I firmly believe in the opinion expressed by MP Harin Fernando, that religions are being used by politicians to gain cheap votes and, no doubt, we say this is the cause for the ever worsening rifts among communities in Sri Lanka. An Indian national leader recently said ‘In search of cheap votes, politicians divide communities by race, religion and caste and create unrest among them which leads to clashes among them. You may succeed in finding vaccines to prevent, or cure, the current pandemic, but no Astra, Pfizer or Sputnik will help to cure the politicians created rifts among the communities, please avoid creating one!.
Peace activist Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools’. No country will ever prosper without peace among the communities. It is repeatedly pointed out the secret for Singapore’s success is the peaceful coexistence of all the communities living there.
With the Sinhala-Tamil New Year around the corner, I am reminded of my past pleasant memories. I would like to recall the peace and harmony every person enjoyed, prior to the unfortunate bloodshed, due to the civil war. My family was the sole Muslim family that lived down Nagahawatta Road, in Maharagama, in the mid-sixties, before I came to the Gulf on an assignment. The ten years of highly pleasant and enjoyable life I spent there still remains the best part of my life. Although our original plan was to return to our homeland on completion of the contract, one thing led to another, and finally I got involved in establishing a business organization with a local here. I cannot believe that I have now spent 46 years in the Gulf.
The recent turn of events, after the heartless massacre of the innocents by a few brutes, carrying Muslim names, but condemned by the entire Muslim community really saddened us living in the Gulf. The damage done to the country, through this ugly attack, and the clashes that followed to attack the Muslims who were truly opposed to this church massacre, gave bad publicity in most of the foreign media. All these really made me think hard and wonder ‘Where are the Sinhala and Muslim communities, I grew up with?’ However, the comforting factor is that the majority of the entire population is opposed to what took place in the past.
During the days prior to our departure, to the Gulf, we lived at Maharagama. Being the only Muslim family, among the solely Sinhala residents on Nagahawatta Road, it made us to receive much more attention, and care, from the neighbours, which I am sure, we wouldn’t have got such care even in an environment with our own community. The local Buddhist temple was just a hundred metres away from our house and the chief monk was a frequent visitor to my residence, equalling my visits to the temple in return. Once we were involved in a project to install a water-pump to the temple. I am proud to say I got enormous support from my Buddhist friends in my workplace, where I worked then, to accomplish this job. I cannot imagine how grateful the chief monk was about the little thing I could do, in the successful installation of that pump. He chose the project I handled as a main topic to speak in every ‘pinkama’ that followed thereafter in the temple.
Although there were three other houses, with refrigerators, on the same road, most of the poor neighbours chose our house to store their homemade fruit salads for any ‘Dana’ for the monks. It was something extraordinary to see how our house gets filled with sweets on the Sinhala New Year day, in addition to lunch and dinner delivered by the immediate neighbours. We would reciprocate this good friendly gesture on both our Eid days, namely Ramadan and Hajj. The extraordinarily friendly atmosphere prevailed then really touched our heart. They, I repeat, were the best years of our life.
On one instance, my mother-in-law noticed that someone had plucked two young coconuts from our ‘Gundera’ tree. As everyone knows, these trees are dwarf and even a child could have easily reached the bunch of coconuts. The good old lady confided this to the nextdoor neighbour, Yaswathie, who straight away passed the message to the chief monk. Incidentally, the monk is from Kumbalgamuwa –Weligama, which is my birthplace, too. He could not bear this and had told the nextdoor neighbour that it was an insult to all of us and we had to find the culprits. He sent people around and caught the two boys who were in their early teens. He ordered their parents to take the children to me and apologise to me. The following day, the parents visited me with the boys. After serving them refreshment I told the parents to take them home because it was really an embarrassment for me to have them apologizing to me for two young coconuts. The parents said, ‘Loku Hamuduruwo’ will not spare us, if we don’t give him a satisfactory answer.’ I assured them that I would tell the chief monk that they had visited my home and I had pardoned them.
I am simply bewildered now with what I read frequently in local newspapers about the prevailing situation in some areas back home. I also vividly remember my school days, in a Sinhala school, at Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya, in Weligama, where I was the only Muslim student and where I was not treated differently for being a boy from the minority community. On the other hand, I got the best of attention from my fellow students and as well as the teachers. My best friends still are those who grew up with me in school. Then, I remember my working life in Colombo, where the communal identity was never an issue at any time and we enjoyed being together to the maximum.
