John too had a very difficult time during these three momentous days. Though on the Monday morning he had declared a holiday and left his office and sought shelter with Tom, he heard later on in the day that a throng of irate entrepreneurs had stormed the Ministry in the afternoon and, finding only watchers there, slaughtered them regardless of race and religion and then set fire to the building. In the afternoon too there had been a concerted attack on his house, though as it happened the armed forces specially stationed there had been able to disperse it, with a few well-timed shots, not all of them into the air. His family had been almost hysterical at these developments, and his eldest daughter who had been sent home, but who still for some reason cherished a fondness for her erstwhile husband who had become a Muslim and divorced her, belaboured John for not having become a Muslim as well. It seemed to her evident after Luke’s speech that all those who were not Muslims would be suspected of being Socialists.
Shortly after the attacks, both from outside and indoors, had subsided, there came Matthew’s performance on television. This roused John’s daughter to a further onslaught on him, this time because he belonged to a government that was intent on persecuting the minorities, and especially businessmen who had never harmed anyone but only made money of which the government was showing itself indecently jealous. She was not the only one to adopt this line. Lily had decided that the time was ripe to put into operation her plan for weaning John away from the government, and she rang him up and said the same sort of thing, and much more logically too. So did several of her friends. Mark’s speech later on in the evening, that detailed Luke’s iniquities but also showed the destruction of all the less radical Tamil politicians, at least one of them an indubitable aristocrat whatever the standard used, only added fuel to their arguments.
They claimed that Luke was the only member of the cabinet who had made clear his support for the prosperous and had attempted to destroy the Socialists. The name that had been imposed on the land, as well as John’s recent regrettable monetary measures, indicated that the government was opposed to Luke’s laudable policies, and Matthew’s speech showed that this was for racist reasons. Mark’s performance had simply proved that, as he himself had claimed earlier, there was a conspiracy of Socialists and Sinhala Brahmins to destroy the fundamentals of decent existence. The irony was that it was the government itself that had launched the conspiracy; and with superb cynicism they flaunted the destruction of all those who did not conform to their requirements, Muslims and Tamils and Sinhalese who were not Brahmins. John did attempt to point out that several Socialists had died as well, but the reply, which only took a moment or two to come, was that these were all Marxists, and he was singularly dense if he could not recognize that what was being advocated and established was National Socialism.
John did not spend a sleepless night only because he took a large dose of vallium. He was quite groggy when he was woken up soon after dawn with the news of the immolation of his son-in-law. If his daughter had been upsetting before, she was almost dangerous now, and had indeed to be sedated. This brought little relief to John because the rest of his family, his wife and his mother-in-law and his other three daughters, kept up the attack. They were even more fierce when news come through that John’s son-in-law’s industrial establishment, which should by rights have now come into the family, had had its name changed in the new found enthusiasm of the converted to one that asserted its Muslim identity, and had during the previous night been razed completely to the ground. Continue reading