21 June, 2024


The Heart Of The Matter Is A Matter Of The Heart

By Haaniya Jiffrey Shiyam –

“Exterminate the brutes!” prescribes Kurtz, “the flower of European Civilization,” writing to fellow colonizers after having stayed amidst “savages” in a remote outpost of the African interior. (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness)

Wasantha Mudalige

The same greed for wealth and power, the same moral bankruptcy, the same hollowness: this three-pronged devil’s fork has seized our State and taken a toll on its soul and sanity. So, in a frenzied panic the State persecutes, harasses, intimidates and arrests unarmed student activists and would fain be rid of them with Kurtz’s merciless words of denunciation. Serious concern is expressed by pro-activist lobbies that the life of Wasantha Mudalige, the Convener of the Inter-University Student Federation (IUSF) and a prominent leader of the present people’s struggle, is under threat since, while he is in police custody, he is taken to suspicious venues for interrogation. Such fiascos invariably end with the shooting of the convict or suspect, under some wild pretext of unidentified gunmen appearing from nowhere for the purpose. It is an outrage that this young man demanding student rights and social justice in general, together with his fellow activist students, are arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), when they have been exemplary exponents of non-violence. The arrest of thousands of such youth must be stopped immediately, while all innocent victims must be released. It is imperative that injustice is discontinued. Else, this may provoke thunderous retaliation which the State may not be able to contain any more.

As the State’s iron fist of tyranny tightens, and its knuckles whiten with rage, as it bares its teeth in a fierce snarl and salivates for delicacies amidst a starving people, as it strides blindly on, as it plunges headlong into imminent ignominy, incognizant of the chaos it has caused, do we dare look on in passive horror, in helpless resignation, in selfish indifference, in insipid apathy? If this is not the time to rise up, to raise our voices, then, when is? Let us roar in unison with the heart of a lion to rid our land of this rabid beast!

The worms that, for a time, hid in their cocoons are now strutting with new wings, not knowing that they will lose them faster than flying-termites. No matter what fortresses of refuge they build manipulating the Law which they have made as malleable as playdough, their castles in the air will all be razed to the ground by the stronghold of democracy where right-thinking legal professionals and citizens fight the relentless foe. There is an attempt to replace the Rule of Law with the law of the ruler, but no loopholes in the Law can overcome the true Spirit of the Law.  The hallowed creed of the Law is to safeguard the sovereignty and welfare of the people. Learn, O State! How sternly the bastions of Justice and Human Rights, activism and opposition politics, a responsible media and an alert public denounced alike the issuing of an extraordinary gazette declaring High-Security Zones (HSZ) without even having consulted the Attorney General, and how finally there was no option but to revoke the notification. The fleshy, wingless termites have no mounds to crawl into and are asking to be pecked at!  Similarly, the signature hunt for “Repeal Prevention of Terrorism Act” is going full steam. It is bound to flatten you if you dare obstruct its track. Learn from the Fall of Bastille. For hunger is a slumbering ogre. Tickle it awake, at your peril, and it will gulp you down into its belching belly darker than that of Jonah’s whale. You dream of repressing a dormant volcano under your iron-shod foot. Its hungry rumbles will lead to angry eruption and fossilize you in thick folds of fiery lava.

And now, rehabilitation of dissenters has become a pet concept of the State. The impertinence! Having robbed the people of their rights, freedom, and livelihood, having committed the worst possible blunders and crimes against the nation, having plundered its wealth and tarnished its good name, now, they have the audacity to “correct” innocent civilians who have suffered immeasurably already. Besides, what is the assurance that these centres of rehabilitation would not turn into something gruesome such as torture chambers? A state that is in the habit of unleashing terror upon its people, youth and journalists is capable of bigger atrocities. One of the latest ploys to curb criticism and exposure is to silence the government servants and high officials by denying them the right to speak out. Thus, Freedom of Speech and the Right to Information, both fundamental components of a democracy, are viciously violated. The ongoing demonstration, now exceeding two thousand successive days, by the families of the victims of enforced disappearances in the North, with no justice in sight yet except for mere eyewash, is a living example of how ruthless and sadistic the state can be.

