6th August,  2006  Volume 13, Issue 4

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


The backbiting monkey

Story by Saranga Nanayakkara Written by Ranee Mohamed

We have heard of villagers being terrorised by elephants, yet others have been traumatised .....


Review more articles

 > It's now easy  to park and shop in Colombo

 > Partying till the wee hours (....Balder dash)

 > A good friendship that changed with time

 > Ananda Sastralaya - moving on

 > To have and to hold for the rest of their lives

 > Anaemia can go undetected

 > What if someone told you that your child maybe malnourished?

The backbiting monkey

Story by Saranga Nanayakkara Written by Ranee Mohamed

We have heard of villagers being terrorised by elephants, yet others have been traumatised by flesh-eating  wild animals, more dangerous than the elephant. But this tale that comes from Dambulla has a different twist. It is about a  monkey with a long tail who continues to traumatise villagers by biting them from behind.

Back-biting may be common to us humans, but when a monkey does it as routinely as we humans do, it certainly hits the headlines.

The  villagers of Rathmalgahae- lla on the Dambulla-Kandalama highway say that they have lived in fear for a long time. It is over  three months since the monkey made its first appearance. It lurked, waiting to spring forth with its surprise attack on the backs of these innocent villagers who lived in hardship. Many of them are farmers, hence outdoor living is the trend here, a trend that this monkey seems to be ecstatic about.

"We work on our chenas and fields and some of us engage in handicraft work. This is why we have to spend much time outdoors with our children," said the villagers. 

Without warning

"It first began with this monkey biting the villagers everyday. Springing without warning, it would leap on us and then bite us and leap back into the trees. That was over three months ago," said the villagers.

But in the past three months, this monkey seems to have got bolder. It   has learnt to come home. It simply jumps into houses,  bites the people inside and runs away. "Over 38 people have been bitten by this monkey. We have never been so frightened in all our life in this village, but there was nothing we could do. There were people to listen to our tale, but no one to save us from this monkey," lamented the villagers.

"This monkey was somersaulting our daily lives. The women were  scared to go and cook our meals because they were frightened that the monkey will bite our children. So, the women spent their time guarding the little ones," said the villagers.

Bolder each day

As fears grew, the monkey became bolder each day. He felt that he was king and that there was no one to stop him in his daily antics. Though the villagers  lodged an entry with the Dambulla police, the monkey did not seem to care two hoots.

In the monkey's life, lawlessness prevailed, and he  brought this trend to the lives of the villagers of Rathmalgahaella.

While the police said that they had no powers to shoot the monkey, the monkey himself took the law into his own hands. The police had however asked the villagers to inform the Department of Wildlife so that some kind of settlement could be arrived at with the monkey, maybe by limiting his access to the village.

Animal rights activists and the laws of nature - what goes round comes around -  prohibited the killing of this monkey, but arresting this trend and improving the monkey's social skills seemed to be priority need in this village.

The villagers had  complained to the Wildlife authorities but said that initially the officials there were not keen to catch the monkey. But continuous complaints by the villagers had brought the Wildlife officials to the village.

"Though the Wildlife officials came here with a large cage and stayed for two days and nights they were not able to catch the monkey," said the villagers. Some of the villagers were also  considering  moving out of the village.

Villagers had also staged a protest on the Dambulla Kandalama road, demanding that the monkey be caught. The protest had climaxed with the protestors marching to the police station.

A group of young men and women however, after keeping watch day and night were finally able to net in the monkey. About 150 people that had gathering together had been able to corner the monkey and hit it with sticks and poles. The villagers had, with this capture and beating to death of the monkey, been able to show their anger towards this animal who had peeped through their windows and bitten their children.

The villagers had thereafter set fire to the body of the monkey. Today what remains of this bold monkey are its teeth, which the villagers say they kept with them to remember the ordeal.

No easy task

"Catching the  monkey was no easy task," said a shopkeeper on the Dambulla-Kandalama road. "This monkey brought so much fear into our lives. We did not know when, how and where he would leap on us and bite us," he said. "We cannot say that the monkey  was mentally unbalanced. But certainly there was no sense of day or night to it. Biting was fun to him at any time," explained the shop keeper after the demise of this monkey.

The shopkeeper went on to point out whether the monkey knew the taste of blood and continued to bite the villagers. The villagers said that the monkey never approached people when there was a crowd. "It always made sure that a villager was alone before he bit. The moment it finished biting, it ran away, never stayed," he said.

The day the monkey was  caught, the whole village had come to see this huge black intruder who they say they were so frightened of. "It was such a big monkey that the men had to beat it with huge sticks and poles to kill it," said the villagers.

The villagers said that though they chased the monkey away, it always came back. "We lit fire crackers, we made noises, we did everything that was possible to scare a monkey away, but this monkey always came back," they recalled.