I urge the leaders of both communities to study in depth what really has gone wrong. I also urge the government to help the two communities restore their good relations. I learn through the media only a few political parties have taken this matter seriously and the JVP is one of them and it has taken up this noble task to bring all communities to coexist in peace and harmony. I hope other political parties too will join hands to achieve this goal.
I am yearning to see the Sinhala and Muslim communities, I knew, during my school days, during my working life, and most importantly the years I spent at Nagahawatta Road in Maharagama. Long live Sri Lanka! May coexistence among all communities prevail in our beloved motherland!
S. H. MOULANA
Regulate sports in popular schools ahead of big matches
The Big Matches between popular schools in Colombo and main outstation cities are round the corner. In the past school sports was in the hands of former sportsmen and sportswomen who loved the game as well as their school. They devoted their time and money to coach the budding youth without any monetary gain for themselves.
But, see what has happened today. Sports coaches selected by the schools demand millions of rupees to coach the students. And this is readily agreed and paid by the school authorities. In the good old days the members of School teams were provided free meals during match days and also Sports equipment. But it is not so now. The school earn millions of rupees from big matches played for a duration of two, or three days in some cases, and this money could be utilised to buy the required cricket gear such as bats, pads gloves, boots, etc,. I understand a pair of cricket boots is in the region of Rs.18,000 to 25,000. Can a poor village lad who is enrolled to an affluent schools in Colombo, based on his performance in Education and Cricket afford this? These lads should be given all the support to continue in their respective sports rather than drop out due to financial constraints
Coaches in some schools are in the payroll of big-time businessmen whose children are, in the so called pools. Parents of children engaged in a particular sport should not be permitted to come in as sponsors as this would be rather unethical.
The Big Matches between popular boys schools are around the corner and I suggest that the Sports Ministry ensures performance based selections rather than on other criteria.
‘Post turtle’ revisited
I have written about this amusingly thought-provoking creature, the ‘post turtle’ to ‘The Island’ around three years ago (appeared in the opinion column of The Island newspaper on the 19th of June 2018, titled ‘The post turtle era’). The story, which I am sure most of you have heard/read already, is obviously not a creation of mine and I happened to come across it somewhere, sometime ago.
And for the benefit of those, who haven’t heard the story, it goes like this:
“While surturing a cut on the hand of an old Texas rancher, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually, the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy, who was far too big for his shoes, as a politician.
The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle was’.
The old rancher said, ‘When you are driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, well, that’s your ‘post turtle’.
The rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he went on to explain. ‘You know, he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place’.”
Now I was having this nice, little siesta, the other day and suddenly there appeared ‘the turtle’ in front of me, sitting on a fence post, seemingly doing a precarious balancing act as the post itself was too high for it to give it a try to jump down to the ground. Not that it probably wanted to do it anyway for it looked quite contended and happy sitting there doing absolutely nothing. And no doubt some loyal and dumb all rolled into one, must have put him up there and been feeding it well too, for it looked quite contended and fat showing a thick head that kept turning to the left and then to the right, while its tongue kept on lolling out as if it was saying something, which must have been absolute gibberish and rubbish anyway.
What a fitting and symbolic representation,
I mean this ‘post turtle’, of the lot, or the majority of it sitting across ‘the oya’, I mused on after I woke up from my snooze.
Many of them get there thanks to the gullible voter, who while ticking the boxes, thinks: he/she will surely deliver the goods this time as promised!
And those two-legged post turtles inside the edifice, bordering the Diyawanna, like the one in the story, keep uttering sheer rubbish and spitting out incomprehensible mumbo jumbo, all in return with thanks to those, who tick the boxes in their favour.
Their statements such as ‘what is oxygen for, to eat?’, is just one among many such stupendously stupid utterances of theirs and I don’t want to tire you with the rest, for they are well known and far too many.
Now I have only one question for you before I end this:
When are we going stop being ‘those dumb asses’, once and for all?
Abuse of use of title Professor
I read with much interest the letter by Mr. Nissanka Warakaulle, regarding the above matter, in the issue of the Sunday Island of 18th April 2021. I agree fully with the contents of his letter. He should be very familiar with the regulations as he is a former Registrar of the University of Colombo. I wish to highlight another instance where it is abused. In the 1970s, the title of Associate Professor was created. Until then there were only three categories of Professors. Firstly the holder of the Chair, secondly a co-Professor and thirdly, an Emeritus Professor. There were also, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Readers. The title of Reader was replaced with the title Associate Professor, which is meant to be a designation, to be used after the name. However, this category of academics started using it as a pre-fix, dropping the word Associate!
Profesor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya MBE
Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics,
University of Colombo
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