Recalling their nurturing, selfless,  unconditional and enduring love TUDOR AND BIANCA WEERASOORIYA When I was about five years old, I was given a story book in which the heroine was a little girl with the same name as mine.  The story unfolds with a “mala giravi” (who was a actually a “suranganavi” metamorphosed temporarily into [...]




Recalling their nurturing, selfless,  unconditional and enduring love


When I was about five years old, I was given a story book in which the heroine was a little girl with the same name as mine.  The story unfolds with a “mala giravi” (who was a actually a “suranganavi” metamorphosed temporarily into a parrot), perched on a branch of a tree outside the heroine’s room, beckoning the little girl to come with her to “surangana loka” (fairyland).  Needless to say, I identified myself with the little girl. But what I remember with such clarity was that I was most unhappy to go to “surangana loka” leaving behind my parents and siblings.

Happily my five year old self did not move to “surangana loka” and continued to be safely ensconced with my parents and sisters, the episode completely forgotten. Years passed by and I was reading Emily Bronte in the university and this memory jolts back as I read this passage “Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.”   Aha! so I was not the only one!

I am not for a moment trying to compare my basic, uncomplicated need as a child to be with my parents with the complex relationships of Cathy in Wuthering Heights.  But, for this episode to remain in my memory, albeit in dormancy, and for it to trigger back after several years, must mean that this fairy story had affected me quite profoundly.  More importantly it brought home the fact that your parents are the very essence of security, wellness and safety in a child’s world.

This was what Amma and Thaththa were to my sisters and me. They were Tudor and Bianca Weerasooriya.  I  may have tried their patience many a time,  given them much worries as a  teenager  but it was their presence in our world, as we moved from being children and adolescents to mothers  and aunts, through good and difficult times, that made life full of warmth and kindness.  In fact they were our emotional safety net.

They are no more but their memory continues to give us strength and emotional well being. These memories were never more poignant as in September when we commemorated Thaththa’s 100th birth anniversary on the 29th and Amma’s 95th  on the 7th.

Memories abound ……but what comes to my mind immediately was their simplicity.  We have never heard my father say a harsh word to my mother. They may have disagreed and sometimes my mother would gently chide my father if he said something out of turn. In fact Thaththa would often say that he wasn’t hen-pecked but chicken-pecked. How true this was! We would badger him on what he should wear for a function, oh you should wear a tie! No the batik shirt is not good enough  and no you cannot munch on betel leaf, and oh why are you smoking cigars etc. etc…… And he finally started smoking a pipe and would not hear anything about giving it up. But socks…no…he avoided them as much as possible and preferred his pumps.

As children we would wait for the sound of his motor cycle coming up the estate road and run to remove his mud stained shoes and take off the “thuththiri” from his socks. To his two feet, there were three of us vying to do the honours.

Amma was the gentlest person I have ever known. Her gentleness was also her strength, and she was always there to console us no matter what and was never judgmental. When my Thaththa passed away suddenly and when we were inconsolable, she consoled us to let him go peacefully on his last journey.  Her inner strength was remarkable and would endure adversities with stoicism. They were strict too especially when we were teenagers.  It must have been quite nerve-wracking to have three teenaged daughters in the house at the same time. But they created a nurturing environment and their ambitions were never imposed on us. From them we learnt  inclusiveness at an early age.

My father always put my mother first. Consulting each other came naturally to them. They were both givers; material things they gave when they could. I remember as children, visiting an elderly uncle of my father near Galle. Much later we learnt that, that land and house actually belonged toThaththa. His humility was such that he never ever showed that he was the owner. Land was given to long serving staff and years after Thaththa passed away, when a spouse of one of them claimed more,  Amma would say not to dwell on the ingratitude of this person but on the generosity of my father.

One of the most fulfilling times for my parents, was when they gave land and constructed a temple in an area where residents before that,  had to walk several miles to the nearest temple.

Their most joyous moments were their grandchildren. I remember their joy when Chatura took his first baby steps and Thaththa’s delight when he made a smart chess move. He used to call Devaka his pendant as he would hang round  his neck drooling away and listen patiently to his baby talk. Thaththa could not wait to see Gayathri roll over on her own when she was barely four months old. He would tell her that they would go for walks when she is bigger, go to Cargills and buy her lollies and a bottle for himself.  As Amma advanced in her years, Gayathri was her anchor and she continued to have this special relationship with all three of them. Their very presence in the house was a joy to my parents.

Amma’s and Thaththa’s love for us was nurturing , selfless and  unconditional and therefore enduring. May their journey in samsara be brief. May they attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Malathi Weerasooriya

He belonged to that rare breed of fast vanishing  public servants

 Benedict Silva

Benedict Silva, former Director of Establishments in the Central Bank passed away recently. Benedict, as his friends called him, began his career in the Tea Control Department where he came under the influence of senior civil servant Baku Mahadeva who was Tea Controller at the time.

Benedict Silva joined the Central Bank in 1963 and was appointed Assistant Controller in the Exchange Control Department. As Assistant Controller of Exchange he was in charge of applications for the transfer of assets of Indian plantation workers who were being repatriated to India on the expiry of their visas. Indian plantation workers coming to the Exchange Control Department were a docile frightened lot who were under the stigma of being called illicit immigrants. In his capacity as Assistant Controller dealing with the applications of these Indian plantation workers, Benedict Silva adopted a kind humanitarian approach towards them and was prompt, honest and efficient in dealing with their applications.

This work gave him a liking for administrative work. In 1967 he proceeded on a scholarship to the University of Hull where he was awarded an MA in Economics. On his return he was appointed Senior Economist in the Bank’s Economic Research Department but very soon he found that administrative work was more to his liking. He was appointed Deputy Director and later Director of Establishments in which position he functioned for a number of years before taking early retirement.

Benedict Silva was noted for his fair, efficient and honest approach in matters regarding promotions, transfers etc. He was in many ways the ideal administrator and was admired and respected by his colleagues.  Benedict Silva belonged to that rare, but alas, fast vanishing breed of gentleman public servants.

Shortly after his retirement he took up a position as senior administrative officer with the International Red Cross in Colombo which position he held for a few years before deciding it was time to be a full time family man. Benedict was a devout Roman Catholic and was deeply devoted to his family. It is a measure of his homely, lovable and kind ways that even his grandchildren called him ‘thatha’. He leaves behind his wife Pamela, daughters Ruklanthi and Shanez, sons in law Harsha and Danushka and four grandchildren. May his kind soul rest in peace.

Terrence Savundranayagam


Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.