Bitten by the monkey

Navaratna, a villager said that both he and his son were bitten by this monkey. Navaratne who has a small devale said "I went to the garden to cut some firewood. When I was cutting firewood, this monkey came and grabbed me from behind and bit me. I turned around and hit it with the knife in my hand, but he ran," said Navaratna.  Navaratna said the monkey had very sharp teeth. "Usually monkeys live together in a troop, but this monkey lived alone. It came at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. but we were able to catch it at 6 a.m," said Navaratna.

Navaratna said that the time the monkey ran free, people were frightened to walk out of their houses. He said that the monkey also paid them home-visits, and that too frightened the villagers.

The villagers said the child whom the monkey last bit was sent to the National Hospital. "The monkey always tried to bite children. It always concentrated on areas in the back, especially the buttocks where there was chunks of flesh,"  explained the villagers.

The monkey sometimes stayed on top of the trees, sometimes it walked on the ground, it was the king of the village, said the villagers who believed that the monkey had a devil inside him. "It always hooted in the night, monkeys do not hoot at night. When it was captured it did not shout, but when it was being beaten, it screamed, wailed and moaned, till its breathed its last," said the villagers.

"We did shanthi karma, spoke to the chief of the Department of Wildlife over the telephone told the police; but all what happened was that our children were getting bitten every day. We have lived with monkeys for a long time, but we have never met a monkey as this one," chorused the villagers.

The monkey is no more, happiness seems to have returned to the village, except for now and then when the cries and moans of the monkey, in its throes of death, echo in the hearts and minds of some villagers. 

It's now easy  to park and shop in Colombo

By Shezna Shums

Soon, walking  in Pettah or driving  on the narrow roads crowded by nattamis and jaywalkerswill not be as bad as it is today promise the traffic authorities. With the new recent traffic arrangements the place has literally got a facelift, given the reduced number of cars on the roads.  However a lot more improvement is necessary, especially with the condition of the roads and the state of the commercial hub.

Unlike earlier when there were  cars parked on roadsides making them congested and the traffic was simply driving people crazy, things are very different today.

Today's new traffic arrangements and parking lots designated around the city have made the roads less congested and much easier for the motorists as well as the pedestrians.

Vehicular traffic in Fort shows a noticeable decline since the new parking arrangements came into operation.

Easier to travel

Certainly the absence of cars on the roadsides has made it much easier to travel in this place where the roads are usually crowded with shoppers, pedestrians and carts as well as cars.

However with less cars on the roads, the pedestrians are taking full advantage of this and could be seen walking along the main roads earning the ire of annoyed drivers. The new parking lots around the city have been set up in order to ease  congestion on the roads as well as to improve the security situation in the city.

These new arrangements ensure there would be a continuous rotation of vehicles on the road and the traffic would be eased, Director, Colombo Traffic Police, SSP Y. G. P. Laffir told The Sunday Leader.

He said that the congestion on roads has reduced and the number of vehicular accidents have also notably declined. Police headquarters personnel are assisting the traffic police in setting up the public parking lots.

According to the Colombo Traffic Police the vehicles from the Fort area of  York Street, Chatham Street, Lotus Road and Olcott Mawatha would be allocated a parking lot opposite the Regal cinema.

At Union Place

SSP Laffir added that the vehicles from Union Place and surrounding areas would be diverted to a parking lot opposite the Rutnam's Hospital.

Another parking lot has also been established near Hyde Park for the vehicles moving in that area.

Furthermore three other parking lots have also been established opposite the Railway station in Maradana as well as near Campbell Park, while a parking lot has been cleared opposite the R.V. D. Building down Bauddhaloka Mawatha.

More parking lots have also been established in Pettah, Borella and Maradana  on state owned lands and are being maintained by the UDA.

Responding to complaints that there is garbage piled up and muddy water pools in these parking lots, Laffir said that almost 55 percent have been cleaned and in a few days time the rest would be cleaned as well. SSP Laffir also highlighted that parking lots have been created in the areas of Stanley Wijesundara Mawatha and in Narahenpita.

At the moment parking and security would be provided free of charge for the public until such time the police sees it fit to charge for this service and space. However in some parking lots there is a nominal rate being charged.

Most parking lots could accommodate over 1000 vehicles consisting or cars, vans and bikes. With this new parking lots congestion on the roads has reduced, road accidents have been reduced and it is much easier to travel around the city.

These parking lots seem to be a good idea in making Colombo an easier place to travel in.

Perth Diary

A good friendship that changed with time

The debacle occurred in 1996 or 1997. We were in Form 3. Sometimes you realise that you and another person share a lot in common - in the way you think perhaps, or what you value.  And sometimes out of shared experiences, it is interesting to see how both of you differ in reacting to the same situation.

School sucked for both of us - Michelle and I. Perhaps I might be wrong but there we were, two people that preferred to be smart rather than cool. And cool as you know always rules and triumphs when you are in school. Michelle had the good luck to be there first and to be obviously nice and sweet and therefore somewhat oddly protected as the resident genius.

