Twenty-year-old Fathima was knocked down by
a speeding ambulance
and thrown atop bleeding victims of the
Ratmalana bomb blast
How much comfort can ease the pain?
Who will help Fathima to face the world?
By Ranee Mohamed
Clad in a purple Shalwar Kameez 20
year old Fathima was on her way to
work on the morning of Friday June 6 at
about 8.05. Despite the worrying thoughts
on her mind, the young girl resembled an
Indian film star. She was thinking of her
ailing father - and the state of her family
was the factor that drove her to achieve
success in life.
Yet all that determination was knocked down
when a speeding ambulance coming from
Ratmalana knocked Fathima who was crossing
the road near the Pizza Hut in Dehiwela.
Fathima had been on the left lane, safe
among the traffic going towards Ratmalana
when all at once, the ambulance, wailing
like a monster had come on to her from the
opposite side of the road from where traffic
was going towards Bambalapitiya. If the
ambulance had followed its designated course
of going on the right side of the road
instead of swerving on to the left side,
Fathima would not be in hospital today.
When Fathima was knocked down, the ambulance
had screeched to a halt and heaped her
atop the bleeding victims of the Ratmalana
bomb blast who were being taken to the
Kalubowila hospital," said a relative who
was a spectator.
Fathima's mother who had packed lunch
packets for her husband and daughter had
been cooking some additional curries for
lunch when her older sister had come
running into the house, crying with the
heartbreaking news that Fathima, her only
daughter, whom she had cared for like a
jasmine, had been knocked down and swished
"I could not believe what had happened to my
daughter. She had just recovered from
chicken pox and was weak anyway. How could
she survive an accident," were the thoughts
on her head as her heart broke into pieces.
The family had rushed to the Kalubowila
hospital but had experienced difficulty in
getting in - and thereafter in finding
Young Fathima who had never known pain in
her life had been gradually regaining
consciousness and had begun to battle with
the blood gushing from her face and mouth.
"I had never experienced such excruciating
pain all over my body. I could not move my
legs or my hands. I could not scream, yet I
was crying," said Fathima whose blood and
tears mingled to show the depth of her
anguish on that Friday morning.
"It was my father who was on my mind. He was
ill with a long-standing problem with his
legs and he is the breadwinner whose meagre
earnings that I was supporting - because I
love him very much," said Fathima now lying
in bed No. 22 of ward No. 2 at the Colombo
South Teaching Hospital.
Fathima's flawless face is now marred with
swollen lips and scratches, she is
frightened to talk lest one sees the frontal
teeth that have been knocked off in the
"I cannot eat, I cannot drink. I am given
saline," said Fathima in tears as her
heartbroken mother stands by her, attending
to her needs.
"I cannot smile, I cannot cry," says this
young girl, weeping in a deep personal
sorrow. Her beauty remains evident, yet the
deep wounds inflicted upon her by the
speeding ambulance is a trauma that will
stay with her for a lifetime.
Fathima lifts a sheet coyly and shows her
legs now covered in plaster of Paris. There
is no way that Fathima can move.
Young Fathima has had many hopes. Her young
life was not a joy-filled one as she strove
on to help her family to struggle through
the food bills and the electricity and water
bills. The income that her father brought
home from his job as a storekeeper was just
not enough for the four of them to eat and
pay the bills. That is why Fathima while
studying had decided to go to work.
"My brother is going to school and I have to
help my parents to educate him. We are not
rich people," said Fathima whose family had
fled Jaffna in 1990 in fear of the war.
'We thought that we will be injured or
killed in the war so we decided to come to
Colombo. Today, my mother, father and
brother live in a rented house at Waidya
Road, Dehiwela," she said in tears.
Fathima who works at the
of Applied Studies situated at Dharmarama
Road, Wellawatte has already paid for the
Esoft examinations, but sadly she will
unable to sit for the examination as she is
unable to even sit up in bed.
Sadly, there is no authority or
representative that is looking into
Fathima's needs. As her parents struggle
through to visit her and bring her food each
day, there is none to ask how they are
coping - mentally and materially.
