By H. L. D. Mahindapala –
Dear Mr. V. Kanthaiya,
I wish I could address this letter to you exclusively but since you have confessed to carrying a donkey with you I think I should, as a courtesy to you, address both at once. So let me begin all over again:
Dear Donkey and his two-legged companion, Mr. Kanthaiya,
I suspected, in a vague sort of way, that you (i.e., Mr. Kanthaiya and not your alter ego, the Donkey) had the asinine qualities you mentioned from the time you started braying in these columns. I am relieved that you came out confessing about it on your own in your P.S., without me having to spell it out for the readers.
You also mention that the donkey in you wants to meet me. I will be most happy to meet your Donkey than you because that creature, presumably, would have more sense than you, going by the contents of your ko-hay-da-yan-nay- mallay-pol reply
The most striking feature of your reply is that you have suddenly, sus-ga-la, given up your penchant for sneaking into men’s toilet for some quick titillation. But your unexpected shift from toilet porn to Godzillas and donkeys, I must say, can be no better than the grass shifting through your Donkey’s belly and coming out at the other end.
Here I must make it clear that I have no intention of insulting your Donkey. Since we are all known by the company we keep I would have been surprised – most surprised! – if you hadn’t picked a donkey as your companion. What I can’t understand is why the Donkey picked you as his companion. Isn’t it an insult for a four-legged Donkey to pick a two-legged one as his companion?
Donkeys, of course, have been useful in carrying man’s burdens across the wide fields of human history. Donkeys also played some admirable roles in classical literature like Apulieus, generally regarded as the first novel in Western literature. Animals also played a significant role in classics like Ignazio Silone’s Fontamara. I do not expect you to be familiar with such masterpieces. On one celebrated occasion it was a donkey that carried Jesus all the way to Jerusalem with palms spread at his feet. But judging by your performance your claque may be inclined to believe that it is the two-legged donkeys that give the four-legged ones a bad name.
Anyway, don’t let your asinine head worry about such cultural masterpieces. It may be a bit too much for the Donkey in you. You just stick to your arid arithmetic in your Business Analysis: Who knows, you might get a salary increase, or even a bonus one of these days for pulling your bosses cart to market. Your bosses must be quite pleased that after making a zero investment in a donkey like you they have managed to reap some benefits to keep you in their pay roll, after all.
I must confess that I was amused by the satirical tone in your first letter. Perhaps, it may have been triggered by the kick you got out of peeping into men’s toilet rooms. Remember your earlier confession about picking up political theory by hanging around men’s toilet rooms! But the latest tell-me-when-to-laugh letter is a labored product where your turgid verbiage struggles in vain to reach some satirical level that could amuse me. Could it be that the donkey in you had taken over and overwhelmed you? You mustn’t let your donkey sit on your lap and disturb your concentration, Mr. Kanthaiya, when you write. It’s ok, when you watch porn. But when you write to a quality website like Colombo Telegraph you must keep your donkey locked up like your unruly zip that fly open at the click of a button in your PC.
I must add that you amused me in a “funny-peculiar” way when you attempted to pontificate – you know, no, how it is when donkeys try to pontificate? – on the great defenders of our motherland like Dr. Gunadasa Amerasekera. I don’t think you have ever read him. Your limited information has informed you that he came on the cultural scene in 2010. This is why donkeys tied to a tether of three feet should not try to reach the bundle of grass which is six feet away: their limited capacities do not allow them to reach it.. Anyone who knows anything about the cultural landscape will agree that Gunadasa shot into the cultural limelight in the late fifties as a rising star from the Peradeniya school of literature.
For your edification let me state that he is one of our a respected cultural icons who had served his motherland with honour and dignity. He could achieve that great cultural height only because he (1) comes from a rich cultural tradition and (2) was gifted with the creative talent to be a cultural beacon to the nation. Before you try to point a finger at him can you kindly show me one person who is comparable to him in your Jaffna Tamil culture. When did the Jaffna Tamil culture produce a Gunadasa Amerasekera, eh, Mr. Kanthaiya?
