24 October, 2021

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Senanayakes, Jayewardenes, Bandaranaikes & Rajapaksas Have All Failed This Village Damsel: The Story Of One Woman Is A Moving Drama Of A Nation

By Vishwamithra

“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” ~ George Eliot

The landscape of the heavens is overcast tonight. The deep black canopy of a roof over a thirsty earth is threatening to overpower the gasping land below. For many moons ago, the villagers greeted a spotty rain with elaborate fanfare. The rural setting of the village was no strange spectacle for this kind of weather, now or at all times. Sited in the western province, bordering on a coastal town whose majority of families were sustained by a fishing industry for centuries, Baddegiriya (the rock in the jungle) is on the verge of receiving another bout of torrential downpour.

The stars seem to have receded behind the clouds, entered the enchanted precinct of deep slumber, taking a respite from the usual spectacle of dance and poetic movements such rural settings are used to witnessing. Surangani, a village damsel in her early twenties, is getting ready to help her mother prepare the evening meal for the family. It’s the weekend and she is back home from her campus where she is studying for her first degree in Political Science. Her father is the Principal in the village school from which she was the first ever to gain admission to the University of Ruhuna, located in the Deep South in the country. Her mother too is a school teacher but in a different school, about half hour’s bus ride from where they live.

Surangani and her family hail from a respectable family tree, so to speak. Being categorized as of a typical middle-class ancestry, their day-to-day needs are well provided for, firstly by the combined income of both parents’ monthly salaries and secondly buttressed by her father’s properties scattered in the village, some coconut and others rubber and pineapple. Surangani, even though could claim pride and  superiority to the average village dwellers at the time, scarcely displayed any such arrogance or insensitivity. The values and traditions so imparted into her by her parents and the faith they followed with utmost fidelity for generations have shaped the character and defined the behavioral patterns of the family as a living example for generations yet unborn.

But such radiant traits are a rare commodity in today’s context of competitive market-dynamics where short-term ends and means are not only considered fundamental but also incredibly attractive to a gullible voter population whose hand-to-mouth existence is hardly something to brag about. Surangani’s family, over a major part of two decades, in fact since her birth, cannot remember her parents becoming involved in the unsavory pastime of politics. Albeit the fact that both her parents, being children of the ’56 Revolution with the emergence of the common man’s era, had never been foolish to indulge in narrow political extravagancies. Her parents have been insisting on her that politics would take the fragrance away from life’s sweet ups and downs. A dogged stoicism coupled with level-headed hard decision-making is the only answer to life’s problems as against resorting to shortsighted ‘solutions’. Emphasis so placed on hard decision-making instead of seeking unreachable solutions has etched an indelible impression on Surangani’s youthful mind.

Yet Surangani, every now and then, is prone to asthma, an ailment that has been perturbing her as well as her loving father and mother since she was a toddler. Whenever she gets affected by the illness, it’s certainly more than an occasional irritant; the entire household becomes somewhat like a hospital ward and since both the parents are still working, although in the evening of their careers, stay at home attending on Surangani, rendering the loving care any parent would render under the circumstances.

But with all her intelligence and talents to foresee an approach of a twisty situation, Surangani at times can be extremely gullible and naïve. Her social intercourse is restricted to a very limited array of relations and campus-friends. Steeped in tradition and parental guidance, she has no time for flirtations with boys of her age. But to her credit, her awareness of growing political trends and its undue influence on the daily lives of the average commoner is acute and sharp. But she is in conflict with these developing socio-economic dynamics and her efforts to reconcile herself with the palpable contradictions and glaringly unjust interventions by politicians, she has concluded, have borne no fruit.

Being well versed in the modern day thoughts on politics and keen on developing her own theories and hypotheses to suit a fast developing human community, Surangani has defined for herself the role that she needs to play in the drama of human life without any melodramatic gradations. Armed with her education, notwithstanding based on the art subjects, she has adopted to address each and every episode in life, however trivial or colossal and consequential in substance and effect may be, with a scientific mind which is an envy to some of her university contemporaries who have chosen to pursue the science stream.

A mundane living of the ordinary did not hold much hope for Surangani; her life-philosophy  did not accommodate raw black and white traverses into complicated situations that demanded more nuanced approaches. Her parents, on the contrary, held on to more practical way of living. Their very status in life, as parents first and secondly as unofficial leaders in the village, commanded a direct tactical pursuit of immediate answers while Surangani chose to delve into the subtleties of socio-economic variances of a nation. This strategic journey, even though very thoughtful, was an inevitable digression from her first love- studies.