The lotus, once fresh, is now foul and floundering. The crow has deserted its flock in characteristic abandon. Having fled, from afar it attempts to stage-manage the crude drama at home. This glossy cravat or the rich red shawl does not belong in the sick bed, where you are, sick at heart.  Rather, it may turn out to be the noose of Nemesis around your neck which you caress fondly in the bliss of ignorance. Wake up to take in the bleak vista that you dragged our Motherland along, traversing ragged rocks till now, only to look down from the edge of a precipice. She is in no mood for such a cliffhanger.

When the cauldron was bubbling merrily at Galle face Green, a surreptitious hand poured cold water over it and diluted its thickening aromatic goodness to a gruel thinner than what Oliver Twist is served in the workhouse. It simmers on though and is bound to boil again, huff and puff as you may to quench it altogether. It is fueled by the aspiration in the heart of the youth, by the thirst for freedom and fair play in the soul of every citizen who loves his or her nation. Unarmed and, therefore disarming, the saviours shall march with determination to the destination of their dreams.

Every pang of hunger felt by every fainting child should be reciprocated by a pang of conscience in you. You make no effort to feed them even some thin gruel, while you fatten your bandit clan with cream and, in return, they ooze with oily obsequiousness. The unholy and unnatural disparity between the sated and the starving is an ever-deepening chasm, literally undermining the foundations of this corrupt and callous State, which will catalyse its impending collapse. No less than medical men proclaim they see no poverty, malnutrition, or shortage of food in Sri Lanka!   That is, to put it mildly, a heartless observation. While the world authorities lament the plight of our children, our State is in its customary denial mode. When will they take to heart that we are in the throes of a man-made economic disaster? Who will answer for the under-nourished mother and the underweight neonate?  

Where money is the primary goal, it is easy to sacrifice human dignity, even human life. On the altar of the temple where money is worshipped, are placed the flowers of feminine modesty to be sacrilegiously sacrificed. What they want to cultivate instead is cannabis! Ironically, the namesake of the Goddess of Chastity in Roman mythology, is an impious priestess on our soil, preaching the opposite of what her name stands for. Consider the quote, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet) One may infer then, that regardless of whether the name is refined or crude, what it signifies is what will matter. In the name of progress, another name only, she encourages you to barter your virtue for profit in order to thrive in a godless culture called “nightlife.” Can such tainted lucre usher in real prosperity? Would it not corrode existing family values and eventually lead to the disintegration of the family unit?  Claiming to have thousands of years of religious heritage with noble standards of asceticism and celibacy on the one hand, the State promotes such degenerate doctrine unashamedly, on the other, forgetting that it is robbing the soul of its purity and peace. T.S. Eliot brings this out in his “Preludes” by means of the euphemism of “a thousand furnished rooms” where the exploited suffer silently with their inconsolable sorrow of the sullied soul. Would it not be far better to empower women through education, skills training, vocational training, etc., together with poverty alleviation and nutritional support to make them competent for the workforce while maintaining their dignity and self-esteem?     

Let us not lose heart but take heart. Let us not be half-hearted but engage heart and soul in this rescue mission. Let us confront the hearts of stone with hearts of gold. Let us advocate a true change of heart for the better in every sphere resulting in genuine patriotism and ethnic harmony flourishing in an egalitarian society. When our heart is in the right place, whether the heart skips a beat in shock or panic is immaterial, because when the heart forgets to beat for good, we would not regret. The heart of the matter, then, is, in essence, a matter of the heart. 

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Latest comments

  • 5

    HJS has presented the article very well.
    It summarises our feelings aptly
    Hopefully the Politicians currently occupying the Parliament note people’s sentiments and get lost.

    • 3

      Haaniya Jiffrey Shiyam

      “Let us not lose heart but take heart. Let us not be half-hearted but engage heart and soul in this rescue mission.”

      I think you ought to try something different.
      Dr. Svante Pääbo the Swedish geneticist has won this years Nobel Prize for research in genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.

      He sequenced the genome of Neanderthal which extinct around 30,000 years ago. He also discovered Denisova a previously-unknown hominin.

      We should invite him to this island where both Neanderthal and Denisova still exist in large numbers, alive and kicking and he could continue his studies live specimens.

  • 4

    Nimal Fernando

    Kamala who ran away from Mangulam camp and abundant it now seeks various measures to regain his manhood, by sustaining and imposing PTA randomly, declaration of High Security Zones, Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill (perhaps SJ’s much loved or preferred Chinese Model, internment camps or vocational education and training centers ), marriage license to marry a foreigner including diaspora, ….. in order to oppress unarmed innocent people.

