The Fifth Column

21st December 1997

Lucky and the unlucky

The Lord of Lanka called his Secretary. “Have they come?” the Lord asked.

“Yes,” the Secretary said, “all three applicants for the post are here, and the General and the Moo also called, to find out why they were not called for the interview.”

“Tell the General,” the Lord advised, “that the Queen has vetoed his application. As for the Moo, you can ignore him. And send the first applicant in.”

“And you would be?”

“I’m the thin Lucky”.

“I’d say the Lucky with the lean and hungry look and what are your qualifications?”

“Well, what aren’t my qualifications? A brilliant academic career, Rhodes scholar, Professor of Law, Vice-Chancellor....” Thin Lucky paused to purse his lips.

“And in politics?”

“Why, Finance, Justice, Constitutional Reform....”

“But,” the Lord said, “the economy is down, prisoners are fasting to death and the package is dead....”

“That’s not my fault,” thin Lucky said, “the average person does not have the intellectual sagacity to comprehend the potential of the vision I have for my nation....”

“I don’t understand what you are saying,” the Lord said.

“Most people don’t,” thin Lucky agreed, “and that’s to my advantage....”

“But a PM should be able to talk to the people....”

“The problem with most politicians is that people do understand what they say. With me they won’t have that problem....”

“But,” the Lord asked, “will your colleagues support you?”

“Why not? only last week, I used the money saved by stopping a salary increase for government servants to increase the allownces for Provincial Councillors....”

“Ah,” said the Lord, “then we’ll let you know if you are chosen....”

Thin Lucky pursed his lips and left. Lawyer Lucky entered.

“And what,” the Lord asked, “are your qualifications?”

“Lawyer, President’s Counsel and President of the Oxford Union....”

“I don’t like this Oxford business,” the Lord said “everyone who goes to Oxford and takes to politics dies tragically. See what happened to SWRD, Lalith and even young Chanaka....”

“But,” Lawyer Lucky said, “I could be the first minority PM. We can tell the world that we have been fair by the minorities....”

“But,” the Lord asked, “what will the Mahanayakes say?”

“If we don’t heed their advice on the package, why should we bother about this?”

“But why do you think you are the man for the job?”

“How many people in the Cabinet can have a decent conversation with Madeline Albright?” Lawyer Lucky retorted.

“I’m sure SB and the Moo will find that difficult,” the Lord agreed, “but we’ll call you if we need you...”.

The last candidate was short Lucky. The Lord was surprised, “what are you doing here?” The Lord asked, “I thought you had retired....”

“No,” said short Lucky shyly . “I’m supposed to be the compromise choice....”

“But,” do you think you can handle this job?”

“Why can’t I?” short Lucky asked, “they said it was a peon’s job.”

“And your qualifications?”

“I’ve always been the loyal faithful, I replaced the Queen in the House even when she lost her civic rights....”

“But, compared to the others....” the Lord interrupted.

“Ah, but why not me? See what a success Dearly Beloved was but when he was first appointed, they all laughed at him....”

“I suppose,” the Lord conceded, “if Dearly Beloved would do the job, then anybody could....”

“And,” short Lucky said, “I’m already handling Cultural Affairs, so the Mahanayakes will welcome my appointment....”

“Ah anyway,” the Lord said, “well let you know soon....”

Short Lucky smiled hopefuly and left.

The interviews were over, the Lord called the Queen.

“Madam,” the Lord asked, “the three Luckys all want your job, what am I to do?”

The Queen chuckled, “so they think they can get my job. Don’t worry I just asked you to have the interviews to see what would happen....”

“Then,” the Lord asked, “I need not choose anybody?”

“Of course not,” the Queen said, “not when I’m still around....”

“And do I tell three Luckys that?”

“Of course,” the Queen chuckled again, “let them believe that they will get the job. That way, they will all be loyal to Satellite. It’s an old trick. I also learnt it from the Old Fox....”

“And the General?”

“Ah, the General,” the Queen said , “you can tell him that he won’t get the job anyway. And if I have my way, I’ll make him a Colonel once again....”

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