By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Gurulugomi, the renowned prophet of the island of Bakamoona, lies in the home of his adopted land, Australia, having returned from a visit to his island of birth and upbringing. He had visited Bakamoona after twenty two years of voluntary exile in Melbourne. He had left the island because he had earned the wrath of its then rulers for his candid opinions, which he had the habit of expressing regardless.
Fellow countrymen who met in the Community Centre at Glen Waverley gathered around him. They said: “Speak to us and give us your views of our dear motherland. Are our people happy and free”?
Gurulugomi: “Things are far worse, my countrymen-my brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. When I earlier left the shores of my country I thought things cannot be any worse. But see how even worse can be worser. I was invited to a public meeting at the Town Hall and they asked me to speak. I gave my views of the horrible conditions prevailing in the island-of the bribery, corruption, drug dealings, and of Parliamentary and Pradeshiya Sabha bullies and of the total unconcern of rulers to the peoples’ needs. The following day a white van kept following me as if waiting for a suitable moment to take me. I knew the game is up and packed my belongings after a brief stay of just three weeks and here I am with you people enjoying free air and a voice to say anything-even against Abbott.”
“They say we have a High King there. Tell us about that,” urged the gathering.
Gurulugomi: “ Twenty years ago rulers were changed by Bakamoona citizens like changing pillows in the bed. That happened in regularity. But now we have King Senerath, the supreme ruler, in whom the sovereignty of the people rests firmly and unshakably.”
“But sovereignty should be with the people.”
Gurulugomi: “Not correct. Sovereignty can be left as a fixed deposit with the King. He will give it back if he decides. The King manages to keep his regime from free- fall in a peculiar way in a peculiar way namely, by establishing concentric circles of power. Around him the first circle is formed by the brothers and sons. This is the hard core. They are above the law, like the High King himself. The son, for instance can have night races at anytime and anywhere- even near the Dalada Maligawa. The Mahanayakes protested but the son is above these Sangayas. Next, comes the Ministers who are incompetent but loyal. They are kept by franchising corruption. In other words, by allowing them to ‘make something.’ ‘So these Ministers cannot afford to leave the ranks. Next, are the MPs most of whom are also Ministers enjoying perks like car permits, and commissions and the power to abuse. The latter, in turn, can sub-franchise their power to relatives and bosom pals. They all get a regular income from the spoils. And then down to the grassroots levels the High King has the circle of Pradeshiya Sabha reps who are permitted freedom to harass anyone or rape women. These low-downers also get income from supplies for government projects-sand, gravel, cement, tar and so on. Thus, it is in the interest of the circles of power to keep the government going. To back these circles in whatever they do there are journalists who write twisting and turning and spinning themselves like circus girls or table- top dancers. The High King gave all of them laptops.”
“But what about the monks? Can’t they advise the King as monks did in the past”?
Gurulugomi: “Don’t talk about them. They do nothing except to have Dane in parliament at 11 am and then go about in luxury cars. Some even sell their extra car permits to Mudalalies. In Parliament they are like Bakamoonas themselves. Now, some of them are helping to stir a new racism that is-anti-Muslim feelingjust to help the High King to get Sinhala Buddhist votes all onto his side. The old enemy-LTTE-is over; at least government thinks so. A new enemy must be found. You see, every ruling elite requires a public enemy”
“How is the life of the people”?
Gurulugomi: “ People are surrounded by the circles of power and trapped by them. The poor are fearing if they do not follow the line their Samurdi allowances will go. Samurdi is under the control of the first circle of power- more specifically by one of the brothers, Lisab Appuhamy. No support, no Samurdi. Roads are being built all over even in unnecessary places but roads don’t feed peoples’ hunger. The problem is that the roads bring in the money and when they get washed away like right now after the rains more cash flow comes in. Feeding people won’t bring money. The circles of power are keeping the government floating. Earlier, we had a small King-type boss called Arrprem. He did not have circles and he prevented Ministers form making bad money and so some Ministers organized the Dosabiyoga. But now all is quiet as the circles are spinning round and round like in a merry-go-round.”
“But this can bring chaos, abuse of power and corruption. What about law and order and justice?”
Gurulugomi: “Justice? Justice system is a joke there. High King removes any head of Justice and is able to replace the person even with a criminal. Cops are subjugated by political leaders and one cannot appeal to a cop boss because that guy is also a political catcher kept in position long after retirement-just because he is ever willing, like Barkis. Even for a local dispute Police is compelled to take sides-the side of the political boss. This means people have to run behind pollies. They cannot walk with their heads high anywhere. That is justice. If a political high up is caught he is convicted and then released. If such a person says he cannot remember that excuse is accepted. There is a TV star who was jailed recently having been convicted of assaulting his mistress’s husband with an iron rod and breaking the husband’s rib. This guy contests elections although he should be in jail. Recently, he spoke at a rally against Western imperialism, shouting aloud along with another broken down artist who had retired from cinema decades ago.”
“These artists must be patriots. Are there many other patriots in our land, Bakamoona”?
Gurulugomi: “ Bakamoona is full of patriots. There is a monk called Gnanassara who is the most patriotic of all. He is going to kill all Muslims. There is Wimal Singho who goes to fast unto death but never dies. There is Dr Mervenna who has descended from Dutugemunu. And so many others.”
“So is there no hope at all for the people like in the old days when they removed bad rulers”?
By now the sun has dimmed and it was getting dark. Gurulugomi bent down his head and wept.