A Fish Called Kami
Kamiís Barb, a new species of
fish endemic to Sri Lanka: a specimen from
the Attidiya wetland, illustrated
by Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi
A new endemic fish has been named after
the Late Dr.
Kamalika Abeyeratne. Speaking at the
launching of the biography of the late Dr.
Kamalika Abeyeratne last year, the
biodiversity scientist Rohan Pethiyagoda
observed, "In the course of my career I have
spoken about fish, frogs, lizards, mice and
various other forms of life. Today, however,
it is my privilege to speak about a yet more
remarkable life-form ó the life of an
Pethiyagoda is one of the authors of a
paper published last week in the prestigious
international journal Zootaxa,
describing a new species of freshwater fish
endemic to Sri Lanka, with the scientific
name Puntius kamalika, named in
honour of Deshamanya Kamalika Abeyeratne.
While the scientific name is fixed by
international scientific convention, the
authors recommend in the paper that in
English the fish should be known by the
common name ĎKamiís Barb.í
"Anjana Silva and Kalana Maduwage, the
two lead authors of the paper," Pethiyagoda
told The Sunday Leader, "are both
young doctors with a deep interest in
zoology. They had both read Dr. Abeyeratneís
biography, A life In The Round
(published in 2007) and saw her as an
inspiration to medical professionals in Sri
Lanka. Her life was beautiful, yet tragic,
and the naming of Puntius kamalika
for her is a small tribute to show, albeit
too late, that someone, somewhere,
appreciates her life and her example."
An outstanding aquarist
According to Pethiyagoda, an additional
reason for associating Deshamanya Kamalika
with this species is that her husband,
paediatric surgeon Dr. Michael Abeyeratne,
has himself been an outstanding aquarist for
many years, having been an expert keeper and
breeder of freshwater fish and a close
associate of Rodney Jonklaas, who pioneered
the popularisation of Sri Lankan fishes
Kamiís Barb is a small fish that grows no
larger than about two and a half inches in
length. The somewhat drab silvery-white fish
is found in freshwater streams and marshes
through much of the wet zone, including the
Kelani, Kalu, Bentara and Gin river basins,
especially in the lowlands. The species is
"not uncommon" according to Pethiyagoda,
whose attention was first drawn to the
species in 1993 by the naturalist Kelum
Manamendra-Arachchi, who found several
specimens among the catch of a fisherman on
the road beside the Bellanwila-Attidiya
marsh just south of Colombo, one of which is
reproduced here in the drawing
Manamendra-Arachchi made at the time.
"Sadly," according to Pethiyagoda, "the
fish appears no longer to be common in
Attidiya, possibly because of pollution and
the number of alien species that have become
established there. Thankfully it is still
quite common in several other places."
Looking through old records the authors
found that the fish was first recorded in
Sri Lanka from Vakwella, near Galle, in 1912
by the German ichthyologist Georg Duncker
who, however, misidentified the species. The
specimen Duncker collected almost a century
ago is, according to the authors, still in a
perfect state of preservation in the
Zoological Museum of Hamburg.
Now What Do I Do?
Q. How do you handle the friendís husband
who greets you with a big, wet kiss on the
lips or inappropriate behaviour. It doesnít
seem to bother my friend, but it sure
A: Honestly, I donít understand why
anyone tolerates this. Thatís not being
friendly; itís a cheap assault, thinly
disguised. Tell him in private that the next
time he tries it, youíre going to embarrass
him, and tell your friend, too.
A: Breeze right past his pucker with
determination and give him a hug. If all
else fails, then every time you see him,
pull the "Oh-you donít want to get too
close; Iím sick." Thatís not a lie. You are
sick of his wet ones.
A: Start wearing bright red lipstick.
Q. I was recently on a full airplane
flight, and I put my seat back to get some
sleep. The guy behind me was 6í5" and asked
me to keep the seat up, but I was exhausted
and didnít. Did I do the right thing?
A: Taller people canít expect other
passengers to sacrifice comfort, but it
would be nice to show consideration, so
donít put your seat back as far as it can
go. And isnít that a great rule for getting
along in life in general?
Q. My sister collects handbags, some of
which cost thousands of dollars. I think of
the charities that could benefit from this
money ó it drives me nuts. Do I open my
Unnecessary extravagances are in the mind
of the beholder. Might she ask you how much
you spend on your Netflix rotation of
Beverly Hills 90210 episodes? Your
self-righteous censure wonít encourage your
sister to donate to charity. Put your money
where your judgment is: For her next
birthday, donate to Dress for Success in her
A: There are some who have the financial
capability to purchase handbags and give to
causes. Unless you have intimate knowledge
of your sisterís finances, donít judge her.
Lead by example.
Q. A friend occasionally e-mails my
husband. She recently mentioned a grudge she
has against me ó from 10 years ago. He told
me, I confronted her, and now sheís angry at
him. Honestly, isnít it unrealistic to
expect spouses to keep secrets from each
A: Itís not only unrealistic, itís
wrong. Marriages are grounded in trust.
Asking one partner to keep secrets from the
other threatens that trust. Your husband did
the right thing (but first he should have
told your friend he was going to do it).
A little fun and frolic
"Haa Haa Haa good one machang," I
heard one of my friends laughing
diabolically in the lounge as I carried
forth yet another basket of deep fried
hendella into the room. "What, what," I
said a tad excitedly, "what has happened?"
As if I didnít know. This lot usually had
nothing better to do than laugh raucously
over some lame joke of which the female of
the species was the recipient of.
