Letters to the Editor

10th March 2002

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Votes going to the goats

After the many pleas and warnings
Still, at each day's new dawning
Come posters splattered on the wall.
Be it in Batticaloa, Chilaw or Galle.
"Vote for 2, 3 and 4,"
Say a Perera and a Podisingho.
Then a Mohammed, Pillai and Deen
Say, "If you then voted 'blue', please now vote 'green'.
Once clean walls and painted gates
Are now spoilt with posters of some smug face
Of a would-be minister, with benevolent smile
Which is quite enough to upset one's bile!
And our road names - well they're no more to be seen.
Oh! The devil take these 'blues' and these 'greens'!
Now I heard that they no longer use parppe
But some other glue that sticks faster.
The poster removers are having a time
And it is to them, that I write this rhyme.
In Dehiwela, it was seen, the other day.
A billy and nanny and some kids at play.
And when they decided to take a break.
It was some posters on the walls - they ate!
If the removal of posters, incites a mob -
Just put some goats - on the job!
And to all you people, who ask for our votes -
Your posters are only admired by some goats!


Brohier described Jawatte's holy well 

My interest was drawn by the lead feature article in The Sunday Times of March 3, titled, "Holy well among Jawatte graves". If readers would turn to pages in the posthumous publication of my father, the late R.L. Brohier, "Changing Face of Colombo", the first chapter describes the Portuguese Era (1505-1656), and there they would find a description of the "Holy Well".

In an account of the parishes established by the Portuguese it says: "In the area now crowded with residential bungalows and generally referred to as Jawatte, there was a large farm and a famous church administered by the Order of St. Augustine." The description goes on to inform us of an erminda nearby. This chapel was greatly venerated under the title of Our Lady of Deliverance (Nossa Senhora de Livramento) and much sought after, though a distance away from the city and Fort, which was the residential nucleus of Colombo at the time. In fact the area now known to us as Jawatte, in the Portuguese era, and through the Dutch and early British periods, was still unopened scrub jungle.

The area was known as kumbi kelle till even up to the first decade of the 20th century when the city of Colombo was beginning to push out - along the littoral strip, the inlets of the lake and the cinnamon plantations.

To get back to the subject of the erminda or chapel which stood in the Livramento cemetery, legend has it that it possessed a "health giving" well, the waters of which were sought after by crowds of pilgrims - both Christian and non - Christian.

What is of greater interest and significance is that those who ventured to the well were "mostly expectant mothers".

The tradition lingered apparently well into the last century, when with disuse and misuse the well was filled in by collapsing earth and lost sight of - its legend faded away and forgotten.

That this site, fascinating by its tradition is now being revived, with the authorities motivated to work on restoration, is heartening from a heritage point of view. 

Deloraine Brohier

Don't kill the unborn

This is with reference to 'Matter of life and death' in The Sunday Times of February 17. There are some doctors who do not agree with 'selective abortions' and I am one of them. 

Killing a human being inside the uterus is wrong even though he may be abnormal. Even in the case of rape and incest, the woman has no right to kill her baby. The unborn child is a non-aggressor. He should not be killed because of the crime of his father. 

On the issue of women heading for West Asia and incest becoming a problem in Sri Lanka, it is time for human rights activists to speak out against sending our women to work there. Some of them are mentally, physically and sexually abused. Some have committed suicide. Many children receive poor care in the absence of the mother. Their physical and mental well-being is adversely affected. Some of these children are the victims of rape and incest. 

The cost of all these should be weighed against the money the women bring home. 

Dr. Lucian Jayasuriya

No student voice against Sinharaja destruction

It is difficult to understand the apathy of university students in expressing outrage when national assets are destroyed. An example is the clearing of a part of the majestic Sinharaja rainforest for a roadway. 

Students riot over petty issues like tuition fees or transfers, but they should be aware that in China, students were a force in the Cultural Revolution. It is common knowledge that a group of people have built a dam across a small pool of water in Sinharaja. This will not serve any purpose. Only large old trees, worth millions of rupees are being cut to fill someone's pocket. 

The southwest monsoon depends on the natural ecosystem. When man-made projects interfere with it, there will be disastrous results. Some regions in Africa have become deserts after human interference. Due to the Mahaweli scheme that was completed in a six-year rush the river has lost its full volume of water. 

This is a last minute plea to stop the massacre of Sinharaja. 


A collar keeps dog pound van at bay

I would like to tell pet-owners how important it is for their dogs to wear collars. A collar will indicate ownership and keep that dog pound van at bay. 

Whenever anyone complains to me that their dog has been captured by the van, my first question is: Was it wearing a collar? 

Recently, when they were clearing Independence Square for the National Day celebrations, a sturdy cross-bred boxer which resisted the dog catchers was so severely beaten up that when his owners traced him to the pound, he had no teeth and one eye was badly injured. His eventual death after a week of veterinary care could have been prevented had he worn a collar.

Ahilya Salgado
Colombo 2

Kalapola or Kalahapola (battle ground)

The 'Kalapola' which has now become an annual feature was a boon and a blessing both to the professional artists and the lovers of art. But it is unfortunate that with the passage of time, the George Keyt Foundation, the sole organizer of this annual event has fallen victim to the underhand manoeuvrings of the invisible hands of thugs, ruffians and stooges. 

I say this with a great sense of responsibility because of the travail and trauma I had to suffer at the hands of a gang of shady characters who reigned supreme at the recently concluded Kalapola.

I went to the site of the Kalapola on January 19, to obtain a stall for my exhibits. Even at that time there appeared boards in a large number of stalls indicating that they had been reserved. I also hung such a board in one of the stalls and was waiting there. At about 4 p.m. the Secretary who came on the scene observed that such reservations were extremely unfair and removed all the boards. She also said that those who were in need of stalls should come with their exhibits and wait there.

However, I was still waiting in my stall with the exhibits when some security officers came and pushed a wooden scaffold in, commenting that the stall had been reserved for members of the Foundation. Immediately after that came a gang of about six sturdy people purported to be from Elephant House. 

They appeared more like underworld characters and began to shout in ungrammatical English, "These stalls were put up by us and we can do whatever we want with them." How they murdered the Queen's English. When I complained about this to the Secretary and the President they seemed to opt for the path of least resistance and remained silent.

A victimised artist

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