Today, we celebrate our freedom. Freedom that prevents our little island from progress. Senseless freedom that gives an individual the right to pursue legal action to prevent a highway from being built to benefit an entire region, if not the whole country, but takes away the right to park one’s car in front of the country’s main railway station to pick-up a travelling passenger.
Today, we celebrate the victory of democracy. The kind of victory that bestows power upon parliamentarians like WJM Lokubandara who has deprived the people of Haputale of any development since 1977. The kind of people’s power that makes kings out of fools such as the well-learned doctor Mervin. Today, in the name of independence, we celebrate the kind of stupidity that sends clergymen to the parliament, and not to the village temple.
Today we celebrate the unity. The kind of unity that separates the Tamil, the Sinhala, the Muslim and the Anglo-asian by distinctly differentiating them in the very poster that’s supposed to unify them under one flag. The kind of unity that is evident everywhere – starting from the racially and religiously biased school system where a six-year-old is deprived of education of his choice, just because he doesn’t belong to a certain race or a religion. Hindu College for the Hindu’s, Zahira for the Muslims, St. Thomas’ for the Christians and Ananda for the Buddhists., and the list goes on. For our good luck, these are supposed to be amongst the greatest schools in the country that breed the leaders of the next generation...
Today, we celebrate sovereignty of the land. We celebrate the victory over our own brotherhood, we celebrate the death of our own men, women and children. We celebrate the fact the we are independent of our own evil, but wasn’t this island sovereign all along until we decided to divide it into pieces?
Today, we celebrate the freedom of expression. The freedom to wash our dirty linen in public, the freedom that strips our nation naked in front of an international audience. The freedom where Al Jazeera and BBC could report from the front-line claiming that “no media is allowed to witness the war” while closing their ears to the deafening sounds of gunfire. Today we celebrate the kind of freedom that makes us look so f*cked-up, that the corrupt parliaments of the US or the UK begin to look very honourable.
Today we celebrate the development. And the progress. We celebrate the fact that we have built three flyovers and dug a single tunnel in the last half-a-century of infrastructure development. We celebrate the fact the we still live in the dark ages, when we could’ve been an example to the West, just like Lee Kuan Yew once predicted.
Today we celebrate the defeat of terrorism, when the half of the terrorists who burnt down bus depots and destroyed public property are sitting at the parliament in their gel-combed-heads, having never surrendered the stolen wealth or the weapons they accumulated by terrorising an entire nation.
Today we celebrate the economic freedom and the ability to live in a free-market. The ability to eat Australian apples and Pakistani mangoes on the roadside in Ramboda and the ability to serve bottled water imported from the United Arab Emirates at the Colombo International Airport. We celebrate the fact that Nawala is no longer synonymous with pineapples, Kalutara with Mangosteens or Bibile with oranges.
Today we celebrate our pride. We celebrate the fact the we are the country of house-maids, we are the nation that murders their minority and we are the country where asylum seekers and illegal immigrants come from. With much pomp and pageantry, we celebrate the fact that we are no longer known for our blue sapphires, exotic beaches or world-class tea.
A little more than half a century down the line, we have managed to totally screw up this beautiful country, right royally.
Well... here’s to that, and here’s to whatever we are celebrating.