Columns - 5th column

Happy days are here again—when prices come a cropper
By Rypvanwinkle

Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what are your New Year resolutions?”
“I hope,” Bindu’s father Percy said, “that there are many, many elections this year…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu said, “we had so many elections last year, so why are you demanding elections this year as well?
“Those were ‘minor’ elections, Bindu,” Percy declared, “we need ‘major’ elections now…”
“Why is that, thaaththa?” Bindu wanted to know.
“Why, Bindu,” Percy said, “just look at the benefits we have already gained from the election we are having in less than a month…”
“I can’t see many benefits, thaaththa,” Bindu protested, “all I know is that our walls are plastered with posters and our television programmes are being replaced by advertisements of artistes and sportsmen telling us to vote for someone who is experienced and sensitive…”
“But that is not all, Bindu,” Percy said, “there are benefits because of the election too…”
“And what are these benefits, thaaththa?” Bindu inquired.
“Why, at first the price of bread was reduced by three rupees…” Percy pointed out.
“Well,” Bindu was not impressed, “three rupees will not buy you even a bus ticket these days, and anyway, I thought that the price of bread was decided by what happens in the world market; at least that is what they say when they increase the price…”
“What about the price of petrol, then?” Percy asked, “that has come down by as much as fifteen rupees…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu said, “whenever they raise the price of petrol, they say that is also because of rising world oil prices…”
“But, Bindu,” Percy observed, “even now the world oil prices are rising but they have offered us a reduction in the price of petrol, so we must thank the elections for that…”
“But I don’t think there will be any more benefits, thaaththa,” Bindu said, “and even these benefits may be withdrawn when the elections are over on the twenty seventh…”
“Don’t be so pessimistic, Bindu,” Percy advised, “there are more benefits, I am sure…”
“And what are those benefits, then?” Bindu wanted to know.
“Why, now even the price of gas has come down…” Percy declared.
“If these entire price reductions are because of elections, thaaththa,” Bindu wondered, “can’t we ask for some more benefits before the elections are over?”“And what benefits do you want, thaaththa?” Percy queried.
“Can’t we for instance, ask for a reduction in the number of Ministers in the government?” Bindu asked.
“I won’t be very hopeful about that, Bindu,” Percy said, “we are more likely to get an increase in the number of Ministers because whenever a chap from the Green camp crosses over to the Blue camp, they are rewarded with a ministerial post…”
“Then, can we at least ask for our normal television programmes to be resumed instead of everyone telling us how patriotic they are, how experienced they are and how honest they are? Bindu asked.
“But surely, Bindu,” Percy said, “that is part and parcel of elections and it should help us to decide who is in reality more patriotic, experienced and honest…”
“Then,” Bindu suggested, “can they at least tell us who all these international conspirators are, who seem to have nothing better to do than to plot the destruction of our country?”
“Now, that would be a little difficult, Bindu,” Percy explained, “because what usually happens is that just as soon as the election is over, these conspiracies also disappear overnight…”
“Then, thaaththa” Bindu asked, “what happens to all those allegations of corruption that are made during the election campaign?”
“Those also usually disappear overnight because everyone conveniently forgets about them,” Percy said, “and the best way to ensure that this happens is by crossing over to the winning side…”
“But thaaththa,” Bindu protested, “if this is what happens at the end of all the elections, why are we having elections anyway?”
“You should not be disappointed after seeing this election campaign, Bindu…” Percy advised.
“And why shouldn’t I be disappointed?” Bindu demanded.
“Remember, Bindu,” Percy said, “this election is only to elect one person. There will soon be another election to elect two hundred and twenty five people. And you can be sure that the mud-slinging will probably be two hundred times more in that election…”
Bindu didn’t quite know what to say to that.

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