Thank you, belatedly...
One year ago, almost to the day (September 10, 2010), I wrote a piece
titled ‘Imperfectly yours...’. This was to mark the first anniversary of
‘The Morning Inspection’. A year has passed since then. I’ve been away
for a week so I missed the anniversary. The world doesn’t look any
different from what it was on the day before and is unlikely to change
much tomorrow, but anniversaries are for remembering. So let me
Last year, I wrote about how it began. Here’s a para: ‘I was without
a regular job. Freelancing doesn’t pay much. There’s no job security. No
EPF or ETF. No vehicle allowance. No festival allowance. No distress
loans. No loans, period. No perks. Times were tough, so I met the
Chairman, Lake House, Bandula Padmakumara to ask if I could write for
the Daily News. He asked what kind of stuff I would be writing. I told
him that I have a decent idea about what can be written and what cannot,
so I will try to stay within the boundary line (there have been times
what I have wandered outside and the editor has put his foot down; I
never complained for in most instances I understood the logic of the
decision). I told him about Amitha and Ginger. He asked ‘how many
articles a week?’ I didn’t think: ‘six a week’. ‘Can you produce that
much?’ he asked. ‘I will try’. That’s how it began.’
Times are still tough. In terms of the column, disagreements (I can
be temperamental) with the editor led to temporary stoppage. Things got
sorted out eventually. I didn’t write 258 articles for the Daily News
over the past 12 months, but the number stands over 200. A year ago, I
promised to publish a collection on September 10, 2011. Didn’t happen.
There’s a reason. My friend, benefactor and meticulous editor, Errol
Alphonso, passed away after a brief illness. He wanted to sort all the
articles, clean them up and publish several books on various themes.
Time and events get in the way. Laziness too. It’s not hard to write
10-12 articles every week (I write to other newspapers too and perhaps
this is bragging-day for me, so please indulge), after all there are
doctors who see over a hundred patients every single day, judges who
listen to dozens of cases, prostitutes who sleep with half a dozen men
and so on.
My time is not mine most of the time. That’s what comes out of being
a freelance writer (and I have explained this in a previous article,
i.e. we are lanced by the ‘free’ in many ways). Anyway, the publishing
didn’t get done and might never get done either. No worries on that.
Errol, though, wherever he is right now, would howl in protest if he
reads this last sentence.
An anniversary is for thanksgiving. Errol was not the only
benefactor. I owe him a lot. Learned from him. Miss him too. There are
others who help and continue to help.
There are what one may call ‘regular readers’. Sandika Kamini, for
example, responds at length to every article that I write. Sumudu
Gunaratne (schoolmate and fellow scout of 42nd Colombo), for example,
claims that he reads ‘The Morning Inspection’ every day.
A few others also make the same claim. There are many who write to me
and I am not naming them all, both for reasons of space and for
preference for anonymity. I try to respond to each and every email that
I receive. The recipients know and that’s enough I believe.
Not everyone responds and those who do don’t write to me regularly
either. There are exceptions. I can count on Aunty Saji to point out
flaws and the occasional commendation. In fact she educates me with
snippets of her life, her experiences, observations and reflections on a
wide range of subjects.
D.L.O. Mendis and Gamini Gunawardena write to me often, the former
pointing out errors and directing me to areas I need to explore while
the latter being a meticulous commentator on things related to the
Dhamma, among other things. I am grateful.
Feizal Mansoor, Tissa Pilimatalawa, Jeanne Thwaite, my father Gamini
Seneviratne, an unpretentious and honourable Yaka from Thimbirigasyaya,
Dimuth Gunawardena, Fazli Sameer, Mohan Baghwandas, Seyed Moulana and
many others direct me to information they believe I should acquaint
myself with. I am grateful.
Ramzeen Azeez is a very special person and reader. He spends his days
in Habarana teaching English to children who didn’t even know the
alphabet. Ramzeen writes often, comments and inspires in so many ways. I
am especially grateful to him.
The same goes for Drupathi Silva, my self-effacing friend, who has
introduced me to many exceptionally gifted and courageous individuals as
well as organizations that do admirable, thankless and extremely
important work among sections of the population that have for a
multiplicity of reasons been marginalized.
Then there are friends who bail me out when I have technical
problems. King Nish Pitigala, a schoolmate who lives in Los Angeles and
Pam Rajapaksha who is in Australia have always obliged when I got stuck,
the latter even setting up a blog for me. They give extra life to the
words I string together.
Bandula Padmakumara gave me the space and intervened when I was
sidetracked by issues of ego. Jayatilleka De Silva (former editor) and
his successor Lynn Ockersz have been, all things considered, very
accommodating and understanding ‘bosses’. Lynn’s Secretary Champa Perera
and Anjali Garnier, the sub-editor, have been extremely patient whenever
I got derailed courtesy the ‘free’ of ‘freelancing’ (which is quite
often; ‘too often’, I must admit).
Thank go out also to Leslie Jayatilleke, who I have never met but who
unerringly captures the essence of what I write in his illustrations,
amazingly reconstructing people, places and events almost as though he
too was witness.
There are also hate-mailers. They keep me amused and/or on my toes. I
am grateful. Among the words that I put together are people, lives
lived, transgressions suffered and contested. That’s all the ‘Sri Lanka’
that I describe. Many are no more. Some don’t know. I hope I’ve done
justice and admit that any recounting error was honest and beg
My teachers, without exception. I owe them so much. Especially
Indrani Seneviratne, my late mother. And of course the greatest teacher
I’ve encountered, the Enlightened One, our Budunwahanse, for life/lives
lived and doctrine expounded so simply and eloquently. That’s the most
illumination I’ve received by far and this is why I murmur every morning
and several times a day the namaskaara, reflect on the virtues of the
Buddha Siddhartha Gauthama and the tilakkhana (three characteristics or
signata of existence: impermanence, suffering and non-self), and say the
words ‘sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta’ (may all beings be happy).