Enter the Loan Ranger and Pronto
in their dotage and old age and may be some in their late middle age, will
recall the Lone Ranger, his horse, Silver and his Red Indian sidekick, Tonto
dressed in brown deer skin. Lone Ranger comics was my favourite and even Roy
Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, Gene Autry with his guitar and hard hitting Tom
Mix came in receding order.
I had paid dearly for reading Lone Ranger comics hidden
in the desk and getting caught in the act. Hard pol tokkas and
confiscation of Lone Ranger was the punishment. But this cowboy with the black
mask fascinated me. He was the good guy fighting the rustlers along with Tonto
and Silver. After doing his good deeds such as getting the sheriff to lock up
the rustlers, he rode away to the horizon, bellowing: Heigh ho, Silver and way!
Campus Loan Ranger
Thoughts of the Lone Ranger came to my mind when
memories went back to another ranger on the university campus. He was called the
Loan Ranger. Even though the fellow was extremely pleasant and interesting,
campus fellows ran away when Loan Ranger was cited. He was constantly in need of
loans. His parents of considerable means gave him a good monthly allowance but
Loan Ranger had a weakness for cards and horses. The game he played with cards
was booruwa also called asking- hitting by the English speaking, at the
canteen table. Now this Loan Ranger had rotten luck. When he asked for a red
card a black turned up and vice- versa. The horses he betted on in Sri
Lanka and England often appeared to run the other way and if at all came
galloping last of all. But Loan Ranger was a master of financial operations.
He played booruwa and betted on horses with his
examination fees as well as his boarding fees. He managed to keep his head above
water by not sitting for exams and disappearing from his lodgings with the
boarding mistress crying out that he had not paid his lodging fees for months
Loan Ranger got into deep trouble and disappeared from
Mother Lanka and was last heard of as a male nurse in London.
Enter the Presidential Loan Ranger
The fate of the campus Loan Ranger reminded me of the
wisdom of a strict kindergarten teacher Miss Bay, who admonished us: ‘Neither a
lender nor borrower be’— not even an eraser or marbles.
Readers should pardon me for all this rigmarole about
rangers Lone and Loan. To come to the point, my dear old teacher Miss Bay’s
thesis now appears to be blown sky high after 60 years. We now have a Loan
Ranger, the president — Mahinda Percy Rajapakse himself. He like the campus Loan
Ranger knows how to get out of a financial crisis. Simply float a loan.
There are banks today all over the country. Where every
stinking hooch joint that was in Colombo Fort in the good old days, there is a
magnificent bank instead. Now what are banks for other than to give loans? They
are competing with one another to give loans. Saw what happened to Ranil
Wickremesinghe when he objected to Mahinda getting a whopping $ 500 million
loan? The bank simply coughed it out and no one knows where the money went
exactly but the bank is not worried and Mahinda’s financial worries seem to be
all over now. He is laughing all the way out of the bank.
Ranil is asking how Mahinda Percy is to repay this
massive loan at 4.8 percent interest or something like that. Well, it will be
five years time when the repayment demand is made. If the sun shines on
Rajapakse and company repayment will be chicken feed. Or if bad times come, he
could even sell Hemin Lanka and some assets if the assets have not become
liabilities. If things are really bad and Saturn has moved into the Seventh
House, he then hands over the government to Ranil and he will be holding the $
500 million loan baby with the interest.
Now my financial advisers tell me not to get too cocky
and expect banks to cough up loans like that to me. I won’t even get a small
loan after I defaulted on my housing loan, they say.
Now Mahinda has got inspired with the advice of that
financial wizard PBJ who like Tonto of the Lone Ranger acts pronto and is called
Pronto. Borrow till they bleed, Ranil will pay is Pronto’s motto. Now, Mahinda
Percy is going on a Loan Range mission to fix the atomic mullahs. The
Iranian brothers are swimming in oil but won’t give away a drop free. So why not
fix a loan. Payable when able, possibly in Ranil’s time.
Serves those Yanks right putting all sorts of squeezes
like human rights on Mahinda Percy. Medamulane Rajapakses won’t take things
lying down. They don’t want him to fraternise with the atomic mullahs but
won’t give him cash, not even a loan. Why did he spend all his youthful years
promoting the Palestinian- Sri Lanka Friendship Society? These press wallahs
call him Mahinda Arafat
In reality he should be Mahinda Arahat and support
those Theravada monks whose heads are being bashed about by a military junta and
please the Yanks. But that won’t get him the loan. Foreign policy he knows
should be in one’s own interest and not in the interests of foreign monks. So
Mahinda Arafat he will be and not Mahinda Arahat.
Pronto alias PBJ from Ibbagamuwa has served him well.
So, Heigh ho Silver! And away to Iran for Loan Ranging.
