by Koom Kankesan
Rajapaksa and Gota fussed with their disguises in front of the mirror at the airport bathroom. Rajapaksa had shorn his head and wore a bright orange robe to look like a Buddhist monk. He had asked for a disguise that made him look like Caine from Kung-Fu but the robe reminded him of the time he had worked on The Dream of Dharmapala – how easier things had been then when he simply wanted to be a cinematic heartthrob and dramatic genius! Instead, he had become another kind of star, the leading actor in the new exciting drama known as Sri Lanka's Wars, Part IV: A New Hope. The progression of states and epochs in the island's bloody history were like lives lived, each phase as different from the other as if the island itself were going through reincarnations until it shook off its dire karma and emerged into the light of a brand new nirvana. A light that he, Rajapaksa, would usher in as its crowning Buddha.
Gota was dressed like Tupac Shakur. Rajapaksa sighed. What was wrong with his younger brother? He suspected it was nothing that medication could not fix. Even his ghostly father's spanking had not done the trick. If anything, Gota had become even more moody and sullen since that time, as if the spanking from the ghost of their father had reverted him to a sullen teenager, a child. He withdrew into his inner sanctum for hours on end or fed his sharks at his home compound and would entertain no visitors. Indeed, the ministers were hesitant to visit him there as he and his wife fed their 'children' slabs of raw meat which were eagerly consumed amongst rows and rows of teeth while a litany of swear words and four letter rants emitted from the living room speakers: Puff Daddy, Mase, Biggie Smalls, and of course, Gota's favourite, 2Pac.
In fact, Gota was wearing a 2Pac t-shirt right now, saying 'Thug Life' on it, a yellow FUBU jacket, Phillies baseball cap, retro Air Jordans, and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. Rajapaksa and Gota were dressed incognito and travelling passenger class, like peasants, to Scarborough. Scarborough was part of the Greater Toronto Area, the de facto capital of Canada, and was said to hold the greatest concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils outside Sri Lanka. It burned his pride that so many Tamils had escaped the scourge that he and the other Rajapaksas had visited on their country. Somehow, these bastards had survived and thrived, only amassing their hordes and secret fortunes so they could continue their wicked terrorist ways in the new world. Not if Rajapaksa could help it!
It was Basil, the idea man, who had come up with the idea for this trip. Rajapaksa had been morose of late with no outlet for his mighty and imperious energies. Tourism was booming in Sri Lanka. The country's star was rising in the pan-Asian basin. They had finally fired that troublesome woman editor at The Sunday Leader. The future looked as cloudless as Colombo's bright skies. It would take Detective Columbo himself to discover the buried skeletons in Colombo's history! Rajapaksa's poor wife bore the brunt of his excess energy but she gave as good as she got.
Canada was a peace loving and unsuspecting country. Like a fat turtle, it might be just the place a ferocious and ravenous lion such as himself could find his next meal. So he and Gota were off to Scarborough or Little Eelam as they liked to call it. Without a worthy opponent like Prabahkaran to sharpen his claws against, Rajapaksa worried that his considerable energies would decay and founder. A scouting mission was just what was called for. They would go to Little Eelam and see what was what. With any luck, this time next year, a host of Chengdu J-7 fighter planes, on loan from Hu Jintao and the Chinese, would be carpet bombing the Scarborough Towne Centre.
“Do you have the passports, brother?” asked Gota, making sure his untucked T-shirt was just perfect.
“You must call me Field Commander Rajapaksa while we're on this mission,” replied Rajapaksa.
“Fine. Then I want to called Gota Shakur.”
Rajapaksa sighed. Was there no one in his family, besides himself, who had inherited any sense?
7:55 a.m. Toronto time.
Gota and Rajapaksa got out of a cab on Markham Rd. in Scarborough, just north of the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway. They knew the offices to the Canadian Tamil Congress were around here. Pulling their small suitcases with wheels on them up the grassy bank, the two brothers looked for the office building on Milner Avenue. They were pointed towards a suite by some helpful but giggling office workers. Rajapaksa assumed that they had never seen a pious Buddhist before.
The brothers entered the suite but no one was there. Beside the abandoned reception desk was a large stuffed tiger, its whiskered face staring benignly at them. A framed photo of Prabahkaran, smiling during better days, looked down upon them from the wall.
Rajapaksa put two and two together. “It's a terrorist cell!” he cried.
The unexpected and sudden discovery scared his brother. His voice quivering, Gota tugged at the folds of Rajapaksa's robe. “Big brother, I'm scared!”
