Fifth Column

5th December 1999

Their rivalry is keeping me going

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Somewhere in the jungles of the Wanni, a birthday party was in progress. 

There were forty-five candles on the cake and the celebrations had just begun. Everybody was wishing 'Thambi' "Many happy returns of the day!"

"Thambi" said Bala, "what will you do now?" 

"There is nothing for me to do" Thambi said, "the ball is in their court…" 

"Why do you say that?" 

"Why, Bala, we have now gone upto Vavuniya; it's upto them to stop us now…" 

"But what about the invitations?" Bala asked. 

"What invitations are you worried about?" 

"Why, Thambi, the invitations from the blues and the greens…" 

"What about them?" 

"Why, Thambi, the green chap wants to give everything over to you for two years…" 

"Actually, Bala, I never said anything like that; they have got hold of some propaganda…" 

"But over there, they are showing videos of the green chap saying it…" 

"That," Thambi said, "was supposed to be a joke; I think what he meant was that there was nothing for him to give us because we have already taken over what we want- except Jaffna perhaps…" 

"But they are making it look as if he was serious…" 

"I suppose that is his problem" Thambi said, "when he is serious they take him for a joke; when he jokes, they take him seriously…" 

"But what about the other invitation, Thambi?" Bala wanted to know. 

"From whom is that?" 

"Why, from the other Bala, the secretary; he says they want to talk to you now…" 

"How can I talk?" 

"Why, Thambi, you can always negotiate instead of staying forever in these 


"But if I talk now, they will accuse me of taking sides…" 

"But what you did was rather embarrassing, wasn't it, Thambi?" 

"Why do you say that?" 

"Why, there was the lady going around the country accusing the green chap 

of trying to enter into a two year deal with you…" 

"And the green man was busy denying everything…" Thambi agreed. 

"And then suddenly on your birthday, you announce that all the while, the lady was also trying to talk to you rather secretly…" 

"Ah, must have been rather embarrassing for her, Bala?" Thambi grinned. 

"Well yes," Bala said, "but it takes a lot to embarrass her though…" 

"But they haven't denied it, have they?" Thambi queried. 

"Of course not" Bala said, "But now the greens are giving publicity to your birthday speech…" 

"And earlier" Thambi observed, "it was the blues giving publicity to our propaganda…" 

"And with enemies like these two groups" Bala said, "who needs friends?" 

"That's true" Thambi said, "and their rivalry is keeping me going…" 

"But Thambi," Bala wanted to know, "who do you want to win? The greens or the blues?" 

"I" said Thambi, "feel the same way as many people in the south about that, Bala…" 

"And what way is that?" 

"They say 'Unuth ekai, munuth ekai' don't they?" Thambi said. 

"Yes they do," Bala said, "but what will happen to us?" 

"Don't worry Bala," Thambi assured, "whoever wins, I will be the Lord and Master of this region…" 

Bala didn't disagree.

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