26 April 2018

Is the SLFP about to scream 'Mayday! Mayday'?

"I surrender" might be a consideration

‘Mayday’ is a signal. The term indicates a life-threatening emergency usually used by aviators and mariners, but also in some countries by firefighters and other working in difficult conditions. Apparently it was coined by a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport, London in 1923. He had bene asked to come up with a ‘distress-indicating word’ and had drawn it from the French word m’aider which means ‘help me’.

‘It is unrelated to the holiday May Day,’ Wikipedia notes. May Day predates Mayday, and conspiracy theorists may very well say that it was pernicious twist. May Day has rarely distressed anyone, especially the capitalist class. Indeed, one might even say that the capitalist class has appropriated May Day through political parties that by and large take care of their interests. 

This year won’t be different in this sense, and yet for at least a couple of reasons May Day 2018 will be quite unlike May Days of the past. 

‘May Day not being on the 1st of May feels strange,’ many have said. ‘May Day’ however is International Workers’ Day, where workers all over the world, in and out of unions, in and out of political parties, talk about the distance traveled and the distance to be traveled, so to speak. 

What’s important is that it is a single day that’s set aside to celebrate labor and workers, talk about conditions of work exploitation, articulate grievances and discuss what needs to be done.  Well, in Sri Lanka, that’s not what happens in the main, but let’s put that aside. 

It’s a single day. It’s as if ‘labor’ counts only on a single day, which of course is all rubbish.  So, one could argue, if it’s just a single day and if it is close to meaningless, it shouldn’t matter when May Day is held, in May or in another month, or whether it is held on the 1st of January, the 31st of December or the 28th of February.  

Those who are religious about May Day have objected, and that says a lot about the status of the working class movement and the Left in this country. In short, they are religious about May Day, i.e. the trappings, and are clueless about the conditions of exploitation.  
May Day 2018 is strange for another reason and one which makes us think of ‘Mayday! Mayday’. Let us say it in the form of a question: will the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) hold a May Day rally this year? 

In 2017, the Yahapalana Government, which seemed less watery in terms of cohesion than it is now, threw a challenge to the Joint Opposition (JO): ‘we will let you have the biggest open space in Colombo, Galle Face — try filling it!’ The JO was essentially a breakaway faction of the SLFP. The ‘mother party’ decided to do its thing in Kandy. The JO took up the challenge and drew unprecedented crowds to the Galle Face. It was an even bigger show than their rally a year before in Kirulapona.  

If that was an indication of slippage in the SLFP’s and especially President Mairhtipala Sirisena’s political fortunes, the true dimensions were realized on February 10, 2018.  Sirisena’s share of the party, so to say, diminished to the point that his faction, the official SLFP, could hardly muster 15% of the total vote at the local government elections.  

Further erosion was evidenced when 16 SLFPers who officially sided with Sirisena supported the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on April 5, 2018.  Today, they are threatening to organize a separate May Day rally if the party leadership does not move to replace certain office-bearers.  Whether they can do it is not relevant here. What’s pertinent is that as we write, just two weeks before the official May Day (May 7), the SLFP does not seem to be in any position to do the show-of-force number that May Day has traditionally been. 

Apparently a committee has been appointed to organize the event, this time in Batticaloa. From Hyde Park to Kandy to Batticaloa might sound like a retreat to some

The JO is to have it’s May Day rally in Galle this year. ‘Retreat’ cannot be applied to this ‘distancing’ from Colombo simply because the JO is in consolidation mode. Their numbers increased in Parliament and they are well ahead outside. In all likelihood, they will put up the best show this ‘May Day’.

Some UNPers are cock-a-hoop over their leader surviving the no-confidence motion, but they’ve failed to understand that this ‘victory’ came from a parliamentary composition that inflates considerably the voter-sentiment as evidenced on February 10. They’ve moved from Campbell Park to Sugathadasa Stadium.

More importantly, the entire exercise has driven the key coalition partner, the SLFP and its leader Sirisena, into a serious identity crisis. They are not sure if they are part of the government or not, whether they should or should not be in the government. 

