The Sunday Leader

Legitimizing Vasu’s P – Letter Word

Going by media reports it does appear that the Maggie Noodle Controversy now raging in   the neighbouring   sub-continent is bound to be stirred up here too.

The thinking among those who want to express solidarity with their Indian brothers and sisters is that if it something   happens in our ‘original motherland’, it should be followed here. We do not subscribe to this original motherland concept. Our motherland is Sri Lanka and only Sri Lanka. As students of biology, evolution and associated disciplines we accept the migration of humanity across the globe and if the original motherland is to be considered it should be deep in Africa, the place from which the original humans emerged and spread out not somewhere they put up camp en route.

Back to Maggie Noodles, it is alleged to be containing MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) above permissible limits and even lead. Certainly food, if contaminated, should be cracked down on, be it of multinationals like Nestle, Sinhala buth kades, Saiva boutiques or Muslim Kotthu rotti joints. Having been a regular visitor to our neighbouring country we recall not with much nostalgia the ‘Delhi Belly’ we were struck with often.

We recall a conversation with a dear restaurateur who had a Colombo seven Chinese restaurant. When we said that his food was treated with that famous Japanese appetizer containing MSG, he did not deny it. Every hotel worth its name, be it a rice and curry joint or Saiva boutique used MSG, he claimed. We realised it as a fact when we noticed that whenever we had Masala Thosai, we invariably felt very thirsty.


Noodles and Revolution

We also wondered why the Maggie Noodles controversy was slow in being picked up in Lanka despite one of the biggest multinationals in the world, Nestle, being involved. Where were the revolutionary Marxists- Leninists, Trotskyites, Stalinists, Maoists and JVPers?  Usually, the very mention of the word Multinational causes these varieties who had even readied themselves to lie down in eternal rest, spring up and stage raucous demonstrations to wreck their targets.

Apparently, having done their damnedest to destroy the tobacco multinational, they were resting their weary vocal cords when ex-Maoist Maithripala Sirisena moved the constitutional amendments. Vasu and comrades had not time for Maggie Noodles and are still wading through the constitutional amendments—17th, 18th 19th and 20th    .

As revolutionaries they may not have much faith in constitutional amendments but for political survival they have to cling on to some bourgeoisie support however flimsy that may be. Their gurus, the greats -NM and Colvin showed how the flimsy Saree Pota (SareeFall) of Sirima Bandaranaike kept hopes of the proletarian revolution alive. The Saree  Pota is no more but  there is the ‘Rajapaksa Satakaya’(red band round their necks) the  revolutionaries have to hang on to for survival.


Vasu’s P word

It was while crossing swords with Ranil Wickremesinghe in parliament that Vasu  used  the  hitherto considered  unpardonable Sinhala P -Word on Wickremesinghe. It infuriated the conservative Sinhala Middle Class—both English and Sinhala speaking— and buried the revolutionary comrade in an avalanche of middle class morality.

Vasu, the Marxist who threatened to destroy the capitalist system was never taken seriously by the bourgeoisie. He was treated with indulgence and considered a prodigal son of the middle class like so many Marxists of his day and those before him. But the P- word made him a social outcast who could not be admitted to decent society. Bandula Gunawardena ex-minister and former ‘Tuition Sir’ going back to Sinhala etymology tried to help Vasu by explaining that the word used had deep roots in the Sinhala language and should not be considered a dirty word. But the middle class was not impressed.

Middle Class Sinhalese still refrain from using this word even though phallic worship is involved in some of the Kovils they make their vows. The name of the Sinhala township Payagala is a distortion of the real name akin to the word used by Vasu which means a town by a rock in the shape of a phallus. The Middle class also fights shy of the name given by villagers to their pouch for carrying betel leaves-Bulath pa…


Carlo to the rescue

Prof. Carlo Fonseka the physiologist and card carrying member of the LSSP tried to explain his comrade’s outburst on Ranil Wickremesinghe in parliament in physiological terms.

“VN (Vasudeva Nanayakkara) was enraged by the alleged Central Bank scam and in the verbal exchange he used a word or two with a sexual connotation. The question is how sex got involved with the expression of rage. The explanation that modern physiology offers is this. It so happens that the state of the body in aggressive arousal and sexual arousal is extremely similar. It is very easy for a male body physiologically aroused for aggression to indulge in a violent sex act (i.e. rape). Is it any wonder that the language of aggression and the language of sex overlap and aggressive abuse involves use of words with sexual connotations?

We will end our essay with an incident that occurred in Vesak day some 50 years ago at Dehiwela junction.

The fishermen of Dehiwela beach were staging a Buddhist Jataka story on Galle Road   at Dehiwela junction on an improvised stage specially lit up with loud speakers’ et al. On it was the King (Maharaja thuma) holding court with his courtiers conversing in high flown Sinhala. Then a guard busts on to the stage shouting in classical language: Maharajathumani— Sathuro Maligawa Watakara Sitih. (Oh!  Great King, Enemies have surrounded the palace). The Maharajathuma on stage is slightly inebriated.

Ganu Maage Kaduwa, Munge Ammalata H——– (Get my sword. I will F–mothers) he roared going quite off the script. The pious audience on the pavement was scandalised.  Actors were hooted and stoned. The play was summarily abandoned.

Is it that the Maharajathuma’s outburst in his usual lingo was because physiologically he experienced many changes in his systems as per Carlo Fonseka theory which may be summarised  as being brought about by  the “cortico- hypothalmo-sympatho adrenal mechanism”. It will not be understood or accepted by the general public.

Nor will other physiological or etymological explanations be accepted by the middle class or their media (press and TV). For example the Four Letter Word has been used in high class  English literature such as of D.H.Lawrence and even the Oxford Dictionary is now having  it with the computer version saying it loud and clear in an Oxford accent but the Four letter word is still not acceptable by the Sri Lankan Middle class. Americans even those right on  top   in the land of the brave and free use the F-word frequently, probably for greater emphasis while the Sh…. hitting the fan is of common usage even among American ladies and the description of persons not to their liking as rectums  (in colloquial terms) is in everyday use. But that kind of lingo has not been accepted by Colombo’s bourgeoisie as yet.

Time is a good healer and Vasu’s choice of words may soon be forgotten by the Middle Class or may be the next generation will be using them freely.

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