Stench of death
Sunday Times Satire
My dear residents of Meetotamulla,
I am writing to you in shock and horror at a time when the entire country is talking about the disaster in your area and about how some of you had to pay with your lives because some people couldn’t get their act together and decide what to do with the tonnes of garbage produced in Colombo.
It was only a few days ago that the entire country was celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. You would have done so too, not knowing that in a few hours your lives would literally come crashing down. You also didn’t know that, for some of you, that new year meal would be your last.
You certainly knew that a disaster of this kind was looming. That is why you protested loudly and even took the matter to courts. Unfortunately, those protests fell on deaf ears- of both the Blue and Green types. Then, when you took to the streets, the Blues and the Greens happily tear-gassed you.
To me, what happened after the disaster is even more disgusting than the disaster itself. Ours is a country that has experienced many disasters. After a tragedy, we have always rallied around to help those affected. The tsunami disaster more than a dozen years ago was the best example of this.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen after this disaster. Instead, there is a huge slanging match between Mahinda maama’s Blues and the Greens, blaming each other for the disaster. Even others – Champika, for example – have joined in and the stench from this debate is greater than that from the garbage!
The Greens are saying that Gota is responsible for all this because, in his rush to convert Colombo to a ‘garden city’ after the war, he moved all the garbage that was being dumped at Bloemendhal Road in Kotahena and also ordered that Meetotamulla should be the new site for dumping rubbish.
Then we have the Blues – those in Mahinda maama’s camp, that is – arguing that Gota did have a plan to divert Colombo’s garbage to Puttlam by train but that never happened because Mahinda maama’s government got voted out two years ago. So, it is the new government’s fault, they say.
These Blues also claim that the two representatives who represent you in Parliament, that Marikkar chap and young Hirunika won their seats at the last election by making promises to you that they would get rid of the garbage dump when they got elected. They too did nothing, these Blues argue.
That is why social media is full of insults and accusations. There are old video clips showing how those who protested against the garbage dump were tear gassed when the Blues ran the show. Then, there are also clips showing the Greens promising to get rid of the dump when they win power.
Mahinda maama’s followers are poking fun at the Green Man for visiting the site of the disaster with a mask on and comparing that to how Mahinda maama visited the site of a terrorist massacre without a mask. After thirty one people died, for some, the biggest issue is why the Green Man wore a mask!
We find that one television network is blaming Mahinda maama’s Blues for what happened and another network is blaming the Greens for what happened. Yet another network, owned by that forgetful chap, Duminda, is hell-bent on blaming everything on his favourite MP, Hirunika.
To me it seems that, for all these people what matters is not what could be done to give you relief or what must be done next to find a solution to the garbage issue but to shout from the rooftops saying ‘it is not our fault, it is their fault’ and try to get some political advantage from your tragedy as well.
I daresay both the Blues and the Greens are at fault. Mahinda maama’s Blues are at fault because they began dumping garbage in your area nearly ten years ago, watched it grow into a mountain and did nothing about it. After two years in office, the Maithri’s Blues and the Greens have also done nothing.
In a way, what happened to you and the issue of dumping garbage is symbolic of what has happened in our country for the past seventy years since independence: the Blues makes a mess of things, we kick them out and get the Greens in – and they do the same. In the end, we all end up with a disaster.
Our thoughts are with you, dear residents of Meetotamulla. We hope that at least now, our leaders will make the correct choices and that, in doing so, they will think of the next generation and not the next election. But, knowing them only too well, we also know that this maybe too much to ask for!