Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To My Autistic Son, Revantha: Poem by Guy Amirthanayagam

On this birthday I publish here one of my father's great poems written to my brother Revantha. The imaage of the undetow of sadness has grounded and consoled me ever since I first read the poem. With love, Indran

To My Autistic Son, Revantha

Old soul in a young body, they said.
‘Twere better he was born dead!”
Sins of the fathers, the Christians said.
Ill conjunction of planets, the palmist read;
Fetters of the flesh, cycles of suffering
The Buddhists complacently proposed,
Allah be praised, Kismet in swing,
The fierce Moslems savagely disposed.

Slow motor reactions, my neurologist reckoned.
Early childhood autism, my psychologist beckoned.
Heredity’s the problem, the maid-servant proclaimed:
The servant was vile, his mother declaimed.

I reck not his ruin in his toothsome smile
His speechless grimace, so free from guile;
His dour determination to opt out of life
When all around him are mired in strife.
Lucky and prescient, my miraculous boy,
You will spend your life with spendthrift joy.
I am proud that you have so early seen
That there is in life an undertow of sadness
Which rocks what fleeting gladness
There is today, or may once have been.
I will love you steadfastly as long as I dare
But is there nothing that you can share?
Will you leave me with this nagging regret
That even to me you will never bare
Your awesome secret?

--Guy Amirthanayagam