Guest poem submitted by Salima Virani:
(Poem #1792) Winter '84
I tell the corner store owner 'pretty cold out there' he says 'ain't what it used to be' 'oh', i say, 'why is that' innocently tensing wondering if coloured immigration has affected the seasons... 'they've been fooling around with the weather', he says. [his wife nods] 'ever since they sent a man to the moon it hasn't been right' oh, i say, breathing out intrigued 'yeah, i know what you mean'
[Comments] I recently came across this poem and what struck me most about it is that although it's been over twenty years since this poem was written, there are many new immigrants in Canada that continue to feel some discomfort and unease with their status as immigrants. I'm not sure if that is because there continues to be a lot of racism or if it's something else. I'd like to believe that actual instances of racism are much fewer now than what may have prevailed two decades ago. I was born and raised in India and have been in Canada for less than a decade but I've never really experienced any racism. That said, my parents who recently moved here (about three years ago) from India, go to great lengths to avoid eye contact/conversations with anyone that speaks different or, in their view, is "very Canadian". They feel unequipped to engage in casual conversations with white folks and so all their interaction with them is typically on a "as needed" basis. And so, if, as it sometimes happens, they're approached by a friendly neighbour who knocks on the door to inform them about a missed fedex delivery or something similar, their first reaction, much like Bhaggiyadatta, is always unease and anxiety. Mum will wonder if her cooking is emanating unpleasant odours or if her blaring music (of Nusrat or Bollywood tunes) is causing a nuisance. When they find that it's something to do with fedex and that the "white" neighbour is actually quite a harmless and friendly guy - they're pleasantly surprised and quite relieved. [Bio] There is a lot of information about Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta scattered over the web but I was unable to find a single page that gave me a comprehensive bio about the author. So, I have taken the liberty to put together the information I discovered and compile a bio (of sorts) for him. Any errors and omissions are entirely mine. Bhaggiyadatta is a Sri Lankan-Canadian and a prolific writer. He has authored several books and articles that tackle the issues of racism and marginalization. He's also a playwright and one of his popular plays is called "The D.M.O. (Dishwashing Machine Operators)", which refers to the jobs held by many Sri Lankan immigrants to Toronto. Bhaggiyadatta has published five books of poetry: Domestic Bliss, The Only Minority is the Bourgeoisie, Mothers and Generals, 52nd State of Amnesia, & Aay Wha' Kinda Indian Arr U. His works have also appeared in other publications such as in Passport Photos by Amitava Kumar. Salima.