The man, the drive, and peace in over-drive
Why nobody has done a respectable psychological profile
of Veluppillai Prabhakaran is a moot point. Uncle Sam has aimed a projectile
at the LTTE in the form of a press statement, and with that the peace process
seems to have been galvanized this week as never before. But, characteristically,
when everybody is upto their eyeballs in this peace campaign, Velupillai
Prabhakaran goes into a shell and keeps silent.
One thing that was made obvious since this peace process started churning,
was the fact that the old Supremo has really aged. There was one article
which said "look at this picture of Prabhakaran signing the MoU— and see
the map of Eelam behind him'' ( ……stretching from Hambantota to Mannar….)
There is more than a valid point there no doubt.
But, for those who saw the video and were not content with the still-shot,
Prabhakaran seemed to have reached the stage, say, between middle age,
and the age of enforced maturity, which comes a good 20 years prior to
the second-childhood. His spectacles were seen to be dangling halfway between
his nose and eyes, and were they thick! He has his gaze screwed at the
paper he is signing. And, if he was delighted with the MoU which some say
has given the LTTE the ultimate advantage, he certainly wasn't showing
Even if he is a master at dissembling his feelings, he certainly couldn't
conceal his age. Prabhakaran is no Pinochet in his dotage, who will plead
sick on the international stage, and make his exit from the hurly-burly
of controversial conflict with a pathetic whimper. But, those who know
something about the workings of mind and matter, know that when a man begins
to lose his sense of anxiety — about "being'' and about the future — he
begins to age. A jaded man is an aged man. In other words, a man who is
not driven, begins to look haggard and droopy, much before a man who is
driven due to his acute sense of incompleteness and nagging sense of anxiety.
Men may be driven to do good or bad, but the driven being is continually
anxious, and that keeps him in ship shape and keeps his organs toned —
and, they say, his blood pressure steady.
On the other hand, if anxiety keeps people young, stress makes them
grow old very fast. Prabhakaran is obviously either jaded, stressed out,
or maybe it's all in his genes, but the last is the least likely. Those
who think that lesson in pop-psychology was terribly uncalled for, should
read a profile of Hitler, or Churchill (whose best friend was "depression''
or the "black' dog as he once called it) or perhaps J. R. Jayewardene who
assumed the mantle of Presidency at that sprightly age of 72 — past the
biblical three score and ten.
"The posters which depict the European enemy don't depict a map of Germany
or any recognizable landmarks, they nearly always showed Hitler's face
— often subtly modified to make him vaguely repulsive. I've been watching
the Israelis do the same thing with Arafat.''
I picked that quote from a comparison of Hitler and Arafat. But the
television portrayal of Prabhakaran, could not have been doctored by Rupavahini.
Here he was — not looking so bad that Anita Pratap would have had a heart
attack, of course — but looking old nevertheless. Pratap, for the uninitiated,
is an Indian journalist who wrote a book to say that Prabhakaran was disappointingly
unassuming. She swears, rather disappointedly again, that she did not have
an affair with him, as per the rumours.
When Arafat was aging, he called it a day, and tried to make peace with
the Jews, but that doesn't mean that you could necessarily expect the same
from Prabhakaran. But that picture tells a story, even though it will be
tempting to dismiss the thought, because Prabhakran, the LTTE says, is
Surya Thevan – sun god. If so he probably never grows old until the end
But yet, the point is that nobody still made a psychological profile
of Prabhakaran, and that's a lacuna among the tons of papers that have
been written about the North East conflict. Whatever Prabhakaran wants
now, it seems that it is much less than what he wanted earlier. Now, this
may have to do with September 11, and the fact that the world's most powerful
country is suddenly in denial that the LTTE was a kind of cause celebre
once with its left-leaning and liberal leaders. What Prabhakaran wants
now may have to do with the fact that the Wanni needs an economy. But,
one cannot discount the fact that Prabhakaran's mind has de-escalated.
As it has been said, he is moving from the "illusion of certainty, to the
certainty of illusion.'' That really has to do more with age, than it has
to do with Christina Rocca, the US Assistant Secretary of State who was
in Jaffna this week delivering Uncle Sam's message.
Whoever says that this conflict does not have to do with Prabhakaran
but has to do with the LTTE, is probably already senile on the other hand,
and is chronologically speaking a basket-case. Prabhakaran may or may not
be the Sun-god depending on how one looks at it, but he is certainly the
LTTE. Those who profiled the LTTE, never profiled Prabhakaran, except to
say that he was a mean military strategist, which is not really saying
anything about the man, but only about what he does.
But, what is there to prevent the following news from appearing in local
newspapers, maybe next year:
The Oslo accords: a failure - peace impossible now
1. Giving world recognition to a terrorist organization as a representative
of a legitimate national entity.
2. Terrorism - almost 600 killed thousands maimed and injured.
That's actually from an Israeli document, much after Arafat shook hands
with the Israelites in the White House.
Such headlines could appear. Yet, profile Prabhakaran, and we'll be
much close to making a real prediction. For the moment, my hunch is he
is much less driven, whatever it is that makes him tick…