30th April 2000

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Kala korner by Dee Cee

Gesture of love

Listening to Chitra last Sunday at the SLFI auditorium reminiscing about her father, Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera, I went back to Peradeniya campus days in the mid-fifties. As inmates of Jayatilaka Hall, we used to sit with our warden on the steps at the entrance having a friendly chat. He was such a kind hearted, understanding, gentle warden - one who was willing to tolerate our pranks.

Last Sunday was the launch of a biographical anthology of Dr. Malalasekera compiled by Chitra titled, 'The Many Men that were Malalasekera'. It is in two parts. The first has personal notes from family and friends and the second from Dr. Malalasekera's pupils, colleagues and professional associates. "It's not so much a literary effort. Rather it is my personal tribute to the person who meant most to me. It is, in short, a gesture of love," Chitra says.

Top diplomat Dr. Vernon Mendis, in his keynote address, spoke of Dr. Malalasekera's success as a diplomat having served with him first as First Secretary in Moscow and later as Deputy High Commissioner in London. Identifying him as 'a man of many parts, he spoke of Dr Malalasekera's qualities as a world leader, erudite scholar, nationalist and above all great human being. "His personal charm, his wonderfully friendly manner and his sincerity overwhelmed me and started a relationship both personal and official which was a highlight in my life," he said.

He recalled how theirs was a pioneering venture in unknown territory and how well Dr. Malalasekera fared as the first Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Moscow.

"With his unassuming, modest, friendly nature he was able to win the hearts of the Kremlin high command and was on friendly terms exchanging pleasantries at receptions with Prime Minister Krushchev himself. Among diplomatic colleagues Dr. Malalasekera was a great hit contrary to the belief that as a scholar and philosopher he would be remote. Instead he charmed everyone with his wit, his sense of humour, his sociability and ability to mix, and with his distinctive garb he became quite a star in the diplomatic scene."

Unique society

Dr. Malalasekera's son Vijaya referred to the unique society his father formed way back in 1946. It was a society among his relations - the Panadura Anyonadara Na Samitiya (The Panadura Relations Mutual Welfare Society). He was from Malamulla, Panadura and was the son of Veda Muhundiram Malalage M.S.Peiri).

Vijaya who is now its President pointed out that it helps promising but economically restricted students to pursue their studies. 

To commemorate Dr. Malalasekera's 100th birth anniversary, an annual scholarship will be awarded from this year to the best student at Nalanda Collge (Dr Malalasekera was its first Principal) entering the university.

A taste of Sinhala (17)

That all important link

By Prof. J. B. Disanayaka

To describe people and things, an English speaker needs three kinds of elements: a subject, a predicate complement and a verb to link the two. The kind of verb that can link a subject with a predicate complement is called a 'copulative verb'.

In English the most important copulative verb is the verb 'be', which takes different forms in different contexts, such as 'is' 'are' 'am' 'was' 'were' as in: The girl is a doctor; I am a doctor and You are a doctor. 

If an English speaker were to say: The girl a doctor; I a doctor and you a doctor and that would be considered 'very bad' English.

However, this is exactly what a Sinhalese does when he speaks Sinhala, for the patterns of Sinhala sentence formation do not require a copulative verb to link subjects and predicate complements. He simply puts the subject and the complement together: kella dostara kenek (The girl - a doctor); mama dostara kenek (I - a doctor) and oya: dostara kenek (You - a doctor).

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