It seems like yesterday that Vajira came through the front door of our home with her usual impish smile and a twinkle in her eye. I would never have imagined I would not see her ever again. That last poignant memory of her is etched deep in my heart.
Vijaya and I first met Vajira Perera many moons ago, when Janaka brought her home, saying he wanted to introduce us to a special friend. She was like a breath of fresh air. Shortly after, Janaka’s special friend became his wife. We were so happy for him, knowing that in Vajira, Janaka had found his perfect partner, his soul-mate.
The couple became very much a part of our family. We spent many happy times together. Vajira had a wisdom far beyond her years. She perfected the art of getting her husband to agree with her point of view, without his realising it. True to his military training, Janaka was not one to show his emotions easily, but with Vajira it was different. It was obvious how deeply he cared for her.
When Janaka went on duty to Jaffna, we could see how distressed Vajira was, but she hid her feelings bravely for the sake of her children. She went to the temple every day to invoke blessings on her husband and all servicemen fighting for our country. She herself had suffered a great family tragedy, when her only brother died at a very young age while serving in the Army.
Vajira had to take on a new role when Janaka was appointed as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Australia. The role of diplomat’s wife fitted her, with her charm and unassuming manner. She was the perfect hostess at the many diplomatic functions the couple hosted. She could hold her own with the wide spectrum of people she met during her husband’s diplomatic posting. Her homes overseas were always open to her many friends from Sri Lanka. Despite the pressures on her as diplomat’s wife, she always made sure that everyone felt very welcome in her home.
The last time we met Vajira, she was very excited about her new life in Anuradhapura, and the prospect of inviting the people of the area to meet Janaka. In those last few months, she became very popular among the people of Anuradhapura. She was always ready to lend a sympathetic ear to their problems.
Much has been written about Janaka, but he would not have been the great man he became without his best friend and devoted partner, Vajira, to inspire him. She was an excellent mother to their children, instilling in them the high principles that have stood them in good stead during this time of family grief.
Janik, Janu, Shehara and Ashanka – your parents were very special to all of us. We have no doubt that in time you will make your parents very proud of all four of you.