Saturday, 11 September 2021 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REVELATIONS – history is not what happened: rather, it is what – and how – we choose to remember; but if we forget or opt to recall wrong, history as we know it may well be at an end


Where were you when the bombs went off on Easter Sunday 2019? Do you remember what you were doing/feeling/thinking? Could 4/21 be Sri Lanka’s 9/11?

For generations of islanders, other contenders challenge the power of traumatic memory. Think of the December 2004 tsunami, Central Bank attack of January 1996, July 1983’s holocaust and protracted conflict that followed, scarcity and rationing queues of the 1970s, umpteenth ‘ethnic riots’ of 1956/8 that are perhaps better described as pogroms. Name your own indelible impression.

Then ask if it’s as purely personal as it feels. Or is it a collective consciousness – a serial national nightmare from which our country cannot awaken? Is this despite, or because of, the studied sowing of the seeds of dissent by successive administrations and their cynical supporters in the corridors of power and influence? How much resilience, fortitude and false hope must we continue to exhibit and endure before a state of closure washes over our shores...

As the poet, painter and playwright D. H. Lawrence (d. 1930) wrote: “All vital truth contains the memory of all that for which it is not true.” Or as another philosophy put it: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately sick.” So history is not what happened to others; it’s what we memorialise for ourselves. In choosing to do it, and doing it well and right, is a key to individual liberty and corporate well-being. As Lawrence noted: “Every person has a mob self and an individual self in varying proportions.” We are free spirits trapped in the bodies of political animals.

We are also an insular race united – in spite of our marked or imagined differences – by a sense of barely suppressed hope. (‘The Acid Tests’ below may shed light on your darkness.) For years, we’ve muddled through, soldiered on and laughingly batted around a blizzard of bodyline attacks. There is ‘survivor’ emblazoned on every Sri Lankan’s heart and ‘build back, but not much better’ etched into our DNA. Soon we might add food, forex, foreign relations and fertiliser-cum-organic-paradise crises to our battered but unbowed banners.

Yet, a strong sense of unanswered questions lingers in our sun-kissed, rain-washed, blood-drenched consciousness. The Acid Tests below may be catharsis for some of these. Hope they’ll be a panacea if not a bitter pill to swallow in these unprecedented times.

From who truly masterminded the carnage that swept a sea-change into our socio-political ethos; to what really bedevils our growth/development prospects; to where a potential peace with justice for all is undermined, by economic assassins and shabby merchants of death masquerading as purveyors of health and happiness... take the tests – to find out. Or find you.


Be still when you’ve nothing to say. But when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot... PLS NOTE – do not post these outbursts of yours or mine on social media – on pain of being exiled by the human race. Or worse, having Mr Goon or PC Plod pay you a courtesy call, all agog to know: ‘here, what do you mean, asking questions?’


Read the quotes below. Pick one (be wise). Say what you feel or think of it in relation to the state of the nation (be brave/be brief), especially the people’s plight under the pandemic and responses of the powers that be (be wary).

i.“Ours is essentially a tragic age – so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” (D. H. Lawrence)

ii.“But better it is to die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.” (Also DHL)


1.The most pressing issue of the year has been (be nice):

a.Food prices, inflation, shortages of essential items, scarcity of stocks, etc.

b.Forex crisis and attendant woes: currency depreciation, bankruptcy?

c.Farmers’ woes, the fertiliser imbroglio, overnight conversion to an organic ethos.

d.Foreign interventionism in our sovereign affairs by multiple external players.

e.“There is no such thing as liberty. You only change one sort of domination for another. All we can do is to choose our master.” (DHL the poet)

2.The least bothered about these is (be nasty):

a)ANC (you know who!)

b)RW/MS (remember them?)


d)Sajith/Eran/Harsha (NOTE... you’re not a real leader until/unless you’re an acronym.)

3.The way forward for us now (be naughty):

a.Alleviate a modicum of anguish by accepting our fate. 

b.Declare bankruptcy ahead of a ‘Big Bust’ and spare ourselves some hardships.

c.Chinese Dragon – order early and avoid disappointment in the last-minute rush! 

d.“The only decent way to get something done is to get it done by someone who quite likes doing it.” (DHL the pragmatic philosopher) 

Fill in the blank 

1.A citizen unsatisfied must have ___; but a voter in love with a political saviour is willing to ____. (NOTE... use your imagination – or vent your frustration at the hoi polloi.)

2.An example of such a citizen would be ___.

3.The longer we delay the ___ bailout, the harder the sanctions it imposes on restructuring our debts.

4. Give farmers their ___ already, and cut the ___ about ___ excuses like becoming an organic paradise. (TAKE CARE not to repeat these closely related words/concepts!)

Odd ones (Name the odd one out.)

1.All the heads of Presidential Task Forces. (OK, that was too easy.)


3.MR, GR, BR.

4.Keheliya, Tikiri liya, Kehel mala, Kehel mula.

5.Ranil, Sunil.

