She epitomised kindness, courage and fortitude
Kamalika Abeyaratne
Dr. Kamalika Abeyaratne (nee Wickramasuriya) passed away a few days ago after a long drawn out and sad drama, which she handled with incredible courage and fortitude. Her husband Michael, an eminent paediatric surgeon himself, was always by her side.

There were also a handful of Kamalika's dearest kith and kin who were always at hand whenever needed. In fact I recall one such lady telling me on an occasion when Kamalika was in intensive care, “My two children would not have been alive today if not for Kami”.

Kamalika's association with Michael began as a Medical College romance. Both of them hailed from respected medical backgrounds. Kamalika's father was the first Asian to be awarded the Katherine Bishop Harman Prize for his work on malaria, a time when the deep south and the Central Province of this country were being devastated by the disease. Both Michael's parents were also eminent doctors during their time.

Having gone through Medical College together and sweeping away many prizes during their academic career, Kamalika and Michael decided that they were not going to indulge in private practice but would dedicate their lives to government service. Their care and kindness were eagerly sought and freely available to those ranging from the highest families in the land to the poorest of the poor.

It is perhaps an ironic quirk of fate, that it was when Kamalika and Michael were on perhaps what could be termed a mercy mission, taking a carload of medical and other equipment to a burgeoning charity programme headquartered in Tangalle (which is now flourishing under the patronage of Kamalika's sister-in-law) that she met with a motor accident and was given the blood transfusion that was the beginning of her saga.

Although the sun has set on the life of Kamalika, it has dawned for her in a new Sansara, and there is no doubt that in the new journey she will leave her indelible contribution to humanity just as much as she did silently, but most surely, during the course of her journey on this earth.

There would be thousands of parents who would bow their heads in a humble prayer of thanks, for the comfort that Kamalika gave numerous children during those better days.

In fact there were two occasions when two of my own boys had to undergo a moment of trauma, all of which was taken away by Kamalika's very special caring manner. Today I join these parents and others in my own way to pay a tribute and say a prayer.

"Neither fire nor wind, neither birth nor death, can erase a good deed"
-The Gauthama Buddha


They were our heroes, their lives a lesson
Soma Gankanda and D.M. Gankanda
Seventeen and 10 years have gone by since the demise of our parents Soma and D.M. Gankanda. They have left many wonderful memories. Those who knew them, remember them for their kindness and generosity.

As the youngest daughter, words cannot describe the emotions I feel when I realise that my mother is no more. This is probably because I took for granted her love and care.

Society has lost a noble citizen, the needy a helper and her grandchildren a caring grandmother. Most of all we have lost our darling mother. One's father too is special and I feel I am fortunate to have had Thaththa living with us for seven years.

I feel proud that I was able to keep Thaththa happy and comfortable in our home. People still come up to us and tell us stories about his honesty, kindness, generosity and other remarkable qualities. I know that I could never be like him but I will strive to honour his memory.

Our parents' home was a busy place. It was always open to others. Our close relatives would remember how we used to sit around the kitchen table and chat.

As we grew up and left home, our parents continued to guide and advise us. They treated our partners as their own children. Besides being exceptional parents they were adorable grandparents.

They were our heroes. The way they lived was a lesson well taught. It has been long years since their deaths. But the memories are still fresh. They walked all of us to the poruwa as brides to go on our new journey and ironically we walked behind them on their last journey of life.
May they attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

A. Ranasinghe

She faced it all, the good and the bad
Srimani Athulathmudali
The Newsweek of December 6, 2004 has a special report on what to do with granny? The Cost of Taking Care of the Elderly. In this report, it has been stated that the average global life expectancy has increased, thanks to better medical care.

In this context, while death is a certainty, one may want to ask the pertinent question why Srimani died at the early age of 58? We have been taught to ask the question how one can handle death and not why did she/he die? Therefore the question: why Srimani, will always be a theological mystery.

It was through my friendship with Lalith that I first met Srimani. Then because of her de Saram-Jayewardene links and her membership in the church, I got to know her better.

I will always remember Srimani for many reasons. Her courage when she had to handle Lalith's death and the attempt on his life while in Parliament. On both these occasions, she demonstrated inner courage.

When she entered party politics after the assassination of Lalith, she continued to be herself. Her victory at the elections of 1994 and all that happened thereafter did not make her lose her common touch. To borrow words from Rudyard Kipling “she walked with the Powers that were and did not lose her common touch”.

This was demonstrated when she continued to work for people and with people until her death. The presence of people from all strata of society at her funeral speaks volumes on who Srimani was.

She was a person keen on the arts and a founder member of the George Keyt Foundation. She always promoted good music. It is no wonder that her daughter is into music in a very big way.

As a member of the church, she was a committed Christian. She played her role in the affairs of the church and was present at most meetings. She was, therefore, one of those who was very upset when people in the church did not live up to the ideals of Jesus Christ. Srimani was a wonderful person. May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory!