Jaffna Tamil culture has been and continues to be dry as its land. Its biggest cultural icon is Arumuka Navalar, a caste fanatic who merely unearthed forgotten Tamils classics and reproduced it for public consumption. Along with C. W. Thamotherampillai they went from house to house in Madras, as it was known then, and resurrected the forgotten old classics of Tamil literature. That is their claim to fame. They did not produce any new creative masterpiece of their own to enrich the Jaffna Tamil culture. They were merely transcribers and transporters of the S. Indian culture to Jaffna.
Other than that who are your great cultural figures, eh Mr. Kanthaiya? If you can, please reveal to us your Martin Wickremesinghe, Sarachchandra, Chitra Sena, Lester Peiris, Amaradeva, Mahagama Sekera or a Sagara Palansooriya, or a George Keyt or Mudliyar Amerasekera. Even the great savant Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy wrote his classic Medieval Sinhala Art in praise and defence of Sinhala culture. Arnold Toynbee, in his magisterial survey of world history, dealt with the Sinhala civilization but not that of the Jaffna Tamil culture.
This is not to downgrade or deny the monumental achievements of the classical Tamil culture of S. India. Some of the finest creative works blossomed during the Buddhist phase of S. India. A clear distinction must be made between the S. Indian culture and that of Jaffna. When the Jaffna leaders talk of the great Tamil culture they are not talking of anything that has been produced in Jaffna. They are essentially basking in the reflected glory of S. Indian culture.
Like all the minority migrants who settled down in Sri Lanka the Tamils had not contributed in any creative way to initiate a new culture of their own which could stand on its own in comparison to that of their only homeland, Tamil Nadu, or even their adopted land, Sri Lanka.
Tamil scholars were aware of this failure of the Jaffna Tamils to create a culture of their own. The Tamil historian, Prof. S. Arasaratnam admitted the imitative nature of the Jaffna culture. He wrote: “The kingdom of Jaffna was under Sinhalese subjection for about 17 years…..No original artistic tradition grew in Tamil Ceylon. Culturally, the Tamils looked upon their arts as part of the Dravidian tradition of south India. When any major work was to undertaken, craftsmen would be brought from Tamil Nad. Geographic proximity and close political relations made this possible. An expert artist of Jaffna would soon cross the straits to gain wider recognition in India.” ( p.115 – Ceylon, Prentice Hall).
Unlike the cultural desert of Jaffna any objective scholar will agree that of all the migrant settlers only the Sinhalese produced a brand new history of their own which gave the world a new language, new civilization,, new identity, new Theravada Buddhist culture that accepted the challenges of grueling time and transformed the primordial wilderness into a humane society that opened it arms to all settlers who were willing to co-exist in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society as peaceful citizens without making outrageous claims to territory and cultural superiority which they never possessed..
The Sinhala-Buddhists tamed and shaped their little acre on earth into a livable and hospitable home for all comers. The Sinhala-Buddhisst gladly gave the new comers a home from home and now the alien Godzillas, as you cleverly recognized, (it is natural for one Godzilla can recognize another!) are claiming the land that welcome them and gave them refuge to be their homeland. The Godzillas fail to realize that they are insulting their own original homeland when they claim another part of their world to be their homeland.
In any case, how many homelands do the Tamils want? Soon they will be claiming America, Canada, UK and Australia to be their homeland. In fact, around 1983, at the height of the crisis in Sri Lanka, some Tamils circulated a paper in Australia saying that they were the original inhabitants of Australia who welcomed Capt. Cook when he landed in Sydney with poo-malai, (garland), vadai and dhosai! It is also reported that the Tamils have also claimed that the name Vasco da Gama is actually a corrupted form of Kadir-a-Gama who is supposed to have discovered America. They even claim that Eelam is mentioned in the Bible though it has nothing to do with the Tamils.
