By Malinda Seneviratne –
Meanwhile in a parallel universe ..
It is not uncommon for two people in the same family to have widely divergent opinions. Brothers, after all, have set upon one another from time immemorial. There’s nothing wrong then about two individuals belonging to the same political party quarreling. Politicians quarrel over all kinds of things. There’s the infamous preferential-vote dadi-bidis, the ‘manaapa poraya’ that is. These days we see more intra-party rivalry than inter-party clashes. So when C.V. Wigneswaran contradicts R. Sampanthan or Mavai Senathirajah about this, that and the other, it’s just normal. ‘News,’ yes, but still normal. Fun, though.
The two chit-chatted over a cup of tea outside a kiosk called Reality along a street that ran parallel to that on which fellow TNA members met to discuss policy, strategy, bitch about Douglas and Mahinda, praise and blame India, whisper about what they called ‘Diaspora’, squirm and keep straight faces [by the way on other streets, inside other houses and offices, people belonging to other political parties and subscribing to other ideologies do pretty much the same]. Anyway, there was conversation.
‘Wiggy Annai you really should watch your mouth!’ Mavai started.
‘I do. Once in the morning, once each time I have a meal and once at night,’ Wigneswaran was surprised at Mavai’s concern and deep inside told himself, ‘I have judged him too harshly!’ and added a post-script, ‘I forget that I am no longer a judge, damn!’
‘Watch, not wash! Watch, watch, watch, like wrist-watch watch!’ Mavia said sternly.
‘Oh really, are you saying I put my foot in my mouth or something?’ Wiggy was not happy.
‘You did worse. You are making me feel that Prabhakaran was right about you Colombo people. Docile. Gullible. Ever ready to submit to the Sinhalese.’
‘Oh, yeah? And where is he now, do you know?’
‘That’s not the point. You don’t know anything about politics. The moment you say you are willing to go with what is practically possible, you get bulldozed!’
‘But is politics not about the art of the possible?’
‘We have to play brinkmanship to get to Possible!’
‘That brinkmanship adorned Tamil children with cyanide capsules and saw 40,000 people being killed in the last days of the war!’
‘One hundred and seventy five thousand!’
‘Well, I thought we agreed to go with the 40,000 lie.’
‘It doesn’t matter. We have to inflate the problem.’
‘So that the slightest scratch with a fingernail will burst the bubble?’
‘You are playing word games now.’
‘But that’s what it has always been, hasn’t it? From Chelva and GG through Amirthaligam and Sampantha to you and I, we’ve done the word-thing. The only one who didn’t was Prabharakaran. Where is he now by the way?’
‘You are starting to get on my nerves!’
‘You have any?’
‘Come on, let’s be serious. You know we had to stick to Eelam so that we could get away with Federalism, right?’
‘Yes, now that we are not getting federalism, shouldn’t we go for what is realistically possible?’
‘No! That’s the wrong way. You don’t know the first thing about politics. We really don’t have a problem. From the beginning we only had aspirations, not real grievances. We crafted grievances to justify aspirations. We’ve already got much more than any other minority in any other country with equivalencies have. We’ve been fighting for a bonus all these years.’
‘I know, I know. I am aware of all that. I wasn’t born yesterday. But you know, I am Old School. I subscribe to Old School Wisdom: A little now, more later. You up the stakes and fail and you don’t get to “Consolation”, you get to “Zilch”. Your buddy Prabhakaran took us Tamils down the road to that destination. He went with “All or nothing” and now we are struggling with “Something is better than nothing”.’
‘Watch your mouth!’
‘I did. This morning. And also, after lunch.’
The invective was too much for the universe to suffer. The parallels melted away. Words dried up. Stares remained.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com