My dear Nazeer, I thought I must write to you even though, this time last week if someone asked me who ‘Nazeer Ahamed’ was, I would have said, ‘maybe a Pakistani cricketer’. Now, you might say ‘who the hell are you to write to me?’ and ask whether I knew the ‘protocol’, but I feel [...]

5th Column

A watery end


My dear Nazeer,
I thought I must write to you even though, this time last week if someone asked me who ‘Nazeer Ahamed’ was, I would have said, ‘maybe a Pakistani cricketer’. Now, you might say ‘who the hell are you to write to me?’ and ask whether I knew the ‘protocol’, but I feel I should still write to you.

Please pardon my ignorance for not knowing who you were a week ago. As you know, this paradise of ours has a President, a Prime Minister, 47 Ministers, 25 Deputy Ministers, 20 State Ministers, 9 Chief Ministers and god only knows how many Provincial Ministers— so it is hard to keep track of all of you.

Nazeer, you must be a happy man these days. From being a nobody a few days ago, your name is now on everybody’s lips— although some mention your ancestry in the same breath as well. Committees are being formed to report on what you did. Suddenly this— and not the floods — is the new national crisis!

With this huge fuss being made about your outburst, I tried to find out what it was all about. Apparently it was because you thought you were not invited on stage for a ceremony at a school in Sampur. If that was your problem, I have the solution: I can direct you to an expert on the subject.

This chap is a master at walking on stage uninvited at school awards ceremonies. He is so clever, he can do so even if he is clad in denims and t-shirt. Recently he did it at the biggest of all award ceremonies— the Royal-Thomian. You should learn from this chap, Nazeer. His name is Daham.

Anyway, I thought you missed a trick because you were scolding the naval officer in English in the presence of the American ambassador. Now, if you spoke in Sinhala or Tamil, that chap wouldn’t have understood and we could have all got away pretending that you were talking about the weather.

But you spoke in English and now even the Americans know that all is not well in paradise. I suppose you could take the first step and complain to the chap representing Uncle Sam about your human right to get on the stage being violated by the armed forces and who knows, he might take it up in Geneva!

The other mistake you made was directing most of your anger at Austin who was trying to make the best of a bad situation, trying to pretend that there was nothing wrong. He probably wanted to save the country’s blushes in the presence of the American ambassador. He didn’t do a good job of it, though.

I am not sure whether you know this, Nazeer, but Austin and Maithri go back a long time. Many years ago when Maithri was a Grama Sevaka in Polonnaruwa, Austin was his Government Agent. They respected each other then and they still do, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you get your marching orders.

Much of this dispute is because you asked a naval officer to ‘get out’. I am sure you know that when Prabhakaran was asking your brethren to ‘get out’ of the Eastern Province, it was the armed forces, which this officer was representing, who prevented that and instead forced the tigers to ‘get out’.

In the video which went viral we saw the officer responding with only a shrug and smile, much like a sensible man would do when confronted by an enraged animal. That maybe because of the discipline instilled in him by the navy. Seeing that, I don’t think we need committees to decide who is right.

Nazeer, unless you were deaf, blind or hibernating, you must have seen how the Gnanasara types in this country were trying to set it on fire again by inflaming communal passions. Guess what, though they didn’t succeed then, you have now given them enough ammunition to start the fire all over again.

Already, some want you to resign, others want an apology and the military has said that you are no longer welcome in their camps. Then there are the usual suspects who claim that this is all part of an international conspiracy. And all this just because you couldn’t wait for a few minutes to get on stage!

Anyway, the Green Man has done what he usually does: appoint a committee. If I was a betting man, I would wager that your days are numbered but with these ‘Yahapalanaya’ chaps, you could still be in with a chance. If you are in any doubt, don’t take my word for it, just ask Sajin or Anusha Palpita!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: Why is it that those who take on the job of Chief Minister for the East always have a miserable end to their careers? First we had Varatharajah Perumal who declared ‘independence’ and then fled to India. Then we had Pillayan who is now an accused in a murder inquiry. If history is anything to go by, it doesn’t look very good for you, does it, Nazeer?

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