Captain Elmo Jayawardena
Elmo’s Covering Note: “Sarath Fonseka is out of jail. that is what matters. I do not know his politics – I do not know anybody’s politics as that has been the biggest sadness of our home land: POLITICS. I wrote this attached article in appreciation of General Fonseka and his contribution to win the war so that you and I can now live without the fearof bombs and such
General Fonseka is out and free, ‘Hurrah for the Mary, hurrah for the lamb’ he sure is “shouting the battle cry of freedom” in the loudest voice and very rightly so. Of course there will be a hundred fathers who will now look to collect some borrowed credit for making the so-called ‘prodigal son’ walk out of the Welikada Jail to life and his loved ones. Yes, we all know the rank has been stripped and his name has been erased from all military records. He is no chalk mark on a black board that has been wiped out. He is The General and he shall always remain the General in the minds of the proletariat. The question now is what path he will take in the current political quagmire. Good luck to you General, I am no expert on politics but even in my naivety I am well aware that Paradise today is full of Cardboard Sandos, self promoted heroes and false prophets who for some unbelievable reason seem to be the flavour of the day.Or is it because the truth has lost its tongue and so have we?
For whatever the applause or the backlash is, it was the President who signed the release and now the General is free. The fact is if the President so wished we all know that he had the powers to lock the Welikada door and throw the keys to the gutter. But he didn’t. I think it is best we do not cast unnecessary stones without knowing the truth as to why and what made the President release the General. That would be mere barber-shop jabber, meaningless as in most times. General Fonseka is free and that is all that matters. True, ‘Geneva Lost’ did meet “Bosnia Bullet Dodger’ in the gilded Walhalla of world power (was it NY or Washington? Who cares) and maybe they spoke in soft tones of ‘human rights’ and their interpretations which we all know are ‘human wrongs’ once the celluloid is removed. Yet, they are on stage and they act and we the minions are supposed to clap and cheer like fools.
Yes, there would certainly be some ‘lime-light’ shining for Geneva and Bosnia, remember how Kissinger got the Nobel peace prize and the Vietnamese Le Duc Tho refused on principle. That is the G-8 and the cocktail circle for you, better defined as the ‘back scratching’ business. There would be the local version too, people who stood on the periphery who will now add self-proclaimed political mileage on the Fonseka release issue. All those plaudits would come in different sizes, small, medium, large and extra large, like BOI manufactured brassieres, upholding the false claims and Pontius efforts of those who washed their hands when the General languished in prison. The line is getting long now of the ones who declared allegiance, longer than the line the General walked to get his dented metal plate meals with the inmates of Welikada. The carnival is just beginning, and the only thing missing now is a fast unto death. That could very well be the fat lady singing in the opera.
General Sarath Fonseka is free, it is a sigh of relief to most self-respecting Sri Lankans wherever they maybe. The man fought the war and led the soldiers who battled the impossible and won us the freedom after thirty long years. Then the tables turned, the ‘so-named’ world’s best commander went from hero to zero. We all sinned with our silence when the decorated war veteran wore a prisoner’s motley garb and stood in line in the Welikada yard carrying a bucket. That is a shame we all have to be guilty of. Of course there were those who supported him, paramount and leading the parade would be the lady Anoma who suffered most along with her children and kept the faith of freedom intact whilst fighting unbelievable battles. She kept a nation’s hopes alive against odds that were hopeless. There may have been so many others too, genuine participants of the ‘free Sarath Fonseka’ crusade, nameless, but very much in line for the share of an accolade in making him walk out of jail. Whoever they are the cheer is theirs to celebrate and certainly the victory achieved is par excellence of which they have the right to be part and parcel.
Where will all this lead now? The General has already made it very clear that the furthest milepost of his new journey is retirement. It is difficult to comprehend him fading into a colourless sunset. General Fonseka certainly is entering the ring again to do battle and that too perhaps with gloves off, bare knuckle stuff of the tough. After a two year lapse he could be punching beyond his weight. Yet, even before the bell rang, he came out of his corner swinging, blasting away at the system and the injustice of it all. He sure has a right to holler and he sure is ready to do battle. But with whom? And with what? That is the million dollar question. The marbles played in the present day political arena are a lot different from the ones that were used in Kilinochchi and Nandikadal. The ethnic conflict was different, kill or be killed, the foe was defined as ruthless as the devil himself, leading an army that was no ‘flea circus’ and ready to die for a homeland and a cause they believed in. Such crusades had heroes and heroines without a dividing line defining to which side they belonged. Whether they were entombed with military honours in a white stone laid cemetery or died a sad and lonely death in a sand dune under a palmyra tree, they were men and women of courage. They all fought a battle that was not theirs to fight, inherited from the political corruptions of long years and the faulted leadership that made cannon fodder of the young from both sides. General Fonseka led that battle and won. Maybe he is the patriot walking off Welikada, willing to die for his country and sees in the far horizon the cleansed Sri Lanka that we all hope for in our perpetual dreams. But it is a long way and a sad road, especially when the enemy could be within and without definition. The battle for the General will be against the system, and that has no affiliation to a particular political party. If his intention is to change the political tide, then he must first change the system.
Yes, the man has the courage, proven beyond any doubt. Yes, the man has dignity, he stood ramrod straight in his string-tied shorts and collarless cotton shirt and walked proud amongst the trial men serving his ‘crayon drawn’ sentence. He shared the shade and the scorch of the sun with the condemned in the Welikada jail and lived in positive possibilities. No pardon he asked, and no quarter he expected and none was given. That is courage at its supreme best; none should ever deny him that, nor should have the audacity to question, he certainly is an extraordinarily brave man. Call him a political fool if you may, but praise his soldier’s courage, he did stand tall on the burning deck.
None shall know how the future unfolds. But one thing we can be sure, the real drama is just coming on stage. The General may have had ambitions before of loftier laurels without knowing there were political tentacles pulling him in different directions, each with a fairytale of its own. But he is wiser now, ten years wiser in a two year period.
As Salvatore Guiliano, the Sicilian Freedom Fighter once said, “I can look after my enemies, but God protect me from my friends.” Does this apply to the now free war hero? Who knows? As I said before, the marbles are different now and the game too has shifted from what was once an ethnic battle field.
Thank you General Sarath Fonseka for what you did to free this country from the menace of war. Your world waits General, and I am sure we all, the Sri Lankans both local and diasporic, would sincerely hope it would be kind to you, to lady Anoma and to your children. The Fonseka family does richly deserve such.
Capt Elmo Jayawardena = firstname.lastname@example.org