By Austin I Pullé –
As an eventful year draws to a close with the lawyers of the various kennel clubs scratching their heads to come up with a clearer definition of “dog lover” in the application forms, a South Korean official lecturing a state minister on the need for punctuality, a trait disdained by the Bandit Queen, and the unsolved killing of a respected businessman, Sri Lankans are forced yet again to confront the bestial character of their society and to identify the parasites that suck the life out of the people.
Both repelled and fascinated by the gruesome illustrations in Judy Diamond’s and Gabor Racz’s book, “Parasites”, this writer borrowed it from the public library. The observation by these authors that “parasitism is a lifestyle” seemed like a good description for what goes on in public life in the Wonder of Asia. As a character in one of the Roman comedies observes,”Like rats we always eat other people’s food.” Sounds familiar? Even among their friends but especially among public figures, average Sri Lankans encounter freeloaders, spongers, scroungers, groupies and hagiographers rewarded with public appointments, one and all parasites. So have parasites made a species jump? Matching a person or a class to the specific parasite is the challenge of the quiz.
A – Cymothoa Exigua: a parasite that destroys fishes’ tongues, then living in the fish’s mouth, performing the tongue’s job while gorging itself.
(Finalists: i – the President and his Prevention of Terrorism Act, host the Sri Lankan people; ii – Parliamentarians, host the Sri Lankan people, iii – The Rajapaksa clan, the host their fervent supporters).
B – The fungus Ophiocordyceps Unilateralists infects ants and manipulate their behavior so as to benefit fungus grown and transmission. The ants taken over by the fungus are called zombie ants. They are compelled to climb to a high point of foliage and attach themselves until they die.
(Finalists: ii – Extremist Clergy, host the credulous devout; and ii – The Racist Twins, the former Northern Chief Minister and the Hate Speech Admiral, hosts the Genocide claimants and the Sinha Le community, respectively)
C – Tomoplasma gondii – carried by cats to form brain abscesses.
(Finalists: i – JVP, host student unions; ii – Extremist clergy of all types, host their congregations)
D – Ascaris Lumbricoides – causes tropical disease ascariasis with symptoms fever, vomiting and weight loss. I – Sathosa Lords host, the consumers; ii – Tuition Teachers: host free education students)
E – Trypanosoma brucei – causes sleeping sickness and overwhelms the central nervous system.
(Finalists: i – Ministry of Public administration – host government employees; ii – GMOA. the host hapless patients.)
F – The Nematode Tapeworm – High degree of adaptability with differing lengths from a millimetre to over a hundred feet in Blue whales. Many have suckers that attach to the bowel of the hosts.
(Finalists: i – Parliamentary pole vaulters, host their constituency; ii – the Armed Forces. the host people desperately needing medicines and education.)
In an essay in the New York Times about Charles Dickens and the Christmas Carol tale, Maureen Dowd writes: “The disparity between the circumstances and fates of different people offended Dickens in the Christmas season. For him, it was a time to think about what we owe one another, how we live with one another; a time to have a proper sense of outrage about inequality and injustice, and to think about the past, present and future and how much they have to do with each other; a time to consider the good values we’ve thrown away and the bad values — selfishness, egotism, social snobbery, condescension and the worship of money — that infiltrate the heart.”
Food for thought but not for the parasites. The parasites will never let go but it’s time for the hosts to purge themselves of these freeloaders that have infiltrated the hearts and minds of the Sri Lankan people.