 Blindly honest

I, on the other hand, was blindly honest and while I was all too happy to be friends with most people, I was adamant as to what I didn't like. And I guess a lot of people didn't like the fact that I don't like the concept of popularity or being cool.  Maybe they found the notion so absurdly foreign that they had no other choice than to react to it. Teen psychology anyone?

All hell blew over one day when Michelle stormed into the class completely upset and railed her head off at me. The upshot was that apparently a close friend had said that I had started spreading rumours about her and someone else. What I remember was watching with unabated interest as people who had previously ignored her  most of the time rallied around her to protect her from me and my supposed wicked ways.

Fast forward a few years later and after being thrown together a lot for classes and the general knowledge team and probably thanks to a lot of very obvious loyalty from a few friends of mine over the years, Michelle admitted to me that she'd found out that it wasn't true. I, a complete stranger to her, had not betrayed her but her close friend instead had.

But the damage was done by then. I don't think a lot of people realised what exactly was happening but Michelle withdrew and given that the class doubled in size with about 20 to 30 new students that year and hence new dramas, this sort of faded into the background.

Her closest friends had left, she hung out only with her boyfriend at the time who was noted for being a rebel of sorts. She spoke to people but she was always so uncomfortable around most of them.

Still angry

I am still angry though.  I never knew who it was that hurt her like that or for what reason -  she never told me and she refused to.

Fast forward to 2001. The last time I saw Michelle was at our graduation. She got into Yale and was the darling of the school for a while. I remember Michelle not as a recluse or a genius but as someone I thought of as a friend despite whatever may have happened. I don't think she ever forgave herself, I don't think she ever learnt to trust anyone else, I don't think she ever learnt to trust herself again. To do that to someone is something I can never forgive anyone else for.

Michelle doesn't answer when you message or email her anymore. She doesn't know what to say to me, she doesn't seem to know anyone that well to know what to say to them either.

Michelle and I have the same wants and desires in life - I am brash and blunt, she is deferential and polite. I get in fights and she watches from the sidelines and shakes her head at me. She and I both for awhile perceived each other as a sort of competitve benchmark - who was smarter? Who got the better grades?  We are also in our own ways completely socially inept.

I have a very few friends, most of whom weren't from school,  and most probably so does she but because we're so socially inept, I can't tell you for certain. That uncertainty makes me worry about her. I had my share of utter crap for being different in school too but when it got horrible I ran and hid behind my friends till I could think up of something equally sarcastic and witty to bite back with.

Brave face

Michelle put on a brave face and did a little bit inside each time because at first she trusted so much and then stopped trusting at all. It got so bad that kidding around with her seemed dangerous, she might have smiled on the surface but you worried as to whether she got the wrong idea.

Michelle didn't have anyone to hide behind or anyone she felt she could trust enough to care about her. I hope she has someone now and that she is happy wherever she is. Because we are both the kind of people who need someone to protect us, every once in awhile - despite how we act on the outside.

- Marisa Wickremanayake

Ananda Sastralaya - moving on

Principal P. Liyanage

Portals of learning...

THE school playground in not only where you got your first knee scratch, it's also where you first learnt to interact with other children. Your school informed your adult life, your career and your character.

Your teachers were those beacons of light that showed you the way forward.

The Sunday Leader continues to feature those great halls of learning that helped shape Sri Lanka's citizens. 

By Sunalie Ratnayake

This portal of learning situated in Kotte  completes 116 years of existence this year and is considered   a valuable archeological site, belonging to the Portuguese period.

From its inception Ananda Sastralaya functioned in  temporary cadjan sheds till permanent buildings were erected during Dr. E.W. Adikaram's tenure  as   principal of the school.  Ananda Sasthralaya has gone through many ups and downs during its long period of existence but has managed to be in the forefront in the  sphere of education, imparting knowledge to the many generations of students who have passed through its portals over the years.

The early years

Buddhism and Buddhist culture had been neglected during the time Ceylon was under  British rule, and the Buddhist leaders in Kotte realising this situation set up a school by the name of 'Kotte Bauddha (Buddhist) Mixed School' on November 4, 1880. The purpose of setting up this school was to foster Buddhist ideals and also to guide young minds  in the Buddhist way of life.

 This was a  primary step taken by the Buddhist leaders of that era towards  promoting a Buddhist education.  The Venerable Embulgama Wimalatissa Thero, along with eminent leaders of the dayaka sabha of the Kotte Rajamaha Viharaya, headed by Thepanis Perera Appuhamy and few others set about to enhance  the quality of education  in the school and also improve the facilities available there.  As a first step  in this direction the school was renamed   Ananda Sastralaya on January 1, 1890 and the school was  located on a block of land transferred by the Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya.

In 1971, the school which was a mixed school till then was transformed  into two institutions - one for boys and the other for girls. The girls' school was  shifted to a block of land at Pagoda which had been obtained for Ananda Sastralaya  by Dr. Adikaram in 1940. With this move Ananda Sastralaya became a full fledged boys' school.

