Columns - 5thcolumn

Now they hold our hearths in the hollow of their hands!
By Rypvanwinkle

“Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “what is all this fuss about gas prices?”
“Didn’t they increase the price of gas recently as well?” Bindu’s father Percy asked.
“Yes, they did,” Bindu agreed, “but that is exactly the reason why everyone is making a fuss...”
“Why is that?” Percy asked, “We are quite used to prices being increased now, aren’t we?”
“I suppose so,” Bindu said, “but now they say the world price of gas has in fact gone down but we are still increasing our own prices...”
“Who is doing that?” Percy was puzzled.
“I think Bandula maama is responsible for regulating the price of gas, thaaththa...” Bindu recalled.
“But why is he doing that then?” Percy wanted to know.
“Well, he has an explanation...” Bindu said.
“Being the teacher of economics that he is, I am sure he has...” Percy said, “And what is this explanation?”
“He says the price of gas is fixed every two months and therefore it cannot be changed every now and then...” Bindu said.
“So, what happens now?” Percy inquired.
“Well, we will have to wait for two months for the benefits of the reduction in world prices of gas to be passed on to us...” Bindu explained.
“That sounds fair enough,” Percy said, “if not for one little matter...”
“And what is that, thaaththa?” Bindu asked.
“When the price of gas was rising in the world market, I can’t remember Bandula maama or anyone else telling us that we could wait for two months before the price hike hits us...” Percy complained.
“I don’t remember him saying that too...” Bindu agreed.
“And, of course,” Percy pointed out, “there are so many other items where we don’t have to wait for two months for the prices to rise...”
“What are those, thaaththa?” Bindu asked.
“Why, Bindu, when the price of rice increased and the price of milk food increased, they were all blamed on rising prices in the world market...” Percy observed.
“That is true...” Bindu agreed.
“But I don’t think they waited for two months for the price hike to be passed on to us...” Percy said.
“But thaaththa,” Bindu argued, “we shouldn’t be blaming Bandula maama for all this, should we? I am sure he would love to reduce all the prices and become a hero but obviously he is not in a position to do so...”
“Or else, he doesn’t want to do it...” Percy suggested.
“What do you mean by that?” Bindu was puzzled.
“Or someone else has asked him not to do it...” Percy proposed again.
“I don’t understand,” Bindu protested, “why would he not want to do that? If he does, he would become enormously popular and so would Mahinda maama and his government...”
“Ah,” Percy said, “maybe Bandula maama doesn’t want that to happen...”
“But why wouldn’t he?” Bindu wondered, “after all, he is also part of the same government, isn’t he?”
“Remember, Bindu,” Percy said, “he came to Mahinda maama’s side from the green camp...”
“Yes,” Bindu said, “but what has that got to do with it? Most of those in Mahinda maama’s camp have come from the green camp anyway...”
“Couldn’t it be that the Green Man sent him to the blue camp to make the blues unpopular?” Percy asked.
“That could be so,” Bindu said, “if not for one reason, thaaththa...”
“And what reason is that?” Percy wanted to know.
“Why,” Bindu said, “if the Green Man was clever enough to arrange something like that, he wouldn’t be in the mess he is in today in his own party...”
Percy knew he couldn’t disagree with that.

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