Sirisena, whose tenure has been marked by tremendous efforts to be accepted as the leader of the SLFP (not just in name), doesn’t have a party to speak of. It’s as though the SLFP has upped and left its official residence on Darley Road.  The party office remains, but the building is all but empty. We will know for sure when the show is over. There will be some chest-beating and bravado. No one will actually blurt out ‘Mayday! Mayday! and not just on account of language preferences, but the distress signs are so unmistakable that cries for help are not necessary.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com

25 April 2018

Fazil Marija cannot stop making plays

When someone’s name becomes synonymous with a particular sport you really don’t have to talk about the legacy he leaves behind when he retires.  We don’t have to tell rugby players or rugby enthusiasts who Fazil Marija is. They know. 
The statistically inclined would know the records; the number of tries in each season, the number of wins and losses, the titles won, how many times he donned the Sri Lankan jersey etc.  They would know the relevant percentages and of course how he compares with his contemporaries and the greatest who played the game for Sri Lanka.

There’s also a Marija who lives, eats, breathes, cares and loves outside the field.  To be sure a lot of that stuff is directly or indirectly associated with the sport.  He can’t help it. He grew up in a family that almost thought rugby was oxygen.

Tuan Mohamed Fazil Marija was born in Mulgampola, Kandy on December 4, 1985.  He was born into a clan, essentially, with 20-30 members of his extended family being among his neighbors.  

“My father, who was in the Police, passed away when I was six.  My mother, who worked at Sarvodaya, had a tough time taking care of my brother Faizal and me. The family was there, always. My uncles and cousins were ruggerites. 

“Almost all of them played for Kingswood College, while some went on to play club rugby for Kandy Sports Club, Police Navy and CR.  And my mother was also a rugby fan. She made sure we never missed a game. He would go with the entire clan to watch his cousins and uncles play school and club matches. Niloufer was of course the main inspiration. He was 7-8 years old and played about 10-12 years for Kandy.  I watched all his games. Well, the entire family did.

Fazil grew up playing tap rugger with his older cousins, Niloufer Ibrahim and Amjaad Baksh. He moved to the real deal when he was just 11 years old, playing under Amjaad who was the Under 13 captain of Kingswood. At the tie he played as Scrum Half and Fly Half, but it was playing in the latter position that he would make his mark. 

“All my cousins played in that position. I grew up watching them play. I learned a lot this way.”

Fazil made it to the Kingswood First VI in 2002 and in 2004 would lead the team to secure multiple trophies in an unbeaten season. That year was of course special, but he remembers the previous season as well when Kingswood having won the B Division won the right to play in the knockout tournament which they went on to win.  

“I still remember vividly the quarterfinal game against Isipathana. The game was tied at the long-whistle. It was still tied when extra time ended. Then it came down to drop goals. That didn’t produce a winner either. Finally, the winner was decided on a coin-toss. We won. We were lucky.”

Looking back at Fazil Marija’s career, one might think it was a breeze, a smooth ride without bumps. This is not true. 

“In 2002 I was dropped from the Sri Lanka Under 19 team. I was devastated. There were coaches who said I couldn’t kick or pass. That was a turning point. I wanted to get back. I decided to fight. So I worked hard.”

That snub had motivated him, but the greater motivation lay outside the rugby field.   

“My mother had to struggle very hard when we were small. She suffered a lot. This I never forgot. I always wanted to give her a good life one day. This desire was my greatest motivation. This is what made me focus. This is the secret of my commitment and work ethic.”  

Fazil has a wonderful and disarming smile and his fans must have seen it a thousand times. He smiled when he talked about a break got.

“The national coach, George Simpkin, spoke to me one day. He talked about playing. I didn’t know much English at the time. I thought he wanted the Under 19 team to give the national side some practice by playing against them. I told the rest of the boys and they were all enthusiastic. It turned out that the coach wanted me to play in the national team! I practiced with the team. My cousin Niloufer was also in the team. I remember scoring two tries. My opportunity came when the regular Fly Half was injured. That’s how I first came to play for Sri Lanka.”