Those beacons of light

The first headmaster of Ananda Sastralaya was C. Ranasinghe who served the school from 1890 to 1903.  D.B. Jayatillake succeeded Ranasinghe as headmaster in the same year and continued in that position up to 1905. There is evidence that Sir Henry Steel Olcott  graced the school prize giving in 1903 and 1904.

D.S. Jayawardena served as the headmaster of Ananda Sastralaya from 1905 to 1922, and in 1910, the school came to be known  as 'Jayawardena Shastra Shalava,' a move approved by the  Buddhist Theosophical Society. This society which had been founded for the  revival of Buddhist activities  took over  the school to be  properly administered as a   Buddhist school and renamed it as 'Ananda Sastralaya, Kotte.'  With this move S.P. Perera was appointed as headmaster in 1922.  He served the school till 1934.

A Ph.D scholar, at the Oxford University in England, Dr. E.W. Adikaram was appointed headmaster in 1934 and he served the school until 1946. Adikaram developed  the school into a well-organised educational institution by adding laboratories, a main hall, a hostel and a playground. Bernard Wickramasinghe succeeded Dr. Adikaram as headmaster in 1946 and was at the helm of affairs till 1955.  It was during Wickramasinghe's era that cricket was first introduced  to  the school. During the next 10 years the school had been administered by N. W. De Costa, M. Palihawadane, K. Gunaratna, and G. Wickramaratne. 

A. Pasqual took over as headmaster of the school in1965. W.T.P. Thilakaratne, H. Thilakananda, P.D. Weerasooriya, E.M. Ranasinghe, W.S. Ranasinghe, W.A. Dharmasiri, D. Jayaweera and Rev. A. Gunarathana Thero have served the school as its  principals between  1965 and  early 2006 respectively.

Present day school

Presently there are 92 teachers and 14 additional assistant development teachers. The student population stands at 2200.

The school has two classes each in Advanced Level science, mathematics, arts and commerce.

There are also four parallel G.C.E. (O/L) classes and another class is to be added during the course of next year. The school also has an English medium  class for each of the grades from  one to 10.

Ananda Sastralaya consists of the Primary and Post Primary sections.  Grades 1 to 5 come under the primary section while grades 6 to 13 fall under the post primary section. Apart from the academic structure, the school also maintains a high degree of extra curricular activities. A significant number of students from the school make it to university each year. However compared to previous years, those qualifying for university at present is not that high.

The science laboratories were constructed during Dr. Adikaram's time. The zoology laboratory was built in 1962. Currently there  are four laboratories for physics, chemistry, biology and zoology.

The college has a fully equipped library.  There is a separate section for IT education with computers. There are proposals to make the school a computer centre in the near future. Apart from these, a multi purpose building was declared open in 2004 to facilitate oriental dancing, classical music, classical art, electronics, indoor sports, agriculture and life skills.

The cadet troop when inaugurated  in 1962, was  a junior platoon. The platoon has now achieved senior status and has won awards  at annual camps held in Rantembe.

The eastern band was started during the 1980s. A notable achievement was that the eastern band of Ananda Sastralaya was selected to play  at the ceremonial opening of the new parliament at Battaramulla and the  Independence Day celebrations in 1983. The band won the prestigious Gunasekera Memorial Trophy at the 1991 Randenigala camp.

The scout troop established in 1957is highly talented and won  the award presented to the best troop at the annual jamboree held at Viharamahadevi Park the very next year.

The debating team has won several awards through the years and the school is proud of its oratorical skills.

A squad has been  selected from the middle school  for promoting the  protection of the environment. The school also has a media unit which has excelled in  school broadcasts. The school has also set up societies for  promoting science, commerce, astronomy and photography.  At the school annual  prize giving, nearly 200 students win either awards or certificates of merit each year.

Achievements in sports

The main sports activity in the school  is cricket. There are under 13,15,17 and 19 cricket teams. Under 15s and 17s play in division 1, under 19s play in division 2 and under 13s play in division 3.

The cricket master in charge is  D.M.D.M. Jayaratne who is proud about the recent achievements  of the cricket teams. In the 'Battle of Sri Jayawardenepura' held for the 15th time in March 2006, the school team won on the first innings. The rest of the awards of that event were also obtained by the school.  The under 13 team became champions at the cricket tournament held at S. Jayasinghe Madya Maha Vidyalaya in Dehiwela,  in March this year.

The two teachers in charge of athletics are Lasitha Rajapakse and Thanuja Wijekoon. The athletic coach is Sumith Jayantha. Lahiru Diluk won the second place in the under 19 put shot event at the Western Province Schools Athletic Meet. Oshan Thanuja obtained the second place at the 110 m hurdle and third place at the 400 m hurdles.

The school team became first in the (100 x 5) m relay. Malindu Dabare, Oshan Thanjula, Chiran Liyanage and Charotha Sameera obtained the third place at the (400 x 4) m relay. At the Colombo District athletic meet held in collaboration with India, Lahiru Diluk became the first in the put shot event, also establishing a record.

