Columns - 5thcolumn

‘I’ll cross the bridge when I know the time is right for me’
By Rypvanwinkle

“Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “have we won the war now?”
“Why, Bindu,” Bindu’s father Percy queried, “what makes you think that?”
“Why, thaaththa,” Bindu said, “they are already discussing what they would do with Prabhakaran...”
“Who is doing that?” Percy wanted to know.
“Why, thaaththa, India has said they want him, so they could get him to face charges there for the murder of their former Prime Minister...” Bindu explained.
“So, we should be glad about that, shouldn’t we?” Percy asked.
“Well,” Bindu said, “apparently we are not...”
“Why is that, Bindu?” Percy inquired.
“It seems that we have said we want him to face charges in this country first for all for the crimes he is alleged to have committed here...” Bindu declared.
“I suppose that is a fair demand too...” Percy conceded.
“And some are even demanding that the death penalty be reactivated...” Bindu pointed out.
“But, Bindu,” Percy protested, “he hasn’t even been caught yet...”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu said, “just imagine what could happen if he is nabbed...”
“Why, what could happen?” Percy asked, “all that would happen is that there would be national celebrations, crackers will be lit and regular programmes on television will be interrupted for Mahinda maama to address the nation...”
“No, thaaththa,” Bindu argued, “I was thinking about India and us...”
“Why,” Percy queried, “what about India and us?”
“Why,” Bindu pointed out, “wouldn’t the two countries be fighting with each other as to who would want to try Prabhakaran first?”
“Oh,” Percy said, “I am sure we could reach some kind of agreement with them because that would be a minor problem compared to the problem of catching him...”
“So, is it when Prabhakaran is caught that the war will be officially declared over?” Bindu wanted to know.
“I am not so sure about that...” Percy said.
“That is why I wanted to know when the war will be over...” Bindu said.
“Well,” Percy said, “I suppose we cannot say exactly when the war will be over although we seem to be making steady progress towards that...”
“Why do you say that, thaaththa?” Bindu inquired.
“Why, we hear of a new city or village being captured everyday...” Percy recalled.
“Yes, that is true...” Bindu said.
“And, now we also hear of a Tiger airstrip being captured almost every other day...” Percy observed.
“And that means there would be no more Tiger aircraft suddenly flying over us and dropping bombs over Colombo...” Bindu suggested.
“Yes,” Percy said, “so I suppose several significant threats posed because of the war should now be eliminated...”
“That may be so, thaaththa,” Bindu said, “but I think there will be a new set of problems if the war is officially declared to be over...”
“Why should there be new problems?” Percy was puzzled, “why, we could all get back to the business of developing the country without having to worry about the cost of the war or the possibility of bombs exploding everywhere...”
“I am not so sure it is as simple as that....” Bindu said.
“Why do you say that, Bindu?” Percy wanted to know.
“Why, thaaththa, how can they raise petrol prices saying it is for the war effort?” Bindu asked.
“Well, the court is already looking into that, aren’t they?” Percy countered.
“Then, how can they accuse everybody who is opposed to them of being a terrorist if the war has been won and there are no more terrorists?” Bindu inquired.
“That of course would be difficult...” Percy agreed.
“And, worst of all,” Bindu asked, “how can they ask people to vote for them and not the opposition in order to defeat terrorism and win the war, if the war has already been won?”
Percy realised he hadn’t thought about that yet.

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