ĎHey Eve do you know theyíve released
another Grimmís fairy tale? It was so good I
memorised it,í Kay said. ĎOkay Iím
listeningí, I said as we girls got ready to
indulge in the vapid games of the males
"One day, long, long ago.......
there lived a woman who did not whine,
nag or b***h.
But this was a long time ago.......
and it was just that one day.
Kay recited and then the males broke out
into peels of laughter and bouts of knee
"Machang, Machan I know another
one"ÖÖand this from Dee who most often
doesnít even know his own name let alone
Ďanother one,í on account of the fact he is
more often found outside of a glass of Vodka
Orange than inside of an office.
And believe you me or believe you me not
as I munched a well done hendella and
sipped a green tea Ė having totally ditched
the stuff that cheers for the nonce, I told
this repellent male as much. He merely
laughed the laugh of the jaunty and joyful
and continued on his merry way with his
Machang you know why men prefer guns
over women he said. And while we looked
disapprovingly on he listed a number of
reasons that went like this if memory serves
"(1) You can trade an old 44 for a new
(2) You can keep one gun at home and have
another for when youíre on the road.
(3) If you admire a friendís gun and tell
him so, he will probably let you try it out
a few times.
(4) Your primary gun doesnít mind if you
keep another gun for a back-up.
(5) Your gun will stay with you even if
you run out of ammo.
(6) A gun doesnít take up a lot of closet
(7) Guns function normally every day of
(8) A gun doesnít ask, "Do these new
grips make me look fat?"
(9) A gun doesnít mind if you go to sleep
after you use it.
"And the number one reason a gun is
favoured over a woman...." and he giggled
like a school girl as he said;
"YOU CAN BUY A SILENCER FOR A GUN."
Looking at the perfectly sound marriages
these friends of mine were enjoying despite
the light banter and humour a little fun and
frolic of this nature is healthy me thinks.
It is often better off to have a laugh over
these perennial stereotypical issues rather
than fight over it all week.
And while all this was going on amidst
glasses of vodka and cous cous wraps I
recalled a rather clever email I had
received from a friend titled "Before and
after Marriage." Much like those before and
after pictures in beauty product
advertisements. Only this time Before looks
much better than After. Read on.
He: Yes. At last. It was so hard to wait.
She: Do you want me to leave?
He: No! Donít even think about it.
She: Do you love me?
He: Of course! Over and over!
She: Have you ever cheated on me?
He: No! Why are you even asking?
She: Will you kiss me?
He: Every chance I get.
She: Will you hit me?
He: Are you crazy! Iím not that kind of
She: Can I trust you?
Simply read from bottom to top.
See you next week.
The new Sri Lankan alphabet
is for Abductions that take place daily,
usually blamed on aliens.
B is for Benz Bhikkus who live in the
lap of luxury.
C is for Censorship of TV programmes
showing scenes of alcohol and tobacco.
D is for Doctor Delipihiya, patron
saint of mayhem.
E is for Elections which are neither
free nor fair.
F is for Freedom of abduction,
harassment and imprisonment under the
Prevention of Terrorism Act.
G is for Gullible majority who have
been hoodwinked since 1948.
H is for Human rights abuses that
allegedly occur 365 days of the year.
I is for Independence also known as
the Ď60 Year Curse.í
J is for Jayasuriya, who will
probably play until the 2043 World Cup or
until he gets his EPF?
K is for Kassipu. (A bottle a
day keeps the liver awake.)
L is for Lies, damned lies and
statistics that the government media
saturates us with each day.
M is for Mahinda Chinthanaya.
(Who needs the Bible, Koran and
Tripitaka when we have the ĎChinthanaya.í
N is for Nepotism or favoritism to
relatives. (Also check R)
O is for the 17 Patriotic Opposition
MPs who crossed over to the government to
save the country.
P is for Pillayan, who became chief
minister of the east using the Ďbulletí to
get the Ďballot.í
Q is for Question mark? When will the
war end? When pigs fly or when hell freezes
R is for Rajapakse poshanaya
of Mahinda, Basil, Goatabaya and Chamal.
T is for Terrorism. Both the LTTE
kind and the state sponsored kind.
U is for Underestimate. What the
government always does of the LTTE.
V is for Velupillai Pirapaharan the
terrorist who is alive and kicking.
W is for Wickremesinghe (Ranil). The
greatest president that never governed Sri
X is for Xenophobia or the island
mentality. The dislike of all things
Y is for Yearning for yesterday. The
national pastime of living in the past.
Z is for Zero casualties for the
armed forces and 500,000 killed for the LTTE.
Body and Soul
I believe that a healthy soul should
inhabit a healthy body. To the extent,
therefore, that the soul grows into health
and freedom from passion, to that extent the
body also grows into that state. This does
not mean that a healthy body should be
necessarily strong in flesh. A brave soul
often inhabits a lean body. After a certain
stage, flesh diminishes in proportion to the
growth of the soul.
A perfectly healthy body may be very
fleshless. A muscular body is often heir to
many an ill. Even if it is apparently free
from disease, it is not immune from
infections, contagions and the like. A
perfectly healthy body, on the contrary, is
proof against all these. Incorruptible blood
has the inherent virtue of resisting all
infections. Such an equipoise is, indeed,
difficult of attainment. Otherwise I should
have reached it, because my soul is witness
to the fact that I would spare no pains to
attain this perfect state. No outward
obstacle can stand between me and that