[APPRECIATIONS - (02-07-2018)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (02-07-2018)]

Pricille D. Fernando

Humble human being

Two years ago on June 28, my beloved husband departed this world. Even two years after his passing, his abrupt departure continues to be an unacceptable, indescribable feeling in my life.

Dear Pricille, for you, life was a journey that was to be lived "your way", in the literal sense. That was to be concerned about others more than yourself; to make everyone around you more comfortable than you were. To bring forth joy and happiness to all around you. To live a life that would be meaningful in more than one way. You certainly achieved that and more.

He also built a network of friends and acquaintances. He loved his music and sang better than anyone else to keep a session going. Not only was he there for any event, but he made sure it was a memorable one with his joyful antics.

Pricille was always the first to help when a friend was in need. He loved others as much as he loved his family. These memories of you that we cherish will never fade away; it is firmly etched in our hearts. Caring and sharing was his theme. There was never a dull moment with him around. He was a man of wit, will and winning mindset.

Dear Pricille, for you, the present was far more important than the past, and you cherished every bit of it. Yours was a life of no regrets, while building the best around you, be it business or personal. Your goal was to make life a joyful journey of memories and fun; not one-centred on accolades and other achievements. To spread love and see a world filled with emotions.

Physically, you may not with us, but the memories you left behind will always be in our hearts, reminding us of great times well lived.

Until we meet you in person in the heavenly kingdom, please do intercede us to walk closely with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monica

****

Peace Somaratne

She possessed boundless compassion

For me, to live is Christ and to die, is gain.

Philippians 1: 21

My beloved sister peace went to be with Lord Jesus on December 21, 2017. It is hard to accept that we will not see her smiling face or hear her gentle voice encouraging, comforting and guiding us anymore.

Akka was born on April 18, 1943, the second in a family of 5. She was just 15 months older than myself. For some reason that I cannot recall, we were in the same class in school from Grade 1. Though we were nothing alike in looks and temperament, we were often mistaken for twins. We were the best of friends, studying and playing together. It was hard for me when we were separated at the Ordinary Level class when she went into the Arts stream, while I selected Science.

She made her distinctive contribution as a student to Methodist College, being appointed a prefect for two years, Vice Captain of a school house for one, and Captain for another. She was also the Leader of the Sinhala Debating team and a member of the English Debating team. She entered the University of Peradeniya in 1961, to read for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics.

She married Professor G. P. V. Somaratne in 1966 and accompanied him when he went to London to read for his PhD in History. She was his devoted and caring wife for 52 years.

On their return to Sri Lanka in 1969, she joined the tutorial staff of her alma mater Methodist College. She was a gifted teacher having the skill to kindle an interest in the subjects she taught; History, Sinhala and Economics in the Ordinary Level and Advanced Level classes. She was a strict disciplinarian, but earned the warm affection and loyalty of her students as they sensed her genuine concern and interest in their welfare.

Akka was an undergraduate when there was a revival of Sinhala drama under the influence of Prof. Ediriweera Sarathchandra. This exposure gave her the vision and skill to direct Chora Pabbathaya and Sakkaya Ditthi; two successful stylised Sinhala dramas.

Students and Staff alike were devastated when akka gave up teaching in 1982. She had been invited to join a team who had taken on the challenge of editing a new Sinhala translation of the Holy Bible spearheaded by the Ceylon Bible Society. She felt that part-time involvement was insufficient for such a tremendous task. Though she loved her profession as a teacher, she willingly gave it up as she was convinced that it was God’s calling for her. She was also responsible for editing a Sinhala study Bible which had not existed before. She got actively involved in supporting her husband, in helping with research, editing and proofreading many books wrote during the past two decades, which have enriched Christian literature.

She was indeed the wind beneath his wings.

Akka was the epitome of simplicity, often dressed in white. She shunned jewelry, wearing only a simple pair of ear studs. Her adornment was her beautiful smile which radiated her goodness and inner peace.

Akka’s compassion and caring knew no bounds. She would reach out to those in need, those who were hurting, and was able to comfort, encourage and heal anyone. She was always ready to lend a helping hand and paying school fees for less-affluent students at Methodist College, providing regular supply of dry rations to families who were struggling to make ends-meet, all without publicity or fanfare. The daily maid who came to help with cleaning, tearfully told me that akka had given her Rs. 1,000 to buy Christmas presents for her two little boys, just before akka entered hospital in December.

