Friday 25th June headline in a daily sent Menika’s heart a-thumping and mind a-reeling.
The headline screamed: ‘UN ‘snoopers’ wont get visas to enter SL – Govt.’ Large type had this to say: The three member panel of experts appointed to advise UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on accountability issues relating to Sri Lanka’s war on terrorism will not be issued visas to visit Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday. That was the whooper by the Minister, echoed by others.
Now Menika was definitely swimming against the current in the river of politics last Sunday by expressing her humble opinion to say we needed to be polite to the boss of the UN, Mr Moon, and though we see the undercurrents and Western conspiracies propelling his hand, we need to be diplomatic. Menika said we should allow the experts to come. Reading all the erudite analyses of this situation by much better informed persons last Sunday, she was wondering whether she had blundered. The Great Bear was behind Sri Lanker, the Dragon was not far behind and there were a host of international koonissas, some positively non-grata to the West, ‘friends’ of SL crying “Go ahead, be rude, be sovereign.”
But were they having their own agendas? All’s quiet on the SL front. Is it that in spite of all the bravado, the investigators/snoopers will be allowed in through our gem studded portal? We defeated the worst terrorist outfit in the world but that does not give us the right to bloat ourselves beyond our real size and strength.
Menika has a snooper on the West of her (remember this poor bod lives in a block of flats – not luxury by any means) and a dubious friend to the right of her, at war with Menika’s neighbour to the left. The lady in front is quiet but foments inter-flat warfare of words and looks that kill. So Menika’s neighbour to the west of her (left) keeps swooping into Menika’s one bed-roomed apartment to snoop. What Menika eats is of interest to her, who her visitors are is cream to this curious cat and if perchance a single man visits Meniks, the lady can barely wait till he is out the door to rush in and nose glasses still to be washed, peer into dishes under a food cover and then a beeline to the bedroom.
The neighbour positively trembles with vicarious excitement and grist for her gossiping tongue if the bed sheets are crumpled. She does not for one moment ascribe the crumples to the fact of Menika’s laziness to make her bed as she awoke that morning. If Dingiri is away, then the snooper adds evidence and concocts a fantastic vision of love in the afternoon. How Menika sighs hoping her neighbour’s nightmare is a dream come true to her. But does Menika forbid the neighbour’s visits or even indicate they are resented? Not at all! She needs her to borrow a cup of sugar or two slices of brown bread when Dingiri goes on strike before dinner.
This snooper also wields power over the other flatters and has a car. Menika reserves her for emergencies since she’s experienced the neighbour to the right of her, wanting to take her on as one of her allies in a personal tussle. The neighbour in front is an example to follow – diplomatic to the hilt, invited to all the big parties and seeming to be on Menika’s side, but given to yati koottu. Menika survives of course having had her moment of glory when she locked a chap who entered her flat in a toilet and phoned the police. She was the giant killer for a day and a half and she strutted around with chest forward. Menika pronounced loud and clear that the dame to the left of her was jealous of her. What rot! That neighbour is rich etc etc and poor Meniks is akin to a third worlder, constantly needing help.
So the cabinet is getting on a circus trail and setting up their carousel in all major cities of the country to hold their meetings. God forbid, is what the public says in almost one voice. Loud and clear and unanimous disapproval, but of course not heard by the powers-that-be. They go their way while the public goes to pot and rot and anger at their total emasculation by those they voted to power. People have written about the utter waste of money this decentralizing, as it were, of cabinet meetings will entail. The powers-that-be seem to assume they are God’s gift to man in the various provinces.
Don’t they have an aba mal renuwa of sense to know they are not welcome en masse or even singly in the provincial towns? These cabinet meetings in the outstations will mean an invasion by hordes of motorcades, security personnel, curtailment of the free movement of the citizens of the unfortunate city. And of course, the rotund merry men with their families will have a ball. The worst is the first choice – Killinochchi. Is there no sensibility (means sensitivity here) in one head that sits at the cabinet table? But their voices go unheeded, apparently. Bad enough hordes have descended on Jaffna causing severe problems of pollution, overcrowding and the unseen evil, yes evil, of a feeling of conquest, of supremacy, of you-are-beaten that inadvertently or purposefully the visiting Sinhalaya may convey to the crushed Tamil trying hard to rebuild his life.
Menika is just one in thousands who refused many offers to ‘come join us to go to Jaffna.’ At least her disillusionment with life and her G&T have not dulled her sensibility (both sense and sensitivity). The choice of Killinochchi smacks of victory and rubbing it in. Will the cabinet, or rather HE the President, please put this grandiose idea of shifting cabinet meetings all over the country in rotation away and continue to meet by the Diyawanna and get down to some serious work? We are sick of circuses. What we want is bread to even half-fill our stomachs and rest for our minds, you powers-that-be.
Menika goes against the grain. She feels prices have to rise of even essentials as we are part of a world market; we have to listen to the IMF and she strongly opposes salary increases unless there is an assurance of inflation not following, with even the price of a mukunuwenna mitiya rising, leaving aside bus fares et al. Menika ducks under her couch to avoid brickbats and poisoned arrows coming her way! She has to live to undergo another day of struggling to exist. We ordinary folk will strive against hard times if the extravagance indulged in, by the powers-that-be, are pared drastically. Enough is enough of gloating Post Script. The Daily Mirror of Thursday 1 July has the headline “Ban dismisses Lankan objections”. Our gymnastics spoilt the case for us. How much better if we were quiet about it, allowed the visitors in and explained things to them. We’ve put the pecker up of Moon and maybe the UN and we surely are going to be the losers. Why weren’t we like Calvin with his Hobbes who cows down with reasoning to the bully Moe. You can be a David if you are really good with your ketapole and have right on your side with no doubts.