The piece below recounts a story about the early years of independence that is familiar to many Sri Lankan readers, in terms of the broad brush-strokes if not in terms of the detailed palette-work. But I hope it also serves to remind us again of a number of important, yet often ignored, matters, including the advanced state of constitutional development we were in compared to other decolonising countries, and the gentler and more sophisticated political culture that we enjoyed at the time. Yet none of these things were sufficient to prevent the descent into communal conflict and civil war, and those constitutional issues still remain to be settled. Hopefully, President Sirisena’s immediate reforms will create the political space necessary to dealing with those matters in the future. Thus it is to history that we must turn, to ensure we resurrect the good and bury the bad.