My dear Velu, I am writing to you after a very long time. I thought I should, even though you are now in the Land of Never Return. That is because it is exactly 10 years to the day since you left us, meeting your end in a watery grave at Nanthikadal. You may want [...]

5th Column

We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now”


My dear Velu,

I am writing to you after a very long time. I thought I should, even though you are now in the Land of Never Return. That is because it is exactly 10 years to the day since you left us, meeting your end in a watery grave at Nanthikadal. You may want to know how we are, since that fateful day 10 years ago.

You will be annoyed to know that since your departure, we had almost 10 years of peace. I say ‘almost’ because it lasted a month less than 10 years, when it was shattered by a series of bomb blasts on one single day. Until then, in your absence, we got to know what it was like to live without war.

You will also be annoyed to know that the three people who got together to defeat you, Mahinda maama, Gota and the General are still around. The first two are still together, and Gota is trying to get the job that Mahinda maama had. The General has broken ranks, but he is now a Field Marshall.

You will also possibly be annoyed to hear that Satellite, who you tried to eliminate on the eve of an election, is still around. She was recently accused of having foisted a ‘kodivinaya’ (voodoo) on the country by the Field Marshall. You cost her an eye, but many say she never had a vision, anyway!

The Green Man, the chap you had a ceasefire agreement with, is also still around, although I don’t know whether you will be happy or annoyed about that. You chose to eliminate Preme, Lalith, Gamini and Ranjan but never tried that on him. Was that a deliberate tactic to plunge us into chaos, Velu?

What might surprise you more is to hear that a chap who was almost unheard of during your time, Aiyo Sirisena, is in charge now. We know your strategy was to weaken the leadership in the South. If you were around today, you would have been overjoyed, simply because he is a leader like no other!

You will be disappointed to know that since your departure, your outfit died a natural death. Being a megalomaniac, you didn’t allow a clear line of succession. Most of your ranks were eliminated in the final war. The Tigers are now only a memory, though some who are overseas still try to keep it alive.

However, what you would really like to know, Velu, is not how everyone is but what happened to your great dream – to divide our nation. You will be very happy to know that, even though you and your outfit are no more, we are even more divided now, perhaps more than even when you were here.

You wanted our nation to be paralysed in fear, not knowing where the next attack would come from. You wanted to destroy our tourist industry and cripple our economy. You wanted people to stay indoors, and not send their children to school, and not even celebrate Vesak. All your wishes have come true.

Do you remember how you wanted to provoke one community against another? You killed 13 soldiers in 1983. That triggered riots throughout the country against your community. That gave you enough reason to cry ‘genocide’ and justify your terrorism against us for the next 25 years.

You would have thought we learnt a lesson from that, Velu, but you will be happy to know that we haven’t. Last week, we were at it again, rioting, burning and destroying. The only difference was that it was against a different community, and it was brought under control before it spread far and wide.

You wanted our leaders and political parties to be fighting with each other and not with you. You wanted one party to oppose what the other did, in fighting you. You will be very happy to know that it has got even better – the two parties and the two leaders within the government are fighting each other!

You wanted our armed forces to be weak, so that you could achieve your goals without much of a fight. You have got what you wished for, Velu. We now have a Commander-in-Chief who gets his news from the newspapers and knows only to stare at the ceiling when informed of security risks!

You may recall, Velu, that after many Generals tried and failed, the General who is now a Field Marshall defeated you. You would have wanted those like him sidelined. You will be happy to know that he is still willing and able, but the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t want to give him the job!

You will realise that even though you are no more, what you wished for has more or less come true. What you battled to achieve for 30 years, but failed, has been done in a day by fewer people. You must thank us, Velu, for realising your dream in your absence, because we are now a divided nation.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: It is 10 years since your unlamented demise, but you shouldn’t be sad, because nothing much has changed. If you had returned to us last week and asked how we were, you would have got the reply ‘balla rata giya, rata ballata giya’ or ‘the dog left the country, but the country has gone to the dogs’!

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