I was sworn in as a Minister


I woke up to the ringing of both my cell phone and my landline. On one line was President Maithiripala Sirisena and on the other was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. I had no choice but to speak to both of them at the same time without any cross connections. They didn't mind, too, because their sole purpose was to form a joint, coalition, national, whatever government. When I spoke to Maithripala, Ranil listened attentively and vice versa. There were no secrets here at all, after all, it is they who called me at the same time. Maithri said, "Mey, Bandula, Amathi Kamak ganna Janadadhipathi Karyalayata Enawada?" (Could you please come to the Presidential Secretariat to be appointed as Minister) My response was: "How could I accept such positions? I didn't even contest and my name is not on the National List" Maithri said, "Aiyo oka Mokkadda. Sulu Deyak ne. Mata Beri Geheniyek Pirimieyk Korannai, Pirimieyk Geheniyek Korannai." (Oh, it’s a very simple thing. What I cannot do is to make a woman and man or man a woman.) For a moment, I thought I was speaking to the old fox JRJ. Then Ranil shouted from the other phone.

"My uncle is dead as you know. Yes. He can do it for you. Don’t forget my uncle JR offered a ‘Darmishta Society (Righteous Society) and Maithri has offered a ‘Maithri Palanayak" (Compassionate Rule) Take it old chap. Take it" I was a bit puzzled. I thought Ranil was appointing only those who had been to his old school to the Cabinet. ‘Why me?’ I thought. I had my schooling in Kandy. Maybe he wanted to make a real change I thought since he would have thought "I must make my failures pillars of success." Then, they both started shouting which even hurt my ear drums. They both said, "Enawa Neda Ada? (Are you coming no today)?" This was no easy task and they were offering me a Ministry and I didn't even know what they had in their minds. I had never asked for anything. For a moment I thought a friend may have made an appeal on my behalf. But, again why me? Why me? What have I done to deserve this honour. I decided to make some calls to find out before saying "Ok OK. I will be there (hari, hari Mama Ennam)." I first called my friend RK Radhakrishnan former Hindu Correspondent in Sri Lanka. I asked " RK, did you by any chance ask Modi to speak to Ranil and Maithri and to make me a minister in the new government" "Are you joking, Bandula? Why should I do that to you and put you in trouble?" RK responded.

Then I called Devinda Subasinghe, a former Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Washington.

"Devinda, did you meet Obama and ask him to speak to Maithri and Ranil to offer me a position in the new cabinet?" An irritated Devinda shot back, "Why should I ask you on your behalf? I would have asked them to make me a Minister instead of you!" I then made a conference call to our Ambassador to Washington Prasad Kariyawasam, former Ambassador Jaliya Wickremasuriya and Sajin Vass Gunewardane in the Remand Prison.

"Did you by any chance ask one of those lobby groups to have me appointed a minister? All three of them said they didn't know anything at all and that I would have to pay for the collect call to Washington and to Welikada. I was wondering how I could find the reason why both Maithri and Ranil offered me a Cabinet portfolio. Even they called me at the same time. For a moment I suspected Nisha Biswal to be behind this offer or even the new Cowboy cum Red Indian representing Uncle Same in Sri Lanka young Atul. But, he hasn't even met me. I doubt even if he had seen my tweets. Can’t be the bosses of Coca Cola because I only drink Elephant House Ginger Beer and they cannot be pleased with that. I made calls to my media colleagues. They didn't know either but, they all asked me

"Apitath Berida Minister Kenek wanna. Check karala balanna" (Can’t we also become ministers. Can you check for us?) The German Sheppard next door, Pluto, barked and even stared at me because I was walking up and down and disturbing his afternoon nap. But, I, the Street Walker was in such a disturbed situation and didn't mind disturbing anyone before the swearing in ceremony in the evening. I had never faced such a dilemma in my humble life so far. I started having nightmares in the afternoon with Old Comrade Vasu saying, Don’t accept anything!’ and Weerawansa shouting, "Ganna Epa. Ganna Epa." DEW and Tissa Vitharana said, j"Just give it to us. We are very senior and what do you know about politics?" Champika said, " Oka Ganna Bandu." Faizer Musthapha said, "Take it, take it. I will teach you the ropes."

Mangala said it was all about good governance. "You should be brave enough to accept. This is the way we do things. In style.

I was under pressure. How could I say no to the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. I ran to the laundry and borrowed a national dress and a coat for my meetings with Maithri and Ranil respectively. Double deal! And I went President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka were expecting me. They even had both trumpets and a papare band to welcome me.

I was sworn in as the Minister of Nothing To Do of the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka!

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