6.An outspoken member of the clergy of any sect, faith/philosophy or religion. 

Right or wrong (Tick as you think – it’s what you think it is.)

1.All issues of national justice – from 1956/8 through 1983 to 2009 and 2019, the years in-between – have now been done and dusted. Our history is therefore at an end, and we no longer need remember anything.

2.If 20A drove us to our present plight, it’s but a false hope placed in an empty promise: an unviable injection into governance of alleged professionalism and technocracy.

3.The ‘Finance Bill’ is a panacea, because it helps poor politicians et al. to survive the present slump so that they can fleece (er, serve) their sheep (gulp, electorate) better.

4.‘Herd Immunity’ means even the 6.9 million sheep are now inured to organic manure.

5.Anura and the JVP might be taken far more seriously by government and elites if he didn’t dress so nattily these days when delivering those Philippics to a full House.

6.The Emergency must end in the national interest ahead of the upcoming Geneva sessions.

Short answers

1.The big picture of national security is incomplete if it deals only with state borders, sovereign assets, territorial integrity, etc.; but omits food security, public health/safety, environmental conservation etc. DISCUSS. (Do not cite stats. The powers that be have every right to align their policies with the facts so long as the facts are not inimical to their identity, continuity in authority, sense of design/purpose, comfort with their interpretation of reality.)

2.‘You’re entitled to your opinion. You’re not entitled to your facts.’ REFUTE your response to Q1. above. (Cite sundry policy reversals on recent Cabinet decisions.)

3.The right to twirl your protest placards in the air ends where policemen’s noses begin. EXAMINE thoroughly with reference to law/order, public health, etc. Submit your thinking to a Magistrate. Subject yourself to ‘Quarantine Detention’ in the interest of weaponising mass protests.

4.‘Lockdown, what lockdown?’ SCRUTINISE your environs thoroughly... is it only you who’s WFH/strictly confined to domesticity these days? Dare you venture to make a medicines/milk run to the grocery? How far dare you go? Where are all those ‘Quarantine Curfew’ arrests made under the last/real lockdown?

 5.“Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.” (DHL) – COMPARE/CONTRAST this philosophy with the ‘lives vs. livelihoods’ dichotomy and dilemmas of an incumbent administration. Oh pick any administration that comes to mind...

6.The Pfizer vaccine is most suitable for coastal-dwellers in the Southern Province living close to that harbour. ANALYSE. If you feel the only proper response to the ‘doctoral dissertation’ of such ‘political animals’ is “Fie, Sir!” – feel free to pass.

7.“I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.” (DHL) – First sneeze. Now ANALYSE with regard to pronouncements from on high that ‘you asked for it, now endure it.’ Sing ‘Sacrifice’ by Sir, er, Elton John – no other! * Is it morally objectionable to punish a hapless citizenry for its governors’ folly and short-sightedness when the populace kicks against the pricks?

8.“There’s lots of good fish in the sea ... maybe ... but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring; and if you’re not mackerel or herring yourself, you’re likely to find very few good fish in the sea.” (DHL) – is this an allegory, or a thinly veiled critique of an elite minority lording it over a majoritarian empire of dull automatons? + Try to find a single can of salmon or sardines on your supermarket’s virtual shelves! It makes you wonder what the half-hearted halmasso who once backed the regime are eating these days... humble-pie? Or is the alleged food crisis a red herring to tide over worse things than multinational mafias, mercantile thugs or money-laundering lawmakers?

9.In crisis/emergency, state rigour overrules citizens’ rights. COMPARE/CONTRAST these contesting ideologies. Come to a conclusion if you can – congratulations! Chuck it in the waste-paper basket. Conceal your sense of aggravation as a citizen because no good can come from protesting at the authoritarian ethos of paternalistic dispensations. (A dictionary is under the seat, if you need to translate this question into English.)

10.‘Government is habitually honest and totally trustworthy.’ CRITICALLY ENGAGE. Alternatively adopt the role of cynic, romantic and neutral arbiter to assess whether your range of responses is an ellipse, parabola or hyperbole. Do you need a slide-rule, or would you prefer a pulse oximeter? If it’s a flat line, you’re already brain-dead... just ask someone to pull the plug...

Bonus questions

1.What do you think ‘All roads lead to Rome’ means for MR, as well as Cardinal MR?

2.Do you remember bread queues? Coupons/ration cards – no? What do you remember?

3.Cui bono? (‘Who benefits?’) Don’t tell me you haven’t asked yourself the same question about all that has happened since 4/21, the Bond and Data Scams, that Coup, even 9/11? Why? ‘I don’t know why’, as a Gypsy sang...  

As a writer whom I admired wrote, many decades ago: “All that we know is nothing; we’re merely crammed waste-paper baskets, unless we’re in touch with that which laughs at all our knowing.” 

Does it hurt? Only when you laugh? Of course! I know... Keep smiling – the joke’s on most of us.

[Ed.-at-Large of LMD | with apologies to D. H. Lawrence (b 11 Sep 1885)]


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