I feel so sorry for our campus Loan Ranger now probably
attending to bed pans in a London Hospital. Those days loans had to be paid. ]
of the damned class
I was perspiring for a full ten seconds not unlike an
Ethiopian at the Olympic marathon finish line following a call from one of my
dear friends Molly last week. Picking myself up from the carpet to which I had
descended on hearing her news I took a long swill off the cup that cheers and
asked her to repeat herself. She immediately informed me with womanly hauteur
that she was a God fearing soul and eschewed such scientific arrogance as
cloning. I looked at her with a jaundiced eye at which point she jumped up and
down with a girlish enthusiasm I hadn’t seen since my days as a chorister in the
local church when the choir girls would twist their right ankle over their left
foot in a display of teenage heart fluttering at the cite of the shy young
Ma-hinder Raja-pakse has crossed over to the opposition
she announced, her eyes dancing with glee. I waved a fairly airy hand at her but
paused to ponder for a space. You may remind yourself here darling that I was
already on my third dry martini and had eaten a considerable number of stuffed
olives by this time. Surely could my darling Ma-hinder have felt so sick and
tired of the prices of milk and bandakka, and been so disgusted of the
way the blue ruling party was fighting the war and stuffing the members of one
family (no less than 130 of the good ole rellies at the last count) into every
nook and cranny like an old crone hiding her savings, that she had felt the urge
to cross the great divide.
The points in favour of anyone being disgusted with the
ruling blue chaps were numerous and compelling. But would a man who had invited
all his relatives from Medamulane on the one hand and from Beliatte and other
regions on the other for a Christmas party last year where he like a tanned and
moustachioed Santaclaus had doled out letters of appointment to his loved ones
from under a massive tree, abandon them now I was to ask myself.
If indeed as my fair friend Molly was wont to believe,
it was in fact you who had crossed over to the green camp and walked as your
daddy did across the floor to the other side, then you would have had to be
physically in parliament. Contrary to popular rumour I did not believe that you
had the ability like many of these ascetic chaps on the remote hills of India to
chant om shanti om and disassemble themselves somewhere and reassemble
the parts in good working order elsewhere.
Neither I noticed did the common or garden pedestrian
have to turn his back to the road nor the martyred Proletariat be confined to
small spaces while you were out and about.
Nor had my general factotum and aide about the house
told me as she lurked at my bedside to hand me my customary pick me up at dawn,
that anything startling had taken place. As she did on the morning of your
presentation of the budget, she did not run up to me panting like a chi wha wha
after her morning constitutional, and say, "hamu, trouble in the
junction. Don’t go to work; too much traffic and policekarayas all over."
When I switched on the telly however I was relieved to
find that it was not Ma-hinder Raja-party but Wijedasa Raja-party who had
crossed over. I may as well tell you dearie, I breathed a sigh of relief. It
will not do for the green chaps constituting as they are now to have you there
I mean to say darling dear ole Dilan Pee said it best —
did he not? — when he observed that the murderers and rapists are congregating
under a blue umbrella while decent chaps with a sense of social decorum and what
not are huddling themselves under a green umbrella. I myself have never broken
bread with Dilan m’dear, but I bet he is not a man who would pour his plain tea
into a saucer and slurp it down in one full swoop of his protruding lips.
Neither I suspect Wijedasa is a man to gird up his loins and descend on a patch
of mud in order to get some petty political mileage.
As for Rakneel m’dear Thellie has a fondness for the
classics and the finer things in life which always serves as a mollifying effect
on my general acerbity towards politicians. If you ask me, the crossing over of
those 17 green fellows was but an exorcism for the green camp.
Neither m’dear can I share your sunny confidence of
some chap running a website based in Sweden as per the recent newspaper
exposures. Darling my knowledge of Sweden extends only to a Swedish massage that
I sometimes indulge in at the local spa. Does wonders to a pain in the neck
dearie, try it. It is always the massage I ask for after seeing you on the telly.
I cannot of course say I do Swedish exercises of a
morning — it would make me sick before breakfast. Leave these excesses to the
Swedes is what I say.
And talking of excesses, that poop of the nincom
variety Dun-hinder Silva was seen only a moon or two ago dashing 800 coconuts at
the Modera Kovil against you and the blue ruling party in general. The fellow
was so keen to have all the curses of Kuveni rain down on the blue camp, that he
took his time spraying coconut water everywhere even preventing other devotees
from entering the Kovil.
But you know these gods and goddesses darling. Always
busy, busy, busy, with a thousand other curses and requests. Break her leg, make
him fail his exam, kill her father — you know the paradisians darling. A loving
and decent lot always doing a manthram for others.
And as for these gods dearie, tube lights if I may say
so. These curses don’t usually take effect until months later. After all they
are kept busy of an evening by you too eh? I cannot claim to be an expert on the
subject dear but has Dun-hinder brought down all his curses on himself by
crossing over to the blue camp last week?
M’dear I end by saying only this. Your budget is a
bally washout and even Thellie is not prepared to pay tax for the privilege of
bumping my tiny vehicle through a road of ruts and disaster. And given that 800
coconuts were wasted no wonder a coconut has sky rocketed to 40 rupees. So much
for Dun-hinder and his bally curses.
Tara for now.