All those in Colombo are not Colombians. It is only the superficial superlatives; some Colombians have sprung like jack in the box to become ardent Mahindians. There are still many in Colombo who stand on principle, refined to the core, constructively critical, tolerating no nonsense. Colombians come -lately with giddy minds, in search of upward mobility proselytized in their hunt to be associated with the winner looking for possible advancement in silence or in secret, have made the over night crossing. It is a passing phenomenon. They will soon return to base.Yet Colombo at large is out of place in Sri Lanka. Out of Colombo, for them, is a mere place for a week end, for fun and relaxation. They go out to the sea and safari, cooler climes and green fairways, cut price hotels and country homes.
They fail to understand the mood and temperament of the rest of the country and still more, of its people. Like those marketing executives given a product to sell, reaches only the urban markets – due to infinite lack of local insight. Or enter a theatre to watch a comedy but cannot laugh if the joke is on them-fail to realise they are the laughing stock.
“Times are a changing” sang Bobby Dylan. So is with the Colombo Man. Far worse is the Colombo Woman. Not only is she looking at changing times, hopeful more of changing fortunes.
Many of the Hundred Sisters that signed the petition are observing an oath of silence or hoping for a place for their husbands. Doves of Peace have become Men of War. Those who alleged human rights violations before the end of the war speak of the gallantry of the Forces after the war. Many who searched for NGO types or embassy sort to rub shoulders at functions reach for uniformed kind in service or in retirement.
Fortunes favour those in retirement from the services in the Forces more than those in active service. Without restrictions or responsibilities they can spin more yarns.
An anthology of war stories- fact or fiction- is a crowd puller. Suddenly there is much demand for ex- military men for conversation, to entertain guests and to pick supposedly sensitive fantasy material for onward transmission by the Colombians to display their own importance.
Everybody knows somebody in the Forces, especially the society ladies. (“I know a Major, who told me how Prabha was hunted down. He was in that group, child!”) .
Indeed some know more of the war than those who fought it to entertain Colombo society. The moment has come for recruitment as consultant-entertainer for old soldiers.
No longer ago are they deemed violators of human rights, worse than the dirty dozen because the Colombians carry purification packs for instant cleansing, to suit their laundering. They need it more than any other.
Society Colombo is the noisy local Barmy Army or Wavy Navy as they are now, so ‘in’ with the Forces. Not long ago, calling themselves “Sri Lanka First” they held hands on the streets of Colombo, to stop the War and smoke peace pipes with Prabhakaran. Times are indeed changing –Prabhakaran is no longer in the talking vocabulary and the glories of the LTTE are a self imposed prohibition. How did these household phrases for 20 years extolled at length, fade so fast?
That is Colombo. From mantelpiece to dustbin the distance is short and the memory still shorter.
The Old Boys in the boardrooms with their hang over colonial neurosis, indoctrinated by the BBC wave length, converted after listening to the gospel of the peace missionaries who preached for their own benefit, aping the phrases of passing western humanitarians never imagined the end of the LTTE.
These opinion makers who change their tune according to the weather vane from the chambers of the private sector, merchants of fame and fortune, professionals of repute and standing convinced themselves, it is a war that cannot be won and the LTTE has to be appeased by talking peace.
That was the manufactured public opinion of Colombo which percolated to the influential politicians they sponsored, like those in Chandrika’s celebrated diners club.
Their misplaced philosophy delayed the defeat of LTTE by 25 years. Colombians have to take the blame for having lived with a nightmare they fabricated, by being disoriented and perplexed; misleading and misinforming themselves. Worse, make it infectious like swine flu.
Those captains lived in a strange planet among themselves by themselves. Their junior bimbos were compelled to follow suit. If industry or commerce suffered blame thyself more than another.
It is time the private sector despatches those old boys and birds to a sin bin wearing caps titled dunce and for an emerging enlightened intelligentsia with social consciousness take the helm, alive to the mood of the nation and not only of the capital. Colombo badly needs a new coat of paint and a breath of fresh air.
So many had to pay a heavy price; of so few being silly and stupid. Many watched in aghast at the antics of their superiors or contemporaries. They were compelled to be the silent minority.
To oppose was to incur wrath and dubbed a ‘nationalist’ or ‘extremist’ or ‘patriot’ or ‘war monger’. It was the Bush Principle: You are with us or against us! Bush was better- the ‘us’ he meant was his country; for the Colombians it was not the country or city but their silly selves.
Colombians deemed they were living in a Failed State because the International Community so said; local NGO intellectuals so preached. These Failed Fellows worshipped any altar or followed any gospel that ridiculed the country.
In mind and soul for style and show they portrayed themselves as a white man with a black name. They failed to pass the reality test that the so called Failed State has performed better than the so called Successful States in dealing with terrorism.
A country that lived on the grandeur of the past is now living on the glory of its present but celebrating beyond limits of tolerance and indulging in thanksgivings beyond forbearance.
Not only are Times changing, as said in the song, changes must come with Time.
If the old firm of disgraced dignitaries cannot walk hand with hand with the rest of the country and still desire Britannica to rule over our waves, they must be despatched to their drinking clubs or be nominated as candidates to the Constitutional Council – both comfortable homes for the aged to while their time.
They have let the country down and let them walk the plank of shame. It is take-over time for the emerging young after the last generation had led them astray.
The finest hour of Sri Lanka was reached by the sweat toil and blood of the state sector by the children in the wilderness.
Colombians contribution has been the participation in the celebrations or talking loud after the event; Colombians cannot show any other input or effort.
Did any die fighting the war coming from an International School? There were yet many as individuals in personal capacity that did much within their might but away from the knowledge of their principals who listened more to their foreign principals. Listen to the Colombian talk; during the war and after the war- to learn of the twist and turns of the flexible Colombo doctrine.