Whatever this Grouse and that Grump may say (all carrying language and/or class chips on their shoulders) the Galle Literary Festival is fine in every sense of the word. Menika makes her annual literary pilgrimage to this quaint maritime port city now bustling and alive with tourists and resident expats.
She gets pleasantly satiated with authors and their writing; she is rejuvenated by the camaraderie in the garden of the Hall de Galle and the crowd bunching for free Dilma tea and even in the queue to use a toilet with just two available. This year some portable ones were set up across the road, but Menika stuck to the long grumbling queue in the Hall de Galle. Too obvious for shyfy Meniks to cross the road and show all and sundry she needed to ease herself — natural like breathing though it be.
Fine to watch fashions and gimmicks – this middle aged one showing off her thighs and gnarling knees in a mini; that one in a cross between a very full skirt and an Afghan trouser (both locals) and another (foreign) sporting a huge head decoration with puffs and feathers and sitting right in front obscuring all from those behind her. But it’s fun and a respite from home drudgery (metaphoric since Dingiri tackles all the housework and in the rush keeps Meniks firmly on the straight and narrow). So Menika took an extra heavenly gulp of G&T, back in her couch after four days of literature and so much more.
Stunning news snippet of the week in a daily on Tuesday was that Kumaran Pathmanathan, aka KP, top brass and master arms procurer for the LTTE (whatever else he procured is left to the imagination) is in active politics though you and I believe he is incarcerated and paying for his sins. He seems to be flying free and meeting people and even planning active politics while Sarath Fonseka, who helped win the war and has no like sins to pay for except contest the incumbent in the presidential race, is severely behind bars like a common criminal.
KP is reported to be playing a behind-the-scenes-role to form a new Tamil political party. Sources in Jaffna aver that it is initially a neutral party, initially being the operative word. KP held meetings with civil society activists in Jaffna on Sunday with a few members of the foreign Tamil Diaspora in attendance; the meeting conducted under tight security, provided by the government of course. He had meetings with senior military officers based in the area about the security situation. When he arms-procured and made big money through ships, smuggling and even drugs they say, and kept the LTTE confident and destructive, did he give a thought to the killing of young persons on both sides of the divide that he was instrumental in causing? No! But now in peace time, he needs to get back into power so he is concerned about the Jaffna man’s safety.
During the meeting he had vowed to work for the people in the North. He is supposed to have got emotional and shed tears when he addressed the meeting. There’s a crass example of crocodile tears. How come he is allowed and probably given escorts and a luxury vehicle to go to Jaffna with security to guard his precious self and his meetings while one of the triumvirate who won the war and saved the country from the likes of KP and the monster Prabhakaran languishes in jail, showing obvious signs of being unwell though he tries to project true grit on his several visits to the courts of law?
It really is difficult to fathom how the collective mind of the government works. That is erroneous. It is only two minds that work and one is more powerful, though second to the first. No wonder the opposition, ragged as it is, asks weakly: “Where is all the looted gold that was in KP’s possession, the millions in cash?” Ask them another! People who know, know.
Lanka eNews Editor, Bennet Rupasinghe, says arson it was that burned his media office and destroyed all equipment and records and library at 1.30 am on Sunday morning – deliberate, premeditated, done with absolutely no obstructions. Media organisations protested on Tuesday but to what purpose? H.E.The President ordered an urgent inquiry. Again to what purpose? We thought media bashing was a thing of the past, at least obvious, outright bashing. But it suddenly occurs and it’s like an achievement thrown in the face of those most affected and the public. Habits do not die; they lie quiescent and erupt periodically. No red paint this time. Torching and scorching done with no fear of discovery.
“Government launches joint plan for North-East rehabilitation in 2011; a one year plan in partnership with UN & NGOs. More investment will be made towards full development until they have similar standards found in the rest of the country”. So many questions swirled around Menika’s brain, no bird brain hers and entirely unfuddled by her G&T. The newspaper report quoted above gave the impression that all rehabilitation work was still in the planning stage even though one royal brother and royal son crow over how much has been done for Jaffna and its people.
Second thought: UN is good and welcome, so also NGOs, when money is pumped in. Of course Menika hooted with laughter and got thrown off her couch and rolled around. The aim is to bring Jaffna to enjoy similar standards as the rest of the country. God forbid, Menika prays. ‘Suffer’ would be an appropriate word to substitute for ‘enjoy’. What are our standards that we bear with, not enjoy them? We get thrown out of our houses and willed property for the sake of city development; we face defeated sky rocketing prices of common commodities; we suffer the preliminaries of making our cities miracles, selling off the best pieces of land in them.
Will the Casuarina beach front up north be sold to foreigners? The strongest thought was, will the money all go to the North and its people or…. You fill in that blank. This thought sobered Menika so she got back on her couch and offered a silent prayer: Please gods, do see that the donating UN and NGOs (usually unpopular but welcome when they talk money) have control over the till. Do not let the money be given to the government or whoever represents it, and we know who is deeply concerned about Jaffna and loves money too. Let the development be for the people of the country so they have safety, a sense of security, education, well equipped hospitals etc. Let standards over there be higher than in the South. They suffered most in the war.
And so our independence of 63 years unfortunately resembles a 63 year old’s face — scarred, wrinkled, pitted, ravaged, hopeless in its look of disappointment, fear, lack of trust and confidence. Of course there is grooming and covering up the wages of age. But to what purpose look miraculous if the heart is heavy and sad. The eyes are lack luster, the mind depressed and shackled and democracy slowly being killed while it is celebrated at great expense with pomp and show. Aney appoi, apata vechchi vedai !! On that note Menika rests her word processing fingers and curls them round her glass that softens the outlook for her.
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