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The Fifth Column

6th April 1997

Living in a fool’s paradise

“Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedara asked “what happened to all those one thousand rupee notes that you had?”

“I have left them to dry, after I put them into the water when I heard that SLBC announcement...” Percy Udagedara said.

“But, thaaththa, that was an April fool’s joke...”

“But how are we to know that?”

“But it was said on the first of April...”

“But” Percy said, “the SLBC is a government institution and we don’t expect government institutions to have a sense of humour...”

“Why do you say that, thaaththa?’

“Why, remember what did they did to TNL?”

“What happened then, thaaththa?”

“When the TV station said an Army Camp was being attacked, they were charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act...”

“But thaaththa, that was different. That was not on April Fool’s Day...” Bindu argued.

“Yes,” Percy said, “but they said the news item could have led to ethnic violence, when, in fact, it didn’t...”

“But,” Bindu wanted to know,” why is that similar to the SLBC joke?”

“Because, the SLBC said the forged thousand rupee notes were found in Wellawatte, where, as everyone knows, many Tamils live...”

“So, you say that too could have led to violence...”

“Why not, if we use the government’s sense of imagination? And, what’s more, unlike the TNL story, this story did cause panic among the public who rushed to the banks to meet the twelve noon deadline...”

“So, thaaththa, you say the SLBC should also be charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act...”

“And their directors should be taken to the fourth floor...”

“And, maybe, a Commission of Inquiry should be appointed to probe the SLBC...” Bindu said.

“Don’t worry, Bindu, none of that will happen...”

“But thaaththa, an announcer has already been interdicted, they say...”

“Yes. they will find some poor fellow to become the scapegoat...”

“So, he was the April Fool, after all...”

“No, Bindu” Percy said, “we are all fools.”

“Why do you say that, thaaththa?”

“Because, this is a government of fools, for fools, by fools...”

“And” Bindu said, “we are all living in a Fool’s Paradise...”

Percy readily agreed.

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