"My father is unable to go to work. He
cannot bear to see me like this and he has
not stopped crying ever since I was knocked
down," said Fathima in tears. Young Fathima
who initially refused to let go of her
father's hand from the moment she was
knocked down is now worried about what her
accident will do to her father.
"Our family is in tears, my mother is
crying, my father is traumatised and I am
heartbroken. My brother is trying to help
us, but there is little he can do because he
is a student," said Fathima.
"My sister was only interested in uplifting
our family from the sad plight we are in. As
we have fled from Jaffna we are not well
off. We are trying to live, day by day,"
said her brother Arshath.
"My sister Fathima was only interested in
studying. Even her hobbies are studying. She
used to come after work, drink a cup of tea
and sit down and study. That is because she
loved us all very much and was determined to
improve our family income," said Arshath
shaking with emotion.
"They are innocent people and are helpless.
They do not know lawyers and do not have the
means to seek legal aid," said a relative
who expressed sadness at the plight of
"It will take a long time for Fathima to
recover from her injuries. I really do not
know how they will find the money to spend
on medication for her. I do not know how
they will live," he said.
Fathima is surrounded by patients in ward
No. 2. She does not want to be there, but
there is nothing she can do.
"I want my teeth back," she says in tears.
But her front teeth have been knocked off in
the accident. The remaining few had been
loosened and crooked, making premature
Fathima turns her once-beautiful face away
and begins to cry. She does not want to look
in a mirror and see her mouth - now sans
As this young woman battles with this
personal trauma there seems to be no one in
sight who can help Fathima and her family
with the expenses that are rising and the
bills that are mounting.
Yet Fathima continues to pray - and it is
these prayers on which she depends for her
wounds to heal and for the money to flow in
- to help her family to stay alive despite
her close brush with death.
When tragedy brings us
By Shezna Shums
To be proud to be a Sri Lankan can be quite
a rare occasion. There are honestly only a
few occasions on which one can recount all
Sri Lankan citizens coming together to help
each other regardless of race and religion.
However such action can only be seen in the
face of a tragedy. The last time one can
remember all Sri Lankans coming together to
help one another was after the tsunami,
when basic necessities were needed for the
victims of the tsunami.
People of all race and religions brought
whatever they were able to buy to donate to
the helpless victims.
However another occasion on which all Sri
Lankans joined hands together was on Friday,
June 6. It was another time when we were
proud to be Sri Lankans.
The scene was on Galle Road and the time was
just after the bomb blast in Moratuwa.
A colleague and I were on our way to work in
Ratmalana in the morning just after the
Morotuwa incident had taken place.
Seeing many ambulances going to and fro on
road, transporting the injured to hospitals
in the height of the morning traffic, it was
obvious that there would be delays.
Knowing this fact, many people - trishaw
drivers, officer workers, shop boys and
others who were on Galle literally stopped
their work, left their bus stands and their
trishaws and directed one lane on Galle
Road clear of the usual vehicles.
These spirited individuals did not bother
about getting late or missing a hire but
were more concerned about moving vehicular
traffic from one lane on the landside of
Galle road so that the ambulances could soon
get to hospital.
People in their office attire, drivers and
ordinary citizens were all helping the
police officers to cordon off this one lane
the whole time so that an ambulance will not
get stuck in traffic when taking the injured
to hospital. This sight was certainly one
occasion when we were proud of our fellow
One can only hope and pray that people
lunite this way at all times rather than
only when a tragedy occurs.
The workload in hospitals
have been increasing
By Shezna Shums
In a country where innumerable people are
being injured in bomb blasts, road accidents
as well as a countless numbers of injured
soldiers being brought into hospitals each
day the workload of hospitals have
Every time there is a problem and many
people are injured, it is not surprising to
see on television, visuals of the hospital
entrances and nurses and attendant waiting
with stretchers to receive the injured.
Scenes from inside the hospital show
patients with minor injuries being treated
on the corridors and in wards while the more
serious patients are taken into the
With all the problems this country endures,
it is actually appeasing to note that the
national hospitals are ready and also have
the experience to deal with an emergency at
When a crisis situation arises, ambulances
have to be dispatched, the injured have to
be taken to the hospitals on time regardless
of the traffic problems and road closures,
in order to be treated as soon as they can
to be saved.
