It was her
final unfinished trek
Thisula Jayanetti Abeysekera
It was six weeks ago on a humid Sunday afternoon,
that a speeding bus snuffed out the life of a cyclist, who was taking
a turn at the Reid Avenue junction in Colombo. With such impact
and internal injury, her death had to be instantaneous.
Friends who saw her in the morgue noted with amazement
that a person so beautiful while living was preserved the same in
death, despite the trauma such an accident brought about. She was
51years old and had always dreamt of true love and real happiness.
In a new life after death we hope and pray she would gain both.
was born into greatness, with immense intelligence, a wealth of
talent and an abundance of kindness and compassion. Many people
said she was one of few who came into this world with several silver
spoons in the mouth. In her childhood she enjoyed luxuries that
none of us could afford in those younger days.
Growing up in a well respected and conservative
family which treasured traditional values was not very easy for
a free-spirited, mischievous young girl who enjoyed the typical
childhood fun and games of the 1960s’. It was not often that
Thisula had the liberty of joining in activities and excursions
that some of her friends who had more liberal parents enjoyed.
In fact it did not please her that she had to
be chaperoned even to school, in the most protective manner, as
thought fit by her parents. Although they loved and cared for her
deeply, they missed seeing the turmoil and unrest in Thisula who
felt intensely uncomfortable in the stereotyped Jayanetti household.
Her life at school was memorable in many ways,
a rich blend of academic shine and great fun. My first recollection
of Visakha Vidyalaya, our old school, is that of Thisula in a grade
two class room finding our way in a new surrounding with a mixture
of fear and excitement. Those fond memories range from singing ‘Billy
Boy’ as 10 year olds (a duet with Thisula on a vast and empty
stage in a packed Royal College Hall on our school Prize Day), to
numerous pranks both in and out of the class room that irritated
many of our teachers, quite justifiably.
The latter led to many punishments that we had
to endure outside the Principal’s office.
But there were also several occasions where serious
study sessions and intellectual debate with close friends on a variety
of subjects, helped Thisula and all of us grow up. Those made us
see the good, the bad and the ugly of adolescence.
Thisula was special because she was the school’s
nightingale and her stellar role in the school choir was admired
and appreciated by everyone. Her talent at music was remarkable;
her voice was brilliant and unmatchable and her singing was eagerly
awaited by all, at school concerts and other performances. In this
field she blossomed after leaving school.
Many music directors of films, and others in the
music field sought out her talent for a variety of films, concerts
and other activities connected to music and song. They often lamented
that Thisula had not studied music professionally. They all said
she had potential to be a world class singer and musician, had she
received a focused and quality training.
Sadly this was not to be.
Her performance in Medical School, which she qualified
for comfortably, was equally noteworthy. She was a clever student
who took to Medicine with ease, coped well with the typical academic
rigour of such a demanding course and passed all her exams with
distinction. As a committed intern she cared deeply for her patients.
Needless to say she would have made a compassionate and dedicated
practitioner had she continued in her career path. Sadly this was
also not to be.
On that fateful Sunday, on a push bicycle she
had begun to ride after many years, she went visiting friends.This
was yet another trek that was to remain unfinished.
I see Thisula’s life from school to university
and beyond, as a journey of many missed opportunities, where she
was robbed of a brilliant medical career, potential for musical
stardom and finally, inner peace.
However, I also see as a solace, that what she
missed in life, she had in the form of two beautiful children (Nanda
and Dayani) and a large group of friends who would never forget
her, in life or in death.
She was as beautiful as her names
Charmina Molligoda Kaduruwane
Charmina Marlene. As beautiful as these two names
sound, so was the lady.
A leading model in the 1960s, Charmina my God-mother was a writer,
cook par excellence and lover of the creative and unique. She was
as sensitive as she was tough, creative and practical at the same
time and had a wonderful sense of humour.
My childhood was spent in and out of her beautiful
homes. She would create a pond with marbles, augmenting its gold-fish,
she would craft a plethora of macramé ornaments – lamp
stands, cushion covers and frogs. Her passion was collecting frog
ornaments, of which she had the largest conceivable collection in
Sri Lanka. Her garden was also speckled with her miniature and sometimes
My aunt gave me the most unique gifts –
from gold jewellery to vanity cases. But what I prize most is a
‘teenage memory’ when she made me feel comfortable in
her home at Rajagiriya when I was down with the flu in 1988. She
also had written me beautiful letters and cards which I still have
in my possession.
She also loved music and had a ‘green-thumb’.
Her home was always alive with music from rock to classical, and
beautified with lovely potted plants of different hues and textures,
grown painstakingly by her.
She was many things to many people – daughter,
mother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend. She was also the
‘mother’ to many cats and dogs, who had exotic names,
like her cat ‘Batik’.
To my brother and I, and to many youngsters she
was our Bubbo Amma. She leaves behind her son Cuda, mother Princess,
brother Seneca and family, who will miss her unique personality.
May your soul rest in the loving hands of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whom you loved all your life, above
Honouring a writer and artiste
The sixteenth death anniversary of journalist and
writer Kalamanya D.V. Seneviratne fell on May 16.
He joined the pioneering Sinhala newspaper Swadesha
Mitraya as a journalist in 1936 and later joined the Lankadeepa
newspaper as a sub editor. He was also the founder editor of the
He was responsible for writing the history of
the Sinhala cinema and his book Sinhala Cinemave Vansa Kathawa is
the most authoritative work on the subject.
