Columns - 5thcolumn

The country bleeds, life is a vale of tears - who cares?
By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Major General,

I thought I must write to you even though you are now in the Land of No Return, having left us so suddenly and tragically last week.

Indeed, we find it quite ironic that someone who spent three and a half decades in the military, half of that time battling the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world, had to die after retirement just a few months after taking to politics!

But of course, Major General, we will always remember you as the war hero that you were. No one doubted your courage, determination or your sincerity. Why, the grateful people of the area you served have even named a town in your honour and that is testimony to the esteem in which you were held.
But this being Paradise, we know that you were denied the top job in the Army simply because you were labelled as a ‘Green’ supporter, long before you had any intention of taking to politics. In an era where so many lesser men were granted extensions, you weren’t, and you had to retire as Chief of Staff.

Instead, you were asked to represent the country Down Under and later in Indonesia and being the loyal servant of the nation that you were, you did not refuse. Even then, there were those who lobbied against your appointment. In fact, some of them succeeded in having your diplomatic posting to Canada deferred.
But, Major General, I am sure what would have amused you most was what happened after you eventually decided to take to politics from the Green Party. That was when matters changed from the sublime to the ridiculous.

People who had hailed you as a war hero were suddenly calling you different names and questioning your credibility. Your security was compromised because they said there was no security threat to you as you had joined the Greens who were, of course, supposed to be supporting the Tigers! And, you had to seek the intervention of the wise men in Hulftsdorp to have a semblance of security restored.

Why, Major General, who can forget the fact that you were even barred from visiting army camps and only a few weeks ago there was even a story that you were to be questioned for allegedly conspiring to kill Mahinda maama! Ah, what a difference a few months in politics does, you must have thought!
Despite all this, Major General, you fared extremely well at the elections, winning the most number of preferences. Surely, that must have told you that you are destined for greater heights in politics and we are quite sure you would have reached those heights if not for the tragic events of last Monday.
Now, Major General, everyone is asking how the tragedy happened and posing questions such as why the Tigers would want to hunt a man who was merely a provincial politician from an opposition party which had very little prospect of coming to power in the near future. Of course, what we can be sure of is that each side will blame the other for your death.

Someone once said that the greatest tragedy was not the strident clamour of the bad people but the appalling silence of the good people. In a nation where most good people choose to remain silent, you spoke up for them-and that is probably why you had to pay with your life.

Farewell, Major General, we salute you for all that you did. Having been an officer for most of your life, you were a gentleman to the very end.

Yours sincerely,
Punchi Putha

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