Freedom or Independence?

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By 2018-02-11

By Priyangwada Perera

"Amma, this is terrible. We were trying to take down the national flag we put up for Independence Day but ayya is ordering me about so much, as if I am his slave. I want independence," little Dimuth complained loudly. The next thing the mother heard was Vimuth laughing out loud. "Malli wants Independence? What do you mean? For your information, Malli, you, I and all of us Sri Lankans are independent and in fact Sri Lanka just celebrated 70 years of Independence. That was what the flag was for."

Dimuth's face got clouded. It is so horrid to be the youngest in the family. How easy it is for the big ones to always give orders. 'Do this! Come here! Don't take it! Bring it here! What do they think of themselves?" The more Dimuth thought of this injustice, the darker his face became. He explained to his mother of this. "Amma, can't you see how hard it is for me with ayya. All the time he gives me orders. He does not request but orders. So, am I unfair to demand independence? Sri Lanka got independent 70 years ago. Today, I want the same."

Their mother, who was smiling before, understood her youngest son's situation. Even though she laughed at the use of the word, she understood what had gone wrong. More or less, what her little son wants the same thing that long ago Sri Lankans wanted and fought for. Today, instead of the Sri Lankan heroes, here is a little rebel rising up. She knew she had to explain this to her son.

"Come here Dimuth, let me explain. In 1948 Sri Lanka was released from being under the British rule. Till then, we were under the British queen and we were a colony of Great Britain. At that time, Great Britain had many such countries including India, as one of their colonies. We were governed by British rulers or the Queen and not by any Sri Lankan. The British had the power and authority to decide things for us. They decided what we did and how we lived. They laid down the rules. We had to obey and follow those rules and regulations. Because we were a British Colony, Ceylon as we were called at that time was never recognized as an independent nation. We cannot be independent if our lives are decided by someone else. It is not that we chose to be under the British rule. They fought with us, killed our heroes and took our country to be under their power. Ceylon could not function as an independent nation.

That means we had to be dependent on Great Britain. They made all the decisions for us. That is more political with a lot of rules, regulations and demands. We had to look up to them, the British Royals as our leaders and salute them and honour them. That was because; they had taken over our rule. Citizens of Sri Lanka were under the British Queen. Then we could not function as an independent country. In 1948, everything was changed. We became 'Independent'".

Both Dimuth and Vimuth listened earnestly. Since it was more important to Dimuth, he was even more interested. Dimuth was still furious at the fact that his brother found Dimuth to be a joke. At Dimuth's expense, Vimuth enjoyed such a good laugh. As the tension was visibly lessened in Vimuth, their mother went on to add something more. "But, we should not laugh at the little change of word by our darling Dimuth. It is no wonder that you got it mixed up. When we lost our independence, when we became a colony that was run by the British rule, we definitely lost our 'freedom' as a nation. It can happen to any nation that is taken over by another more powerful nation. When you are not independent, the first thing we lose is freedom." This bit of the explanation made Dimuth smile a little. "Then I was not totally wrong," he said. "Well, you weren't. But the way you accused ayya, it is more correct to say that because of ayya you have lost your freedom," she said kindly. Ayya was absolutely displeased to hear that. "Come on Dimuth. Don't be a fool. Have I ever treated you like a slave? You cannot compare this with our national freedom. You are such a drama queen," went on Vimuth with half a smile on his face.

"Now, boys, let me tell you something. When your father comes home in a short while and if he is to see that you have only been arguing with each other on freedom and independence, you might lose some of your 'evening-freedom' for real." With that warning the boys remembered they may not have the freedom to watch their favourite television programme if their father finds out they have not done their homework. "Oh, good that you reminded us," said Vimuth and got up. But the more witty Vimuth had to chip in. "It still shows we are not free, are we? Free from British rule, yes... but not from Thaththa's rule," he said with a sad smile and sat down to do his homework.

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