Among his outstanding works are the historical novel Samudra Devi
and Ma Alaya Kala Tharuniya, Katha Menika, Araliya Hadisi Vivahaya,
Jeevitha Poojava, Jeevithaya, Jeevithaye Rahas and Lakshmi Apasu
Eiy. While being a student at Ananda College, in 1920 he received
the prize for Dhamma from the Bengali poet Ravindranath Togore.
Mr. Seneviratne, who headed the Arya Sinhala Natya
Sabha, along with other actors and artistes was responsible for
making a request for the Elphinstone Theatre to be established as
a national arts theatre and centre for artistes.
At that time one of his close friends, Member
of Parliament for Colombo Central and Premier R. Premadasa started
the Tower Hall Foundation and appointed D.V. Seneviratne as its
To those great days of thrills and spills
I was shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely
death of my good friend Zacky, who was residing in Oklahoma U.S.A,
a month ago.
We both started motorcycling (racing) together
at the Ratmalana air strip. Katukurunda came much later on. His
brother Rally who was in England came to Sri Lanka a little later
on and the three of us raced together.
In those days, the Saturday morning papers carried
the head line in the Sports page: Dean Brothers and Chandra de Costa
to do battle once again.
Those days the circuit was full of spectators, nothing less than
I am proud to mention here that Zacky was a great
rider and the riders who were selected as the very first team to
India in 1956 comprised Zacky Dean, W.D.P. Indraratne, Trim Seneviratne,
A.A. Jinadasa and myself. These riders were selected purely on merit
and they were managed by the late Andrew P. Mirando often considered
the “Father” of the CMCC.(?)
Zacky Dean won the 350CC and the 500CC on his
Manx Norton in exemplary fashion to thrill the Bombay crowd. The
other riders also brought credit to Sri Lanka in their respective
categories. Zacky participated in the Isle of Man (England) in 1953
on his 350 Manx.
After returning from the Isle of Man he used to
win almost all the races because he had the distinction of having
the only Manx and it was such a powerful machine that the others
had no chance.
I was riding a Triumph Tiger 100 and I was always
behind him and I was called the Shadow of Zacky. There are plenty
of more things I could write about Zacky, But I guess the above
speaks volumes for him. I will certainly miss him very much.
May his soul Rest in Peace.
Her compassion was reflected in her writings
It was in 1998 that I joined the "Wadiya Writers
Group". From the very first day, Maleeha, a founder member,
made an impression on me. Her welcoming smile and friendly conversation
went a long way in making me feel at home.
She was one of those members who made a solid
contribution to our meetings. Her compassion for humanity was amply
demonstrated in her writings. Her 'slice of life’ stories,
which encompassed all walks of life, were poignant and realistic
and written in impeccable English.
Maleeha's volume of short stories 'The Dance of
Life’ has been translated into Sinhala. She was a regular
contributor to Channels and Waves and was editor of a recent volume
of Channels. Her title story ‘The Dance of Life’, won
an award at an all island state competition in 1998. An experienced
English teacher for many years, she also taught creative writing
to a group of young people
Whatever her problems, there was always a twinkle
in her large brown eyes, and a smile hovering on her lips. When
we last met, two months back, she read a short piece based on childhood
reminiscences, depicting a leisurely way of life, now lost forever.
It was her intention to publish a collection of these reminiscences.
I knew she was going on one of her regular visits to her daughter
in Dubai, and thought nothing of it when she did not turn up at
Then one night, a fellow member of our group rang
me up. "Have you heard the news?” he asked. "Maleeha
has passed away."
It is always difficult to reconcile sudden death
with a vital personality who seemed to have many more years to share
with a loving family, and with us, to continue to make a real contribution
to Sri Lankan literature.
Mercifully she was spared a long period of suffering,
and passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family who had arrived
from Dubai, France and Canada, to be with her during her brief illness.
She will leave an irreplaceable void in our group
and will be greatly missed by her friends and family.
Thank you for the memories
Nihal de Silva
was inevitable that writers should meet each other through a book.
In 2003 I was handed a book by Vijitha Yapa for reading and reviewing.
It was the The Road From Elephant Pass by Nihal de Silva. It eventually
won for him the Gratiaen Award.
I met the author through the Wadiya group of English
writers much later on. This book was followed rapidly by The Far
Spent Day and The Ginirella Conspiracy and finally Paduma Meets
The Sunbird. It was as if Nihal was trying to make up for lost time.
He had been a busy businessman until his retirement
and it was only now that he had discovered the true love of his
life - writing.
He once told me that unless he did some ‘writing’
for the day he did not feel whole.
At the launch of the Ginirella Conspiracy, Nihal
said he was borrowing the subject of incest from me. Nihal was a
courageous writer. He wrote on subjects which other English writers
dared not do.
Nihal was also a good friend, gentle and understanding
but with a sense of humour. To me he was very helpful since it is
only now that I am coming to terms with the computer. He spent time
helping me to transfer my work from the computer into disks. Prior
to his unexpected death, Nihal had given me a copy of his last book
Paduma Meets The Sunbird.
Paduma is a rebel against the system the same
way William of Just William in the world famous series by Richmal
Crompton behaves. I recommend this book to all parents if they want
to give their children a good Sri Lankan dose of fun and laughter
in our villages.
I met Nihal recently at the Mega Buzz at the British
Council. “It is good to see you here,” I told him. “Since
you will not be coming to our Wadiya meeting, because of your trip
Now we will not be meeting him at all.
Thank you Nihal, for the memories.