The Sunday Leader spoke with officials at
some of the national hospitals to find out
how they prepare in expectation of mass
casualties and deal with the injured at such
Director Accident Ward, National Hospital of
Sri Lanka, Dr Anil Jasinghe told The Sunday
Leader that the accident ward of the
hospital is ready at any given time to deal
with a medical emergency.
Like a standing order, the hospital is ready
at any time to receive patients after an
accident, bomb attack or even a sudden
"We are not just ready to treat bomb victims
but accident casualties as well," said the
The hospital has an accident service plan in
order to deal with the mass casualties,
highlighted the director.
What happens is that when there is an
emergency and the accident ward has to deal
with many casualties, there is an immediate
mobilization of hospital resources.
When the hospital is aware of the problem,
such as a bomb blast, road accident or
injuries from the battlefield, the hospital
to some extent knows the types of injuries
they will have to deal with.
"So to cope up with these injuries the
hospital has to be well geared
accordingly," said Dr Jasinghe.
When handling mass casualties the main
factor is mobilizing resources, some of the
resources include manpower, space,
equipment, theatre, hospital medical
facilities such as X rays and others as well
as beds for the patients.
The plan is to know how to mobilize the
resources at an emergency.
Also speaking to The Sunday Leader was Dr.
L.U.C. Kumarage, Deputy Director, Sri
Jayawardena Pura Hospital.
Dr Kumarage said that the hospital is
equated with a separate disaster plan to
deal with mass casualties when the need
Each sector of the hospital is aware of the
role they have to play when the hospital is
dealing with patients following a bomb
blast, road accident or injured military
The hospitals are always ready to accept any
And given the previous experiences in this
country many of the hospitals are well aware
of preparation plans that have to be done as
soon as they hear of a problem and expect
"Every sector in the hospital is aware of
what they should do when there is an
emergency, even the telephone exchange is
aware that all normal hospital calls ought
to be ceased, and emergency related calls
given priority," explained the deputy
How a home of pedigreed
pets found room for a stray
In high company: With the Great Dane
By Risidra Mendis
He was dumped on the streets to die. But
fate had other plans for him. His desperate
cries for help paid off when it was saved by
an animal lover close to where it was dumped
on the road. With no food or water and
nobody to take care of him this puppy too
would have died if not for the kindness
shown to him by a family in Kohuwela.
It is a common sight these days to see
hundreds of puppies dumped on the streets to
die. But fortunately for this puppy its
cries for help attracted Chinky Seneviratne
an animal lover who saved it from an
Speaking to The Sunday Leader Chinky said
she heard the constant cries of a puppy
close to her home. "The cries of the puppy
that began in the morning continued till
around 3.30 p.m. The sounds of the puppy
told me it was in great pain. When the cries
continued into the afternoon I could not
bear it any longer and together with my
domestic Karuna went out to the road to
investigate. The cries of the puppy were
faint by now but it was clear the sounds
were coming from under a hedge close to a
garbage dump," Chinky said.
Chinky and Karuna had no way of getting the
puppy out and had to get the assistance of a
man on the road. "I asked a man walking on
the road to help me get this puppy out. From
the look on his face I realized that the man
thought I was mad, but he helped me to get
the puppy out of the hedge. When the puppy
was taken out it was stinking and lifeless.
I thought the puppy was stinking because it
was in the garbage dump. But on closer
inspection I realized that the puppy's left
leg was crushed and full of maggots," Chinky
She adds that Karuna was clueless as to what
to do. "Karuna asked me what we should do. I
told her we cannot leave this puppy on the
road so lets take it home.