    Has she caught Ranil by his …….. ?
    Is she following security advice from, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, …. or taking orders directly from Chen Wenqing present head of MSS, ……?

    • 3

      “Would it not corrode existing family values and eventually lead to the disintegration of the family unit? Claiming to have thousands of years of religious heritage with noble standards of asceticism and celibacy on the one hand, the State promotes such degenerate doctrine unashamedly, on the other, forgetting that it is robbing the soul of its purity and peace. “
      Though the author is rather coy about what she is talking about, I believe this refers to Diana Gamage’s night life proposal.
      The fact is, virtue and chastity don’t bring in high spending tourists.
      Tourists don’t come here to look at ruined (or rebuilt) temples.. can any of our temples compare with those in Egypt or even Cambodia?
      Even Egypt has night life, Islamic though it is. Saudi Arabia is “virtuous” and doesn’t, but it has oil and doesn’t need tourists.
      Thailand is even more Buddhist than Sri Lanka, but both its tourism figures and sexual shenanigans are legendary. Nor are Thai “family values” disintegrating.
      There are plenty of ladies already to be found in Pettah whose chastity is highly doubtful. Why not make it legal and organized, as in Singapore? Let not the author base her ideas of “virtue” on outmoded and anachronistic religious mores.

      • 3

        There are social norms and cultural values that mark any society. We cannot reject them
        But reality has to be taken into account deviations from the norm and the normal.
        In fairness many tourists come as families for the beaches and other attractions. The sexual dimension has always been significant but not the dominant.
        Making the country the brothel of the Indian Ocean will not help us prosper.
        However, I agree that the kind of purism sought here could fringe on hypocrisy when not totally ignorant of reality.
        The Temperance Movement here, like elsewhere, only let illicit liquor flourish.
        As far as sex is concerned I like Alexandra Kollontai’s take on it: Having sex should be no more complicated or problematic than drinking a glass of water.
        It shocked some of her Communist Party colleagues.
        But there is much sense to it, if one does not take it literally.

        • 3

          Have you heard of the establishments that were set up by the Army in Anuradhapura for the rejuvenation of the Ranaviruwos during the war?

          • 3

            old codger

            “Have you heard of the establishments that were set up by the Army in Anuradhapura for the rejuvenation of the Ranaviruwos during the war?”

            Excerpt from Sunday Times
            8th August 1999

            Villages in these jungles And the women who live there

            “There is an increase of prostitution in these areas. Anuradhapura is known for this increase and there are certain people who have commented that prostitution should be legalised in these areas,” says Thiruchandran. She says “In Anuradhapura alone there are some 60 brothels operating, catering to soldiers who are either going or coming from leave and travelling through the city.


            What were Asgiria, Malwattu, Gnana, all other Saffronistas doing about it?
            Using their services perhaps.
            What was Gnana Akka doing about it?

            • 0

              Fake patriotism trumps fake moral outrage any time.

      • 4

        old codger

        “There are plenty of ladies already to be found in Pettah whose chastity is highly doubtful.”

        I am sorry how do you know this fact of life?

        “Let not the author base her ideas of “virtue” on outmoded and anachronistic religious mores.”

        If husbands/partners could always encourage/force their partners/wives to wear chastity belts, if they are possessive and distrust them. It is not a big deal. Please consult with Champa, Theresa, ….. nimal, ….Gnana, …. before the state take any drastic measures.

        • 4

          “I am sorry how do you know this fact of life?”
          You are young and innocent, not a jaded old cynic like me. Enjoy your unspoilt life while you can.
          Oh, if you want the nitty gritty, observe the trademark handbag, umbrella, handkerchief, garish make-up, tendency to stand near seedy “hotels”………..Poor things.

          • 3

            old codger

            Thanks for your advice.
            I will avoid all such trade marks.
            How about Chinese girls/women standing on the pavement, without all those accessories of the trade? For academic reasons am I allowed to interview them without any prejudice against me, my reputation intact?

            nimal is eager to charge me for crimes that I haven’t commit.

  • 1

    The Heart Of The Matter Is A Matter Of The Heart

    Ranil had his heart for matter Aragalaya ( by Aragalaya for the Aragalaya from the Arayalaya ) before President and change heart for matter after President. He had a big heart and shape the minds later.

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