Sundara Ramaswamy
Who Are You?

Who are you?
Are you really a human being?
In that case, what is your home town?
your language?
your caste?
religious subsect?
subdivisions of these subdivisions?
OK, what’s your height in cm?
What colour are you?
What colour are your eyes?
Are you pink, yellow, black
or well-roasted coffee?
Tell me in detail.
Tell it precisely.

What observances do you keep?
What rituals do you follow?
Are you veg or non-veg?
Who is your god?
What are the differences between
your god and my god?
Tell us each thing.
Tell it precisely.

Do you bury your dead
or do you cremate?
OK, do you have such a thing as guilt?
In your places of employment
are some higher and some lower?
What about your concept of sin?
How many cart-loads’ worth is your inferiority complex?
May I see your handcuffs?
Will you show me the fetters on your ankles?
May I see
the bandages about your eyes,
the muzzle at your mouth?
May I measure the depth
of this hole in which you have been planted?

Who are you?
Are you a human being?
Aren’t you at least, like a human being?
In that case, what is your home town?
your caste?
Tell me each thing.
Tell me exactly.

Translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holmström.