Colombo Telegraph

Damsel In Distress; Lanka In Agony

By Vishwamithra

“The real man smile in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” ~ Thomas Paine

Her clothes were ripped off; body battered; mind confused and heart burnt; she was raped and dishonored and violated beyond recognition. All the traditions and values that were associated with a young woman in a rural hamlet were stolen from her, so to speak. For one offender to another successive criminal, her body and soul became a playground; she was defamed, defaced and debased. Yet, while all these undignified and unscrupulous deeds were committed by her own children who claim that this was all done in order to protect her and her good name, those who did not participate in these inhuman deeds were rendered impotent and mute. Because all these ungodly feats were consummated by the hooligans of her nation-body as patriotic ventures that deserve to be preserved for posterity and the love for ‘the land, the race and the faith’. 

By the time she reached fifty years after ‘Independence’, the gruesome process has evolved to be the norm instead an exception. With her profile so faded, a forlorn look in her eyes and all her hopes and dreams in ashes, she still keeps one single hope, a faint ray of desire to rise from the layers of rages heaped up in enmity, hatred and envy. In the modern world in which every guy and gal is having his or her ear glued to a Smartphone, she laments that her evolution has not embraced that ‘phone-culture’ as yet. Her mere attachment to things that are more traditional and conventional has made her clumsy and slavish to things of the past that are mere concepts and not living organisms.

That inherent lethargy as a historical fact as was proven time and again in her ancient ‘glorious past’ and her disinterested slant to the currents of international and all-embracing technological advancements has cost her dearly; she may not have realized it, but that is the hard truth. To paraphrase Jawaharlal Nehru who in his celebrated book, The Discovery of India, himself quoting another great son of India, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote that all things of the past are dead and death-dealing. Each time she peeped into her ancient past, as someone close associated with psychiatry disclosed, she got something akin to an orgasmic relief, a relief so fleeting, the immediate aftermath of that relief made it look like a disguised agony calling for company.

This unrelenting epic continues to date. The faked patriotism of Weerawansa and Gammanpila, thunderous shrieking by Dinesh and Aluthgamage and insalubrious and pathetic violation the body and soul of Mother Lanka by Mahinda Rajapaksa and his notorious family are beyond description. 

All these violations were there in her ancient history too. Those who chronicled her history, more often than not, alluded to the glorious events of war-victories, shattering of the enemy’s will and erection of magnificent Stupas, Dagabas and ocean-like tanks. The paintings in the Rock fortress Sigiri and Buddha statues in the Dambulla caves, of course, tell a calmness and serenity of a totally sublime and disciplined mind of a people. Such greatness is not subordinated by the massive irrigation networks that streamed life-giving waters to hungry and impatient lands downstream. These mind-boggling human achievements were not bested by any of the modern day rulers. Yet, as Tagore said, they are all dead and belong in the distant arena of past.

With all due respect to DS Senanayake and his first Cabinet of Ministers, the apathetic regard they exhibited during the first few years of Independence towards the well-being of Mother Lanka was shaded with nuanced and subtle fine lines of Colonial artistry. However, the first of her violations began with a man called SWRD Bandaranaike, who for his inflated egoistic reasons and mad rush to power, floated the idea of Sinhala-only policy heralded by his five-pronged army- Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru (Sanga, Indigenous medical practitioner, Teacher, Farmer and Laborer). That idea became a potent force with real inflammatory sloganizing. Apart from a very positive and productive profile, this force contained within itself pent up emotions of an envious and angry adolescent. That adolescent, in his newly-found, yet misplaced courage, believed it was time to violate her who had just attained puberty.

Once that gross misdemeanor was committed, those who followed the regimes of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, JR Jayewardene, R Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunaga and up to Mahinda Rajapaksa, felt utterly free to indulge in the most indecent and unspeakable acts of high crimes and misdemeanor. While all these dastardly violations were justified on the grounds of ‘patriotism’, the Damsel suffered the indignities of rape, terror, bullying, intimidation and butchery.

Nevertheless, one simply cannot disregard nor forget the consummation of all these violations by the dawn of 2015. And sheer apathy which was shown in the process towards the rule of law was more vocal and robust in its exercise in the absence of decency. The rule of law became the law of rule. The sloganeers of the Rajapaksa regime, with their crafty and evil intentions, carried the shameless harassing of the land, the race and the faith. The gruesome acts of violence and silent nod rendered by the prelates of the Maha Sanga encouraged these hooligans to carry on with their inhumanities to their brethren, whether they came from the North or the South, the East or the West. A license to murder, harass, rape and loot was gleefully endorsed by the leaders of the ‘Teachings’ of the first religious leader who taught Ahimsa, (non-violence), Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Our Great Chronicle says that Prince Gamini (before he was coronated as Duttha-Gamini) refused to lie on his bed with his arms and legs freely spread out. The reason he gave was that when the Tamils in the North and the Indian Ocean in the South are threateningly invasive, how could he possibly sleep freely. The venom and anger contained in these words are still echoing deeply in the ears of extremists whose misplaced sense of patriotism is providing sufficient fuel to convert that patriotism into slaughter and dismemberment of a fellow countryman. 

Ethnic violence and ethnic discrimination has taken deep root in the psyche of the adolescent who has now reached his middle age. His propensities for violence and mayhem may have cooled down; his anger and venom may have reached its peak over a couple of decades ago, yet his dormant enmity and rage is like ember beneath the ashes. The slightest of dog whistle could rekindle that flame; the faintest of signal is sufficient to call to arms. 

In this convolution of national character, ‘how can I rest in peace’, the damsel pleads. An epic transformation is obligatory. A total calibration of the fine traces of character is long overdue. Rehabilitation of his soul must accompany the recalibration and the transformation, if not, all purpose of the exercise becomes redundant, for the foe and friend of our land become one and the same and the foe overpowering the friend is inevitable.

Until this marvel happens, it is required of the national profile to be polite, at least for the sake of decency and decorum. For the ‘damsel is in deep distress…      

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