Happy Christmas & New Year Umbatai Mattai

"  A great war leaves the country with three armies: An army of mourners, army of cripples and an army of criminals."
 by Gamini Weerakoon

(December 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A happy Christmas and a merry new year it will be for those in the magic circle who will be driven to plush hotels in their brand new ‘chariots’ bought recently at around Rs. 15 million or more – duty free. They will dance till dawn to eat kiribath and lunumiris and wash it down with champagne – Dom Perignon preferably.

They are doing this for their country. (An Economics expert says: There was no financial liquidity and money was not flowing into the Treasury, so import taxes on luxury vehicles were reduced and black money flowed in). Not to be discouraged, there will be millions of others who too will be dancing the jig at home with a bottle of arrack bought on tick; who too will be tucking into kiribath and lunumiris at dawn. That’s new year, that’s life.

Wait for nuts to fall

There will be those — you know who — who will be wondering whether coconuts will arrive from Kerala and chicken from Chennai at affordable prices as promised by the Johnny Come Lately to the cabinet. But they cannot be too sure about it after the Brazilian chicken having seemingly chickened out on the way and Bombay onions from Mumbai being a non starter with Indians pelting rotten onions at their leaders last week, the price of onions having doubled.

Now we are told that onions will come from Pakistan even though it was said that there is not a bean left in the country after the worst floods experienced in living memory. Will Lankans have to await coconuts to fall from their tree in the front garden to have a substantial pol sambol for New Year or their chicks to cock-a-doodle-do early morning? Only 2011 will tell. Anyway, by the time these ‘essential goods arrive’, Christmas and New Year will be well over. New year is for optimists. Without being pessimists, let’s be realists and look at the past year, the year of great hope as some envisaged.

The past year

2010 was anticipated to be the year of resurrection for the ‘Resplendent Isle’. The year commenced seven months after the near 30 year conflict ended. It was time for rehabilitation, reconstruction and reinvigoration of the nation it was said. It was also time for the Rajapaksas and their cronies to reinstall themselves. And all credit to them, that’s what they did very well.

When the war is over

For many years the answer to all the fervent appeals of citizens to the powers that be was: “Wait till the war is over.” It has been over for one year and nine months, but the happy promised lands we are yet to see. It will be milk and honey once the war is over we thought. Hambantota way has been the traditional source of milk and honey. Milk and honey is still there but this time there are Chinese as well, we are told. Sri Lanka’s problem is that we did not have a war for generations and we don’t know what war is about. Those who have warred know it well, such as the Germans.

A German proverb says: A great war leaves the country with three armies: An army of mourners, army of cripples and an army of criminals. Needless to say we have all such armies and not much milk and honey. Now let’s consider what we did since we won the great historic war? True, around 300,000 internally displaced persons were settled, although whether the settled like the environment they were settled in or not, we do not know. The ‘international’ focus was on these unfortunate people and action had to be taken.

We’ve been celebrating

What else did we do? After Prabhakaran fell somewhere near Mullaitivu in May 2009, our leaders went on an orgy of kiributh gobbling, with kavum and kokis eating , dancing on the streets and lighting crackers to celebrate ‘the great historic victory’ till ‘the great and historic presidential election victory’ came in January 27. After that, we celebrated ‘the great historic victory’ of the Rajapaksa party at the polls in April this year. After that, we bought over the UNP stooges and since then we have been celebrating these four fold victories at any given occasion. Yes, we have been celebrating and the end of celebrations is not in sight.

Teaching Western powers lessons

In international relations, we have been attempting to teach Ban Ki Moon, Barack Obama and other western leaders lessons on how to deal with a powerful country like Sri Lanka. ‘Never ever say this country is small’. Who said that? No prizes are offered. Ban Ki Moon’s boys are now coming here to learn lessons from the Lessons Learnt Commission. We have been kowtowing to New Delhi whenever a political or bureaucratic Brahmin sneezed. India, we say is our great friend and continue to strengthen ties with Pakistan. ‘China and India are our friends’ we shout from the roof tops. China has certainly been our friend but what of Mother India?

Last week as we were penning these comments, we read a report of India’s crown prince Rahul Gandhi saying: Sri Lanka is not doing enough for Tamils and he would ensure that justice is done. These comments took our memory back to a few days before Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president for the second time. He told a press conference of foreign correspondents: War does not mean the end of the conflict. We need to politically address the needs of Tamils.

That is what the western nations are telling us and we are furious about that. The Oxford fiasco and Liam Fox foxing out of a visit to Sri Lanka are our latest achievements in foreign relations. That’s all folks for the Old Year. We send our humble greetings in ‘bi- lingual’ for 2011 by email not being able to afford glossy, beautiful cards as big as calendars. Our regrets for the rhyming and the inelegant expressions. It’s the thought that matters.

Happy Christmas and New Year Umbatai Mattai

And of course the maha raja pavulatai
Ring the bells and tell the pee…ple
They are as dumb as the beasts in the jun..gle
The year before we won the glorious victory
This year we jailed the hero who made history
Promises not kept are like are kisses wasted
They are like kisses hardly tasted
Abolish the Exec Presidency they pledged each year
Now it will go on from year to year, for ever
I will not abandon you, we every day we hear
But what can we do but to say: Hear! hear! hear!
This Christmas will be merry have you heard,
Coconuts from Kerala,
Chicken from Brazil,
Bombay onions from Mumbai…..
O Come all ye faithful
Come and have a plateful
But there won’t be a glass full
‘Cos of Mathata Titha (full stop to booze)
The spirit of a spiritless nation

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