The International Writers Magazine: Life Fiction - From Our Archives
The Honest Politician
Jude C Perera
Banu winced, embarrassment could also cause tangible pain, he knew now. His young protégé was digging her grave quite busily and excitedly. She had obviously taken his advice from one ear and had spat it out from the other, in one seamless motion. The tropical sun roasted him from its apex and flooded his armpits with unwelcome sweat; the only relief came from a cool breeze that skimmed over the Indian Ocean.
Perhaps she didn’t have it, perhaps one had to be born with it. He concluded that it had to be inborn. Her father had perfected it, and her grandfather had perhaps passed the gene. The art of structured lying. Sarah Vidanewila; she had changed her first name since returning from Sydney, hailed from a political dynasty that had earned great wealth at the expense of the masses. They were “nobodies” who had progressed into “somebodies” almost overnight. They had bled their third world island nation with loads of empty promises and funnily enough had been elected and reelected by a grateful polity.
Perhaps there were no viable alternatives; perhaps an innocent glitch at the count; but even Banu was moved by this outpouring. They were men who had held and were enjoying powerful portfolios and her father Cyril Vidanewila had hired Banu, the king maker, political mentor cum advisor, to groom his daughter. Banu had earned a reputation as a professional who was well versed in inducting new recruits into the hall of easy fame and fortune. Basically he had had the hard job of teaching his young charges to dispense deception and falsity with a natural flair and grace. He had boasted one prime minister and a president on his resume, but could never recall their names when asked. He had always come out on top, but he might have had hit a snag with Sarah. He felt it in the guts and naturally felt some guilt, he had learnt the basics from her father, the honorable minister for Fisheries and Coastal Development. A vulgar Tsunami had destroyed his life’s work and compelled him to extend his stay in order to fulfill his electoral pledges. He would die than betray his word. But the time had come when some believed he had overstayed and were bold enough to whisper it in the open.
She had been truly corrupted in Australia and had openly spoken of democracy and the need for change when she stormed back home. Her father had threatened to disown her.
‘We’ve always enjoyed democracy since independence, what the hell are you talking about?'
He had brought the roof down with his common sense and Banu could only agree. They’ve always had democracy, the repeated government of many by a few for the few. Perhaps an aberration of the original, but he agreed that some principles were still extant like the government bit. And he was also bemused by the fact that the mansion she had lived in all her life was a return on the investment her father had made in this very version of democracy, not in the least unsupported by her grandfather. An investment perpetuated with lies, sweat, and lies.
Her sultry pitch rose above the crash of the waves, he wanted to shut it out. She was in the last week of her campaign trail for her father’s job and according to the media it was as if she was never there. Sarah was stunning from head to toe, he gave her that, with dark luring eyes and a squeeze of a waist, she could pout with her lips and belly ring at her choosing. Sarah always attracted a throng of enthusiasts, mostly of the opposite sex and caught in the hormonal drifts of youth. But Banu knew they would gape at her and vote for her rival despite the daringly low neckline and an elevated saree hem, which exposed plenty of slender ankle mounted on flashy red stilettos hot off the shelves in Melbourne.
She was likely to discard her shoes after this, what with all the sand that had snucked in. He had warned her of this as well.
She was stressing the need to preserve the coral reef for posterity, to allow those tiny coral polyps to do their construction work in peace. The Great Barrier Reef had apparently inspired her agenda. It was comical too as she fumbled or pretended to, with their local dialect, like a foreigner. Banu wanted to switch off, but some sick fascination held him fast. Now anger had overcome embarrassment and he had an overbearing impulse to do the unthinkable and give up. Just walk out. She had happily moved on from marine biology to shoreline conservation, the onlookers still looked happy; to look on and not to listen it seemed. They didn’t know or care, they just wanted schools and teachers so they could learn to care. Arun, her impassioned and awfully talented rival had promised them just that the day before.
He was Banu’s benchmark for all his aspirants; the guy could bawl his heart out when absolutely happy. Banu’s spies had reported a mass human wall that blocked the sea and had complained that the applause had lasted an entire ten minutes. He had carefully screened this information from her, now he wished he hadn’t. Scattered applause mingled with a bold boo; spiced with some lewd whistling broke his disturbing musings. The sun should have hopped off its high mount, but Banu was still feeling its sting, it made him long for his expensive Old Spice Endurance straight from Down Under.
‘How is it Banu, I think I get them, don’t ya reckon, I am sorry mate, you know I can’t lie’
It startled him. She spoke in broken English made worse by a bastardized accent fashioned over a significant spell overseas, a matter of four years. Those dark eyes had widened with expectancy. He had no sympathy for her attempted suicide.
‘You were spot on miss Sarah; you did better than my own script. We have nailed them.’ Banu lied in perfect English. He knew she had only nailed her own political coffin; he had to know after two decades in the business.
But it was too blatant; even for his own liberal tastes.
‘But apparently Arun pulled massive crowds yesterday, but don’t worry we can perhaps switch to plan B if all else fails.’
It was still a mitigated lie; he knew that the only option left was plan B.
He could only smile as Sarah flashed back her warning smile. ‘But don’t try any funny business ok?'
‘No of course not miss’.
Banu sighed and gave up.
It was a massacre, a rout. The crackers disturbed the peaceful voters the whole night and well into the following day. Cyril Vidanewila was responsible for this expensive racket; he was celebrating his departure from political office after just fifteen humble years; with a grand flourish, and the appointment of his daughter to that respected office. She had won with a staggering margin; as if uncontested, which was exactly the case. Arun had been incapacitated in an unfortunate accident on his way back from a meeting and had withdrawn his nomination just hours before the ballot. Assault was suspected but was discarded, as the victim had not volunteered a statement.
Sarah Vidanewila had gone into shock; and was still reeling; it hadn’t affected Banu. Her father lay spread on the floor, comatose. The party house was buried in crushed decorations and the stench of vomit from exhumed liquor.
‘Was this Plan B Banu?'
Sarah shot without warning; he avoided her gaze. But recovered quickly and looked up, and was immediately happy he did. There was clear gratitude and even tenderness in those dark eyes.
‘Not at all Miss.’
He whispered with a silent authority that could only spring from professional maturity.
Banu sighed with the contentment of a successful tutor; his pupil would not be lost after all.
© Jude C. Perera July 2012
gogo72au at yahoo.com.au
Jude’s other fiction publishing credits include; My Mom and My Niece – Hackwriters, It’s a glorious day - fiction 365, Redemption and I don’t love my dolls anymore - The Fringe magazine and Tough Luck.
More life moments
His travel narratives have been featured on the international online travel magazine Travelmag –
Touchdown In Colombo (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=4681)
Monuments and Sarees – A Tour of North India (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=5721)
Too Close To Elephants in a Sri Lankan Forest (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=6256)