She was a gifted speaker, but never was a show-off. She never used big words or high-flown theology. Her words were simple and touched the hearts of her listeners, making an indelible impact. When she prayed, we felt that she had a hotline to Jesus.

Akka has a son Dasharatha (a Chaplain in the USA Army) and a daughter Prarthana Devi (a Primary School Teacher), both who reside in the United States. She provided them with love, support and guidance, and most of all, inculcated a steadfast love for their Saviour Jesus.

These two well-balanced and outstanding young people are evidence to her good parenting. Akka has eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

She was priya akka to her many cousins and a much-loved loku achchi to her grandnieces and nephews.

After akka’s demise, many of her past pupils at Methodist College, scattered throughout Sri Lanka and abroad, contacted me to express their sympathy. Many said that they were who they are today because of the sound moral and Christian values that were instilled in them by their teacher at a young and impressionable age.

Goodbye my dearest akka. Your departure left an aching void in our lives.

We will hold you in our hearts and find comfort in the sure knowledge that you are safe in the arms of Jesus. We look forward to the glorious day when we will meet again, beyond the sunset.

Dr. Suriyakanthie Amarasekera

****

Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunge

Outstanding military man

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.

- Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Ministerial motorcades with backup commando escort and outriders whizzing past us on the busy streets in and around Colombo were a common sight in 2006. But Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunga travelled to Army Headquarters in Colombo from his quarters in Homagama everyday in a marked green Peugeot, bearing a military license plate, followed only by a beat-up pickup truck. He had no outriders, no protective units assigned to him, no bulletproof or bombproof car. He wanted his quarters inside the Army Headquarters (AHQ) complex, but it was denied to him. So he had little choice.

As the third highest ranking officer in the Army, he travelled 28 km to the Army Headquarters in Colombo, spending two hours each day on the road covering 56 km both ways. The fact that he travelled to work every morning along the High Level Road, quickly became known to the public.

I was one of the first to stand beside him when he laid on that cold, grey slab at the General Hospital. After all the trauma, his face was serene. Many laid the blame squarely (and fairly) on the government, for having neglected to protect such an outstanding and astounding military man who had proved his mettle on and off the battlefield and was indeed a priceless resource in the country’s war on terror and beyond.

His family and friends were devastated. They thought he was invincible. I know of some who never recovered from the news, living now in eternal grief. His death evoked extraordinary indignation from the public. Malinda Seneviratne’s tribute to him, Requiem, which I read recently, is extremely and deeply moving.

From a news report: “There were about 100 people guarding his body at the National Hospital, five truck loads and five jeep loads of soldiers were on guard outside the funeral parlour and about the same number escorted his body from the parlour to his home in Kelaniya and yet another grand escort was given at his funeral. However, when he was alive and in service, he was only provided with one measly back up vehicle as security, said another grief-stricken relative of Lt. General Parami Kulatunga.”

Parami was the youngest of Lionel and Leela Kulatunga of Lewela, Kandy and the adored and deeply missed brother of Lumbini, Samantha and Indu. A die-hard Trinitian, although he played rugby, his passion was for cadetting. He ended up the Senior Regimental Sergeant Major of the Senior Cadet Platoon.

He decided to join the army in 1971, when the country was in the throes of the JVP insurgency and he was commissioned to the elite Gemunu Watch. His detailed and impeccable 35 year military record is easily accessible.

He played a major role in the Vadamarachchi Operation of 1987, when the Jaffna peninsula was liberated under Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, as well as Operation Balavegaya I and II in 1991 and 1992 which saved Elephant Pass. He was the General Officer Commanding the 52 Division which stopped the waves of the advancing LTTE cadres in Eluthumattuval, after the Elephant Pass camp was overrun. Parallel to that, he was an integral stakeholder of the then ten Kinihira Operations, which were meant for the capture of Jaffna. He also played his part in the Valampoori, Yal Devi and Jayasikurui Operations. His decorations included the Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), Uttama Seva Padakkama (USP), Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal, Riviresa Campaign Services Medal, Poorna Bhumi Padakkama, North and East Operations Medal and Desha Putra Sammanaya, amongst others. In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya (VSV), the second-highest ranked medal for gallantry.

Parami could comfortably wear the badge of an officer and a gentleman. Nobody would ever deny him that. The manner in which he established rapport amongst the civil officials, religious dignitaries and members of the public in Jaffna or wherever he was stationed for that matter, was inspirational to all his junior officers and soldiers around him. I have personally seen how much he has done for disabled troops at Kuruwita.

