ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

Ours was a model sister-brother friendship

Nalin T. Wickramaratne

Nalin Wickramaratne was born on December 17, 1950 as the elder child of the late Malathie and George Wickramaratne and would have been 57 this year but he did not live to pass that milestone. In the afternoon of November 25, he dropped his two daughters at classes, returned home and went to take a shower in the bathroom and the next thing we knew, was that he had collapsed dead! Needless to say, that the entire family and all those who associated him were devastated by this reality of the impermanence of life that Lord Buddha preached to us.

To his wife Devika, he was a dutiful husband. To his daughters Bhagya and Asangi, he was their best friend and confidant. He was the strength behind every activity they engaged in, whether it was in school, in their studies or in sports. It was his pleasure to spend as much time with them as was humanly possible.

The void left by his sudden death cannot be expressed in words but the training and understanding he gave the family will pull them through this traumatic experience. Nalin was my elder brother by two years. He was not just a brother to me but my closest confidant and friend until his death. Ours was an extremely close bond of absolute friendship and understanding no matter whether it was during a period of trial or happiness.

We were fortunate to have had parents and an uncle who inculcated sound human and moral values in us and taught us the value of service to one's self and to those around us. From the time he and I were 8 and 6 years old, we have worked together at shramadana camps to help the socially deprived communities such as Rodiyas, Kinnerayas and Veddahs when our late maternal uncle D. Ariyananda Abeysekera started the Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka with his first work camp in 1958 at Kanatholuwa, a Rodi village.

Our holidays were mostly spent in such villages helping others with our small mite. It is from such a small age that we were made to understand the inequalities of suffering, life and society as well as to learn to be considerate of others less fortunate than us.

Our late mother, a school teacher, gave us an ongoing training and education programme of different and varied types of social problems and our education in life was not merely restricted to book knowledge. This is something that both my brother Nalin and I cherished throughout our lives and for which we are/were ever grateful. Many are the times when the two of us would sit down to chat and discuss the value of the training we received at the hands of our elders.

Nalin as a child was by no means "a saint" -- innumerable were the mischievous episodes between the two of us but those helped us to strengthen our bonds of friendship and understanding as we grew into adulthood. Ours was a relationship of understanding and friendship which I sincerely hope other brothers and sisters will also learn from.

In his professional life, as was amply exhibited during his funeral, he was able to rise above petty relationships and become a leader to all those who he worked for whether they were his superiors or his juniors. He left an indelible impression of efficiency, high moral standards and justice among all those who worked with him both at Ceylon Tobacco Company and at Triposha and the reactions of the staff were a spontaneous show of respect which he commanded rather than demanded.

There is no doubt that his sojourn in Samsara will be short and that he will attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

By Ramani D. Wickramaratne

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