Today being Independance Day, one finds the Sri Lankan flag attached to bikes, cars, three wheelers, poles on street corners and hanging down the sides of hotels. The television is full of programs with buddhist monks, traditional dancers and fat politicians, and most of us are at home enjoying a mid-week break and feeling mildly patriotic. Sri Lankans are a patriotic lot. They believe the best food is in Sri Lanka, the best beaches, the best people and the best girls. You take a bunch of Sri Lankans to another country and they clump together like pittu. Even those who are not so openly patriotic tend to get a bit defensive if anyone says anything about Lanka.
But today I am not flying the Sri Lankan flag.
I am not flying the Sri Lankan flag because I am not proud to be Sri Lankan at this moment. I am not proud to be part of a country where the leaders of the country are only concerned for themselves. They hunger for power, for cars, for land. They give no thought for the people they are supposed to serve. I am not proud to be under a government that kills the people they are supposed to serve, and all in the name of democracy. I am not proud that there are people who feel that anyone not of their own race should either leave or toe the line. I am not proud that policemen, our protectors would rather leach money off us than help us, and that they dance to the beat of politicians. I am not proud that free media, the one way people have of speaking out, is no longer free. I am not proud that the government can be so undiplomatic as to threaten journalists and threaten ambassadors. I am not proud that here, in Sri Lanka, the solution to contention is the killing of the other party.
So today, I am not feeling very independant. Rather, I feel quite trapped.