Fundamentalism is like a carefully selected reflection of the sky on the Diyawanna lake wall. The lake only shows what it wants you to see. Freedom of expression they say, saving the nation they say. The image moves, fades, and reforms in perpetuity along with especially elevated water waves triggered by unscrupulous sources of power. And you will continue to see what the lake wants you to see – the clear blue sky.
Adjacent to Diyawanna Oya, the quadrangle of smooth green lawn spread heading to the newly built walkway and the leisure area with dubious looking white-washed hut like dwellings – of which the purpose of construction is quite unclear (for now they host an exhibition of flowers of various colours) – staring up high at the free and open summer sky may leave you hanging on to pleasant thoughts. The carpeted roads by the lake are lamenting due to a day’s long steady drone of traffic; but the violent beeping of the chaotic traffic cannot interrupt the summertime ambience building within this newly constructed leisure area with people strolling by the lakeside beaming hysterical to the picture unfolded. But when the sun is melting down in the west firmament, the sudden picturesque appearance of violet and gold colours in the sky will soon give up – just like a perfect illusion.
When this happens at the end of the day, and if your eyes are not shut tight, you will – you most certainly will – sense the aroma of political manoeuvring coming from the nearby parliamentary building. And it will all come pondering to you: the political trajectory of chauvinistic governments and their highly influenced merry players is like a train route changing from standard to narrow gauge and narrower; the train only travels one way, and that is hardly the way to common good or morality. When fundamentalists burn buildings, instigate abhorrence, and spread chaos, the government remains jolly well relaxed. And the ‘fly-swatter’ method used in Geneva is now substituted with a long-sleeved, buttoned-up and tucked-in shirt approach when dealing with the awakening of chauvinistic Sinhalese fundamentalism. Yet their hoarse fishermen-like vocal cords and protruding bellies will keep fighting with the tight collars and buttons; and eventually will soon reveal their bare skin.
Bodu Bala Sena, the so-called comrades and their allies are moving forth as we speak in naturally crowded streets of Colombo instigating traditions of chaotic traffic, demanding a Sinhala Buddhist only nation. Most recently they expressed their heart felt – so they say – concerns about the safety of the Sinhalese girl child working in Muslim owned garment factories. Meanwhile, female garment workers who are forced with transactional sex due to poor salary standards of the apparel industry, women who are sent abroad for cheap labour only to have their silent bodies returned, girls and women who are raped and murdered like animals on a daily basis, girls who are sexually assaulted and catcalled in public transits, teenage rape victims who are mothers, and now women who are soon to lose their right to make decisions on family planning due to the very group of extremists – BBS –, are observing innocuously these pretentious performances with their expressionless eyes. It is not a secret that the equality and safety of these women has been set on blaze by men across all race and religious groups for a prolonged period of time, under the watchful eyes of the same set of long-sleeved, buttoned-up and tucked-in shirt wearing gatekeepers.
Fundamentalists, nationalists, racist, Nazis or whatever they are called do not breed on the grounds of religion, but power – inconceivable, menacing, iniquitous, enamours proportions of power. Power is the beat what prompted them to dance in the first place. So they dance, with their legs squatted towards the centre of the earth, they will continue dancing to the beat of powerful choreography. Their legs will hit the earth hard and the accessories they wear will make blaring sounds. And they will continue dancing their way conquering every corner of the ground. They will not only burn buildings down, but destroy every single sacred element of humanity. And they will be against anything and everything including freedom of speech, free-markets, family planning, universal adult suffrage, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skits, evolution theory, and the list will go on.
So here we are the young representatives of the ‘Screwed Generation’ – the generation born between late 80’s and 2000’s. We were pulled out of our tricycles and taken away by our panic stricken mothers owing to the sound of fire crackers during Avurudu; we were banned from going on school trips to Galle Face, or see the museum because big, bad, baaad things were happening in very verry scary Colombo; we were forced to wait for long hours indoors with our button like noses pressed against the television screen, because outdoor was an ultimate taboo; we are graduates who are unemployable; we are artists who are forced to do odd jobs during the day because the cost of living is inconceivable; and yes, we are the so-called future leaders with public debt worth over Rs.5000 billion (and counting) bequeathed upon our skinny shoulders. Would we also be the future left with another ethnic conflict to plot, fight, spend fortunes on, and ultimately commit suicide? Haven’t you ‘elderly, wise, and exemplary’ had enough?