After leaving school, Fazil played for Kandy SC for 14 seasons, captaining in 2010 and 2015.  During this time Kandy won the league title on no less than 12 occasions and the knockouts 13 times. It was all about rugby for Fazil also donned the national jersey until 2017, captaining in 2015. 

“The highlight was when we won the Asian A Division title in 2013 under Yoshitha Rajapaksa. I believe my best ever performance was in the last game against Kazakhstan. I scored two tries in that game.”

Rugger is a hard game. Players get injured all the time. Indeed a considerable number hang their boots due to injury. Fazil tore three three ligaments and had to have ankle surgery in 2010 and in 2015 had to deal with a disc bulge.  

“I always trained hard, be it in the gym or on the ground. I think I owe a lot to Mothilal Jayatilleka for my training ethic. He became our trainer at Kingswood in 2003 at the time my cousin Ronnie Ibrahim was the coach. He really made a difference. I had never done weights before. All of us became fitter. Our strength and speed improved.

“And that ethic stayed with me.  A player has to watch his weight as the years go by.  I was 85kg six years ago, but now I am around 81 or 82. I always trained hard.  I was quick always.  I was skinny, around 70-75 kgs and between 2007 and 2009 I was the league’s highest try scorer.”

Fazil also credits his Ronnie for honing his skills. Apparently he had given the players the freedom to play. He think this is why Kingswood had such a successful run in the early years of the millennium.  And then of course there was George Simpkin, the nation coach who first recognized Fazil’s potential. He remembers and acknowledges the lessons he learned. 

Well, now it is time to retire. Or is it?

For years, while playing rugby, Fazil Marija spent hardly any time in offices. He worked for Seylan Bank for three years and then was at MJ International (Pvt) Ltd and since 2010 at Mas Holdings as a Planning Executive. He is grateful for the opportunities, understanding and the time given by these organizations to enable him to focus on the game he loved and continues to love.

Fazil Marija will not be playing for Kandy or Sri Lanka anymore. He figures that having played for 14-15 years and having achieved all the goals he had set himself, he should now move on to other things.

Like family. Fazil has always been a family man. He remains devoted to his mother, who now lives with him in Polgolla. He got married in December 2015 and now spends a lot of time with his wife Yasara and their seven month old baby girl, Liyara. 

“Life has changed after I became a father. A bit busier, but more interesting. I love being home with my wife and our little girl.”

It is probably hard for rugby fans to imagine a season without the scintillating moves of Fazil Marija.  It’s easy for him, though. He leaves the field but rugby doesn’t leave him. Maybe it can’t. Fazil set up an academy of rugby in September 2017, anticipating his imminent retirement.  

“I set up the School of Rugby in an indoor stadium in Kollupitiya. It was one my coaches, Johann Taylor, who suggested that I should start something like this. In fact Johann has helped me a lot, even coming down to handle some sessions in January.  He has given me a lot of ideas.”

It’s a first of its kind in Sri Lanka, run by Fazil and three coaches, Nigel Ratwatte, Hasitha Perera and Sharya Guruge. It is in fact a rugby pre-school with kids as young as three years enrolled.

“Yes, 3-8 years of age. The philosophy is simple. We want the kids to learn to love the sport. We teach the basics but in a way that is fun for them. We play games. The kids catch and run and jump with hurdles and rings. It’s like obstacle races but with a rugby ball. It’s more fun and they do learn basic skills like ball handling, how to pick a ball and pass, how to kick and how to score a try. Most importantly by the time they play rugby in their particular school it would be a game that they love.”

There are 30 students enrolled in this school as of now. The kids as well as their parents have shown a lot of enthusiasm according to Fazil. 

What will the future hold for this rugby legend?  Well, Fazil Marija has always focused on what had to be done in the here and now.  For almost two decades it was about what he had to do to help his teams win matches. It was also about his mother and his family. Through it all, there was rugby. Right now there’s still rugby. 

The fans won’t see Fazil Marija making plays on the rugby field. In time to come, perhaps, there will be young men who in their work ethic, moves, innovation, love for the game and commitment will carry something of the Fazil Marija signature.  He’s already planting seeds. This much is clear. 

