There was a typical young radical in a political family in the deep South. The family was so close to the national politics, the young man attended school from Sravasti, the Parliament members’ hostel itself. On completing his secondary education, the young man wanted to secure a highly paid job. Finding that tea-tasting carried good pay, the young man wanted to become a tea taster.
It was the green party that ruled the country at that time. The young man’s father and family members were Blue party stalwarts.
The young man’s father one day called on Sam Wijesinha, the council’s General Secretary – designated Clerk at that time – and informed him about his son’s ambition to become a tea taster.
Wijesinha’s response was quite positive. “Ah! It’s a minor matter! Let us speak to J. R. He is the Minister in charge…He will, no doubt, help him to get the job!”
Later, the young man along with his father called on J. R. at Sam Wijesinha’s office itself. JR. readily agreed to help the young man to get a job as a tea taster.
“You please leave the application with Sam. I’ll attend to the matter in a day or two,“ he promised a young man’s father.
So, they – father and son – happily left the secretary’s office leaving the application with the latter.
Days, thereafter, turned to weeks and weeks to months, but the young man failed to receive any response to his application. And the disappointed political family members finally decided that J.R had badly let them down.
The young man eventually secured another job. However, for long afterwards he could not help harbouring an ill- feeling towards J.R. for going back on the promise made to his father.
Time flew. The young man’s father died several years later and there was a popular request to the young man to contest the seat that fell vacant upon the father’s death. He contested and easily won the seat.
Two or three days after attending the august assembly as an honourable member, the young man received a note from the council’s secretary Sam Wijesinha which read: “Please see me in my office!”
The young man lost no time in calling on Sam Wijesinha in his office. Niceties over, Sam pulled out a document from a file and handed it to him. And the document was the application for a tea taster post his father had once given to Sam on J. R.’s request! His surprise soon gave way to amusement and he laughed. Sam Wijesinha too laughed and said; “I understand that you all blamed J.R. for not offering the tea taster job to you! Please don’t think bad about him. He is not to be blamed!”
“Why shouldn’t we? He went back on his word!” said the young man.
“How could J.R. offer you the job, when the application was lying all the time in this file with me?” asked Sam Wijesinha.
“Why didn’t you, uncle, hand the application to J.R?” asked the young man in a subdued voice.
“Remember, my young friend that I am quite old and more far-sighted than you are!” replied Wijesinha. “You are not cut out for a job of a tea taster. You have been born to carry on the family tradition of being in politics! I did deliberately hold back the application without giving it to J.R. Therefore, J.R is not to be blamed…Now that you are an MP which job do you prefer? Being an MP or a tea taster?” The young man only smiled.
“Now that you are an MP, try to do this job to the best of your ability. Mark my words! One day, you will rise to a very high position in this country!”
The young man who once nursed the ambition of becoming a tea taster is none other than the former President, the present Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa!