All’s well, it did not end in a well
The heroic story of Priyankara and other superbeings among us
The ordinary were presented awards for being extraordinary - picturing a scene of supermen and spidermen being among us.
Despite his sister’s protests eleven-year-old Priyankara had lowered himself into a well using a rope tied to one of its posts, to rescue his mother who had fallen into the well.
Priyankara was one of nine brave persons who mounted the stage at the BMICH last Thursday to accept the National Civilian Bravery Awards conducted by the Foundation for Civilian Bravery, Sri Lanka.
Priyankara collected his award for his heroic act on October 20, 2006, with his mother whose life he saved, standing behind him proudly.
“When I woke up that morning, my sister said she couldn’t see our mother anywhere and asked me to look for her too. After we looked in all the usual places, we went to the well as I heard something falling into it a while ago,” Priyankara recalled.
After seeing bubbles on the surface of the water in the well, the worst fears of Priyankara and his sister were confirmed.
“I first tried to lift her by her hair but then I thought that it would be a sin to do so, so I pulled her by her skirt which tore. Only then did I put my arms under my mother’s shoulders and lift her to keep her head above the water,” little Priyankara said.
Meanwhile the neighbours, who had rushed to the scene hearing the screams of Priyankara’s sister, had lifted her mother out from the well. Priyankara’s mother N.D.G. Nyanaseeli said she could not recollect how she fell into the well.
“May my son attain Buddhahood. If not for him, I won’t be alive today”, she said tearfully.
Another act of bravery was performed by R.M. Jayasiri Bandara who after the deadly struggle with a crocodile saved his wife when he, his wife and three-year-old daughter had been bathing in the Maragaha tank in Pahala Maragaha wewa.
Bandara, who is in the Army, had gone home on vacation. On September 10, 2006 he had gone for a bath to the tank with his family members. When he surfaced after a dive he had heard someone screaming and then noticed that his wife was in the grip of a crocodile.
“I grabbed the crocodile and stroked its underbelly. I heard that it was the only way a crocodile could be coaxed to release a victim,” he said.
Being tickled, the crocodile had released Bandara’s wife though it had bitten off her right hand by then. “I am happy to receive this award but this is nothing compared to the feeling I got when I went reached the bank of the tank with my wife safe beside me,” he said tearfully.
“I am highly grateful that my life was saved though I find it difficult to manage the work of my three kids without my right hand,” she said.
Another brave person was Harsha Kumara (13) who went to the Bolgoda lake near the Panangaha ferry for a bath on April 30, 2006. Three of his cousins who went with Harsha had paddled a boat towards deep water.
“I heard someone screaming but I couldn’t see the boat. So I took another boat and went towards the spot. I could save only two of them. The other was out of my reach and had already drowned,” he said.“I can’t remember feeling anything at all at that time. I just reacted to the situation,” Harsha told The Sunday Times.
Ven. Kadawata Saminda Thera (22) was awarded the Inscription of Gold for donating a kidney to Dulanka who had been in need of a kidney as the first transplant had been unsuccessful. Despite the advice he had received that his own health was not too good and that a second transplant could also be unsuccessful, the thera had been determined in his decision. The thera and Dulanka (22) are both in good health 10 months after the kidney transplant.
Posthumous awardee R. M. Chandrawathie died on November 11, 2006 in the attempt to save the life of one Pradeep Ratnayake who had got washed into a culvert by the force of floodwaters.
The other brave persons who received awards were Nishantha Jayasiri, Sugath Chandrasiri, Nilantha Bandara and Tharanga Sirisena who saved a couple from being washed away by floodwaters. T.A. Sarath and his wife were clinging to a three-wheeler under the Moda bridge at Nakawita when they were rescued. The others who had been in the three-wheeler, including the couples’ children had been carried away by the flood waters.