Ilankai Tamil Sangam

26th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Chit Chat: A Conversation Overheard in Colombo 7*

They have got Provincial Councils - What more do they want?

by Wakeley Paul, TamilNation, 1991

"No: but how about the right to live as equals of the universe?" asks the Tamil.

"What are we, all equal or something. You must know the reality of Orwell' s 'Some people are more equal than others?"'

Wakeley Paul esq. Comment by, 26 March 2009 - Wakeley Paul passed away in New York on 9 March 2009. That which he wrote some 18 years ago in the Tamil Nation print fortnightly,  has stood the test of time. Many will regard his reference to a 'Colombo 7 expatriate' who was a 'vociferous advocate of Eelam, a separate state for the North East of Sri Lanka' as being semi auto biographical. The reference to the 'foreign journalist' may be to Deanne Hodgin, Staff Writer/Foreign Correspondent, Insight Magazine  who presented a paper at the International Tamil Eelam Research Conference in Sacramento State University, U.S.A., in July 1991. Wakeley was one of the main organisers of the conference.

"Most of my relatives in Colombo cast embarassed glances of disapproval about my stand", said a Colombo Seven expatriate. He was a vociferous advocate of Eelam, a separate state for the North East of Sri Lanka

"He," they exclaim, "is out of touch." "These expatriates live in luxury while we suffer." "Why are they supporting these rebels?" "Don't they realize what they are doing?"

These are the brilliantly critical comments of the so-called Tamil intellectual set of Colombo 7.

They dance their lives away at night-clubs while Jaffna burns. They sit in the quiet of their homes and discourse , while Jaffna is demolished. "Damn it!" they exclaim, "They have got provincial councils. What more do they want? How ungrateful can they be?"

They feel for the Sinhalese ruler. "Who are these uneducated wretches that do not appreciate what is being done for them? We are all Sri Lankans who want to live together. Why don't these damn rebels leave us alone?"

They want an immediate end to the present impasse. They want the country on its feet again. "How can we move forward as long as these elements keep disrupting our economic progress?" "They just must be wiped out." "Our army must for god's sake do their bit." "None of this, they have got the people behind them, nonsense." "Wipe them out." "God, how politicians have ruined this country."

"But how?" says a savvy army commander. "They will fight us till we find a political solution."

"We've given it to them, haven't we?" says a Sinhalese thinker. "What the hell are they fighting about? If they want a separate state, let them go to India. No one is for separation. Who do they think they represent?"

A foreign journalist walks in. "My god," she says, "do you realize how determined these people are? Women who hid behind fences, are riding bikes in uniforms with guns toted over their shoulders, saying 'I will kill one Sinhala soldier before letting them rule us again.' Children of 13 display their determination to fight the Sinhala enemy proudly." In tears she ends, "And I saw a little fellow riding a bike warning everyone of an approaching heli, only to be gunned down by the pilot."

"Colombo is an island within an island. Nothing touches you," she said angrily.

"What does this foreigner know? These are a bunch of patronizing meddlers. If all of them like Amnesty and these interfering journalists would leave us alone, we've got it made. Don't they realize our business potential? We have contributed as much towards the country's economic development, as these damn rebels have towards its ruin."

"These first world dreamers walk in with these high ideas for a third world struggling to develop. They should work for a living here to know what's good for us."

"I even feel this must be a conspiracy by the industrial world to keep us subjugated. This way we will be always dependant on them economically," butts in a sharp witted chap, sipping his third scotch.

"Do you think that people fighting and dying for a cause do it for fun?" asks a Tamil sympathizer of the move for independence.

"Not fun, you beggar, those beggars have no entertainment, like movies and things, so what the hell else can you do? Not fun, just damn frustration. Must we provide you with everything? -

"No: but how about the right to live as equals of the universe?" asks the Tamil.

"What are we, all equal or something. You must know the reality of Orwell' s 'Some people are more equal than others?"'

"Are you then saying the Sinhalese have an inherent right to be more equal than others in Sri Lanka?" the young Tamil quipped.

"That's not what I am saying. But how much do you want? You can vote, you can have your members of parliament, you can indulge in satyagraha (but not too much). What more can we do for you guys?"

"How about nothing?" the Tamil Turk went on.

"What, you Tamils want to rule yourselves after all we have done for you? You don't have the resources to last you two days."

"How about letting us try?" the young Tamil asked.

"That's the trouble with all of you Tamils. All ideals and no reality. How the hell are you going to get money to rule yourselves?"

"Probably from more sources than the ones we have relied on up to now," said the Tamil acidly.

"No wonder people have problems with you Tamils. You are never grateful for all we have done for you." "And, what is that?"

"What is that, what is that? That's all you ask. Look at you. All you Tamils here are better off than the average Sinhalese."

"Are we the average? If you gave the average Tamils the chance, they would be like you or me, don't you think?"

"That's your trouble no, you Tamils want to rule us."

"You think we will accept that? You all had it good under the British, now it's our turn."

"To do what? Take revenge?"

"Have we done anything to you? How can you talk like this? All we are asking is for our people to catch up with your people. The British as part of their divide and rule favoured you, no?"

"So we are to be disadvantaged while you rise? How long do you think the average Tamil or Muslim can take this? When will this ever stop? You think we are willing to be ruled as unequal citizens for ever?"

"But what choice do you have? You are a minority, no? How can you do anything about it?"

"Ah, my dear friend, by kicking you out of the NorthEast, where you are a minority."

"And how will you do that without an army?'"`AHHHHH, we shall see, we shall see, my friend," said the Tamil dreamily, as he dosed off to sleep.

* Less than 1% of the people live in Colombo 7, and they are all well connected. They belong to the same private clubs and all the kids go to the same private school. A large number of these people send their kids to the United States and to Great Britain. -


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