Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "what is all this fuss about a no-ball?"
"Oh," Bindu’s father Percy recalled, "that is something that happened in the cricket match against India..."
"What happened at the match?" Bindu wanted to know.
"One of our bowlers bowled a no-ball when the match was about to end and an Indian batsman was on ninety-nine..." Percy explained.
"So," Bindu asked, "what is so special about that?"
"Why, Bindu," Percy said, "they say the bowler did that purposely so that the match would end and the batsman would not be able to get to his hundred..."
"But thaaththa," Bindu argued, "the bowler didn’t break any rules of the game, did he?"
"No, he didn’t" Percy agreed, "but they say that he has acted against the spirit of the game..."
"So," Bindu wanted to know, "what has happened now?"
"I believe they have suspended the bowler for one game..." Percy explained.
"But that is not fair, thaaththa..." Bindu protested.
"Why do you say that?" Percy asked, "Don’t you think that we should play not only according to the rules of the game but also according to the spirit of the game?"
"But thaaththa," Bindu said, "this happens all the time in everyday life, so why should we bother so much about it and punish people when it happens in a cricket match?"
"What do you mean by that?" Percy inquired.
"Why, thaaththa, do you remember how Satellite wanted to go on for her full two terms in office for twelve years but how she couldn’t get there because she was no-balled by a political party which went to court challenging her plans?" Bindu recalled.
"Yes, I do," Percy said, "and that is what paved the way for the early elections that brought Mahinda maama to power..."
"And that political party," Bindu remembered, "far from being punished, went on to form part of Mahinda maama’s government after those elections..."
"If I remember correctly," Percy observed, "even at those elections, someone was no-balled..."
"Who was that?" Bindu was curious.
"Why, Bindu, Uncle Ranil was widely expected to win the election but Velu suddenly no-balled him by calling for a boycott in the North and East..." Percy pointed out.
"That is true," Bindu agreed, "because Uncle Ranil lost by a very small margin that was much lesser than the number of votes available to him in the North and East..."
"But of course," Percy pointed out, "in that instance, the person who no-balled him did get punished..."
"Why do you say that, thaaththa?" Bindu asked.
"Why, Bindu," Percy explained, "Velu who no-balled Uncle Ranil paid the price because Mahinda maama wiped him out along with his organization..."
"But thaaththa," Bindu said, "someone was no-balled, even in the process of wiping out Velu and his men..."
"Who was that?" Percy was puzzled.
"Why, thaaththa, the General who helped wipe out Velu is today behind bars while Velu’s two most trusted lieutenants, the one who was in the East and the other who was overseas, are enjoying great privileges, so the General has indeed been no-balled" Bindu declared.
"That is true," Percy conceded, "but he is not alone..."
"Why do you say that, thaaththa?" Bindu queried.
"Why," Percy recalled, "don’t we all remember how Mahinda maama no-balled Uncle Ranil by inviting him for discussions and then stealing seventeen of his MPs while those discussions were going on, depriving the Greens of most of their party members..."
"Yes, indeed," Bindu said, "but the problem is that although all of us seem to remember it, someone else appears to have conveniently forgotten it..."
"Why do you say that, Bindu?" Percy wanted to know.
"Because," Bindu pointed out, "even after all that, Uncle Ranil is still going for discussions with Mahinda maama..."
"But what is wrong with that?" Percy wondered.
"Why, thaaththa," Bindu recalled, "just after Uncle Ranil went for discussions with Mahinda maama this time, he lost two more MPs..."
"Well," Percy conceded, "that might be considered unfortunate..."
"No, thaaththa," Bindu said, "it reminds me of what someone said about something unfortunate happening twice..."
"And what was that?" Percy demanded.
"When it happens once, it is considered a misfortune but when it happens again, it must be carelessness..." Bindu declared.
"I don’t quite agree with that, Bindu," Percy declared.
"Why do you say that, thaaththa?" Bindu asked, "Don’t you think that Uncle Ranil has been no-balled once again?"
"No, Bindu," Percy said, "I don’t think that is quite what is happening here..."
"What do you think is happening, then?" Bindu asked.
"Remember how the bowler didn’t mind bowling a no-ball and conceding a run just so he could deprive the batsman of his century, Bindu?" Percy asked.
"Yes, I do," Bindu said, "that is what started all this fuss..."
"I think Uncle Ranil doesn’t mind conceding a few MPs just so he could deprive someone else of something..." Percy proposed.
"Then," Bindu said, "it is Uncle Ranil who is no-balling someone else..." Bindu declared.
Percy didn’t disagree.