When the authorised version fell from grace
Oh what a fall was there my countrymen, if one might employ the words of Mark Anthony at the fall of Caesar. This was a right royal faux pas. Or, as a former chairman of Lake House, untutored in the Gallic tongue unlike the subject of the recent biography, might have said, it was a real fox pass.
The resurrection took only four days. The rejection of the authorised, official biography of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga took a couple of days longer.

It may seem irreverent to mention the two events in the same breath. But the sanctimonious publicity long before the official launch of the said biography, all the trumpet blowing about the great qualities of the writer who had authored other biographies and had also written books about terrorists, how he fell in love with the charming president and other tittle-tattle that appeared in the media and the government website, seemed to me at least, to presage Chandrika Kumaratunga’s Third Coming.

When or where it would happen is difficult to say just now. History might record it some day. What is certain right now is that she will not be coming for any signing ceremony of her biography that was so clearly described as the authorised official version but has now been duly deposited in the attic of forgotten things.

Sri Lanka’s glitterati (though not necessarily literati) who attended the official launch of the book at Visumpaya armed with gold- lettered invitations would hardly have dreamt that within a few days of the much publicised event the whole thing would turn sour and the book denounced as not being the authorised official version.

If ever there was an official gaffe, this was it. Apparently the official invitation that called the high and mighty to share a piece of cake and whatever else was served, said it was the occasion of “the official launch of the authorised biography of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga”. The dress for the evening was “lounge suit or national dress.” Not the other way round, mark you. The national dress, like the biography later, has been relegated, perhaps to cater to the international community that is running the country.

If one might digress for a moment, I wonder whether the international Gang of Four (hereinafter known as the GoF) also known as the Co-Chairs, had made any suggestion that Smiley (not the John Le Carre character) also known as P. Thamilselvan be invited to the glittering do.

After all, these little things, according to GoF do make for good neighbourliness and build trust. Especially sharing some cake and wine, since food and drink of such high quality might not be available in the Wanni.

Those Oslo oafs, who are part of the GoF and pay their regular obeisance to the Wanni wallahs, perhaps thought it might be a good occasion to introduce Thamilselvan whose eternal grin could eat a banana sideways, to the kilt-wearing Scottish writer who knows a thing or two about terrorists.
Personally I have not read the book “CBK” nor seen it, though there are those who say they could read her like a book, which I find extremely hard to believe. Anyway I read somewhere that on Page 10 of the Preface, author Graeme Wilson writes “ I have been blessed during my career to write biographies on many remarkable people- politicians, leaders, terrorists…….”

Well there you are. What an opportunity to put Thamilselvan and Wilson together. Now that suicide bombings have come to London and Tony Blair, about whom Wilson is said to have written a book, wants to throw terrorists and their hurrah boys out of the country along with some human rights, the Scott could write another book on terrorists.

Surely if Wilson speaks to Minister Mangala Samaraweera who seems to have got Wilson to do this biography thing that has now backfired, he could rustle up some funds from somewhere as a down payment. If the Ports Authority has run out of money what with Samaraweera reportedly refurbishing offices wherever he goes, he could tap other sources. Some say even SriLankan Airlines contributed to this biography-making. If that is true, then perhaps the presidential secretariat that announced “CBK” is not the authorised version and we must await the second coming, could perhaps ask SriLankan Airlines to tantalise every passenger with a free copy of CBK.No passenger should be offered on flight drinks until he/she has been force-fed on at least two chapters of CBK. Thereafter they would answer questions handed to passengers by specially trained cabin crew who have been previously force-fed on the whole book.

Any passenger who fails the test will be reported to Tara de Mel who should feature somewhere in the book especially if the biography is factual about CBK’s life in the UK after Vijaya. De Mel could then blacklist any passenger who does not achieve 10 marks of 100 and ban them from flying SriLankan Airlines

This Wilson seems to be a remarkable chap. I understand that on Page 11 of the preface he writes “I have only met President Kumaratunga on a number of occasions, yet I have been privileged to walk in her shoes.”
I don’t know whether this is yet another error in a book that is said to be crawling with them. But if it is not, I hope this is not the kind of written English that pervades the rest of the biography.

What on earth does he mean by “I have only met President Kumaratunga on a number of occasions.” One could understand him using “only”, if he had met her just twice or three times. But “only” with a “number of occasions”, does not seem to make sense. If this is how he wrote about Margaret Thatcher she would have surely wielded her notorious handbag.

Good heavens, he even claims to have walked in her shoes. If she had anything like the thousands of pairs of shoes found in the wardrobe of one time Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, this Wilson chap would have done one hell of a walk.

As though this entire episode was not enough of a fiasco who should grace (okay no prefix please) the occasion but the irrepressible deputy minister par excellence, Mervyn Silva armed with not one but two copies of the biography. It is not certain whether he intends to read it or throw the book at the media.

Or perhaps he intends to use them to develop his biceps now that he flexes his jaw muscles with great dexterity. At around this time President Kumaratunga’s son Vimukti made an appearance at a press conference pleading that his years in Blighty had taken toll of his knowledge of Sinhala. But what interested me was what appeared to be his genuine concern about stray dogs in the country. It is a sobering thought that somebody in the Bandaranaike family has taken to veterinary science. They have had to deal with all sorts of carnivores and reptiles over the years.

Surely young Vimukti should prove to be a professional asset if he settles down in Sri Lanka. After all the country has gone to the dogs, no.

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