Parami was a bulwark to his large and endearing Talwatte and Kulatunge families. Like with all his friends and colleagues he always found time to visit his aging aunts and uncles, lift their spirits, listen with patience to their woes and swiftly reconcile them when he suspected disunity.

He was there for everybody and caste, creed or religion was never a criterion during his association with people. I remember when I had to undergo surgery he was there when I was wheeled in and there when I was wheeled out. And then, when I lived in denial, he would visit me many times unannounced and prop me up with wonderful words of encouragement and hand me inspirational books to help improve my sagging coping skills. Parami was a devout Buddhist and although he struggled at times to balance the dhamma with the war, he finally succeeded in achieving the harmony he sought. He did not pay mere lip service to the Buddha, dhamma and the sangha, but truly took them as his refuge at all times. This was plain to see by all of us who knew him intimately.

As it had been said, he was bold, dashing and handsome, relentless in combat, magnanimous in victory and gracious to his vanquished enemies.

Jomo Uduman

****

Captain Theja Liyanagamage

A valiant soldier who fought for the motherland

It has been 20 years since the passing away of Mangala Liyanagame, the gallant young soldier who was gunned down by LTTE forces on June 8, 1998 in the Kilinochchi jungles when he was only 27 years old. Although two decades have passed since his tragic demise, he still lives in my heart; not only as a beloved cousin, but also as a young hero from the South whose precious life was snatched away during the prime of his life.

Theja Mangala Liyanagamage, born on November 26, 1971, was the youngest of the three sons of former All-Island Justice of Peace late Piyasena Liyanagamage and late Prema Liyanagamage (nee Samaranayake); both government servants of Hapugala, Galle. Similar to his two elder brothers, Mangala too, attended Richmond College during his entire school career, where he was an outstanding sportsman. His forte was hockey, in which he captained the college team and later, represented the Southern Province and the army.

When he finished his school education, his parents wanted him to select a career other than the forces as his two elder brothers were already in the forces by that time. But that was not to be; without telling anyone, he applied to join the army and when he appeared for the interview. With his nearly six feet stature and brilliant achievements in sports as well as his family background, the army had no questions to ask. He was readily recruited on August 26, 1991, as a Cadet Officer. It was the beginning of a brief, but brilliant and exemplary military career.

Having undergone preliminary military training at the Diyatalawa Miltary Academy, Mangala was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and thereafter, during his entire career in the army, he served only in the operational areas in the North, including Elephant Pass, Paranthan, Venthalaikeni and Kilinocchi at a time when terrorism was at its peak within the country.

Mangala was one of the pioneer members of the 10th Battalion of the Sinha Regiment, which was set up in the year 1997. He was popular as an officer who served the army with unfaltering commitment and dedication. In the year 1995, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and in recognition of his bravery and commitment, he was awarded the Weera Wicrama Vibhooshana (WWV) medal.

Having served in the war-torn areas of the North for a continuous period of over six years, Mangala was eligible to apply for a transfer to a congenial area in the South. But he did not want to leave the battalion which he led with courage and dedication. Then came the fateful day; June 8th, 1998; when he was active in the battlefields in Kilinochchi. Mangala was killed by an LTTE bullet.

Mangala’s eldest brother Air Commodore Ravindra Liyanagamage, who joined the Sri Lanka Air Force in 1988 as a Cadet Officer, is at present, the Ratmalana Air Base Commander; while his other brother Captain Jagath Liyanagamage, who joined the Sri Lanka Navy in 1990 as a Cadet Officer, is currently the South East Naval Command Logistic Department Captain.

If Mangala did not fall prey to the LTTE, by now, he would have risen to the highest echelons in the Sri Lanka Army. But unfortunately, fate decreed otherwise.

Dear Mangala malli, we are proud of you. You are our hero, you sacrificed your life for your country. Although we cannot see you, our fond memories of you are still fresh in our minds and you will never be forgotten. Since your departure, every year during the month of June, your parents provided a sangika dana to the Maha Sanga in your memory, to invoke blessings on you. All of us in our family circle as well as a large number of your friends participated in such annual alms-givings. After the demise of your parents, this tradition was continued by your brothers.

May the blessings of the Triple Gem be with you always throughout your journey in Sansara.

Damitha Samaranayake, Nawala. 


 

Add new comment

Or log in with...