Sydney Knight

We yearn for your presence
Mildred Canagasabey
Darling Mummy, our thoughts are with you during these special days when you left us just before your birthday, without a farewell. We miss you very much especially your loving care and comforting words of advice when we were in trouble. We know you are by our side, guiding us.

You were a special Mum to us - a great gift from God. You were a friend in whom we could always confide. We yearn to have you near us. Pray for us from above, our very precious Mum. We can never forget all you have done for us. May you gently sleep in God's care.

Your children

In defence of the legal profession
A reply to Neville de Silva's Thoughts from London -'Justice where art thou fled?' published in The Sunday Times of December 12. Neville de Silva begins his thoughts from faraway London with what he terms a perceptive observation made by the subject of James Boswell's book 'Life of Samuel Johnson' which in essence is that although it is not proper to speak ill of a man behind his back, it would be alright to do so if that particular gentleman was an attorney.

It is well known that only cowards speak ill of men, be they lawyers (gentlemen) or otherwise, behind their backs as such cowardly persons are afraid to grant an opportunity for the men so defamed to protect their integrity and character by the right of reply to any false and malicious statement made by an accuser. It is a basic principle of natural justice that a fair hearing should be granted to a person who is found fault with by another in any manner whatsoever. Thus it is left to the reader to decide to which category of persons the subject Johnson quoted by Mr. de Silva would fall into.

Then the thoughts from London go back two centuries or so from Boswell and end up with Shakespeare's words in Henry VI (Part II): quoted as 'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Mr. de Silva has failed to realize that Shakespeare wrote these words as uttered by Dick the butcher in his conversation with Jack Cade the rebel, when the said rebel was saying what he would do when he became king (see page 55 of The Complete Works of Shakespeare - Wordsworth Edition - 1996). It is obvious that rebels and butchers who assist rebels would prefer not to have any lawyers around or for that matter such persons would be in favour of the total extinction of law and order.

After quoting the butcher's words with relish the thoughts become somewhat regretful that society would not accept such a drastic method of extinction of the species, however rapacious the breed is. The question is then asked whether there is a loss of respect for the administration of justice in our society and if so who is responsible for such loss as Mr. de Silva states that it is well known that those who practise law and sit in judgement in our courts are increasingly becoming victims of malevolence. If one who writes such comments were to look into a mirror a part of the answer would be clearly discernible.

It is also relevant to note here that such great men like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who were lawyers were assassinated (as if to make the words of Dick the butcher quoted by Mr. de Silva, come true) by stupid persons who failed to understand the service rendered by such personages. Silva further states that when a judge is killed (referring to Justice Ambepitiya's murder) 'everybody is in a hurry to voice their anger and protest but when lesser people were killed or otherwise suffered injustice they have maintained a deafening silence’.

Mr. de Silva should perhaps ask himself the question why when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated almost the entire populace of India wailed and some even committed suicide, which did not happen when other people died in India. The social reaction to the demise of a person depends on the service that such person has rendered to society.

Thus the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) of both of which the writer is a life member, quite rightly deemed it necessary to call for justice and apprehension of those responsible for the dastardly act of the assassination of Justice Ambepitiya, which Mr. de Silva seems to find amusing.

Mr. de Silva has misunderstood the position of the BASL (the views expressed here are the writer's own opinions and not those of the BASL) when he states that the leadership of the association has advised lawyers not to appear for the suspects in Justice Ambepitiya's murder case and advises them to acquaint themselves with the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the draft Universal Declaration on Independence of Justice, the International Convention for the Preservation of Defence Rights and the I.C.C.P.R.

In the first place all lawyers are not members of the BASL. Thus it cannot advise lawyers in the manner stated by Mr. de Silva. None of the members of the BASL had been informed by the BASL by way of a circular, as it is usually done in the event of such a resolution being passed, not to appear for the accused in the said murder. Mr. de. Silva does not have to pontificate to the leaders of the BASL to refer to international conventions with regard to the right of defence of an accused as Article 13(3) of the present Constitution of Sri Lanka provides that 'Any person charged with an offence, shall be entitled to be heard, in person or by an Attorney-at-Law, at a fair trial, by a competent court' and Article 13 (5) provides that 'Every person shall be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty: provided that the burden of proving particular facts may, by law, be placed on accused persons’.

It is also interesting to note that Mr. de. Silva, who quotes with relish the words of Dick the butcher, 'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers' at the beginning of his thoughts, laments at the latter part that the BASL has advised lawyers not to defend the accused in the aforementioned case.

If all the lawyers, who are a rapacious breed, according to Mr. de Silva, were to be exterminated as Dick the butcher said, what would be the plight of the accused in the above case? After all is said and done even a critic of the legal profession such as Mr. de Silva has finally come to realize the value of the services rendered to their clients by lawyers. Of course, there are several criteria that govern the acceptance of a brief and an Attorney-at-Law is not required to accept a brief simply because an accused person wishes that such Attorney-at-Law should take up his case. (See chapter XVI Professional Ethics and Responsibilities of Lawyers - Justice A.R.B. Amerasinghe - 1993).

L.I. Keerthisinghe

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.