The Fifth Column

24th November 1996

Asking for more

“Thaaththa,” Bindu Udagedera asked, “What is GL doing in Paris?”

“He is doing what Ronnie did many years ago,” Bindu’s father, Percy said. “Going around with a begging bowl, asking for more money....”

“But when Ronnie was doing it, they criticised it, didn’t they?”

“When you are in the government, Bindu”, Percy advised, “You end up doing what you criticised when you were in the Opposition....”

“But Thaaththa,” Bindu asked, “Why do we need all this money?”

“Why, Bindu, to fight the war....”

“But I thought the war will be over according to what the General promised a few months ago....”

“I don’t think so,” Percy disagreed. “Anyway, when these people promise something, we know that the promise won’t be kept....”

“But Thaaththa”, Bindu protested, “Didn’t they promote the General to that rank, because he was about to win the war?”

“That’s not what worries me,” Percy said. “What worries me is that even the other General in the Army has now been given National Honours....”

“So,” Bindu asked, “What is wrong with that? If Marvan Atapattu can get National Honours, why not the General who is in charge of the Army?”

“That’s exactly my point,” Percy said, “See, what happened to our cricketers after they were awarded National Honours....”

“They lost every match....”

“So, will the Army lose every battle after the top brass gets National Honours?” Percy wanted to know.

“Let’s hope not....”

“Then, I forsee another problem....” Percy said.

“What’s that?”

“See what happened when they gave Whatmore National Honours, others in the team also had to be honoured, because it is they who actually played and won....”


“Therefore if the Army Chief is being honoured then all the soldiers will also have to be honoured, because it is they who are actually at the battlefront, risking their lives?”

“So we can have about 50,000 Deshabandus in the country....”

“With so many Deshabandus around who would want to win National Honours?” Percy asked.

Bindu didn’t disagree.

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