In other words, the vagaries of a typical life of a village girl who succumbs to tasteless meanderings and unethical social conduct eluded the more intellectual mindset of a budding rebel. In Surangani’s mind, the torture that the Rajapaksas are subjecting the nation to is unpardonable. Yet she does not know what to do. A fundamental lack of inspiring leadership, a total absence of exemplary intellectual advance in the country’s socioeconomic journey and a corresponding guarantee from her own generation towards a progressively developing mixture between political commitment and a feasible social agenda have conspired to produce a stalemate that is more dangerous to any social growth. A destructive revolution or any armed revolution is not the path, Surangani concluded.

This is the conundrum that today’s youth confronts each day. With or without parental guidance, this generation, the barometer of change and progress, is stagnating beyond all measures. That stagnation is in turn causing the varied and contradictory responses which we are so unfortunate to witness today. The gloomy legacy that awaits the next generation is far from promising and in a real sense, could be extremely debilitating.

The story of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and its leader Rohana Wijeweera have literally gone down in flames. Fidelity to a failed philosophy of socioeconomic and political ideology would not bring back the lives lost and time wasted. In the moving drama of societal progress, when one gets stagnated in anachronistic political theories and impractical social pursuits, those who succeed are the vagrants of religious and super-mundane superstitions. Examples of that variety were much in display during the Covid crisis.

French philosopher, playwright and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote thus: “Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.” Surangani has learnt the weight of those words.

She partook of dinner with her parents. While her father ate in total silence, Surangani’s mother made some cursory inquiries about Surangani’s studies; Surangani’s responses were warm but well-guarded. After the meal, the parents settled down before the television screen to watch their weekly soap opera. Surangani has no time for such mundane pastimes. The ember that is still burning underneath the ashes demands more and more attention. She began her own routine. She walked out to the verandah. The enveloping darkness did not frighten her a bit. A moonless night is no strange sight to her. While on campus she has trekked many a night along those desolate gravel pathways to reach her dormitory.

Whatever her phobias were, being alone in the dark was not amongst them. A haunting melody by a famous singer was on the air; its soothing voice and mesmerizing music brought quietude to Surangani’s’ ravaging inner self; she did not need it but still was content when such moving melodies reached her youthful ears.

Surangani is the epitome of today’s youth; her ambitions and aspirations cannot be disregarded any longer; her yearning for social justice and elimination of corruption and nepotism needs to be understood and taken serious note of by every political leader in the country. When Surangani holds the mirror in front of her face to do the finishing touches to an almost flawless complexion, she sees the nation’s travails. Born to a middleclass family and mild luxuries of village comforts such as electricity and running water, Surangani still manages to empathize with those who do  not have any of those superfluities.

Surangani indeed is the hope of the nation; she bears the responsibility to master her own status along with that of her family, community and nation at large. Let’s not kill that hope.

*The writer can be reached at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com   

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Latest comments

  • 10
    16

    What the hell Surangani mean by “the torture that the Rajapaksas are subjecting the nation to is unpardonable.”? Rajapakshes are not torturing the nation; COVID-19 is torturing the nation and Rajapakshes are doing their best to control the pandemic.
    If she is in early twenties and live in a rural area she might not have experienced the torture this nation was subjected to by Tamil terrorists. Surangani should ask her parents what life was like for the people in this country during the three decades Tamil terrorists massacred Sinhalayo using suicide bombers, claymore bombs, AK47s and chemical weapons. Her parents have not told her that it was Rajapakshes who risked their lives and gave leadership to eliminate LTTE Tamil terrorists who were branded as the deadliest terrorists in the world and restored peace. [edited out]

    • 17
      5

      Oh what praise when not due. Ingratitude in the extreme.
      ….Her parents have not told her that it was Rajapakshes who risked their lives….
      Poor Fonseka and those brave soldiers who left their loved ones behind and risked their lives and carried them in the palms of their hands.
      Rajapakses enjoying the fruits of the sacrifice of these brave men and women who faced real danger. What have these heroes got in return, but others selling their efforts and enjoying life.

      • 6
        14

        MyView,
        Fonseka and brave soldiers were there in the Army when JR, Premadasa, Chandrika, Ranil ruled this country but they failed to eradicate Tamil terrorism because they could not give the right leadership. After Gotabhaya Rajapakshe became the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, he bolstered the moral of the members in the Armed Forces by calling them ‘Ranaviruwo’. Mahinda Rajapakshe stood firm when there was pressure from several parties to stop the military operation. ‘Jadapalana’ Government neglected ‘Ranaviruwo but Rajapakshes look after them very well.
        *****
        “Rajapakses enjoying the fruits of the sacrifice of these brave men and women who faced real danger.”
        —-
        It is people in this country; Sinhalayo, Vedda Eththo, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and others who enjoy the fruits of eradicating Tamil terrorism and restoring peace.

