Hello! I am Menika from Yatinuwara, a division of the
Kandé-uda-pasrata. I was brought up conservative – to be meek, mild and
subservient. No strong personal opinions; no talking freely to males; no
expressing personal views.
My job in life was to serve the different patriarchs of the extended
family – Aatha, Appachchi, ‘Mage Mahattaya’ and Putha, with sundry
Maamas and Kudappachchis to be respected. I obliged but now I am free,
FREE, free like a bird, free to do as I like. I use my freedom to cast
my curious eye all round. I even express ideas, so here goes.
The stunner of the week was the appointment of sundry SLFPers to the
Cabinet as Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers bloating the
Cabinet to 40 Ministers, 14 State Ministers and 23 Deputy Ministers.
That adds up to 77! Maybe double seven is lucky to the selectors, but
not lucky for us - the people of this country. We have to support them!
And the less said the better about most of them! The yahapalanaya
promise was 25 Cabinet Ministers with a couple of others of lesser
status; while an erudite strongly critical editor (The Island - 24
March) proclaims 15 would do.
There is a very useful English word to explain such as this benefit
to some, dilemma to others – EXPEDIENCY. Yes, it is expedient for the
government to rope in willing SLFPers to the government to make it a –
whatjacallit – national government. ‘Expediency’ is dictionary defined
as: “When something is helpful or useful in a particular situation, but
sometimes not morally acceptable”.
Now does not that definition hit the nail on the head in the context
of my use of the word as a move by the yahapalanaya government? Menika
won’t go into the rights and wrongs of the government move since she is
not competent to do so, not knowing exactly how the cabinet cookie rises
or crumbles. But she does know about some of the new ministers.
The very day after the announcement was made that S B Dissanayake was
made a minister; i.e. Monday 23, TV news had it that his brother was
escorted to the police station and remanded due to death threats he
spouted. The police apparently went slow over the arrest until mobs
carrying placards demanded it. We also know how rejected SB was by
university students, even lecturers, when he was Minister of Higher
Education in the former regime.
A lady given the honour of being selected to the expanded Cabinet was
obviously a devoted supporter of the ex President. Sycophancy was the
word that came into mind as we blushed deep red when we saw her on TV
and newspaper photographs going down on her very knees in obeisance to
Mahinda Rajapaksa as he sat with others on a platform at a meeting. I
think she even touched his toes in reverence!!
There she was, this Pavithra, collapsing and bundling herself in
front of the entire audience and in view of those seated beside the Prez,
her posture raising her derriere rather embarrassingly. The worst was
the Prez did not even acknowledge her obeisance by the least gesture, be
it a glance at her kneeling self or a ‘hondai, hondai’ at least.
Rightly he should have arisen from his seat and stretched a hand in
acknowledgement. Not he to do this since even he recognized and
pooh-poohed (in this instance) self-centred, sycophantic pooja.
But there was a heartening news item that warmed the cockles of the
heart. Pictures on TV and newspapers showed many pregnant women at
meetings being assured of nutriment in the way of a monthly bag of
supplies and Rs 2000 for their entire ‘waiting’ period and thereafter
too when nursing the newborn. Now that is an exemplary act of grace and
gratitude to mothers.
That definitely is an idea of our new President: benevolent,
concerned about the less well-off citizens of this land and helping in
the sphere of health and nutriment. He sure would have been encouraged
by two of our women Ministers: Thalata Athukorale and Rosy Senanayake.
A woman when pregnant needs extra attention, leave alone concern.
Admittedly, it is a natural occurrence - expecting a baby - but there
are attendant psychological quirks during her nine months of expanding
girth. In our village in Yatinuwara, as I am sure it obtained in other
Nuwaras and villages, there was a fuss made about dola duka.
Some expecting women made a huge song and dance about this. I know of
a lady of means of long ago who got a dd for champagne. Can you imagine
that! I was a mere kid but had extra expanded pores on my body which
absorbed all conversations, particularly those whispered with heads bent
close. This conversation between Amma and aunts sunk in my mind.
This was soon after WW II with restrictions galore. We hardly had
enough rice to eat. So her husband, from a remote Dry Zone station had a
Colombo relative make contact with the Purser of a berthed ship to
purloin a bottle of the said exotic alcoholic drink for the elite lady.
Poor baby in her innards! How it would have squirmed in the womb awash
They say a mere glass of wine affects the foetus. The dd condition
does affect all and sundry; the mild and take-it-as-it-comes women
devour a raw mango or make themselves some achcharu; the mean and
calculating make hay while their longing lasts and ask for this and
that. Maybe the western blonde asks for diamonds at this time!
Three sincere cheers to the losers
Coming back to news of the last week, we Sri Lankans can pat
ourselves on the back for taking in good spirit the defeat of the eleven
plus wielders of willow who came back to the Island knocked out of the
World Cup series at the quarter finals.
We really are sensible. “Oh they played fine games. They were sporty.
So what if we don’t always win? See how Sanga that perfect player and
gentleman put us on the cricket map again with his scoring centuries
left, right and centre.” And the women fans who almost outnumber the men
drooled: “Aiyo, he is so hamson. Can’t say he is 38 no?
Why aney is he leaving the team? Seems to be at the top of the form,”
which somewhat confused Menika. She pictured Sanga standing on his
wooden chair in class which was a punishment meted out: Stand on the
form you bugger! in boys’ schools while girls were sent out of class and
had to write lines.
Which brings another thought to Menika. Y-e-e-s. Sanga is a
Kande-uda-rata man and he would surely have been ordered to stand on the
form by masters of Trinity College.
It was a predecessor Trinitian – Gamini Dissanayake - who got
membership for Sri Lanka in the prestigious group of A1 cricketers. Some
who were in our recent cricket admin nearly spoilt our name for ever.
Fortunately here too Maitri prevailed and somewhat cleaned out the
Ah well! This is Sri Lanka! A land like no other, mercifully not
pretending now to be the Miracle of Asia!