Chinky's decision to take the puppy home was
not an easy one, as she already had three
large dogs of her own. Chinky, Karuna and
her domestic Mary have a handful to deal
with when it comes to their three dogs -
Rover, a German Shepherd, Shadow a great
Dane and Butch a Rotweiller. Chinky's
husband Dr Sarath too is an animal lover
and her son always supports her in giving
their dogs the best in food and medical
attention. When the Seneviratnes are
overseas it is Karuna and Mary who look
after the dogs. However the lives of the
Seneviratnes took a new turn when this
little puppy became an addition to their
"A part of the puppy's leg was hanging, but
I was determined to save its leg. I took the
puppy to Dr Kodikara who treated it and said
its leg would have to be amputated. I then
took the puppy to Dr Wijesekera and told him
to save the puppy's leg. "There were no
bones in the puppy's leg and for over a
month I kept taking the puppy to the
veterinary surgeon for treatment. Finally to
my relief the puppy's left leg was saved by
Dr Wijesekera," Chinky explained.
The puppy was named Jimmy and is today the
most important member in the Seneviratne
household. "When Jimmy runs or walks he puts
his foot down. But when he is standing he
keeps his foot up due to the absence of
bones in his foot. He bullies the other dogs
and is not afraid of their sizes," Chinky
Chinky adds that she never regrets having
taken Jimmy into her house as he is the best
dog she has. "Jimmy is now one and a half
years old. He is very naughty but at the
same time he is the best watch dog I have.
When my gate is open he runs out and chases
the dogs on the road and is always alert,"
Apart from the high expenses incurred to
take care of four dogs Chinky helps her aunt
Rukmani de Abrew Wickremesinghe financially,
to look after around 40 to 50 dogs and
Despite the good breeds they have the
Seneviratnes did not hesitate to take in a
stray that was on the verge of dying. Their
kindness towards animals should be taken as
a good example by those who pay exorbitant
sums of money to have only dogs of good
breeds in their houses. If every family who
has a pure bred or pedigreed dog take in a
cross bred puppy the cruelty to animals and
the deaths of hundreds of innocent puppies
on the streets in the country can be
Help Rukmani in her mission of love
Rukmani de Abrew Wickremesinghe is in
desperate need of re-homing her dogs and
cats as she has to join her family
overseas. She appeals to kind and
genuine animal lovers to assist her by
taking her animals and giving them good
homes where they can live a peaceful
Sixty years of the CNAPT
The Ceylon National Association for the
Prevention of Tuberculosis was the brain
child of Dr. J.H.F.Jayasuriya. The CNAPT
came into being on June 17, 1948 and will
mark its 60th anniversary on Tuesday.
When its inaugural meeting was held,
Tuberculosis was the scourge of the land.
The inaugural meeting was held on June 17,
1948, just a few months after independence,
at the Town Hall, Colombo with the Governor
General of that time, Sir Henry Monk-Mason
It was very symbolic that the rain that had
continued for several hours, suddenly
stopped and the sun streamed down on the
cars and rolled into the assembly hall,
perhaps portraying the work of the CNAPT
just formed, with President of the Rotary
Club of Colombo, Dr. J.H.F. Jayasuriya in
Associated with the early beginnings of the
CNAPT are Sir Gerard Wijeyekoon, Senator
Cissy Cooray, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sir,
Henry Monk-Mason Moore, Dr. J.H.F.
Jayasuriya, Dr. Frank Gunasekera, Dr.
Milanius de Almeida, D. S.F. Chellappah, Dr.
George Ranawake, T.B. Jayah, Senator R.F.S.
de Mel, Lady Howard, Sir Ivor Jennings, Sir,
John Tarbat, Sir Francis Soertsz, Mohamed
Macan Markar and other distinguished persons
of that era.
Senator Sam P.C. Fernando was also
associated with the CNAPT since its
inception. Today his good work is continued
by his daughter Dr. Sicille P.C. Kotelawala
who is also a vice President of the CNAPT
and a benefactor helping the cause of the
Dr. J.R. Wilson (former Chairman ), Dr. C.G.
Uragoda (former chairman), Dr. P.R. Anthonis
(former President), Dr. George Wijegunaratne
(former president) Sir Cyril Soysa ( former
President) are names that go into the
making of the history of the CNAPT.
Present day Vice presidents also include Dr.
P.R. Anthonis, Dr. Sicille P.C. Kotelawala,
Muni Kundanmal, Siva Obeysekera, and Prof.
Emil A. Wijewantha.