        • 14
          5

          EE.
          …………..It is people in this country; Sinhalayo, Vedda Eththo, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and others who enjoy the fruits………….
          May be if you watch Rupavahini and ITN and Derana. But watch Sirasa as well to get a balance.
          Why is Sirasa having “Gammedda” and “Manusath Derana” by Derana going to the village to help where all governments have failed.
          That is why this article by the Author, is timely but of course unlikely to evoke a proper response to rectify the problems.
          Village problems of water, elephants, schools, roads and bridges have not been addressed by ALL politicos, even after the “peace”, for 12 years. They enjoy the fruits and toss a few half eaten ones to all those plebeians mentioned above. Even for the fruits to grow, we need the environment which is also systematically being destroyed.
          ………..Fonseka and brave soldiers were there in the Army when JR, Premadasa, Chandrika, Ranil ruled this country……….
          Yes they were junior officers and had to rise to positions of power to show their mettle – not run away and come back.
          ………….the neglected ‘Ranaviruwo’………..
          They were neglected but even as two years ago (after six years of Rajapakse rule 2009 – 2015) they were on the streets (orchestrated by the R’s) demanding benefits. And of course the treatment given to Fonseka – purely vindictive – shows up very badly in this respect.

          • 9
            6

            How can you even think of putting Senanayakes, Jayewardenes, and Bandaranaikes in the same category as the Rajapaksas?

            Senanayakes, Jayewardenes, and Bandaranaikes never stole the nation’s wealth. JR ever the rotter, donated his house to the nation.

            The Rajpapakses are in a class of their own …………”third-class” does not adequately describe their low-breeding …….. a new class has to be invented!

            Such low-class uncivilized, uncultured, uneducated, murderous crooks/thieves have never ruled the country.

            EE/Mr Mahindapla will be the first to agree!


            They have taken the country past the point of no return.

            We can all hope for a better future …….. but it’s just a pipe dream ……….they say, living in hope is what kills us all in the end …………..

            • 2
              10

              nimal fernando,
              “The Rajpapakses are in a class of their own …………”third-class” does not adequately describe their low-breeding …….. a new class has to be invented!”
              —-
              Native Sinhalayo who suffered for three decades due to Tamil terrorism consider Rajapakshes as ‘Super First Class’ because they got rid of those barbarians and restored peace.
              I am not surprised that those who faced a humiliating defeat during Rajapakshe regime and suffering from ‘Defeat-Syndrome’ want to invent a new class for Rajapakshes. Losers always hate the winners.

            • 2
              8

              nimal fernando,
              Have you read the book ‘Chaoura Regina’ (Bandit Queen) by Victor Ivan?
              How come you missed Wikunana Sinham, nephew of Jayawardena who robbed the Central bank?
              Rajapakshes did not steel nation’s wealth. You are repeating the old story fabricated by ‘Regime Change’ mafia. Ask Mangalam whether he is still searching for the place where Rajapakshes hid US$18billion. ‘Jadapalana’ Government sent a team to Dubai to bring that money because Rajitha said he has the details of the account. Those guys had a great time in Dubai and came empty handed wasting tax payers’ money.
              —-
              “Senanayakes, Jayewardenes, and Bandaranaikes never stole the nation’s wealth.”

          • 8
            3

            My view,
            Please be aware ur effort s will end up in vain even if u provide demented wth all available facts. As if a deaf person would reacts nothing coherent would come from him as fibs.that is how god has created him. We ve been aware this for the last few years. I m nt psychiatrist and cant waste for this bugger. 😎😎😎😎😎😎

            • 6
              0

              Dear LLM
              Thanks for well meant advice but let’s try to reason.

          • 4
            10

            Myview,
            Governments do not have miracle powers to tackle problems created by Tamil terrorists over a period of three decades. They killed people, displaced people, destroyed infrastructure and ruined the economy. After all the damage done by Tamil terrorists, Governments had to spend scare resources to pay compensation to families of LTTE cadres gone missing, resettle Tamil IDPs, rehabilitate LTTE carders, maintain an office for missing persons, bear the cost of implementing reconciliation projects etc.

            Peace that people enjoyed after getting rid of Tamil terrorists was shattered by Muslim terrorists. Governments had to spend billions to pay compensation to the victims of Muslim terrorist attacks. Governments spend Sinhala tax payers money.

            “Village problems of water, elephants, schools, roads and bridges have not been addressed by ALL politicos, even after the “peace”, for 12 years.”

