trip to Colombo to buy a television ends in tragedy for a family
in Kurunegala who lost their beloved Priyandani in Tuesday’s
By Dhananjani Silva and Nadia Fazlulhaq
By 6 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25, Nirupa Priyandani Kumarasinghe was
dressed and to go with her cousins on a much awaited journey to
Colombo, to purchase a television set from the Army Welfare Society.
Priyandani was the young-est of three, and received much love and
care from her family, especially her brother and sister. Today,
the family is left mourning the tragic and untimely death of their
adored daughter and sister who left home on that fateful day, only
to be brought back in a coffin, a victim of the horrific bomb attack
at Army Headquarters in Colombo.
going out every day, Priyandani would come to my room asking if
she looked good. That day too she had come to my room, but how unlucky
I was not to be able to talk to her as I was sleeping,” says
Priyandani’s sister, Nirmala Karunasinghe in tears.
and Nirmala, both unmarried, shared their thoughts and secrets,
throughout their lives. A past student of Maliyadeva Balika Vidyalaya
and Lakdas Maha Vidyalaya in Kurunegala, Priyandani was an Arts
graduate from the Kelaniya University. Her first teaching appointment
as a dancing teacher was at St. Andrew’s College, Puttalam
after which she served as a teacher at Mawathagama Vidyalaya.
she joined Sir John Kotelawela Maha Vidyalaya, Kurunegala where
she took on the role of mother, sister and friend to many of the
students and teachers who are now lamenting her tragic death
day she went to Colombo with her two cousins, Duminda and Sanjeewa
to purchase a TV set from the Army Headquarters’ Welfare Society.
But the security guard had not allowed all three of them to go in
and Sanjeewa had stayed near the barrier letting the other two go
in,” a wailing Nirmala said.
According to Nirmala, who works at the Public Library in Kurunegala,
there had been a missed call on her mobile from Priyandani’s
number at around 1. 15 p.m. She assumed it had been to inform her
that they had bought the TV.
was working in the Kosgama Army Camp in Avissawella. He had plans
of getting married and settling down with his fiancée who
is now in Cyprus. In fact they went to purchase a television set
and some other goods for his newly built house. They were thrilled
that they were going to buy a new television and had planned the
trip a long time ago. Earlier they were planning to go on Monday,
but later they decided to make it on Tuesday,” Nirmala said.
“Priyandani, Duminda, Sanjeewa and I were very close and this
is why Priyandani decided to accompany her cousins to Colombo,”
On hearing the news of a suicide bomb attack in Colombo, Nirmala
tried to call Priyandani several times. Finally someone answered
the phone and told her that her sister was injured and had been
Sanjeewa, who was waiting near the barrier for his brother Duminda
and cousin Priyandani to return had heard the noise of the blast
“Worried and unable to go in, I called Nirmala and informed
her that they were missing. I was shocked when I got to know that
Duminda and Priyandani had been taken to hospital, seriously injured,”
says Sanjeewa, Duminda’s younger brother.
like how Duminda, 29, was accompanied by Priyandani on his trip
to Colombo, in death too he was not alone- his beloved cousin’s
coffin lay next to his in the family home.
father, 78-year-old V. S. Karunasinghe recalling memories of his
loving daughter said she was always lively and fun loving. “She
could sing and dance well. As a daughter she looked after us very
well. She brought home good food and gave us money to buy medicine.
But look what happened to her, we lost her all of a sudden. My wife
fainted when she got to know that our girl has died,” said
the grieving father.
death has caused much heartbreak to the students and staff members
of Sir John Kotelawela Maha Vidyalaya. Expressing their grief, some
students said that Priyandani was a teacher whom they could count
on to help solve their problems. “She was more like a friend
than a teacher. We remember how we were scolded by her for not offering
flowers to Lord Buddha. We have received a lot of valuable advice
from her throughout our Advanced Level years. We last met her in
January when we went to collect the school uniform material and
we remember apologising for forgetting her birthday,” they
were planning to meet her but she is no more,” they chorused
Priyandani was the only female civilian victim of last Tuesday’s
bomb blast at Army Headquarters.