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.

Thisula 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.

Tara de Mel

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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 live ‘froggies.’

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 all.


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Honouring a writer and artiste

D.V. Seneviratne

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 magazine Chintamani.

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 Deputy Director.

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To those great days of thrills and spills

Zacky Deen

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 40,000.

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.

Chandra de Costa
(Former All Ceylon and All India Champion)

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Her compassion was reflected in her writings

Maleeha Rajon

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 our meetings.

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.

Premini Amerasinghe

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Thank you for the memories

Nihal de Silva

It 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 to Wilpattu.”
Now we will not be meeting him at all.
Thank you Nihal, for the memories.

Punyakante Wijenaike

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