The Fifth Column

28th September 1997

Podi Doo's missing lessons

My Dear Solomon,

I thought of writing to you, wherever you are, because at this time of the year everybody starts talking about you and how you ushered in that great social revolution in '56. But this year, Solomon, the difference is that they have done away with the Public holiday because your Podi Doo thought we all had too many public holidays!

Anyway, Solomon, you must be an amused man these days. It was you who paved the way, as some would argue, four what we call the "ethnic conflict" now by your 'Sinhala Only in twenty for hours' slogan. (Of course, at that time, even the greens, had they come to power in 1956, would have done the same thing!)

And now your Podi Doo has to turn back the clock and resort to a "Thavalama' and people like Gamini Lakshman to convince the people that we must live and let live.

Now, we mustn't also blame you and only you for all that has happened in the thirty eight years since you were gone. We know that people like Junius stopped any chance you had of implementing the B-C pact, but even he had to learn the hard way, when Rajiv Gandhi forced his hand into signing an accord some years ago...

Anyway, Solomon, you must be a happy man watching Podi Doo do things in her own style, don't you? But one thing you had forgotten to teach her when she was still in her pigtails was punctuality. Solomon, well it's too late to correct her now, we just have to grin and bear it.

I knew you must be less than happy with what Mallo has done over the years, but if I were you, I wouldn't be disappointed. Three years ago, he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and that's what cost him his chance. But he has the "B" name (Not BK, mind you) and I'm sure he still can make his mark.

You would also be unhappy, Solomon if you were to watch the proceedings in the assembly these days. Gone are the good old days when you used to do battle with the NMs, Colvins, JRs, Philips, and Dahas. Instead, we have the two sides shouting at each other and wasting the tax-payers' money.

But then, so many other things have also changed since you left us, Solomon. The Boss now is not the PM but the President and we have trouble getting rid of that Constitution adopted by the great Junius. But tell me, Solomon, did you also forget to teach Satellite – that a promise is a promise? She made this promise, you know about the presidency, but whenever you ask her about it, she just smiles her charming smile and avoids the question.

But, Solomon, you would recall that you too came to power using a coalition but you lasted only three years. Podi Doo's coalition is no better than what you had, they are also always fighting with each other. But still, she has lasted three years and shows no signs of giving up. On that score, at least, she appears to have done better than you.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

Ps. Isn't it the ultimate irony that Podi Doo is now visiting other countries asking foreigners to invest here! Do you remember how you campaigned hard to get rid of all the foreign investors here, nationalizing everything that was in sight? History works in funny ways,doesn't it?

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