A memorable flight
Ravindra Randeniya was ushered into the holy sanctum of the Bank
Manager. A very prestigious Bank. Never been any complaints from the
customers and employees. The chairman was one of the wealthiest in the
land. Also chairman of six companies. He was a good man with a happy
That day he was with the Manager and the General Manager of the Bank
in order to make an indepth personal assessment of the customer – bank
personnel relationship. Chairman Patrick Ruwansinghe and the General
Manager were in the manager’s office, pretending to be deeply engrossed
in official matters. No. They were giving ear and taping how the
customer presented a problem and the response.
Ravindra Randeniya was on leave prior to retirement. A senior
government officer married to an upper middle class partner from Kandy.
Three grown up children. One in the campus. Another attending a
prestigious school. Their only daughter excelled in the confectionery
field. Orders for cakes and pastries were increasing. Their’s was too a
contended happy family.
Being a dedicated and an honest public servant, finding funds for the
dowry for Sethmini was causing concern. She was twenty two. He wanted to
obtain a loan against either their house or the rented out building
belonging to Mrs Randeniya. Ravindra had always been an honest and very
transparent in all his dealings. He told the manager that he wanted to
insert an advertisement in the marriage proposal column. No faith in
marriage brokers. They make assets of parties to appear before the event
and these assets make dramatic disappearances after the event.
He told the manager that every cent that the daughter is to get as
dowry should be in her name before the appearance of the proposal in the
press. A call from home to the manager. With apologies he took the call.
He was smiling. “Beautiful, putha. I am proud of you. Seeya is so very
proud. I will bring something very special this evening. Budhu Saranai.
“Sorry Sir, my little nine year grandson. Remarkable chap. He had given
his seat to an elderly lady while going for tuition with our retainer by
bus. Mind you, he had an injury on his foot. I am so proud Mr Randeniya.
“The chairman and the general manager were eavesdropping. Thrilled.
“Wonderful” said Mr Ravindra. “A very lucky grandfather of such a
lovable boy.” He was lost in thought for a moment. “If you could spare a
few moments sir. I want to relate on unforgettable experience. My story
is not repeat not a bumptious blowing of ones trumpet. Actually my wife.
It is because of its lovely similarity with yours.” “Long years back my
wife and I were in London. My wife was at Heathrow Airport to make
arrangements for freighting of some unaccompanied goods. It was the
holiday season. All flights were full. We had managed to get two
business class seats. Actually we were to have gone to Scotland. All
expenses to be met by our bestman, now settled in Glasgow. We had to
rush home. My wife wished to be by her ailing mother’s bedside. We were
to take the evening flight.
Just then, a Sri Lankan lady rushed in tears. Their teenage daughter
had had a fall down the stairs. Unconscious. Her only word had been, “I
want Amma, I want Thaththa.” Her condition was very serious. Drifting.
“Sorry. No way. All flights fully booked. On all airlines. Even first
class. The quickest flight was this particular one. In Colombo by
afternoon the following day. The lady at the counter, my wife and a few
others attached to the counter had been very sad. You know, my good wife
had told the lady at the counter, “Please transfer, both our seats to
I am also a mother. Please go and look after your daughter. Our
feelings towards daughter are mutual.” She had told her that she was
going to see her ailing mother. “I love her, she loves me.” But she has
done all what she has to do as a mother and grandmother. You have a long
way to go.” Absolute silence in the manager’s office. “Sir: continued Mr
Randeniya, the British lady of the counter had simply hugged my wife and
sobbed. So did the Sri Lankan lady and all those present. My wife’s
request was granted. The recipient of her beautiful deed had rushed out
in tears. The airline staff had told my wife, “Madam, please take a
seat, we will see that you and your husband gets to Colombo at the
earliest. We pray that you will be with your sweet mother very very
The chairman and the general manager were listening to the story.
“Sir” said the manager, “what a beautiful scene from life. I cannot wait
to get home to relate this happy happening. To rush to my daughter with
the story and the gift to her son.”
Ravindra handed over the required documents for the loan. He wanted
six lakhs. Dowry and wedding expenses. A small sum compared to the
assets to be mortgaged.
“Excuse me Sir.” It was the chairman. We were also listening to your
beautiful story. So what happened next?” “Miracles Mr Chairman.” The
lady at the counter had been some lady. A mother no doubt. Do you know
that she got us on the Concord. The then supersonic commercial airliner.
To New York, Nairobi next. Bombay, Colombo. It was just a blur. We were
pampered all along. No extra cost. We were in Colombo eight hours after
our earlier flight.
That lady must have really pulled strings. Fantastic my wife was
there to hold her beloved mother’s hand when the latter breathed her
last. She was serene with a smile. Perhaps someone above must have told
her about her daughter’s heroic deed. My dear Sir, it was when I heard
this from my wife and especially the manner she told me that made me to
know the meaning of maternal love. Mothers, grandmothers, I can relate
this experience another hundred times. Golden moments. Good day.
“Gentleman, where will we be without love from our lovely mothers.”
The bankers were silent. The chairman. “Desmond, hold on to those
documents. I am going home now. Please, you all are invited to dinner to
my place. With your better halves and families.
The invitees were there by seven. House looked beautiful. Chairman
and wife Mangaleen welcomed them. The latter had been crying. A lot. May
be a family duel. They were seated. A young lady walked in with a sweet
little boy. “Our daughter and Lionel junior. Senior is on an assignment
abroad.” Lionel ran upto the grandparents. Sat between them. Patrick
Ruwansinghe called Desmond’s grandson to his side. Held him close.
Suddenly Mangaleen broke into tears. Patrick Ruwansinghe told a story.
“My wife and I were the persons to whom Mrs Randeniya had given their
seats. The moment my daughter saw us she turned for the better.
Kept holding our hands for nearly three hours. The doctors had given
up hope. She slept. She opened her eyes. Smiled. “Amma, Thaththa, how
did you come so quickly. Did an angel bring you here?” The Ruwnasinghe
family was in tears. So were all. “Yes, my dear friends, an angel in the
likeness of Mrs Randeniya brought us here.” He embraced Desmond’s
grandson. “It was this little angel’s heavenly deed that brought us here
today. Mrs Randeniya gave life and joy to Manisha. You all are
Buddhists. We are Catholics. Both our beloved Masters have stressed on
helping the needy, compassion and love. Today, you have shown your love
to be with us today. To share our joy. Soft drinks and love cake were