all towns are one, all men our kin.
|Trans State Nation
Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
A Gift to King Mahinda
18 June 2009
It seems that these days, President Mahinda Rajapakse seems to be enjoying his newly anointed role as the King of Sri Lanka. The first segment of his surname �Raja� literally means a king. He and his courtiers are floating in the air. I thought that it wouldn�t be bad to present him with a gift of a story.
The story, Kejserens nye Klaeder [The Emperor�s New Clothes] is an old one, now carrying the imprimatur of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). But, the 1952 song version re-told in English by comedian singer- actor David Daniel Kaminsky aka Danny Kaye (1913-1987) is the one that I prefer to use for my students, in teaching English.
On Oct.7, 2001, immediately after Sept.11 incidents, I recorded in my camera a small-made float of the Naked Emperor paraded in a city festival in Japan, that attracted the attention of the onlookers.
I was not sure who was targeted in this float � the city�s mayor, or the nation�s then prime minister or George W. Bush. So, I choose the Danny Kaye version of the story as my gift to King Mahinda. In Danny Kaye�s voice, it�s as follows:
Who could be the two swindlers in the Sri Lankan version of the story? Could they be the two siblings of the king? � Basil and Gotabhaya?, or could they be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (an authentic holocaust denier) and Pakistan�s ex-dictator Pervez Musharraf (a patron of Al-Quieda) or could they be Karuna (a Tamil turncoat) and Devananda (a Tamil collaborator)?
I noted that this story credited to Hans Christian Andersen appears in E.F.Dodd�s collection Stories from Ceylon (Macmillan & Co, London, 1968 reprint). Dodd records that the story is drawn from an older source, Village Folk-Tales of Ceylon (1910-1914) by Henry Parker, published in London.