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Velu! We are both diabetics.

“Velu has a tendency to defy analysis and predictions. In the '80s it was said that the Indians had killed him and the Velu occasionally appearing in photographs was his double. But as time passed he was judged to be the original product.”

by Gamini Weerakoon

(March 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Velupillai Pirapaharan (aka Prabhakaran) and I have one thing in common. We are both diabetics.

I am a clinically confirmed diabetic - each morning a painful drop of blood put into a glucometer says so. Velu is diabetic - or at least presumed to be so - from diagnosis at a distance by government spy masters.

There is justification for this diagnosis. The once sprightly and deadly serial killer has tuned out to be a plum pudding or - in local terminology - a 'buth muttiya', a condition which medical authorities describe as 'obese.' Velu is now a baby faced Al Capone with a difference - he has a Groucho Marx moustache, just like what our dearly beloved Mahinda Percy sports

Lean and hungry

There are historical reasons as well for the diagnosis of obesity. Revolutionaries, visionaries, founders of independent states were not roly-poly. They had the lean and hungry look. Attila the Hun, or Genghis Khan couldn't have looked like plum puddings on horse back as they swept through the Asian and European continents from Beijing to Lisbon and back, pillaging, raping and conquering.

Alexander the Great was a lissom youth, every inch a Greek God. Coming close to our times, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Oliver Cromwell, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao Tse Tung (he was lean in his youth), Chou En Lai, Ho Chi Minh and at home - Bala Tampoe, Vasu, Wickramabahu, Wijeweera and last but not least Somawansa are all of the lean and hungry variety. These characters targeted the fat and idiotic kind who were invariably the rulers and beheaded them, if possible.

But Velu has a tendency to defy analysis and predictions. In the '80s it was said that the Indians had killed him and the Velu occasionally appearing in photographs was his double. But as time passed he was judged to be the original product.

Recently the diagnosis of diabetes was made in Colombo and it was said a leg had been amputated. Then the story emerged that air force bombings at Kilinochchi had killed him.

This essay is not an attempt to say whether Velu is dead or alive. It is purely an attempt to compare the diabetic condition of Velu and yours truly.

Velu's diet

If Velu is a diabetic, it would be interesting to know what his diet is. He will certainly not be following the advice of the Doctors Killjoy in the Colombo press who will recommend only kola kenda, gotu kola and pathola.

Living in the verdant Wanni he has a wide choice on food. If he is a vegetarian he has luscious murunga hanging all over, red king yams, kotta kellengu and thosai made of pure ulundu sent to him, courtesy Karunanidhi of Chennai with which he used to treat Erik Solheim. Rumour had it that Solheim's determination to visit the Wanni was mainly inspired by his longing for Velu's thosai.

If Velu is an omnivore, then he has a whole tropical jungle: venison, sambur, peacock, crocodile, or even elephant meat. Security is so tight in the Tiger camp that we don't know whether Mrs. Velu has put him on a diet: no sugar in the tea, in fact no sugar at all, only one ripe mango or a banana a day, kurakkan roti morning, noon and night etc.

Diabetic experts

Digressing for a moment, Colombo diabetics, it has to be said, have a plethora of diabetic experts. The other day at a dinner table when we were plunging into forbidden things for us unfortunate diabetics, our commander-in-chief and ever loving partner declared loud and clear that yours truly was a chronic diabetic. Promptly there emerged a panel of diabetic advisors - mostly women.

Eat karawila, said one, gotukola said another. Drink kotala himbutu said the third, ulu haal said another. Belli mul was also a popular suggestion. We had been advised quite early in life not to argue with doctors - genuine or quacks. So we took it all with a smile. But when we reached for the Black Label scotch which our host was very generous with, there was quite a commotion. Alcohol is the worst for diabetes was the consensus of opinion round the table.

But we were diagnosed with this disease 25 years ago and it had not deterred us from sipping the golden waters of Scotland or the golden water from the Tree of Life of our home country, we said. 'Only the good die young,' said a wicked, ageing lady.

Velu a TT?

This brings us to the question whether Velu, the Sun God - Suriya Theivam - is a devotee of Bacchus, the Greek God of wine. Apparently not, for booze had been banned by the LTTE. Some say that the letters TT in the acronym LTTE also stand for teetotaller. But Velu is a sensible commander. He understood his mentor Anton Balasingham's needs.

Bala the ex-newspaper hack, like most newspaper hacks, needed something extra flowing in his veins for inspired creative writing. He permitted Bala his whisky. Does Velu take an occasional nip from the product of the Tree of Life in Jaffna, the palmyrah tree? All reliable intelligence reports on this are negative.

And therein lies the Achilles Heel of Velu. All great military commanders took a sip of the stuff that cheers before charging into battle. You need fire in the belly to fight a war. Velu will not be able to win the final battle with kola kenda, gotukola or Marmite (oops, sorry, Carlo for using a brand name). Shall we say yeast extract?
- Sri Lanka Guardian

1 comment

miuru said...

excellent creative writing.
brought a wide smile everytime i ended a sentence.
catchy and witty.

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