Rajapaksa used to hate it when Gota had done this as a kid. The boy would get scared of the dark and come to him for emotional succor. “Pull yourself together!” he hissed. “You're the secretary of defense! What would Tupac say?”
“Hai! hai! Hai!” came sounds from the basement.
“What are those sounds, big brother?” whispered Gota.
“Terrorists performing their terrorist rituals, obviously” declared Rajapaksa. “They're probably sacrificing a kitten. Let's go see...”
“But I'm scared,” reiterated Colombo's Secretary of Defense. Honestly, he was like Scooby Doo shaking and trembling before going into a haunted house! Would Rajapaksa have to pick him up and carry him down the stairs?
“Hai! Hai! Hai!” came the terrorists' chants, in unison, stripped of their individuality, brainwashed to obey and act like machines, their indoctrination audible through the simplicity and repetition of their cries.
Rajapaksa pushed open the door, trying to make it creak as little as possible. The brothers, by themselves, would have made the stairs buckle and groan. Together, it was all they could do to stop the pinewood stairs from splintering and collapsing. Luckily, their shifting steps were drowned out by the kathas and choreographed movements of a class of eight year old Tamil girls doing karate lessons before school.
Sensei Lakshman was the master of the dojo and he ran the class for girls. His mother and sister had been killed by a mortar blast during the heavy siege of their village in the early months of 2009. Sensei Lakshman had only lost his sight but his mother and younger sister had been killed. He bore an especially poignant hatred for Rajapaksa. Lakshman channelled it by teaching karate to little girls so they could defend themselves, so they would not become victims like his poor mother and sister. On especially maddening days, when the memories were most potent, he had the girls practice their roundhouse kicks on a punching bag with a black and white image of Rajapaksa's face taped to it.
Now, Sensei Lakshman may have been blind but his other senses were sharp. He acutely heard the bend and heave in the stairs as they took on their added load. Rajapaksa and his brother descended cautiously down the steps but Sensei Lakshman turned towards them and spotted their wheezing and smell as if Goebbels and Goring had walked into a Jewish deli, speaking German. The venerable sensei's blood boiled and war sirens started going off between his ears. He thrust an accusatory finger at the two intruders and yelled to his charges, “Attack!”
The eight year old girls stopped their kathas and turned around in slow motion. Their little black terry cloth karate robes billowed and swooped around their swivelling bodies. The ends of their belts slapped against their lengthy ponytails. They recognized the three dimensional likeness of the face they had been practicing upon. Without question or hesitation, the class of eight year old Tamil girls leapt forward and aimed their roundhouses at Gota and Rajapaksa. A flurry of honed, driven eight year old feet slapped the two brothers' faces, bellies, and thighs. It was like being stung by a hornet's nest.
“Retreat! Retreat!” cried Field Commander Rajapaksa and the two brothers scurried up the steps, the pine groaning and moaning, and stumbled out of the office as the swarm of young hornets chased them across the parking lot.
Their suitcases long abandoned behind them, the priest and rap enthusiast hurried down the grassy knoll and tried to flag a cab.
“Hai, hai, hai!” the cries of the eight year old karate students pursued them, promising imminent destruction and a world of pain.
“Let's split up, bro!” panted Gota. He took some sachets of bubble gum he had in his FUBU jacket's pocket and threw them in the air. The gum scattered as it fell to the ground and the little hornets stopped to pick up the sweet sweet sugar. Gota had a natural instinct for eluding Tamils and Rajapaksa realized it had not diminished in the intervening years.
“Okay, you're right – they won't be able to pursue us both,” he wheezed. “What are you going to do?”
“I'll take a bus,” replied Gota and ran after a red and white TTC bus which slowed at a nearby stop. “Good luck, bro!”
Rajapaksa picked up the folds of his robe and began running again. He saw a large SUV stop at the red light across the street and ran for it. A large burly man sat in the front seat, texting furiously while others honked their horns around him. The girls came sprinting to the intersection but the light had changed against them. Having been taught about observing crossing lights and to guard themselves against 'stranger danger,' they opted not to run through traffic.
Grabbing the door of the SUV and pulling it open, Rajapaksa jumped inside. “Go, go!” he yelled, “I'll pay you anything! Just get me out of here!”
The burly man stopped texting and turned around, twisting his lips in surprise and alarm. The straw blond spikes in his crew cut seemed to jump up in alarm from his head. “Why? What's going on? Is it the goddamned press?”
To continue ... and to see who this "burly man" with blond spikes is please go to Koom Kankesan's website at koomkankesan. You may also order the book by clicking on the cover of the book featured in the right column of the blog. above.