In the Javelin event, Chiran Liyanage came first. Malindu Dabare won the first place in the 400 m event. Diluk, Chiran and Malindu have been  selected to take part in the games to be held in India shortly.

Other sports conducted at the school are table tennis, badminton, chess, swimming, wuushu, volleyball and football. There is also a junior Western Band.

The leaders

The present Principal of Ananda Sastralaya is P. Liyanage. The Deputy Principals are K.D. Jayawardene (Administration) and Wimala Kumari Ranasinghe. The Assistant Principal of the Primary Section is Gamini Nanayakkara. Assistant Principal of Grade 6 and 7 is L.K.R. Priyadharshani, grade 8 and 9 is M.L.P. Perera, grade 10 and 11 is P.W.H. Peiris and for Advanced Level classes the Assistant Principal is Gamini Ranjith.

The science sectional head is V.H.D. Ariyadasa and the arts and commerce sectional head is H.D. Chandrani.

The head prefect is T.D. Manoj Ranga and the deputy head prefects are M.A. Indunil Amal, K.A. Supun Madusanka, Praneeth Nadeeshan Alwis and Kasun Madusanka Pethiyagoda.


 Principal P. Liyanage assumed duties on June   19,  2006. Liyanage who previously worked at the Education Ministry was selected from the Sri Lanka Education Management Service. He has also served as deputy principal at Bomiriya Central College from January 2006 until he assumed duties at Ananda Sastralaya on June 19, 2006. "I will be focusing more on education and I want to bring this school to a better standard from where it is today," Liyanage told The Sunday Leader.

Deputy Principal K.D. Jayawardene who had served the school for 10 years said, "Though there have been downfalls in the last few years, Ananda Sastralaya is in fact a prestigious school. It is in a great location, where there is great potential for  improvement. I would like it  if students from all corners of our island attend this school. Then the school would be stronger in every aspect. There are many talented students here, but certain things are not in order.  A good example is the valuable equipment obtained in 1997 for motor mechanism, but due to lack of teachers, the entire room is looked up. I wish a proper policy would be established as soon as possible, so that the students could put their talents to use."  Jayawardene also stressed that the 'old boys'  were an asset and that he sees them as the  most important part of the school.

Lion Mahinda Makalanda, an old boy and Past Pupils Association President said that he was admitted to the college in 1952 and  left  in 1965. "Wherever I go, I try to keep up with the traditions of my alma mater, especially the traditions laid down by Dr. Adikaram. I am very proud to be a Sastralian," Makalanda said.  Makalanda was very helpful in providing  information that made this article  possible.

Sastralian T. Pasqual's name cannot  be forgotten, as he is the oldest living old boy of Ananda Sastralaya. He was a member of parliament from 1956 to 1977and held the post of  deputy minister of legal affairs.

Proud products

It is sad that  space permits  the listing of only a few of the, outstanding past pupils of Ananda Sastralaya.  Late Professor K. Jinadasa Perera, Professor Mahinda Palihawadana, Professor J.M. Jayasinghe, Tourist Board Chairman H.P. Siriwardene, Ex Central Bank Governor H.B. Dissanayake, Ex Gem Corporation Chairman W.M.P. Weerasinghe, President's Counsel Jayatissa Herath, Lady Ridgeway Hospital's Deputy Director Dr. D.H.K. Karunatilake, the only doctor that Sastralaya ever produced, singer Milton Mallawaarachchi, Kalabho- oshana Lionel Gunatilake, politicians Reggie Ranatunga and Gamini Lokuge are just a few.

Ananda Sastralaya is a prestigious portal of learning, which has scored a century and is marching along steadily.  The Sunday Leader wishes it success.

Partying till the wee hours

As time goes by, the belligerent side of my nature seems to be manifesting itself very firmly. Beware, all at hand! I seem to have run out of patience. It could also be I'm not as worried about public opinion, as I was when I was younger. So I let fly, to the horror of some!

The most recent episode was last night, or rather early this morning. The kids had gone for a beach party to Buba. The first time they went there I swore would be the last, as the approach road  so narrow. My driver had got the name wrong, and wouldn't change his version, so from Dehiwela to Mount Lavinia,  people thought we were looking for a place called Boo Bars ! You wouldn't believe the number of helpful and cheerful people up and about, late at night.

The approach road has a very long name and nobody knew it.  It had at least 15 of the letters in the alphabet. I was told to just follow the road right down and take a left turn at the t-junction. In between, someone helpfully told me there was a house with a wall, with a square window (??) and that further confused me. There were lots of dubious looking but very obliging blokes lurking about in the shadows, and they kindly pointed us in the correct direction, where we had to inch along carefully, or else scrape your vehicle on the side.

Finally drove into the overloaded car park, where I spied a girl reclining picturesquely against a car with a boy, in full glare of all the headlights. She had taken this beach theme very seriously and was either in her underwear or in a bikini! When I pointed this out to our gang, they all burst out laughing, "Aunty ! Mum!"

