In Stephen King’s Dead Zone a character says the following remarkable thing;
"It’s been my experience that ninety-five percent of the people who walk the earth are simply inert, Johnny. One percent are saints, and one percent are assholes. The other three percent are the people who do what they say they can do…….I’ve got people in the mills that take home eleven thousand dollars a year for doing little more than playing with their dicks. But I am not bitching. I’m a man of the world, and all that means is I understand what powers the world. The fuel mix is one part high-octane to nine parts pure bull-shit."
I remember this piece when I look at the 2010 calendar featuring Mahinda Rajapakse’s family. Since it’s the only calendar I’ve got on account of all our so called clients being stingy with calendars this year, I have no choice but to look at it every day. In fact I need to look at a calendar every day because I am not good with dates and when I don’t keep up a deliberate acquaintance with a calendar on a regular basis, I tend to turn up at work on public holidays, forget when certain people are arriving from abroad and display behavior patterns incompatible with impressing the general public with my sanity. So everyday I make it a point to take a good hard look at this Rajapaksa family calendar and what do I see?
Five people; four chubby and one slim. The slim person, the youngest son is the furthest and the least visible, so overall the impression one gets is of a family gotten as fat and as sleek as seals, fat cats gotten fat off the fat of the land. Not a cheek bone, not a jaw-line in evidence among the lot. A far cry from the the Obama family, you can’t help noticing or even the Bush family or the Blair family. There you get sculpted cheek bones and jaw lines sharp enough to cut through butter on top of slim waists and hips. My point is that if one were to judge based on appearance, the high octane to bullshit ratio of the Obama family, the Bush family, the Blare family seem to be on the high side, that is there seem to be more high octane than bullshit in those families, while our first family’s appearance suggests the exact opposite. This is all to do with the mental conditioning we have received courtesy of Hollywood and her satellite media, who have over the last hundred years launched insidious propaganda to the effect that integrity has an inalienable affinity with visible cheekbones, jaw lines and waistlines.
In Sri Lanka there was another character whose high cheekbones, refined jaw line, slim silhouette and elegant facial planes immediately suggested zero bullshit and full high octane. That was S. W.R.D Bandaranaike. On 28th May, 1957, Prime Minister S.W.R.D received a letter from Professor C. Sunetheralingam, who after a distinguished career as a member of the exclusive Indian and Ceylon civil services, professor of Mathematics at the University College, Colombo, lawyer and cabinet minister pre Independence and during the early years of Independence, was by the mid 1950s, exploring new vistas as the most prominent ideologue of Tamil separatism. In his letter to S.W.R.D, he said,
“You are aware that until the Portuguese arrived in Ceylon in 1505, Ceylon was divided throughout the full course of its checkered history of over 2000 years, into two or more kingdoms of which one was always the Tamil kingdom- except for two short periods aggregating to about 22 years, under the reigns of Parakrama Bahu I and Parakrama Bahu VI. The Tamils as a whole, were not ruled by Sinhalese kings; and even Dutugemunu when he defeated Elara, could not secure sway over the North of Ceylon!”
Consider the following reply:
“My Dear Professor Sunetheralingam,
I am aware of no such thing. All I was made aware of, reading your letter was that you must have come across some good pot. As you know since my Oxford days, the opportunities to indulge in pot have been few and far between, what with one thing and another. But your letter brought home to me in its inimitable, learned and measured style, what a very great pleasure I have been foregoing; the ability to boldly go where no one has gone before (Remember the preceding line professor, within the next 20 years Hollywood is going to copy it) and stay there despite intrusive attempts by mundane reality, is not something to be dismissed lightly. I am convinced now that pleasures such as this aught not to be deferred with flimsy excuses of affairs of State, prior engagements or familial obligations. Therefore I am determined to have your delightful company (together with your delightful hoard of pot need I add?) at Horagolla this very weekend. We will visit all possible worlds within all possible universes, choose the one which takes our fancy the most and stay there the whole weekend disregarding all interruptions. All right?”
The above reply, or a reply couched in similar terms and expressing similar sentiments, sent by Mr. S.W. R. D to Prof. Sunetheralingam has not been found among the personal effects of either gentleman. So it seems reasonable to assume that such a reply was never sent. But it seems to me the least we could expect from such a high octane- no bullshit gentleman, the ‘Silver Bell of Oxford’ according to urban legend. Professor K.M.de Silva Sri Lanka’s leading historian in his The “Traditional Homelands” of the Tamils - Separatist Ideology in Sri Lanka: A Historical Appraisal, which was my source for the above extract of Prof Sunetheralingam’s letter, says
“The historical data in these extracts from Sunetheralingam’s writings is a weird mixture of fantasy, invention and distortion…”.
You might ask how come S.W.R.D’s failure to reply to Prof. Sunetheralingam in the vein it deserves reflects badly on the PM’s zero bullshit-high octane status? Is a prime minister supposed to send long replies to every letter he gets from every citizen? Isn’t a thankful acknowledgement the usual way of dealing with such letters? I have to admit that it is.
Then consider this, S. W. R.D. Bandaranaike signed the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact with the Ilankai Thamil Arasi Kachchi (ITAK).
This is what?; one high octane gentleman sitting down with another and confronting in the early stages, a potentially volatile and complex issue and attempting to negotiate with the considerable high octane powers at their disposal, the most humane and equitable solution possible under the circumstances…only to be stymied by the 100% bullshit-zero high-octane elements then prevailing in the country. Right?
Or one high octane gentleman of visionary foresight daring to confront the essential and inescapable dichotomy within the Sri Lanka body politic, the inherent ethno national dimension as it were, which births the contradiction, which the Unitary State neither senses nor is equipped to address….and then being forced to back off before the high bullshit forces nurtured and mobilized by himself in his rise to power. Right?
Well let’s see. The whole thing fairly reeks. Whether of bullshit or leaked high-octane fuel let’s find out.
To be continued…