Columns - 5th column

A man for all seasons

By Rypvanwinkle

"Thaaththa," Bindu Udagedera asked, "what is all this fuss about Uncle Mervyn?"
"Why, what about him?" Bindu's father Percy asked.
"Why, thaaththa," Bindu recalled, "he has become a hero once again."
"That is news," Percy said, "because he is usually the villain."
"No, thaaththa," Bindu disagreed, "this time around, he is a real hero."
"Why, what has he done?" Percy inquired, "has he at least beaten the Australians at cricket?"
"Of course not," Bindu said, "that is not something even our cricket team could do."
"What has he been up to, then?" Percy wanted to know.
"Well," Bindu remembered, "he has saved some animals from slaughter."
"Why would he do that?" Percy demanded.

"I am sure he follows 'Pansil' to the letter," Bindu suggested.
"Or maybe he has suddenly become a supporter of non-violence," Percy proposed.
"That may be true," Bindu said, "although some unkind people are saying he did it for a different reason."
"And what reason is that?" Percy wondered.
"Well," Bindu said, "they say maybe he was moved by a love for his own kind."
"I am not so sure about that," Percy said, "but I suppose there is also a reason for that type of comment."
"And what reason is that, thaaththa?" Bindu wanted to know.
"Why, Bindu," Percy said, "there was a time when Uncle Mervyn tied someone to a tree for not obeying his orders…"
"Ah, yes," Bindu said, "but then he said that was a performance to educate people about discipline and he got away with it."

"So we have to expect people to be sceptical about Uncle Mervyn," Percy observed, "especially when he appears to be kinder to animals than he is to his fellow human beings."
"But thaaththa," Bindu said, "Uncle Mervyn has not stopped at just saving all those animals from being sacrificed."
"Why, what else has he done?" Percy was worried.
"Well," Bindu said, "he is doing pretty much what he wants."
"Why do you say that?" Percy asked.
"Well," Bindu said, "in the past few days, he has raided a warehouse selling low quality sugar and he has also gone to collect taxes from people who were apparently not paying their taxes properly."
"But those are good deeds, aren't they?" Percy wondered.
"They are, thaaththa," Bindu conceded, "but he is also frightening people."
"And why is that, Bindu?" Percy wanted to know.
"He has threatened to cut off the arms of those who kill animals," Bindu said.
"Well," Percy said, "wouldn't that be interesting if he actually gets down to doing that?"
"But thaaththa," Bindu said, "I think Uncle Mervyn's talents are wasted in his present job."
"Why do you say that, Bindu?" Percy was puzzled.
"Why, thaaththa," Bindu said, "now he is only the Minister of Public Coordination and Public Affairs, whatever that means."

"I thought he was quite busy also being a movie actor and a judge in reality shows apart from being a politician," Percy said.
"Well," Bindu said, "I think we could employ him to do quite a few other jobs by himself and that could save the government a lot of money."
"And what jobs are you suggesting for him?" Percy inquired.
"Well," Bindu suggested, "he could be the Chief Justice, couldn't he?"
"I don't think you should speak of that very high office in that manner," Percy cautioned.
"But thaaththa," Bindu argued, "he takes the law into his own hands whenever he wants to and seems to get away with it all the time and even the Chief Justice can't quite do that…"
"I suppose there have been incidents that could have been handled in a better way," Percy conceded.
"And anyway, he operates a different set of laws for his electorate in Kelaniya, doesn't he?" Bindu asked.
"That has certainly been the case in some instances," Percy admitted.
"Well," Bindu said, "maybe Uncle Mervyn could be the Inspector General of Police too."
"And why is that?" Percy asked.

"Why, thaaththa," Bindu said, "doesn't he detain people when he wants and doesn't he say that he is always doing what he is doing to maintain law and order?"
"He does say that," Percy said, "but I am not sure how the Police force will react to that suggestion."
"If that is not possible, thaaththa," Bindu suggested, "maybe he should be made a surgeon."
"I think the doctors are having enough problems on their hands these days without having Uncle Mervyn joining their ranks, Bindu," Percy warned.
"But thaaththa," Bindu countered, "isn't Uncle Mervyn already a 'doctor'?"
"He is not a medical doctor," Percy explained, "besides, why would you want to make him a surgeon?"
"Why, thaaththa," Bindu said, "isn't he volunteering to perform amputations on those who use their hands wrongly to kill animals,"
"Yes, he does," Percy agreed, "but that is a dangerous method of treatment which he himself may not be able to survive."

"Why is that, thaaththa?" Bindu was puzzled.
"Why, Bindu, what should we then do to those who don't use their heads properly?" Percy asked.
Bindu was too scared to think of the answer to that one.

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