No more parties

Anyway, I said no more parties there, but yesterday they had approached Caveman about another 'happening.' They explained that their pal's uncle, aunt, cousins and a whole host of relatives were accompanying them as well. I grumbled that if he saw the road he'd refuse to go there, but though I was on an overseas call, my younger daughter who is rather persistent, stood with a beseeching look on her face right in front of me until I was forced to hang up. After checking out, decided to let them go.

On the way back home, a mad motorcyclist overtook us on the wrong side and drove right into a man crossing the road.

I kept yelling, "That fellow should be thrashed! I hope everybody hits him! That's the only language some people understand." My driver, who is rather peaceful, uneasily smiled and sped away, as if he feared I was going to order him to do it! I kept mumbling darkly for about 10 minutes, whilst he heartily agreed with everything I said.

 Going back early morning to pick the kids up, oh, no ! There were vehicles parked down the side of the road. After inching our way down, other people came roaring up, and then there was an awful to-do! Ministerial security types complete with walkie talkies came and started yelling at the driver. I yelled right back, told them to shut up and try and go since we couldn't go either forwards or backwards.

Surrounded by men

So we were surrounded by a whole load of men yelling and directing operations at the top of their voices. I yelled back angrily and asked them why they continued to come up knowing they would get jammed. In between, the kids called to ask why I was taking such a long time, and I apparently shouted, "I'm surrounded by men!  Wait!"

A lot of hollering and directing afterwards, the kids came up in their friend's car. They got severely told off for coming there, but they were giggling when I told them what happened. They said they could just imagine me shouting with the driver looking on nervously.

About three days go, I was in the petrol queue and a guy dared to try and sneak in front. I had been there for about an hour, I grabbed my handbag, the closest object, and brandished it, I hope, ferociously at him. He burst out laughing and waved me on. We all burst out laughing too. I inquired if there was an umbrella behind for further brandishing, but my daughter refused to give it to me. Spoilsport!

- Honky Tonk Woman

To have and to hold for the rest of their lives

Loving parents of the children who 
need all the love and care

By Nirmala Kannangara

For them life is so deplorable, it leaves little time for anything else. They have given up all hopes of a decent life.

 Agony and suffering have become part and parcel of their lives. Their only hope is to give the best of everything to their innocent children who cannot talk, walk or even understand what is going on around them. The parents have become helpless. One wonders what would happen to these innocent children in the next hour of their lives.


Though now handicapped, these childen were born as healthy children to this world. They have crawled, uttered childish words and had just started to keep their tiny feet on ground to walk when the least expected happened.  A mysterious illness struck them that nobody could even believe what they saw.

P. D. Piyumi Nisansala (10 years) and her only sister Iresha Mihirani (three years) are suffering from degenerative brain disease since the tender age of one year and two months. Piyumi who is in her blossoming  age cannot talk, walk, move and even her eyesight has got weakened leaving Piyumi half blind. 

This innocent child's hands and legs cannot be moved and could be compared only to a tiny bundle of ekel.


Her hands cannot be stretched out whereas her legs cannot be bent. She is skinny and there is hardly any flesh in her body. Is this due to malnourishment or is her flesh getting wasted?  God only knows the answer. Even the doctors have given up hope on her.

They have told the parents that there is no medicine for the illness but the parents are still waiting for a miracle to take place.

"I gave birth to a healthy child. I breast-fed my child and she was very active but since she was one year and two months old, she became lifeless and couldn't stand on her feet. Often she fell down for no reason.

"We thought that this was due to some other problem and did not take any notice of it. Little by little we noticed this increasing and gradually she stopped talking and that made us scared and we took her to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH)," said the mother of these innocent children.

At the LRH Piyumi was kept under observation for a few days and the doctors had said that there was nothing serious and was released but to  the parents' utter dismay they had not seen any progress in the child. Instead the condition had started deteriorating. 

Worst nightmare

Again after two months time when the child was taken to the LRH she was given some multi-vitamins but to no avail.

 "As we could see that something was happening within our child we took her back to the LRH for the third time and after a thorough check up came the worst words that I have ever heard in my life -  "Your child cannot be cured" - and the doctor wanted us to take her home as this was an incurable disease.

"According to the doctor my daughter's nervous system is very weak and wanted me to give anything my child wants to eat and also asked us not to bring the child to the LRH for any illness but to take her to the nearest hospital," claimed the mother.

 From then onwards she had not taken her child to the LRH but had taken little Piyumi to the Nawagamuwa and Athurugiriya hospitals.

Their younger daughter who would be three years in August too is suffering from the same disease and has been diagnosed that her nervous system too is similarly weak as that of her sister.

Kept on a mat

When The Sunday Leader visited this family at No. 59/9 Bogahawatta, Koratota, Kaduwela (near the Koratota Co-operative shop along M. D. H. Jayawardana Mawatha) baby Iresha was kept on a mat in the burning sun while the elder child was on the bed fast asleep.

