Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 10 January 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Our leaders and associated symbols

Congratulations and all that to the yahapalanaya government of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Greens and Blues. As I write this, I giggle to myself since people are busy deriding the term yahapalanaya; worse, insulting the government.

The congratulations are mainly to the President who came in so wonderfully and deposed Mahinda Rajapaksa who latterly seemed to believe he was born to the presidential seat, palace and unlimited powers and looked confident he would be voted in by the goats and buffaloes for another five years until his son and heir claimed the Sri Lankan throne.

So it was thanks to an egg hopper hastily swallowed that heralded the betrayal of a dictator and welcomed salvation to a nation burdened by much corruption. Bravo and Cheers! That was a brave act since anyone and everyone close to the former Prez and wanting to get cozier would have sneaked the news his Party Secy and Cabinet Minister was about to decamp. Ethakota – kaput!

Mercifully those who planned the cross-over kept their plans severely under wraps even though one of the planners was a woman who was well known for shooting her mouth in her own inimitable style.

Blessed day - January 8, 2015

Last year on January 8 we voted in long queues, came home, waited with bated breath for the TV announcement of results, and then cheered as Maithripala Sirisena won hands down. It was such jubilation to those who felt the yoke of dictatorship even if mere ordinary citizens. We celebrated real liberation. Democracy and the freedom to speak and write were restored; we breathed a heavy sigh of relief at the disappearance of the infamous white van and the leaders of that era. We had instead the very composed, well spoken, dignified leader who gave promise of maturing to be a statesman – Maithripala Sirisena. As his help karaya was politically savvy Ranil Wickremesinghe who was above corruption and had the country’s best interests at heart.

Warnings with January 8, 2016

We have just celebrated the first anniversary of that remarkable January 8, 2015. How is the feeling this year? Muted is this cat’s opinion. Sad but true. Menika won’t go into an analysis of the whys and wherefores but she categorically affirms she has faith in the duo at the very top.

Different from what others say. There is talk of an expansion of the already bloated Cabinet; people are grumbling about the soaring cost of living. But our gas is much cheaper and we don’t have to suffer privation while watching VVIPs having a ball all the time: dansalas galore; first class travel for hordes of suckers in chartered flights and all that. Even the game of rugby has come back to its former manner with no VVIP brats to be avoided physically. And in this game of all games!

Maidenform, Triumph to the fore

The media is entangled with bras!! Cartoonists, writers of feature articles, senders of letters to editors are still preoccupied with bras. Poor, poor President.

He mentioned whipping as punishment to the organizers of the Enrique Iglesias’s concert for it being detrimental and damaging to the nation’s cultural heritage of more than 2,500 years.

Poor, poor Mr Sirisena. He blotched his so clean copy book, he damaged his calm and collected image by vituperating somewhat on a trivial matter to most and definitely a non-est matter of concern to those who subscribe to living and letting live. He seems not to be given any reprieve. The bra is there for all to see.

I am sure the President rues the day he made his proclamation about whipping and followed it up on the next day with the announcement of not allowing Sri Lankans to parade the streets naked.

Totally unnecessary warning. If you need prudes, look among us Sri Lankans. And so our sad association of this wise and good President with an itsy bitsy piece of feminine lingerie. I do hope people of this nation who are known for their short memories will forget this ill advised threat and warning of the Prez. Some who admire him say it was a conspiracy to downgrade him!!

Pinned on symbols

Let’s cast our minds back and consider whether former leaders had symbolic tags affixed to them. Digging into this feline’s memory nothing startling comes up but she does remember associated ideas with each of our past leaders, at least her associations which could very well match national identifications. D S Senanayake? Huge moustache; hands in pockets of a safari shirt-coat; coming fourth in the year-end exams in a class of four students at STC, Mt Lavinia.

Or so the story went. Sir Oliver Goonetileke – master cunning mind hidden behind a round face and childlike stammer.

Dudley S – great rice-and-curry eater; buth gotta (name bandied against all UNPers at the time due to the removal of a rice subsidy). Sir John Kotalawela – Farm in Kent; Purple Brigade of society dames; Collette’s cartoons and black swans at Kandawela. And of course egg hopper breakfasts in his Ratmalana manor. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike – Sinhala only sword; pancha balavega curse and electric eelness as bestowed on him by Tarzie Vittachchi.

Sirima B. – tears and her sari pota that huge men clung to. W. Dahanayake – his attending Parliament once in a loin cloth and taking train to Galle from Temple Trees as just deposed PM. D. B. Wijetunga – benign smile and relinquishing power so like a gentleman.

Chandrika B. Kumaratunga – glamour, choice Sinhala words like dhooshana, beeshana and bahubootha; also irresponsibly scooting off to Singapore with her early social secretary Ms Maharaja, sending her security and protocol spinning. Also weeping with an injured eye winning votes by the thousands.

Mahinda Rajapaksa? My word! The symbolic associations crowd the mind furiously. Charm and cunning in equal measure; dansalas and much much more.

Last of all Ranil W. Looks innocent but is sharp. Smart and able to hold his own with the smartest of world leaders sartorially and in matters of politics.

Our present Prez – pair of glinting glasses; calm and collected; greeted warmly by the British Monarch, His Holiness the Pope, and Obama.

But now this other unfortunate tag. We do hope that picture will soon fade away. After all he fought with an all powerful dragon and won, with no magic sword, so let’s restore him to the high ground he deserves.

- Menika



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