            • 9
              4

              Dear EE.
              All above are excuses only.The money we had was spent on mega developments (with %ages ) and not a single ‘people friendly’ new project to serve the common man was initiated. Did a single export oriented factory come about. Whatever said Premadasa’s garment factories helped us immensely with exports all these years.
              Even the one who went up the kitul tree had an excuse. He did not go up for the toddy but to see if there was grass.
              The depths they go to, when tourists are brought in to test whether the virus spreads in SL – guinea pigs are the common folk. !!
              https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=859790844610914&_rdr
              Sad when loyalty and bias clouds one’s eyes and do not see the obvious.

              • 2
                6

                Myview,
                Countries do not spend money on development projects, they invest money on development projects expecting benefits in future. To say that mega projects implemented by Rajapakshes are not people friendly is a stupid statement. All these projects directly or indirectly benefit people. Some dumbos tried to give the impression that mega projects implemented in Hambantota are Rajapakses’ project. This is sheer BS!. Those projects were identified and developed as proposals by Southern Development Board appointed by Chandrika. I know the people who served in this Board. They also developed a plan to establish an industrial development zone. At the time Government changed, several foreign investors had made commitments to invest in that zone but they gave up the idea after the Government changed.
                Dumbos in UNP and Regime Change mafia coined the term ‘Sudu Ali’ (White Elephants) for these projects, but they are not. Experts in that field told Hambantota Port will be a gold mine for Sri Lanka in future. But unfortunately unpatriotic guys gave that to China. Still there is a controversy on what happened to the money taken by ‘Jadapalana’ Government. Mattala airport also has potential if managed properly. But Ranil spoiled that by dumping paddy.
                Do you know that ‘Jadapalana’ Government paid trillions of $s as fines for breaching the contracts by stopping projects started by Rajapakshes arbitrarily.

                • 6
                  3

                  …….UNP and Regime Change mafia coined the term ‘Sudu Ali’ (White Elephants) for these projects, but THEY ARE NOT.… Only your hallucinations as seen by your blinkered eyes not to acknowledge the truth of them being what they are.
                  ….Hambantota Port will be a gold mine for Sri Lanka in future. But unfortunately unpatriotic guys gave that to China…… Mattala airport also has potential if managed properly. But Ranil spoiled that by dumping paddy…..
                  These are the excuses I said like about the kittul tree. And trotted out to cover failure.
                  Why not comment on the Stadium and the Conference Hall at Hambantota as well. How productive are they ? Any excuses for them?
                  Any excuses on : Village problems of water, elephants, schools, roads and bridges have not been addressed by ALL politicos, even after the “peace”, for 12 years.?
                  And Lastly,
                  ….All these projects directly or indirectly benefit people…….
                  Very true if you said : All these projects directly benefitted “SOME” people.

                  • 1
                    2

                    MyView,
                    ‘Jadapalana’ dong keys completely neglected these places instead of turning them to productive places. If Rajapakshes came to power in 2015, they would have make them productive places.
                    Tell me one thing that ‘Jadapalana’ Government did to develop the country. Their only achievement is robbing the Central Bank not once but twice. Ranil-Sirisena combination was a complete disaster for the country.

                    “Why not comment on the Stadium and the Conference Hall at Hambantota as well. How productive are they?”

                    • 4
                      1

                      EE.
                      Digression and shifting blame again with excuses.
                      I stated at the beginning of all this :
                      ….”Village problems of water, elephants, schools, roads and bridges have not been addressed by ALL politicos, even after the “peace”, for 12 years”. …. Please note I said “ALL” politicos. So shifting blame on Yahapalana alone will not help.
                      …”completely neglected these places instead of turning them to productive places”…..How can they flog a dead horse back to life.
                      But that is not the point. So what about…the Stadium and the Conference Hall at Hambantota …. Is that also someone else’s fault ??
                      ..contd..

                • 3
                  2

                  Eagle,
                  “Some dumbos tried to give the impression that mega projects implemented in Hambantota are Rajapakses’ project.”
                  Why are they all named after Mahinda then? Did he pay for them?

                  • 4
                    1

                    …contd,,,
                    The long term plan of the Chinese was to get at SL and Rajapakses fell into the trap because of the %ages. They knew that the greedy will grab with both hands for short term benefit and when you cannot pay back, they win handsomely. At least the Yahapalanaya saved 250 acres of Port City being a Freehold Chinese asset into a lease.
                    There was no way the loans could be repaid as these were just infrastructure and/or very long gestation projects like the Port and Airport which cannot generate revenue to pay back for 10 years. That is why real development loans are with 10 year grace in payback and very low interest not more than 2% max. Chinese loans at near commercial rates and 5 year grace.