The man won’t fade away. He’s been shining too brightly for that.  


20 April 2018

Prisons and (educated) prisoners: the ‘human’ factor

Prisons are not exactly city attractions. They are somber edifices with high walls and barbed wire.  We might see them as we pass but are eyes don’t tarry, they move to other and more pleasant objects for perusal.  The word prison anyway is uninviting. If the Welikada Prison is an exception to all this it is because of the impressive mural that adorns the wall that faces Base Line Road and especially the bold trilingual affirmation, ‘Prisoners are human beings.’

Yes, they are, although they are not viewed with adoration. They are there because they’ve broken rules and are considered to be threats to society’s general well-being. They are there because they have to pay a price for wrongs they have done. They have to do time. And once society has exacted adequate compensation or rather when society deems that they’ve repented, reformed and are rehabilitated enough they get to go home, they get to re-enter society.

It takes years for the past to be erased from society’s memory and of course the memory of the wrongdoer. Or never, one might add. Of course there are some crimes that are harder than others to forget or forgive, but then again, there are many, many cases where infringement not only brings a prison sentence but also (further) criminalizes the perpetrator in addition to compromising mental well being of the inmates.  

That’s not all. As Albert Camus observed in his celebrated essay against capital punishment for society to pass judgment (through the courts) on anyone, society has to be fundamentally good. That might be taken to be a bit extreme, but if you think about it, in an imperfect society where rules are bent by the powerful, there are probably as many criminals outside prisons than inside them.

But let’s keep ‘society’ out of it. There are no perfect societies, after all.  The question is, are there perfect justice systems and are there prisons which can truly claim to treat each and every inmate as human beings? 

I remember vividly a ‘court moment’ in 25 years ago. It was at the Panadura High Court. A group of around 15 young people were on trial for sedition and were locked up the court cell (or whatever it is called) until their case came up. In that same ‘waiting facility’ there was a young couple. The woman had been working as a domestic aide in a house. The man of the house, according to her story, had tried to sexually molest her. At that very moment her husband had arrived (for whatever reason). Livid (according to his story), he had attacked the would-be rapist and had killed him.  

Their case came up. The state-appointed lawyer arrived and claimed he had a bad stomach and pleaded for a different date. The judge obliged; the case was postponed for six months. Just like that, six months were taken from the lives of two individuals who, we are told, are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

That’s just a simple story that illustrates just one element of a whole gamut of problems with the justice system. The arbitrariness of releasing suspects on bail, inconsistency in sentencing, privileging of the powerful and not least of all the frivolous nature of pardons leave much to be desired.

Let’s get back to prisons. It is not that prisoners are treated like animals. We need to take into account the lack of adequate resources, outdated regulations and rank corruption, all of which are of course not the preserve of the Department of Prisons. National-stink, if you may, wafts all over and prisons, for all their security measures are not impervious. 

So yes, things are not easy for the authorities. There are all kinds of programs in prisons which draw from the assertion on the Welikada wall.  Prisoner education is an important part of the process, for example.  And yet, there’s a lot that can be done despite the constraints.

The state and therefore the people pay for prison costs. Sri Lanka does not have private prisons and the state cannot be described as yet in terms of a prison-industrial complex. The costs cannot be fully recovered by value extracted from prisoners. However, if every rupee counts, then prisoners could be seen not just as human beings but as human resources.

Is the human capital that’s within prison walls being used effectively, is a question that needs to be asked. While prisoners can be categorized in terms of the nature of the crime, the severity of sentence, race, religion, age etc., they can also be divided in terms of educational attainment and the skills they possess, all of which are meticulously documented.  

There are literally thousands of prisoners who have passed their A/Ls. A significant proportion are probably endowed with specialized skills.  While it is not possible, obviously, to turn prisons into ‘economic units’ it is nevertheless worth exploring areas where the quantum of skills can be deployed effectively. There’s value that can be obtained and most importantly such measures would invariably have a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of the inmates.

