By Angela Seneviratne
Happy Independence to you! Days down from the actual celebration, I am sure you are yet discussing which is by far the most useless commemoration for an isle like ours.
Independence from whom? From what?
71 years later, it is sorrowful that our citizens missed the chance of citizenship in the United Kingdom for starters. Thereby, our children would have been able to seek undisrupted school, college, and university education, with scope for better paid employment. Even in the unforeseen instance of unemployment, the government would look after their basic needs.
The issue of homelessness would be met by welfare and health would be covered by the national health services. (What is so different from here, you will ask.)
And I ask you again. What are we free from? The most sought-after countries that we send our children to are indeed those of the Commonwealth.
What is the generally accepted and required dress code for schools, offices, functions, celebrations, funerals apart from the crisp white national dress of a sarong and a close-necked tunic top for the men of this country? What are we free from?
Why is it that a lounge suit or what is called a full suit is mandatory at most events if we are free from even aping the British Rajahs?
Why is it plush and upper-class to acquire a stiff Oxford accent in one’s speech to stress the point of a sojourn in their lands? Does language really have an accent? What are we free from?
We are far from self-sufficient in every aspect. In debt in colossal amounts that will hang over the island for the terms of many governments to come.
Addressing the nation, looking into the horizon of Galle Face with politically correct and scripted words is all fine, but what is actually implemented to be free?
Standing at attention while squads of soldiers clad in European military clothing march past is by far the silliest part of the celebrations itself. I used to ponder the likelihood of the Artillery turning around to face the canopy instead of the sea. It would be chaos, but then, the programme might change in the coming years.
The horses, very much a part of the British influence on the Police Department, must be dreading this annual outing.
Should I not mention the scorched and exhausted children who are made to participate in this event, lined up on the road without any shelter from the Sun, while the Members of Parliament, invitees, and diplomats are under a canopy? Why in the name of the rising Sun is that an annual practice?
I would really want someone to wake up from his stupor and insist that independence celebrations be devoid of heartlessness. Even the dogs that pad on the burning tar are in discomfort.
I always wondered why they chose the Galle Face as a venue for the parades when they could have it at the Sugathadasa Stadium. Not that the general public throngs the Green in its millions to watch. The inconvenience caused to the commuters heading to the Fort for three days is just incomprehensible.
Thus, the government carries on with the curses and rumblings of the people who voted them in, with nary a care in the world.
If nothing else, we are a booming drug and vice infested land, and though the forewarnings that nothing short of death would be meted out to peddlers and distributors of drugs, no executions have taken place yet. What are we free from?
Enjoy your own freedom in your own little worlds. The rest is controlled and we are by no means free, that is the best I could suggest. Shucks to the loss of the British citizenship.
Till next time then…