who fought with Colan Cenkanan on the field of Tirupporpuram was captured and imprisoned. “Give me water” he asked, but did not get it. When he asked again, he did get water, which he kept in in his hand without drinking and died. This is his song as he died.