One cannot but recall how ex-combatants were rehabilitated, given opportunities to further their education and acquire skills, and then reintegrated into society. In many instances their ‘crimes’ were far more serious than those of thousands who languish in the prison system. 

If it was ok for ‘terrorists,’ why not for others, one might ask. And it’s not just people with A/L qualifications. There are graduates even inmates who had post-graduate qualifications.  

One is reminded of the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ where the expertise of a banker, wrongfully convicted of murder, is used by the prison warden for money laundering operations. That’s fiction and the deployment of the relevant expertise was for unlawful activity. However, what the movie also tells us is that there are inmates with exceptional skills that are either not fully used or ill-used or even ignored altogether.  

There’s utter inefficiency, randomness and possibly even corruption in the parole process. Prisoners are interviewed, judgement passed and when committees change the entire process is started from scratch. There should be a way to fast-track things. There should be a way to monitor the progress of each and every prisoner in the rehabilitation process that has been encrypted into the prison system. Good behavior, proven efforts to better oneself in terms of skill and knowledge acquisition etc., should be factored in systematically. This does not of course mean that the educated prisoner is somehow of a higher moral worth than the rest, but that’s not what we are talking about. It’s about resource-waste. 

In any event, ’Ad hoc’ is never good enough, even if resources are lacking.

The film has a scene where a prisoner goes before a parole committee. The stress is on the arbitrary nature of arriving at a decision. Just like in the Panadura court. Months are taken away from people’s lives, years too.

What all this calls for is complete review of the prison system. There are good officers. There are excellent programs concerning prisoner welfare and rehabilitation. There’s a lot of good work being done. It’s not enough.

Prisoners, let us repeat, are human beings. They constitute part of the nation’s complement of human resources. They are in prison for a reason, and the state weighs opportunity costs against opportunity benefits when determining to sustain them in prisons over letting them loose on society. All this is understandable. But if it is about ‘understanding’ then what needs to be taken cognizance of is the fact that people can become better just as they can become worse; and those who fall into the former category should be treated differently, encouraged, and employed in ways that make sense given their knowledge and skills.

Perhaps the ministers overseeing the subjects of justice and prisons can do something to streamline things, to rationalize the entire system and to give more credence to the dictum scrawled on the wall of the Welikada Prison. 


19 April 2018

Where's the ‘National’ in this National Government?

Just the other day, this Government appointed four new Provincial Governors. Almost immediately one of them, who used to be a Governor in a different province, was removed and reappointed to his earlier post.   

What is it with this Government and Governors? Not too long ago, the Government appointed a man with a less than glorious track record as the Governor of the Central Bank. When he came under a cloud, the Prime Minister defended him. When he was effectively sacked, he was given ‘other employment’. When he was charged with wrongdoing and ordered to appear in court, those who guaranteed the man would submit to such an order, went silent. 

When the above was pointed out, someone quipped, ‘they are good at sacking and appointing judges, though’.  That entire process was quite sordid, though.

Anyway, if all this was bad, the circus that the much talked of cabinet reshuffle has turned into is far worse joke.  First of all, following the rout of all constituent parties in the Government at the local government elections, the Ministry of Law and Order changed hands not once, but twice!  After the vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe a bunch of ministers who have resigned. 

Then we had the entire Parliamentary Group of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party wanting to quit the Government, followed by the party leader and president, Maithripala Sirisena, urging the bunch to re-think. Now we have the General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), a coalition led by the SLFP, saying that even those who supported the no-confidence motion will remain with the Government.  Mahinda Amaraweera in an elaboration says that this is ‘to support and strengthen the President’.  Note, it’s the President and not the Government whose strengthening is sought here! 

Meanwhile, a section of the UNP wants to punish those SLFP ministers who ‘betrayed’ by bringing a no-confidence motion against them. Some of these ‘betrayers’ have decided to sit in the Opposition. In other words, the marriage between the UNP and the SLFP is strained (to be generous).  

