Dear Sri Lanka,

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For an incredibly long time now, we’ve had to deal with crisis after crisis. We have been struggling hard to get about our day because the lack of basic goods and services are inextricably linked to each other.

By way of illustration, when there was no electricity, there was no way to get food. No gas, means food cannot be prepared or heated on the stove and the food in the fridge cannot be microwaved. The data signal fluctuates when the electricity goes off, so even ordering in becomes difficult. And even if that miracle signal does show up with an opportunity to get to the delivery-app at snail pace, there are no riders to make the deliveries. Then you try contacting them the old-fashioned way, by calling them directly but only to be told that they too don’t have electricity. Next option, walk up the road and try getting food, there are no street lights too walk in safety, no tuks in sight, and even if you finally get one just to make it to the main road not too far away, they charge twice the usual amount. And this is just one in a hundred million other problems we’ve had to endure at varying degrees of catastrophe.

Then we are shown ‘saviour’ after ‘saviour’ on the political front, assuring us that the times although difficult, will get better. And whenever we think the worst is behind us, something more dramatic happens.

Fuel queues for months filled roads with vehicles lined up endlessly, sometimes extending from one zip code to another because people either didn’t want to let their spots go in hope or they didn’t have enough to go back home. Public transport too was at an impasse, which meant the education sector again had to bear the brunt of the crises – because long days of power cuts gave no opportunity for even the almost unproductive zoom classes to take place. Then when we eventually saw the fuel lines ease up and the sales of bicycles drop sharply with the introduction of the QR system to get fuel, another ball drops for the public, who at this point are really questioning why they even made it past the worst of COVID-19 to see this.

Now they say the electricity tariffs on average will increased by 75 per cent! For mistakes they made, for losses they didn’t rectify in time, we have to pay the cost. While respective organisations are overstaffed and overpaid (apparently for doing their job wrong and right), and strike as and when the please, we somehow have to pay the price both figuratively and metaphorically. And you know what’s worse than not having electricity? Having electricity and not being able to use it.

The former Central Bank Governor’s response to a question posed by the US news station CNBC a few months ago is fondly remembered, where he implied that though the city is in absolute darkness due to power outages, the, “Neon signs,” in Colombo doesn’t fail the city. Meaning, power outages cannot be that bad as long as even one sign board is all that lights up the city. That and may be the statue of Dr. N.M. Perera at the Ayurveda Junction who’s former gold monument appears to have been bathed in three or more coats of hot pink paint, illuminating like a flashlight and popping out like a sore neon thumb even in the dead of the night.

Point is, when they present ‘relief’ in ten-folds, then they up the stress by thousand-folds. Needless to say they, they don’t mind burdening us with these costs because we have no option but just bite the bullet every time they pull the trigger.

Sincerely,

Suck and struck

By Dilshani Palugaswewa