Their father P. D. Jayasiri, who does not have a permanent job, does odd jobs to look after his family. Jayasiri always looks out for jobs nearby as he cannot go far away in search of any work due to his children's condition.

 "My wife is unable to do all the work alone. As my elder child is completely disabled there should be someone near her. My younger child though she cannot walk or talk still can understand what we say.

So I am now not in a position to go in search of any work out of this area as a result of this," said this dejected father.

Without giving up hope the parents had taken their elder child to the Chitra Lane School for Disabled to teach her as much as they could. From the age of three and a half years up to five she was taken daily from Kaduwela and as they could not see an improvement they have stopped taking the child to the school. " With all the difficulties I carried my child daily to Colombo from Kaduwela to give her a sound education but nothing worked out.


"She became so lifeless and her condition started deteriorating and we stopped taking her there any more," added Kanthi, her mother. 

The younger child whose condition is not so worse as that of her sister, turns her head slowly to see what is going on around her but she cannot understand. Each and everytime when our  staff photographer clicked his camera to capture photos, this innocent child got panicky.

Though she got scared to the flashlights at first but later on she became used to it. She could keep her head straight for a few seconds and then it fell down.

Their mother kept her on a baby walker but she was unable to move it.  Helplessly looking at her children this mother speaks volumes with just the look in her eyes.


Kanthi is helpless; she waits for somebody who could give a ray of hope to her - to help to get her children cured. They have even tried Chinese acupuncture treatment as a final resort.  Dr. Nishani de Silva at Jawatte near t

he wellknown Asapuwa temple had treated these two children for five-and-a-half months but due to lack of funds they have stopped taking the treatment.

 "During this period my children's condition became a little better and they were able to eat as well. But for both the children we had to pay Rs. 30,000 per month.

We had to take them in a three-wheeler and finally we could not pay the transport bill and the doctor's bill for two and a half months. So we stopped taking the children for the acupuncture treatment.

"The doctor agreed to treat my elder child free of charge but how can we take her there," laments this  mother. If any kind person in close proximity to the Jawatte Clinic could accommodate these children and the mother for a few months they are ready to take the elder daughter to the doctor for daily treatment.


If food is given she would take it but if not she would starve silently. Also she could neither look around nor move her limbs. She moves her eye balls though she cannot see anything and keeps on groaning continuously.

The parents have found it difficult to provide these innocent children  a square meal. "Most of the time my daughters refuse to eat rice but if given milk they drink without any hesitation. But I am not in a position to give them milk at least twice a day. To give them milk for two times a day I have to bring four packets of milk per month," said this sad father.

As these poor parents cannot afford to buy milk and also provide the basic needs of the children, they seek public assistance. 

Health on Sunday

Anaemia can go undetected

By Sunalie Ratnayake

Anaemia,  meaning `without blood' in Greek is a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin.

This results in the reduced ability of blood to transfer oxygen to the tissues, causing hypoxia. All human cells depend on oxygen for survival. Due to this reason, varying degrees of anaemia can have a wide range of clinical consequences. Haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells has to be present to ensure adequate oxygenation of all body tissues and organs.

The three main classes of anaemia include excessive blood loss such as a haemorrhage, excessive blood cell destruction also known as hemolysis and deficient red blood cell production. In menstruating women, dietary iron deficiency is a common cause of deficient red blood cell production.

Anaemia is the most common disorder of the blood. There are several kinds of anaemia produced by a variety of underlying causes. Anaemia can be classified in a variety of ways.

Different clinicians approach anaemia in different ways. Two major approaches of classifying anaemia include the 'kinetic' approach, which involves evaluating production, destruction and loss, and the 'morphologic' approach which groups anaemia by red blood cell size. The morphologic approach uses a quickly available and cheap lab test as its starting point.

Signs and symptoms

Anaemia could easily go undetected in many people. The symptoms can be vague at the same time. Most commonly, people with anaemia report a feeling of weakness or fatigue. Shortness of breath is sometimes reported by people with more severe anaemia.

Very severe anemia prompts the body to compensate by markedly increasing cardiac output, leading to palpitations and sweatiness. This process can easily lead to heart failure in elderly people.


A blood test is the only way to definitely diagnose most cases of anaemia. Clinicians generally order a full blood count.

Apart from reporting the number of red blood cells and the haemoglobin level, the automatic counters also measure the size of the red blood cells (RBC) by flow cytometry, which is an important tool in distinguishing between the causes of anaemia. In certain cases, a visual examination of a blood smear can also be helpful. This is sometimes a necessity in regions of the world where automated analysis is less accessible.

Anaemia during pregnancy

Anaemia affects 20% of all females of childbearing age in the United States. Because of the subtlety of the symptoms, women are often unaware that they have this disorder, as they attribute the symptoms to the stresses of their daily lives. Possible problems for the foetus include increased risk of growth retardation, prematurity, intrauterine death, rupture of the amnion and infection.

