By Malinda Seneviratne –
Meanwhile in a parallel universe called Humility…
When the General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake said that the Government is going to make me a political prisoner a lump materialized in my throat. For a brief moment I was worried for I have always valued my freedom and I abhor all manner of limitations, be it gates, iron bars or propriety. But then I dwelled on the matter of making something out of nothing. It was a long dream.
I thought of Antonio Gramsci and the long years that the Italian Communist spent in jail. I thought I could write my own ‘Prison Notebooks’. I thought of Nazim Hikmet of Turkey, his incarcerations and exiles, and dreamed of writing poetry that would put Hikmet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Pablo Neruda to shame.
I thought of Nelson Mandela. I remembered how that exceptional human being inspired revolutionary change even as he was constrained by walls, jailors and jibes. It did occur to me that spending almost 30 years in jail as a political prisoner would take me into my eighties at the time of release, if I survived that long. Still worth it, I told myself.
I wondered if I would be given paper and pencil or if I could get the prison authorities to agree to a laptop or iPad or iPhone. That way I could soar out of the prison in ways that Gramsci and Mandela could never have dreamed possible.
I thought of fellow-inmates in the event that I was not put in solitary confinement. I’ve heard horror stories about prisons and how even political prisoners are subjected to harassment. I’ve heard about prison deaths too and remembering all that made me shiver. I told myself that I was a known-name and the Government will not risk me dying while being held. For a brief moment I even considered suicide. I could, I know, get my media friends to say it as I want for it is not for nothing that I am known for ‘spin’. But then again I love life too much. I want to savor the wrecking of stumps when those doosras beat bat and pad of my detractors.
I thought of Mahatma Gandhi. ‘Mahatma Mangala,’ I murmured the name, rolled it over lip and around tongue several time. Didn’t sound right. Still, a Mahatma wannabe is better than a Mangala, I told myself and smiles.
I looked back. There was a time when I was a name. Then I chose to be an opposition name, in retrospect at the worst possible moment. Then other names in the UNP became better known and now I am just another political discard, an internally displaced politician if you will. That’s the truth that I don’t acknowledge to myself very often.
Then it hit me. If I was in prison, I will be forced to have a long and solemn conversation with myself and I will have to do it every day, every hour and every minute.
I am no Gramsci. I am not a Mandela. I am Mangala.
I applied for bail.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com
Upul / October 21, 2013
So Malinda, in your moments of fantasy you thought you were Mandela?
That’s a bit rich isn’t it, given your history?
We are all entitled to our own dreams, but you chose to express them publicly and therefore I am entitled to say the above.
bbs dayan / October 21, 2013
Yer, I guess this piece of Narcistic egg dreaming of Mandala while killing the black Tamils is a bit too much even by Sri Lankan standards!
imtiaz / October 21, 2013
“Then it hit me. If I was in prison, I will be forced to have a long and solemn conversation with myself and I will have to do it every day, every hour and every minute.”
This unfortunately is the tragedy of being born a Malinda. However, if you happened to be the imprisoned ex Salvation Army Commander, you wont be forced to have long chats with yourself, every hour, every minute. Instead, youll have plenty of fair-weather friends like Mangala himself visiting you for a cup of Kahata and sharing some nice yarns about the state of affairs in the country. Of course, he will bring his equally fair-weather friends Tiran and Ravi along to spice up your loneliness. Who needs enemies with friends like these who even visit you in remand. Political underdogs have each other for comfort in a You-rub -my-back-Ill rub yours stunt.
Safraz / October 22, 2013
Another gem from the inimitable Malinda – Mahatma Mangala.
What a contrast of characters. What a contrast of motives. The great Mahatma and our own desperate Mangala.
K.A Sumanasekera / October 22, 2013
He is never going to beg for pardon, unlike the ex General.
May be he likes it in there.
Punnakku / October 22, 2013
Forgive me, for the inclination you have so far shown in everything
against the good name of journalism it will be Welikade for you, if
it comes to that. Pandang journalism always incurs a price. You don’t have to worry about Mandela’s 3 decades in Robin Island. The stench of the filthy latrines at Baseline Road will take care of you. That is unless you get caught to the cross-fire next time the army is forced to take sides in the on-going warfare in the drug-trafficking industry headed by such VIPs as Kudu Mervin, Murderer Duminda, the Powzie family and the lot.
Peter / October 22, 2013
Oh dear! It looks like your “Parallel Universe” is descending into the realm of the ridiculous. Don’t you have anything sensible to write about?
What a waste of time!
MNZ / October 22, 2013
MS, a fanciful fantasy of Mangala’s dream.
Can we now have a piece about your own fantasies, which I suspect wont be much different from that of the hapless Mangala!!
Max Silva / October 22, 2013
A bloody waste of time talking of Mangala who is deep in the political dustbin!
BBS Rep / October 22, 2013
Malinda my friend,
I wonder what you have been smoking these days.
Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you. You are one of ours. Hon MR knows that and Hon GR knows that. That is all that matters. If need be we will be there as back up.
Abhaya Premawardena / October 22, 2013
lmao .. good one man !
motson / October 22, 2013
Its not him moron, its Mangala. Read it again.
Palitha / October 22, 2013
No matter what line you use, you are in effect a stooge, someone that has sold his soul for a cheap price, an insult to the fraternity of journalism and the faculties of the wise! Perhaps you should contest elections in the Tangalle seat now that the Kurram Sheik murderer, the Russian fiancee rapist will have to trade places into jail. You are also an insult to Royal College..but that is alright because there are much worse scum that went there on political admissions.
Douglas / October 23, 2013
This Mangala is always “Avamangala” to any politician or a political party he supports.