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Kadirgamar was no monkfish

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There are no monk fish in the ocean around Sri Lanka. Chandima Uncle revealed this to me. A far relative, mail processor, sea lover and fish fact finder, he often took me on sea rides when I visited Tangalle during vacations. He took me for sea baths every morning. With him, every sea ride was different from another. Different stories. Different games. Different swimming lessons. He was a childhood playmate and even beyond. He fed, read stories and took care of me in every possible way. When he lay on the mattress, I’d nudge him to lie flat on his stomach so that I can walk up and down his back like a tight rope walker. They are the earliest memories of him.

A few weeks ago, a conversation on politics and peace reminded me of Lakshaman Kadirgamar. Often discussed. And honored. No need of new intros for him. One raised his voice and said “We lost one of the most needed men. This country is unfortunate”. Fortunate or not is the question. We are fortunate. We fought terrorism. Roads we travelled both cheering and having hope. But there is a country within us, an elusive and divided place what we call home. Still. The monk fish comment was remembered, in a universe I knew where arrogance and humility intersected.

Monk fish only live deep down the Atlantic Ocean. All the way from St. Lawrence Gulf to North Carolina. They are opportunistic feeders. They eat pretty much anything that comes their way, including soda cans and trash.

But we do have monkfish. Surely. We do have enough of those who are only there to make themselves rich and fat out of anything that comes their way. If there is money to be made anywhere in town, they would not miss the opportunity. But Lakshman Kadirgamar was no monkfish. Kadirgamar was different. He didn't pursue opportunities that came his way. He was a visionary leader like Gandhi and Bose. There was only one notion in his head when he entered Politics; to prevent his country from terrorism. He was a person of rare caliber. Of course he knew what was wrong, where it was wrong and how to overcome obstacles. Fighting is easy as long as one is equipped with arms. But bringing people together is harder, sometimes impossible. It is not just about having guns and bombs to defeat enemy. It has to come by through the acceptance of people as a whole. It should be an amicable agreement between Sinhalese and Tamils or the majority or the minority. It must be enshrined in the hearts of people. Yes, in the hearts. Kadirgamar was right.

A Tamil , Foreign Minister and Senior Adviser to the President on International Affairs, Kadirgamar wanted to tell the world that Sri Lanka is more than tea and tourism. Being a Tamil he didn't manipulate his own ends to favor the Tamil community. Nor did he become rich on the Eelam war against Tamil Tigers. Instead he attempted to reform the existing structure into a more pluralistic one. Having been made an important minister in the PA/ UPFA cabinet, he showed he was beyond small mindedness. He represented every Sri Lankan. His carefully cultivated character illustrated Buddhist leanings too. This was especially when he requested UN to consider Vesak as an international holiday. Surely it was a something Kadirgamar undertook for the country. He strove hard to preserve unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity and helped to ban terrorism in US and elsewhere.

It's even interesting to see that his life achievements didn't come from the north. They were mostly from overseas. He was far from his own community but still loved the Tamils. I was told sometime back that he was laid to rest according to Buddhist rites.

Whatever he was it all shows that Kadirgamar wasn't uncomfortable with the Sinhalese or Tamils. All he hoped was that the Tamils will accommodate the Sinhalese.

There is just one tear. A brush of my hand will wipe it off. People leave. Good people leave early. Have we learned a lesson? Is there anything to learn? Should we learn? I don't know. Maybe we know what ought to be done. It's just that we are caught in our egos and do not want to give a damn.
This morning a Facebook post reminded of Kadirgamar.

It's been six years since the bombs and bullets were destroyed. Yet we have fractioned ourselves. We have bayyas, toiyyas, UNPers, SLFPers, thambis, Sinhalese, eelamese, southerners, udarata, pahatharata, colombians, kuddos , yahapalana fellows , those who hide files , take out files and all kinds.
Now where are the Sri Lankans?
We have thrown the pearl away.




 A statue of Lakshman Kadirgamar

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