                • 2
                  2

                  EE
                  There are good investments and bad investments.
                  Even a potentially good investment like Hambantota Harbour can go bad by bad planning and mismanagement.
                  The Port City was avoidable.

                • 6
                  0

                  EE
                  A trillion is 1,000,000,000,000. And you say ‘Jadapalana’ Government”trillions of $s”.
                  If SL had that money, we need not be in debt to ANY country.
                  I am sure you are out of depth where figures are concerned.

            • 4
              3

              Eagle,
              “Governments spend Sinhala tax payers money.”
              What Sinhala tax payers?
              Most of the government’s income comes from Tamil estate workers and Muslim garment exporters.

              • 0
                2

                old codger,
                Either you should say ‘Most of the government’s income comes from Tamil estate workers and garment factory workers’ or ‘Most of the government’s income comes from Sinhala tea exporters and Muslim garment exporters’.
                Exporters’ income contribute to Government’s revenue if they pay direct tax. In Sri Lanka about 70% of Government revenue comes from indirect tax paid by consumers. Among the consumers, Sinhalayo are the majority.

                • 1
                  1

                  Eagle,
                  More lame excuses.

            • 5
              3

              Eagle,
              “have not been addressed by ALL politicos, even after the “peace”, for 12 years.”
              12 years after losing WW2 and millions of citizens, Japan could export cars.
              12 years after losing 20 million citizens in WW2, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. Ditto Germany, More, Vietnam. What is wrong with this country?
              Blame the leaders. Don’t make excuses.

              • 3
                2

                Germany, Korea, Vietnam.

              • 5
                3

                old codger

                “Blame the leaders.”

                Instead please blame the non Sinhala/Buddhists, Thamil Nadu, DMK, Hindia, UN, West, NGOs, Brits, Dutch, Portuguese, Pandya, Chola, Maha, Elara, Vellala, ………………………………

              • 3
                4

                old codger,
                Your ancestral homeland did not face three decades of terrorism after gaining Independence. Are they sending rockets to the moon? Are they manufacturing cars? They have not even learnt to use toilets. Have to bribe them to use toilets. Millions are still live in abject poverty. Sri Lanka is million times better than your ancestral homeland despite Tamil terrorism that ruined the country.

                • 4
                  3

                  Eagle,
                  “Are they sending rockets to the moon? Are they manufacturing cars?”
                  Are you that ignorant, if you’re talking about India?
                  Don’t you know they’ve been making cars since 1942? Plus, they’ve sent rockets not just to the moon but Mars as well.
                  Please don’t display your ignorance in public. It is embarrassing to other users of this forum.

                  • 1
                    2

                    Eagle,
                    “Sri Lanka is million times better than your ancestral homeland despite Tamil terrorism that ruined the country”
                    Is that why even you don’t want to live here?

                    • 1
                      2

                      Eagle,
                      Don’t you even know where all those cars come from that keep Hambantota going , on their way to Europe? Did you think Mahinda makes them?
                      Really, what a mutt!

  • 8
    6

    All the families mentioned above are rogues and criminals. But it is the citizenry including Surangani’s parents, grand parents and great grand parents who voted for dynasties to exist. The question is , Surangani who thinks different, will she “walk the talk”, to get rid of the corrupt ???? It is 75 years now and the voting public has regressed, how do anyone expect progression from those you elect ???? Cancer starts from a single cell and gradually spreads to tissues, organs and finally the whole body. Today’s common man’s thinking is “Mahinda is not that bad as Gotha, Chamal is better than Basil” so on and so forth. Lankans are happy playing musical chairs.

    • 0
      5

      “All the families mentioned above are rogues and criminals.”
      Really?

  • 5
    3

    Yes of course. Why you thought there was saint hidden among them ?? you mean MR is better than GR, CR is better than BR (Lankan Logic).

    • 0
      5

      There is much that lie between black and white.
      It is your non-Lankan Logic that needs scrutiny here.

  • 5
    1

    If you know of a saint why don’t you name instead of ranting.

    • 0
      5

      I never claimed such knowledge, but have somehow got you ranting.
      When in the next attempted fatwa due?

  • 5
    4

    Why don,t you enlighten us with “what is in between black and white” is that the gray matter which is lacking in you. Is that non Lankan logic of yours which kept family dynasties intact for more than 75 years.

  • 1
    5

    How can one dare enlighten an enlightened one who sees only black and white and thus knows good from evil in their purest forms?

  • 2
    7

    Author does not offer any solutions. He talks about a random village girl and finds a way to blame Rajapakse. I would be more worried about the state of journalism than “Surangani” who managed to educate herself with free higher education – something not available in many Western countries.

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