Let us not forget that the President arbitrarily relieved certain key institutions from certain ministries and vested them in others. Let us also take note of whispers that ex-ministers Ravi Karunanayake and Wijedasa Rajapaksa are to be rewarded with cabinet slots for support shown during the no-confidence motion. Most importantly let us remember that the Prime Minister or the President or both (most likely the former) have been shuffling the cabinet pack for more than two months now. It looks like their general incompetence is finding expression even in this simple exercise of naming a new cabinet and it’s gravity is made even greater considering the chest-beating assertions about a new government being formed. ‘New’ in terms of a new cabinet.  

They key issue here is not coherence, it’s not restructuring or rationalizing. It’s about rewarding friends and buying off enemies. The problem is that retaining a parliamentary majority (note: the government in effect has lost its two-thirds majority) is about holding together 113 individuals whereas ‘holding’ has been reduced to an exercise in appeasement by way of portfolios, if not  cabinet minister then at least state or deputy minister posts. 

This is where we get to the thorny issue of the ‘national government’.  The 19th Amendment had two major flaws; first, the composition of the Constitutional Council which effectively compromises the ‘regaining’ of the independent institutions abrogated by the 18th Amendment, and secondly the caveats pertaining to the size of the cabinet. 

The 19th limited cabinet size to 30 ministers. The 19th  however allows for unlimited expansion where there is a ‘national government’. The architects of the amendment and those who voted for it (only one MP voted against it while one abstained and seven were absent) were complicit in keeping ‘national government’ undefined.  

It left us with an as yet unanswered question: what is a ‘national government’? It is ‘national’ if ALL PARTIES REPRESENTED IN PARLIAMENT are part of the government?  Is it ‘national’ if the two parties with the largest number of seats form a government? Would it be ‘national’ if one party (say, the UNP) forms a government with a few from the third largest political group in Parliament (in this case, the SLFP)? Would the word be valid for a ‘UNP + one or a few others’ that form a government?  

The key issue right now is that this is no longer a SLFP-UNP coalition. It is at best a government made of the UNP, a few SLFP stragglers (note, ‘UNP’ means all those who contested under the elephant symbol at the last General Election).  As such this cabinet would be illegal unless we use a very loose and even silly definition for the term ‘national’.  If common sense definitions are used, then the size of the cabinet as of today is unconstitutional.

This probably explains why both the UNP and the SLFP are laboring with the cabinet reshuffle.  The UNP needs to please more than 30 and it cannot do this if the SLFP doesn’t play ball.  Even if the SLFP decides to play ball, the term ‘national government’ would be hilarious if it weren’t an absolutely pernicious twist of the term since the there are at least 70 MPs who are not listening to Sirisena as of now.  At the last count (i.e. at the vote on the no-confidence motion), the Prime Minister had only the support of his party and the Tamil National Alliance. A government led by a Prime Minister who is not backed by over 100 MPs is not ‘national’ and not even a perversion of ‘national’. 

It is clear that a ‘National Government’ is no longer tenable and perforce cabinet size has to be cut down to 30. 

Wickremesinghe’s ardent fan club believes the man is a democrat (despite all evidence to the contrary) and a decent politician; yes, some say he’s a statesman. Let’s call the bluff.  Let him show that he is. Let him prune the cabinet down to 30.  

What he does (or probably will not do) is less important than getting the constitutional flaw corrected. ‘National Government’ needs to be defined so that political machinations by crooks, thugs and self-serving ego maniacs are stumped at every turn, including cabinet reshuffles.  That’s more important than seeing some two-bit politician stumble.  Agreed?

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com

සිංහල අවුරුද්ද කියන 'මළඉලව්ව' ගැන කෙටි සටහනක්

සිංහල අලුත් අවුරුද්ද ගැන සාමාන්‍යයෙන් ඇහෙන කෝචොක් වලට අජිනමොටෝ ටිකක් එකතු කරන්න මේ පාර පුළුවන් වුනේ අර මුස්ලිම් කොල්ලෙක් අවුරුදු කුමාරයා වුන සිද්ධිය නිසයි. 

