Letters to the Editor

26th October 1997

Mirror Magazine


Candle in the wind: the other side

Having been a silent observer of the numerous tributes, praises, and eulogies expressed through the media in favour of Lady Diana, after her death, let me apologetically add my personal opinion. Not that it counts much against the contributions offered by ecclesiastical stalwarts, eminent statesmen, renowned politicians, the man on the street and even by the Britishers themselves. What I have to say may be considered most controversial. But I know there are a number of others who, I believe think along the same lines as I do. Perhaps they are not so brazen or candid enough to openly express their opinions against the tide. Am I treading where angels fear to tread? What I have to say. may be like a voice in the wilderness.

Lady Diana has been hailed as a saviour of the sick, the stricken, the poor, the abandoned. By her devotion to her service, what has she left for us Asians, particularly the women folk to emulate?

Her place should have been with her family, her children, whatever the difficulties she had to face. It may be argued, though, that her husband was unfaithful to her. However in history where have we not seen infidelity and promiscuity among the Royalty, and the Nobility, it is not woman's nature to follow suit in retaliation. Those women bore it with stoic endurance (Do I hear the women's Lib vociferous and taking umbrage at my utterances?) Sorry, let me continue. I don't mean to say that such behaviour should be condoned. But think, if she had lived a virtuous life whilst being involved in the numerous charitable activities she was concerned about, what wouldn't the world have said of her.

She would have been acclaimed by the whole world. And most probably she would have succeeded in being not just the Queen of Hearts, but the Queen of England.

Why did she have to die? Had she lived and married Dodi, an Arab, a divorcee, a playboy who was even refused British Citizenship, what would have been the consequences?

How would it have affected the heir to the throne? Imagine Dodi as the stepfather of the future King of England? I don't have to elaborate on these matters.

Princess Diana came into the limelight with her marriage to Prince Charles. Upto then she was a nonentity. By her marriage she stood to benefit a lot.

Would she have got all the worldwide recognition, glamour and affection if not for that?

But she just played into the hands of Cameila Parker-Bowles through her intolerant behaviour. It is more likely that it was her insatiable desire for publicity, coupled with a string of extra-marital affairs that enticed the paparazzi and the gossip mongers to chase after her, the way they did. If she had been a gentle being the paparazzi would have let her alone. Who cares to probe into the lives of righteous people?

I hear the stampede of the stumbling, the rumbling, the grumbling and the fumbling at my throat. But doesn't everyone have a right to express one's opinion. I'm not prepared to continue a prolonged argument on this matter. I have had my say and that is all.

Diana was literally a Candle in the Wind. A Candle that burnt at both ends blown out "long before her legend will". And what a legend it is. (Sorry Elton John). On the other hand there was a Candle that burnt itself out to the end; shedding light in a darkened world. A candle to be admired, appreciated, loved and emulated - Mother Teresa.

Ninette Fernando


Street kids get back their 'right' - Birth Certificates

Today I received a letter from Jezima Nalim, a lady of great warmth, compassion and a unique sense of mission. She would like to 'inspire' forgotten street-kids by handing them back their 'right' to a birth certificate!

Jezima reminded me of a day I spent in her company, at the National Social Development School in Colombo, at a celebration of the Day of the Child organised by 'Inspiration' Jezima's NGO. The focus of the afternoon amidst festive performances staged by street-kids, was a ceremony where the Minister for Social Service, Berty Premalal Dissanayake presented birth certificates to fifty or so, ecstatic-looking kids.

Before that day I had no idea of the granting of a birth certificate was cause for celebration. Where I come from a birth certificate is shown on request at various times in life: e.g., applying for a driver's licence, a job, a passport, a visa.

Coincidentally, a week earlier, we visited a 'home for street-kids' run by 'World Vision'in Borella. The visit was enlightening! We met some fifty kids, aged 2 to 17, living in a double storeyed house. The boys' dorms were situated down-stairs off the living-training area. The girls' sleeping quarters were upstairs, generally speaking 'off limits'. The children looked well fed, happily occupied, trained and in the case of pre-school toddlers given elementary schooling. I couldn't have guessed the kids came from street-bound families and only occasionally saw their parents.

It never occurred to me that street-kids had no birth certificates. I thought the parents would've had some documentation - perhaps kept at a municipal registry. Not so! Until Jezima Nalim came along with her inspirational idea to return them their 'right' street-bound- families have had no access to registration of the birth of their children. My mind explodes with incomprehension. There are a number of occasions when a person needs to show a birth certificate. Many problems would arise for a person who had no access to a birth certificate!

That day, during the celebration, I found out, that, although, street-kids can attend school and sit for exams, if they had no birth certificates they couldn't receive certified results. At the age of 16, street-kids with no birth certificates can't get IDs. Together with birth certificates, ID cards are vitally important to them . No ID, No job, No pay, No future. Street-kids can be 'achievers' especially in sport, but they can't win scholarships, or represent their school or country. Even if they're selected to go overseas, without an ID or birth certificate, no passport or visa is given. There's no way out for these star crossed kids! No birth certificate? You're nobody! You don't exist!

That's why the mission of Jezima Nalim's NGO 'Inspiration' is 'cause celebre'!

Alya Henry

Colombo 7

Stop this ragging

On and off, everybody has been speaking about the ragging in the universities. We, as former employees of the Universities have seen that the ragging which takes place in our Universities is often of a degrading nature. It is a vile mixture of rowdyism, hate and sadism. Sometimes we even see the students who were badly 'ragged' the previous year ragging the newcomers in a manner that borders on vulgar behaviour. Their 'work' speaks volumes of the low mentality of the perpetrators.

Cannot the authorities stop this low behaviour on the part of the students?

The simplest way to stop the ragging is to hold an inquiry whenever there is a complaint of vulgar 'ragging' and if the accused are proved to have taken part in the 'ragging' each offender should be given a public caning. Six cuts will be wonderful. That is not enough. The offenders should be expelled from the University and banned from entering the University for the next three years.

I am sure that many will protest against what I have written but in our country it is shameful to see that most people sympathise with a dirty offender, whatever the crime, and not with the hapless victims of the offender!

Eugene M de Silva


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