And so it came to pass that 2015 would enter the history books as a momentous year in that Miracle of Asia. Hardly had the nation stepped into the new year when, like in ancient times the unde bera beaters announced the ‘birth’ of a new king and the renaissance of the Polonnaruwa era. Nothing [...]


A year of mirabilis, horribilis and lunu miris


And so it came to pass that 2015 would enter the history books as a momentous year in that Miracle of Asia. Hardly had the nation stepped into the new year when, like in ancient times the unde bera beaters announced the ‘birth’ of a new king and the renaissance of the Polonnaruwa era.

The Ruhunu Rata has produced historical rulers such as King Dutugemunu who had in turn bequeathed to the nation colourful descendents such as Mervyn Silva.

Nothing like this would have occurred had the emperor from the Ruhunu Rata which produced historical rulers such as King Dutugemunu who had in turn bequeathed to the nation colourful descendents as Mervyn Silva (okay, okay so we have taken his word for it), not been forced to abdicate largely because his subjects in the north had turned particularly restless, not to mention elsewhere in the country.

Even the Emperor’s soothsayer had got his soothsaying wrong. Instead of reading the stars the poor man attuned his ears to the Carlton House courtiers who were more concerned about what they would personally lose in the event the crown fell off the kingly crown.

So the soothsayer by appointment to the Royal Household was in no position to warn his master of an impending ‘Ides of March’, especially since it was January and nobody would have believed him anyway.Came January 9 and a miracle happened. Even then the new incumbents were worried despite the rejoicing in the country. They caused an immediate ho ha (or was it ha ho?) accusing the defeated of trying to stay put and deny the Royalists (Colombo and Polonnaruwa) their public triumph by Machiavellian maneuvering that it might have surprised the author- diplomat’s Prince himself.

While the adjudicators were looking for the rule book-and apparently have still not found it even though the former interventionists have long retreated wherever they retreat to- the emperor took his clothes and sundry other belongings and off he went to his modest home in Medamulana.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. After all the British who hated the emperor’s guts for belittling them by trying to force feed them manioc and lunu miris (so one story went) seated by the bund of some far away ‘tank’, has an old saying about an Englishman’s home being his castle.

The upshot (actually there was no shot up or down though a bullet or two might have gone missing) was that Ruhunu Rata had to yield to Raja Rata by public acclamation. ”Peoples’ revolution”, cried some already attired in new ministerial garb and wanna- be purohitas quite ready to turn political somersaults for power, perks and patronage.

Indeed it was a revolution, for some who pledged to be on one side had revolved on their own axes and debunked, only a few steps ahead of the law if one believes the stories that went into immediate circulation.Of course this was nothing like the French Revolution (in which some lost their heads we are told) and other revolutions including the permanent revolution my old guru at Peradeniya Doric d’Souza was eternally preaching about to anyone who could spell Leon Trotsky.

But that was not going to stop the Americans from hailing it as a revolution even though the word itself is one that drives US politicians out of their wits (that is those who might be equipped with any), what with Castro next door smoking his Cuban cigar.

What happened that early January day seemed to have shocked the Americans who are not easily shocked. They are adept at more shocking performances of their own, as we know only too well. In fact it came as such a shock to the White House (why the chaps did not ask the CIA remains a mystery) that President Obama has still not recovered from it.

If you believe Samantha Power- and that is asking a lot- President Obama is still so shell- shocked that every waking day he is asking after the welfare of the latest beneficiaries of American largesse. Why should he not inquire after his Sri Lankan friends, after all! Did they not go all the way to Geneva to say ‘aye’ to the Washington-inspired resolution that would perhaps put the rope round a few necks, metaphorically speaking naturally, with a little bit of help from outside.

If the January election result shocked Obama, the Geneva maneuvre shocked millions more including two permanent members of the UN Security Council, not to mention several of our international friends who are still trying to recover from this diplomatic faux pas.

Even before the year began some were targeting China for helping the Ruhunu family with loans and diplomatic support. So when the Royalist forces captured power in Colombo, China was sent to the dog house much to the pleasure of Washington’s Asia pivoters fattening themselves on Kentucky chicken and lacking a delicate palate to savour the delectable Peking Duck.
But as the year wore on diplomatic savvy and pragmatism began a comeback in an administration in which some were worshipping at a Washington altar.

America and Britain which till recently had pooled their resources to declare Sri Lanka a “pariah state” were now ready to train our troops with both offering all kinds of goodies.

Perhaps realizing that its bull in a china shop approach could be damaging in the long term, the current incumbent of Temple Trees seems more intent now on distancing the administration from the earlier anti-Beijing rhetoric.The new king was away in the Vatican probably seeking divine intervention to help him with troublesome labour leaders trying to compel compliance and mammoty-wielding farmers as scantily clad as the naked fakir, threatening to sow seeds of discord with or without subsidised fertilizer.

Still others like that Gammanpila fellow had started spouting jingoistic babble and seeking the limelight now that the vociferous Wansa appears to be on sabbatical. With signs that the early mirabilis was slowly turning to something rather horribilis, the king’s chief enforcer at Araliyagaha thought it best to smoke the peace pipe with the Indians across the straits and those who built the great wall.

A few days ago he conceded that to improve our fighting forces Sri Lanka needs to maintain good ties with China, India and Pakistan as well as the United State and Britain. Now that must have got the goat of those western brethren who thought they had it all nicely stitched up, not realizing of course that our uniformed types had militarily defeated a ruthless insurgency whereas our new found advisers with all their drones and sophisticated weaponry have been unable to clean up the mess they had started in West Asia and were even now making it worse.

What has been most unbearable is that at the butt end of 2015 which opened with a promise of a rosy dawn, the yahapalanaya administration is spluttering. Not in living memory has an annual budget run into such widespread opposition.
The initial proposals have been so severely chopped and ground that it looks even more mixed-up than the lunu miris supposedly offered to David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner when they came to Sri Lanka to urge the Ruhunu Raja to let the Tigers off the hook.

Once again the Araliyagaha mandira had to interpose itself between the threatening unions and a confused finance ministry looking more like a Panchikawatte repair shop. This hardly augurs well for the coming year.
So this year ends not with a bang but a damper.

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