මුස්ලිම් කොල්ලෙක් ඒ වගේ තරඟයකට ඉදිරිපත් වෙන එක සදාචාර විරෝධීයි කියල සමහරු කියනවා.  මේ අලුත් අවුරුද්ද මුස්ලිම් අයට අදාලම නැතිලු.  ඔය වගේ කතා ගොඩාක් තිබුනා මුහුණුපොතේ.

මුලින්ම කිවයුතු දෙයක් තියෙනවා:

අවුරුදු කුමාරයා තේරුවේ කව්ද, කොහොමද කියල මම දන්නේ නෑ. අදාලත් නෑ. සිංහල කියන දේ සහ අවුරුද්ද කියන දේ මම තේරුම් ගන්න විදිහක් තියෙනවා. ඒ අනුව, සිංහලකම කියන්නේ වෙන්වීම හුදෙකලා වීම හරහා අනන්‍යතාවය තහවුරු කරගන්න දෙයක් නෙවෙයි. හරයක් තියාගෙන වැළඳගන්න අවශෝෂණය කරගන්න සූදානමක් තියෙන දෙයක්. අවුරුද්ද කියන්නේ එකතු වෙන තැනක්, පරණ කෝන්තර අමතක කරන මොහොතක්. ඒ අනුව අවුරුදු කුමාරයාගේ ජාතිය ආගම අදාලම නෑ.

දැන් අජිනමොටෝ කතාවට යමු. මුහුණුපොතේ මේ කාරණය ගැන දිග සටහනකින් අවසන් කොටස මෙයයි:

"උන්ට මතක නෑ බෙග් මසේටර්, එම්.ජේ කරීම් වගේ මිනිස්සු තමා වෙසක් එකට සින්දු කියන්නෙ කියල..! එකෙක්ට වත් මතක නෑ මේ තියෙන ලපයිසිපයි බුද්ධාගම මේ රටේ මෙහෙම හරි තහවුරු කළේ හෙන්රි ඕල්කොට් කියලත්.. වෙසක් දින නිවාඩුවක් දෙන්න කියල ඉල්ලීම ජාත්‍යන්තරයට මුලින්ම කළේ කදිරගාමර්ය කියලත්.. එක සිංහල බෞද්ධ කියන මොනම **යෙක්වත් කිසිම දෙයක් කරල නෑ කියල දන්නෑ..අර ධර්මපාල කියල මනුස්සයෙක් හිටියා මිනිහ මලෙත් මම දඹදිවම උපදිනව කියල.. ආයේ ලංකාවට කරපු දෙයක්නෑ..!"

මෙතන ඇත්තක් තියෙනවා මුල් කොටසේ.  මුස්ලිම් කොල්ලා අවුරුදු කුමාරයා වුන එක ගැන උරණ වෙලා ඉන්න 'සිංහල බෞද්ධයින්' මේවා දන්නේ නෑ. නැත්තම් නොදන්නවා වගේ නැත්තම් අදාළ නෑ වගේ තමයි කරුණු කාරණා කියන්නේ. එහෙම නොවන සිංහල බෞද්ධයින් ඉන්න බවත් කියන්න ඕන. අනික 'සිංහල බෞද්ධ' කියන 'මොනම මොකෙක්වත්' කිසිම දෙයක් කොරල නෑ කියන එක වැරදියි.  බුද්ධාගම ගැනත්, බෞද්ධ සංකෘතිය ගැනත්, රට ගැනත්, ඉතිහාසය ගැනත් එහෙන් මෙහෙන් අහුලගත්ත දේවල් කලවම් කරලා මොනවාද කියන්න බැරි? මට එහෙමයි හිතුනේ.

අර මුස්ලිම් කොල්ලා අවුරුදු කුමාරයා වුන එක ගැන තරහ ගිය සිංහල බෞද්ධයින් සහ මේ සටහන ලියපු කෙනා අතර මට නම් ලොකු වෙනසක් පෙනෙන්නේ නෑ. දෙගොල්ලන්වම මෙහෙයවන පොදු සාධකය වෛරය. දෙගොල්ලම පාවිච්චි කරන්නේ එකම ක්‍රමවේදය. ඒ කියන්නේ තමන්ගේ තර්කයට වාසි දේවල් තියාගෙන අවාසි දේවල් බැහැර කරලා අඩි හප්පමින් හූ තියන එක. 