During pregnancy, women should be especially aware of the symptoms of anaemia, as an adult female loses an average of two milligrams of iron daily. Therefore, she must intake a similar quantity of iron in order to make up for this loss.

Additionally, a woman loses approximately 500 milligrams of iron with each pregnancy, compared to a loss of 4-100 milligrams of iron with each period. Possible consequences for the mother include cardio-vascular symptoms, reduced physical and mental performance, reduced immune function, tiredness, reduced peripartal blood reserves and increased need for blood transfusion in the postpartum period.

Diet and anaemia

Consumption of food rich in iron is essential to prevent iron deficiency anaemia. However, the average adult has approximately nine years worth of B12 stored in the liver and it would take four to five years of an iron-deficient diet to create iron-deficiency anaemia from diet alone.

Iron-rich foods include red meat, green, leafy vegetables, dried beans, dried apricots, prunes, raisins and other dried fruits including almonds, seaweeds, parsley as well as whole grains and yams.

In extreme cases of anaemia, researchers recommend consumption of beef liver, lean meat, oysters, lamb or chicken and iron drops may be introduced.  Certain foods have been found to interfere with iron absorption in the gastro-intestinal tract and these foods should be avoided. They include tea, coffee, wheat bran, green leafy vegetables, rhubarb, chocolate, soft drinks, red wine, ice cream and candy bars. With the exception of milk and eggs, animal sources of iron provide iron with better bioavailability than vegetable sources.

Treatments for anaemia

There are many different treatments for anaemia, including increasing dietary intake of readily available iron and iron supplementation. The treatment is determined by the type of anaemia that is diagnosed. In severe cases of anaemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

Treatment would depend upon whether an individual is not getting enough iron in the diet, not absorbing iron or losing small amounts over time due to anything from alcoholic gastritis to medication abuse to tumors.

Doctors would often recommend iron-rich foods mentioned above or iron pills. In the more severe cases of iron deficiency, anaemia caused by blood loss, surgery, blood transfusions or hormone injections may be recommended.

Current treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency consists of a life-long regimen of monthly B-12 injections. Unfortunately, neither diet nor iron pills would help, but if diagnosed early a full recovery is promising. 

What if someone told you that your child maybe malnourished?

Most certainly not, you may think. They do eat a lot of  food without much  fuss. It's not that there is a dearth of food at your home. But that might not be enough. They might not be dying of famine, but there is a chance that they may be malnourished.

With all the food that you give your child, have you ever thought that they are given the recommended daily allowances of nutrients, a concept that was designed to prevent nutrient deficiency diseases?

The growing up years of your pre-schooler is a time for rapid physical and mental development. This is the time these kids are characterised by an increase in their sense of independence. The years that they begin to walk and develop some skills, allowing them to explore the world on their own. their world.

The more active your pre-schooler, the greater the need to employ a variety of balanced micronutrient-enriched foods including micronutrient supplementation as a preventative protocol to safeguard your child from observed deficiencies.

These years are also a time of significant dietary change. While making this transition from a well-defined infant diet to a mixed adult diet, kids become interested in feeding themselves and more selective, becoming inconsistent in their food preferences.

With them becoming more independent and curious about the world around them, they at times show greater concern for playing than for eating.  And they do tend to get a bit fussy with regard to what they eat or drink.  They seem to love candy and at times food that are really not that high in nutrition value. While you feel like you are giving them enough food because they are never starving, you should be concerned if you are really giving them the right kind of food. Not in quantity value, instead in regard to the nutrients.

Life is a rat race and there is so little time to waste. So how do you know what the 'recommended daily  allowance'  for a pre-schooler is?

Finding food that helps your pre-schooler  get these necessary nutrients is not a difficult task. Take 'Cow and Gate 4' - the newly introduced milk product as an example. A special formula for growing children, (between the ages of three to seven years) this supplies essential fatty acids and prebiotics that are considered to be necessary for optimal brain and visual development. They proclaim that just two glasses of this milk, which is about 400 ml would give more than 50 percent of the needed micronutrients and proteins of the 'recommended daily allowance.'

 In the case of this product, the levels for the requirement of these micronutrients are in line with the recommended daily average published by the American Recommended Daily Allowances. 

As said before kids are fussy with what they eat and they alone feel that they can survive on ice cream, candy, or fast food. Contrary to what most advertisements portray of gleeful children running to have their milk, most often the kids are not so enthusiastic to drink their milk. But if they have it defined as 'yummy' then giving them milk is really not that much of a problem.

It's your child, so you should be careful and sure with regard to what you give them and who has manufactured it. It's safer to buy products produced by people who are no strangers to the manufacturing of this kind of product. Like Nutricia, the manufacturers of 'Cow and Gate 4' have almost 100 years of experience in making safe and wholesome milk for generations.

Next time when you are giving food to your pre-schooler pay some attention to see if they are getting the needed nutrients. And if they are being fussy about the food they eat, just make sure to give them something that has the 'recommended daily allowance, ' like a brand of milk they wouldn't be fussy about drinking.

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