Hobson’s choice or “Homben Yana” Choice?

5 April 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Way back in the 16th century, there lived a man in Cambridge, England by the name of Thomas Hobson. He rented and sold horses and was the proud owner of a stable that had 40 stallions of all breeds. Anyone who wanted to rent a horse from him to ride the paddock or journey into the far horizon, paid money but was not allowed to select the horse. 


  • People were forced back to the ‘Homben Yana’ syndrome
  • IN-power is innocent as lily-white, OUT-power is darker than the devil himself!
  • electing a President to rule us for another six years would be a most daunting task for the voters
  • SL struggled to find answers to the ever-multiplying woes its leadership brought upon its suffering masses

The ‘wanna be’ rider had only one choice. He had to take the horse that was in the stall nearest to the door. It was a simple matter of either ‘take it or leave it.’ When the word spread about this, it became known among possible horse renters that what they got was ‘Hobson’s Choice’.   

Yet, they had one guarantee. The Hobson customer always got a horse to ride.  

Now let me take you to the “Homben Yana” choice segment of my story. Of course, we don’t have a Thomas Hobson and 40 horses locked up in a fancy stable. What we, the sons and daughters of Sri Lanka have for choices, is the one and only Diyawanna Oya! Instead of 40 steeds, we have at least 40 thieves, like in the Ali Baba fable. Oh no! we are certainly not going to get stallions to ride into the glorious sunset simply because we voted sensibly! What we are assured of is yet another term of languishing in the Homben Yana status of our current existence. Whatever political choices we make, we end up with our chin shoved to the ground, that is what I mean when I said “Homben Yana.”   

Presidential Elections came in 2015 and Diyawanna Oya changed colours. The winners had a Clarion Call that reverberated ‘corruption’ in flashing neon

Sri Lankans stood up proudly and faced the new world with hopes running high when we received our independence from the Colonial Masters in 1948. Yes, we were a united people of an independent paradise isle. But, from then on, it has been a slow slide, as the average Sri Lankan struggled to find answers to the ever-multiplying woes the country’s leadership brought upon its eternally suffering citizens. 

Let’s look at the recent past, the 21st century, the ethnic war was in full swing when the new millennium dawned in the year 2000. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the 30-year old carnage ended in 2009 in Nandhikkadal. That entire story is best left in the past; too many people from all races and all religions suffered when unmarked graves or mounds of earth carried the victims of the miserable war. Then came the hope of peace, along with the blessed promise of prosperity. Things did change, less for some, more for others, but things did change for the better. But, unfortunately this euphoria didn’t last long. People were forced back to the ‘Homben Yana’ syndrome. Undoubtedly, the minorities got most of the flak.  

Presidential Elections came in 2015 and Diyawanna Oya changed colours. The winners had a Clarion Call that reverberated ‘corruption, corruption, corruption’ in flashing neon. Nepotism and power-abuse were also added to the sin-list along with other misdeeds with which the winners branded the defeated. New hopes began to sprout out and the Homben Giya proletariat slowly rose to their feet pleading that the new brooms sweep Lanka clean.  

A bright and beautiful life filled with marsh-mallow dreams was offered to the masses by the new coalition regime occupying Diyawanna Oya. We, the Homben Yana population of Lanka came out of the blocks like Olympic sprinters, full of vim and vigour. New appointments were made to bring justice to the fore. This committee and that commission went into action to crucify the culprits who supposedly stole from our national wealth. Yes, they erected the cross and brought in the nails and the hammer, but alas! There was no one to crucify. A lot of noise was made, but the brooms didn’t sweep at all. I only read in the papers the likes of a school principal who was sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment for taking a bribe of Rs.150,000 to admit a child to her school!   

We can leave all that for now and take a time out to give a rousing cheer to 007 who came from Singapore. Of course, he had friends and that too in the right places. So, he did what he wanted to do and high-tailed it to Singapore, and perhaps, as I write, is sipping a chilled Margarita sitting on a wicker chair in the prestigious Raffle’s Hotel. And we who have lost Rs.11 billion (could be much more - I don’t know) are back in the Homben Yana status while helplessly despising Diyawanna Oya for its unbelievable tomfoolery! There goes a pompous fairy-tale, if ever there was one.   

The country’s future does look fractured and bleak. The front pages of the newspapers filled with political Tug-o-wars where there are serious doubts on who’s pulling for whom

In the current state of the country, the future does look fractured and bleak. The front pages of the daily newspapers are always filled with political Tug-o-wars where there are serious doubts on who’s pulling for whom. The fact remains that it’s impossible to figure out who’s on whose side and how sincere their allegiances are. Of course, there could be a thief or more who is pulling nothing while pretending a ‘full dum’ action on the rope. This sure is a shambolic sambol we face as spectators or should I say Homben Yana people [?] of the current political drama, wondering from which way the wind is blowing and in whose favour? Yet in some perverted way it is rather interesting too, watching the trapeze artistes of the Diayawanna Circus doing their dare-devil performances. They swing from side to side and find safe footholds to shine prominently again under different Godfathers promising different dreams. With three elections on the cards there’s sure to be some excitement for the Homben Yana masses, yes, you and I are the ones who are still waiting for manna to fall from heaven.   

For a start, we need newly-elected Provincial and Parliamentary Ministers. We saw the recent local elections. It was peaceful and for that we must be thankful. But the aftermath was the grand show; a free-for-all on the evening TV screens, where the vulgarity of language and the uncouth and rowdy behaviour of some local leaders were regularly showcased. Who’s innocent and who’s guilty - I do not know. But it sure fills me with shame to see the future leaders of my country behaving so disgustingly.   

The final mega-election will be the ‘Presidential’. Whether it would come before parliamentary election or after is anybody’s guess. But selecting a President to rule us for another six years would be a most daunting task for the people of Sri Lanka. Yes, we shall go to the polls again possibly in 2020 and cast our vote for our favourite candidate and wait for the final ballot count. I wonder whether it would matter much who wins or loses? Whichever way the cookie crumbles, the winners will walk tall with boastful promises blowing out of their double-dealing mouths. Of course, all the blame of the country’s misfortunes would be packed and loaded on the backs of the powers that lost. Nothing but the usual story that we are so used to hearing. IN-power is innocent as lily-white, OUT-power is darker than the devil himself! As for us, the inheritors of this God-given paradise, it probably will be just another pipe dream with a lifespan of six years on a Homben Yana gait, till the next Presidential election takes place again. Hope would spring again, and like fools we would cheer the ones who have been newly elected to gift us a land filled to the brim with milk and honey.  

So much for the choices we make, will we ever learn that we are choice-less?   

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