මුහුනුපොතේ සටහනේ අපට අදාළ වෙන්නේ මේවා නෙවෙයි.  මෙහෙම දෙයක් ලියල තියෙනවා පොඩි 'පෙරවදනක්' හැටියට:

"අර මුස්ලිම් කොලුවෙක් අවුරුදු කුමාරයා වෙලා. ඉතිං ඒක කොච්චර හොඳද? ඌ චීනෙක් හරි ඉන්දියන් කාරායක් හරි නං තමා අවුල. ඌ නියම ලාංකිකයෙක්. මේ බොරුවට අටෝගත්තු 'සිංහල අවුරුද්ද' කියන මළඉලව්වෙ තියෙන උතුම් දෙයක්ද අවුරුදු කුමාරයා තේරීම..?"

මුල් කොටසට එකඟයි. අවසන් කොටස අවුල්.  අවුල් වෙන්නේ 'සිංහල අවුරුද්ද උතුම් නෑ' කියපු නිසා නෙවෙයි.  එක් කෙනෙකුට උතුම් දේ තව කෙනෙක් ට පහත් නැත්තම් නොවැදගත් වෙන්න පුළුවන්. කව්රු හරි උතුම් කියල හිතාගෙන ඉන්නවනම් හිතපුවාවේ. ඒකට ගරහන එක අශිෂ්ටයි.

ප්‍රශ්නේ මේකයි: 'සිංහල අවුරුද්ද' කියන්නේ 'අටවගත්ත මළ ඉලව්වක්' කියන අයට වෙන ජාතීන් සහ ආගමිකයින් (සිංහල නොවන සහ බෞද්ධ නොවන) අටවගන්න දේවල් ගැන මීක් නෑ. ඒවාට 'මළ ඉලව්' කියල කියන්නෙත් නෑ.  ඒ ඇයි? නොකියන එක තුල ඇති සංස්කෘතික දේශපාලනය මොකද්ද? සිංහල බෞද්ධයින්ගේ 'අටවගත්ත මළඉලව්' ගැන විතරක් දොඩන එක හරහා දිනාගන්නේ මොකද්ද? 

මේ තත්ත්වය සිංහල අවුරුද්ද ට සීමා වුන දෙයක් නෙවෙයි. වෙසක් පොසොන් කාලෙත් සමහර අයට මේ 'මළ ඉලව්' ලෙඩේ හැදෙනවා.  වෙන ආගම් වලට සුවිශේෂ දින වල ඒ ලෙඩේ ඉබේටම වගේ සුව වෙනවා. 

කතාවේ අනිත් පැත්තත් සිද්ද වෙනවා.  අන්‍යාගම් වල වෙනත් ජාති වල අය කරන කියන දේවල් වල 'අතාර්තිකකම්' සහ 'අවිද්‍යාව' ගැන දොඩවන සිංහල බෞද්ධයින් 'සිංහල බෞද්ධ' ලේබලය යටතේ කරන කියන අතාර්කික දේවල් ගැන නිහඬයි. 

මේවා ගැන හිතනවා මදි කියලමයි හිතෙන්නේ.  කොහොම වුනත් අර මුස්ලිම් කුමාරයාටත්, එයාව කුමාරයා කරපු අයටත්, එයාට ගරහන අයටත් ගරහන අයට ගරහන අයටත් සුභම සුභ අලුත් අවුරුද්දක් පතමු. හද පතුලෙන්ම.     

"මගේ ඇස අග" තීරුවේ තවත් ලිපි

ගම සුජීලගේ, ගම හදන්නෙත් සුජීලා හොඳේ?
ලාස්ට් මෑන් හැව් චාන්ස්
සඳට නොලියූ කවියක් 
අහඹු පොතක අහඹු පිටුවක හමුවිය කවියක් අහඹුම නොවන'
මේවා මොන ජීවිත ද බං?'