All this vain boasting is the inescapable reaction of an inferiority complex of an insignificant minority pretending to be the equal of the majority in every respect. It is the pathetic failure of the Jaffna Tamils to create a home-grown rich culture of their own that makes them want to boast of the Dravidian culture of S. India as a creation of their own. Though the Americans, Australians, Canadians etc., descended from English migrants they stand on their own to claim with justifiable pride the greatness of the new culture they established with their own creative energy. They refuse to shine with feathers borrowed from their motherland..
But the Godzillas have nothing great to boast about except, of course, Velupillai Prabhakaran. So your Godzilla theory is quite appropriate and you must be credited with describing your Godzillian ancestry with such accuracy. Your Godzillian descendants were also classified by the international community as “the deadliest terrorists of the world”. This gang of Tamil mass murders is yet to live down their evil reputation for killing more Tamils than all the other put together. As I said earlier, the highest point of Jaffna Tamil culture was reached when children of other parents were invited by the Godzillian Supremo for a last supper , with a cyanide pill served as dessert.
Compared to the grandeur of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization what has Jaffna to offer other than Velupillai Prabhkaran? Even the Nallur Temple was built by a Sinhalese King. The other highest monuments are the dagobas of Kantadorai. Faced with the absence of any monumental achievements in Jaffna they are claiming the greatness of a Tamil culture in S. India which they never created. What remains as the Jaffna Tamil culture is nothing but a poor and pathetic reflection of the glories of S. Indian culture.
Though Jaffna failed to produce any significant culture of its own it has earned a reputation for producing donkeys. Delft is full of them. Take the case of your name. It indicates that you are from Vallipuram but your companion and braying confirm that you could have originated only from Delft. In any case, you must have been a recent arrival in Valllipuram because the ancient Vallipuram was a cherished part of the Sinhala-Buddhists civilization. In case you don’t know, let me remind you of the precious archaeological Gold Plate of Vallipuram which proves that the Sinhala-Buddhist had put their roots down in Jaffna around 2nd century – i.e, long before the first settlement of S. Indians in 1325, as stated by Prof. Arasaratnam. .
By the way, you have drawn up a list of Sinhala intellectuals who had defined and defended the new political contours in the post-Nandikadal period. Obviously, you don’t like them because they demystify and blast your fictitious history and concocted geography to boost the myths of your elusive Pee-lam. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, C. A. Chandraprema, Malinda Seneviratne, Rajpal Abeynayake, Shenali Waduge are high on your list. They, of course, have their own perspectives and have their different takes on practically every subject they deal with. But one thing common to all of them is their intellectual integrity. They are not for sale.
They are not the hired hacks recruited by corrupt NGO mudlalis who are peddling foreign agendas. They are not living off the hand-outs of Western embassies to do the grand at lavish parties thrown at Galle Face Hotel. They do not pocket the money collected from double billing and shady seminars which are never held. Corrupt NGO leaders like “Paki” Saravanamuttu have a pukka time living off the misery of the Sri Lankans.
I am proud to be listed among men and women who have stood by their country and the people without selling their souls to the highest bidder in the NGO market. It is easy for those who are articulate and skilled in writing to move into the upper bracket of high living like “Paki” Saravanamuttu or a Jehan Perera. All what is needed is an elementary skill in recycling the mantras of human rights, justice, liberty, democracy and all those other clichés. It is the biggest growth industry these days.
But then what dignity is there becoming moral racketeers like “Paki” Saravanamuttu and Jehan Perera? If one could look hard enough, it would be possible, perhaps, to find more dignity in Mr. Kanthaiya’s Donkey. But then where would that place Mr. Kanthaiya? He and his Donkey are in a marriage that go together like Prabhakaran and his pillage. So who would want to deny Mr. Kanthaiya the comforts and the pleasures of his Donkey?
All what I can wish is simply this : LONG LIVE MR. KANTHAIYA AND HIS DONKEY!
PS: Any chance of getting away from your Donkey and replying sensibly, Mr. Kanthaiya?