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acts-of-faithNor did Mark. He had far too much to think of at the moment. He supervised the editing of the film himself, and just managed to get it done in time for his scheduled broadcast. He had to make a mad dash to get to the studios on time, but as it turned out this was all to the good for it gave to his performance an air of breathless urgency that all those who appreciated the seriousness of what he had to do agreed was totally warranted.

He started by apologising to viewers for inflicting yet another ministerial performance upon them, but the gravity of the situation and the near fatal attempt on the life of their leader and the integrity of the nation made it imperative that he crave their indulgence just once more. Only now, he went on, could it be conclusively revealed that, contrary to what Luke had told the nation, it was not the Leninist who was responsible for the attack. Nor had things happened as his dear friend and colleague Mathew had hinted, though at the time he spoke things were not quite clear so that he could not really be blamed for his error. No, it was not the President’s brother Dick who had made the attack, on behalf of MASH and MADAM as had been suggested. Indeed it was more than likely that MASH and MADAM were not involved at all, except insofar as they had been made tools of by the unscrupulous blackguard Luke, who had only masqueraded as a Muslim, when he was not one in spirit but only as it were in the flesh.

That it was Luke who was responsible should indeed have been clear to all those who had seen the President’s last words to him. At this point Mark’s image faded from the screen, and there appeared once more the scene of Tom’s valediction at the door of the breakfast room. Those moving words, ‘Et tu, Brute,’ Mark pointed out as he appeared once more, could only have been addressed to Luke. It was a regrettable fact that the President, albeit he was an Executive one, had taken Luke previously to his heart; and those words could only have been addressed to someone who had plunged a knife or a bomb into the bosom to which he had been clasped.

This could not have been the Leninist, with whom the President had had no intimate truck for years, if at all, nor could it have been Dick who was a brother rather than a friend. Besides, there were sound reasons to suggest that it was Luke who had brought the bomb into the house. After all it could not have been the Leninist, for he could not have got in without being searched, while if it was Dick he would have had no reason to let if off when the President was not present. Rather, Luke must have brought it in and arranged for it to go off at a moment when the President was usually in the room, but fortunately for the nation the President, being an Executive too, had taken Luke away to his study and thus escaped the force of the bomb. All this the President in his wisdom must have suspected, which explained his moving last words to Luke—and at this point Mark showed the episode once more on the screen—but being a scrupulous man, he had not wanted to make any clear accusation without solid evidence. It was this scrupulousness that had understandably enough misled Matthew; but things had worked out very well in the end, for what his Excellency had accomplished was to allow Luke enough rope with which to hang himself, an opportunity Luke had availed himself of eagerly with both grasping hands.

So that now he, Mark, was in a position to provide the nation with incontrovertible evidence about Luke’s iniquities. Acting on the instructions of the President, he had kept a careful watch on Luke and on his means of communication with the outside world. It had become clear almost at once, as indeed his dear friend and colleague Matthew had already revealed, that more money than was good for him or for the nation was coming into Luke’s disposal. But there were more serious things coming in too, as a message he had fortunately succeeded in intercepting indicated. At this point Mark displayed on the screen a copy of the Telex message that had been sent to Luke from Singapore. Then, to explain the message as he said to those who might not appreciate its significance, Mark also showed on the screen pictures of the characters who had been mentioned. He began with the Maoist and the Che Guevarist whose features had been heavily publicised recently on account of their having been proscribed, and then, after a not very flattering glimpse of Snow White, went on to the four Dwarfs who had also received some coverage as having forfeited their parliamentary seats because they had refused to take the oath of allegiance to Tom.

‘It was these traitors,’ Mark said, ‘who were coming in to see Luke, flying in under cover of night to finalize their dastardly plot.’ At this point Mark’s features faded into a shot of the helicopter hovering over Luke’s roof. Fortunately, Mark’s voice continued, as the scene progressed, he and the loyal armed forces of the nation were in waiting to witness and forestall the meeting. There appeared then a shot of Luke standing on the threshold of the helicopter as though to greet those inside, followed immediately by his dramatic demise. This was shown twice, the second time in slow motion, and then Mark drew attention to the appearance of Snow White and Doc from within the helicopter, looking for Luke. There followed the rapid assault upon the helicopter by the commandos, and then a slowly panned shot of the dead bodies in the interior.

Finally, to the same funeral music with which Luke had opened his speech that morning, Mark declared that the traitors had met their just deserts. He then showed the dramatic conflagration of the helicopter and its toppling over the edge, followed by a long shot over the darkness of the city and the peace and quiet that reigned in other directions. This melted into Mark’s face once more, as he declared that now, once again, thanks to the vigilance of their beloved President, still an Executive one despite the traumas he had undergone, all was quiet and peaceful and well again.

Mark accordingly called upon the populace to remain calm and do nothing untoward over the next few days. Despite Luke’s attempt to blame the Socialists and to use MASH and MADAM for his own purposes, it was clear that no one was to be blamed except for himself and those various traitors of multifarious political hues and from different communities, who had met with the fate they deserved. The very machine in which they had come to sow destruction had been destroyed absolutely with all of them on board.

Once the plot had been clearly uncovered, the President’s vengeance had been swift and sure. Now that everything had been settled, life could go back to normal. On behalf of their great leader, who had brought them safely through so much trial and tribulation, he counselled moderation and restraint from this triumphant moment forth.

Ceylon Today 4 Jan 2015 – https://www.ceylontoday.lk/96-81376-news-detail-cathartic.html

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