By Vishwamithra –
“Don’t be afraid, Queen, the blood has long run down into the earth. And on the spot where it was spilled, grapevines are growing today.” ~ Mikhail Bulgakov
Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Rajapaksas-led government are planning to hold the 75th Anniversary of Independence at the Galleface Green. The soil and turf that was consecrated by the tears, sweat and blood of our youth during the famous Aragalaya period is waiting to be debased, sullied, soiled and desecrated by the stupidity of our rulers. Giant army tanks would be rolling over the ground underneath; school students’ splendor will vanish into balmy air over the Green as a nonchalant exhibition of physical therapy. Those who attend the function will be more bewildered by the lack of patriotic feelings emanating from those who are scheduled to take part in the parade.
While the country is suffering from hunger in their stomachs and thirst for a Change in the body-politic, the rulers have chosen to display to the world their empty ‘upstairs’ (the mind); that upstairs is ‘vacant to let’. What was declared and celebrated with European splendor and sartorial stupidity on the Independence Square on that February 4, 1948 once again was relegated to another waste of time money and sweat. What DS Senanayake received from the British Masters as Independence still remains in all actual reality a transfer of political power from the British Pukka Sahibs to the local Pukka Sahibs.
The rest of the masses, rural villagers, suburban shanty-dwellers, daily-paid workers, non-English-speaking mass of the majority, whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims, the whole underprivileged class of people continued to undergo hardships beyond suffering. In order to come to power these wretched politicians promised moon and stars and after coming to power in order to sustain themselves in their cushy seats, they borrowed and borrowed and borrowed with no end in sight. It is that pit of borrowings that we are all compressed in. Despite the majority of the country are being trapped in an economic crisis, the rulers enjoy their evening whiskies, afternoon naps and their morning breakfast of bacon and eggs. A nation has been dragged down the road and already entrapped in a cul-de-sac from where the masses see no return.
It is in this midst that the Ranil-Rajapaksa government decided to celebrate the country’s 75th Anniversary of Independence. With pomp and pageant, so far unseen and unheard of, the country’s President is getting ready to display his Executive powers with the might of the three forces of the country. The war-tanks of the ground forces of the Army start rambling on the Galleface Green on February 4, 2023. Seventy five years after Ceylon gained her Independence from the British Colonial powers, in the middle of this ominous and exhibitionistic march, the ground beneath will tremble for their unbearable weight; but the teardrops that flow along the cheeks of millions of our rural, underprivileged men, women and children would have a much more telling weight on the lackluster face of the nation.
While the mischievous children are playing gaudy and rowdy games, Mother Lanka would decide that she is no more calm and collected; she is no more apathetic and passive. Her other children shall rise against those who are trying make two plus two five. She knows that tomorrow does not belong to those who are passive, apathetic and unfeeling. That tomorrow belongs to those who would rise against tyranny, those who would clamor for a Change, and those who stop at nothing until that Change has arrived.
She shall realize that there is no meaning to any celebration of Independence if the majorities are demanding a Change. If celebrations are held without the mass support and without mass participation and if that majority is on the streets protesting against the government’s cruel and mindless suppression of thought and action, how can she countenance such treason, treason committed by the rulers against the people who elected them? Non-participation by the majority at these bogus celebrations is not a crime; it is the right of all people; it is a sacred duty of those who can think straight and clearly.
Now it’s almost universal. Refusal to participate in any celebration of the 75th Anniversary Independence, outside her shores by the diaspora and inside by the young, old and even the feeble of all walks of life and they have come to a collective decision: No celebration of the 75th anniversary of Independence for there is no independence and no freedom and no justice. A universal condemnation of those who rule the nation is vivid and in full display.
Sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security, three elements that define and represent a free country’s inner soul is being challenged, not by the Aragalakaruwos, but by those who preside over the country’s ruling cabal. In a situation in which the very core of the country’s soul is being challenged and ridiculed and held in contempt by those who have been elected to uphold those elements, the aftermath of a celebration of a starkly obscene nature in which the 75th Anniversary is being held, will be too horrific to wonder about. It would be too dangerous and depressing to anticipate. Possibilities for a violent end have increased exponentially.
If the country is ruled by a set of goons who have no quarter for the suffering of the subject people, the rest of the journey is in peril. Its winding and twisted nature would capture the innocent and helpless.
The eve of the celebrations may well be the final time those who would participate in the parade as real participants. A national farce is being played out in the open and there are no nuances to watch for. Everything will be stark and in a matter-of-fact way. Ranil Wickremesinghe has bettered Nero of the ancient Roman Empire. While the country is burning Ranil is fiddling…with what one would not know.
The present crisis and chaos aside, what can the country do? What is left for the youth of the country? What choices are there? Or, are there any choices left? How can the current Opposition breathe freely when their brethren are exposed to violent and mindless treatment by the Police? Why are they not rising to the occasion and dare challenge the government in a real way? The Gandhis, Nehrus, and Patels, when they demanded change, they challenged the might of the British military presence. This writer did mention this in one of his earlier columns. Why don’t AKD and Sajit dare arrest by the government?
Leadership does not consist in going in front of an angry crowd. Leadership consists in guiding, protecting and sacrificing, if necessary, for the cause. It consists of planning and execution; it consists of disciplining his forces, it consists of convincing his own men and women to do the right thing, not the easy thing. It’s time for that kind of leadership. The opportunity has arrived and whoever grabs it first would be accepted as their leader by our youth. Time for vacillation is gone by. Remember, thunder occurs in the far distance in the skies, not nearby. Lightning flashes are seen by who observe not those who tend to pass by.
The thunder and lightning from atop a platform does not mean much; its glory and attraction is far too short-lived. Our people are too tired of such false hopes. Seventy five years have done two main things in the lives of our people: 1. It has deceived our people to an intolerable degree and as a result produced a country that cannot feed her children three meals a day. 2. At the same time, that same level of deception has opened the eyes of the young generation of the twenty first century that the three quarters of a century of sufferance, indignity and sheer loss must belong only to the past, not to the present, nor to the future.
That is precisely why a rebirth of our nation is a must if at all we want to march forward as a progressive member of the world community. That rebirth can be reawakened by a rebirth of the Aragalaya. Somewhere around April 9, 2022, Galleface Green was blessed with the young and incorrupt feet of the young, old and middle-aged feet of our people. In another few hours the same Green shall behold the armed might and arrogance of a decadent social class. The clash is imminent and the clash shall come.
I dare not predict what the outcome would be!
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org