The CNAPT is a community organisation of lay
public and doctors with a strong
determination to achieve TB control in the
quickest possible time.
According to its present President Dr. B.
Kaluarachchi, the CNAPT represents a promise
that public awareness will be kept high, the
people educated and the state assisted in
the control of this disease.
"Despite the success achieved by the health
authorities in many countries up to now, the
World Health Organisation has warned of the
resurgence of tuberculosis and forewarned
that in the next 10 years approximately 90
million people would be affected by this
disease. The WHO has declared tuberculosis
as a 'global emergency.'
"We in Sri Lanka are not immune to this
rising incidence of tuberculosis and the
CNAPT for its part has to change its
traditional role and develop a new approach
to meet the challenges of the disease in the
21st century. The occasion of the 60th
anniversary will be an appropriate focal
point to plan for the transition," says
President Dr. B. Kaluarachchi.
"The early work of the CNAPT has to be
viewed in the context of the tuberculosis
problem that existed 60 years ago. The
disease was then rampant. Medical treatment
was in its infancy and a proper regimen of
treatment was yet to be evolved. The disease
was often fatal and carried a stigma that
prevented patients from seeking treatment.
The efforts of the government were woefully
inadequate to cope with the situation,"
points out Dr. Kaluarachchi.
A sad issue of that time had been the
plight of children afflicted by
tuberculosis, for whom there was no special
"The CNAPT stepped in to remedy the
situation by building three wards in
hospitals. These were the Welisara
Children's Ward (1952), the Hawke Memorial
Ward at Kandana (1955) and the Clarence
Nathanielz Memorial Ward in Welisara (1960)
which provided a total of 165 beds
exclusively for children.
The total cost of Rs.900,000 for the
construction of these wards was raised
through the efforts of the CNAPT. Rs.
375,000 out of the total cost of Rs.550,000
for the construction of the ward at Kandana
came from the Joseph Hawke Trust bequeathed
by an Englishman who lived in the country
for 50 years.
"Another commitment of the CNAPT to the
cause of the children was the establishment
of a home for children whose parents were
affected by tuberculosis. The objective was
to prevent the spread of the disease through
their parents. A house set in the spacious
grounds overlooking the Bolgoda Lake, owned
by Sir Frank Gunasekera Trust was taken over
by the CNAPT as a preventorium to provide a
home for the children till their parents
became non-infectious," points out Dr.
"The idea that drives the association is
that prevention of tuberculosis is a
national duty and that all men and women of
goodwill should join together to eradicate
it. It is thus of utmost importance that the
efficacy of the CNAPT be further
strengthened and developed," says Dr.
In 1950 when there was hardly an established
system of home visits by personnel of the
Department of Health for the purpose of
educating patients and their families, the
CNAPT has conceived the idea of organizing
visits to homes in Colombo to create
tuberculosis awareness. It was estimated
that there were around 20,000 homes in
Colombo at that time.
The first clinic to control the disease in
the provinces was conceived by the CNAPT at
a time when only Colombo had such
facilities. The Thassim Chest Clinic, named
after the Mayor of Galle and the President
of the Galle Branch of the CNAPT A.R.M.
Thassim was built at the insistence of the
President Dr. B. Kaluarachchi recalled that
in 1950 the CNAPT solicited the assistance
of the Ceylon Turf Club to ease the
hardships undergone by TB patients, and the
club had agreed to organise a special "TB
Race meet to raise funds for the cause. The
meet had raised Rs.74,633 and an additional
sum of Rs.71,442 from the club enabled the
CNAPT to grant financial assistance to
selected patients and their families.
"In the early 1950s when the patients
discharged from hospital found it difficult
to obtain employment due to the stigma
attached to the disease, the CNAPT embarked
on a programme to boost self employment.
The CNAPT decided to provide vocational
training and tailoring was selected for the
purpose. Messres Hidramani Ltd., had gifted
a large building with spacious ground while
the CNAPT provided furniture and machines
for the inmates residing in the premises,"
says Dr. Kaluarachchi.
Today, advances in the medical treatment of
tuberculosis over the years have changed the
strategies required to control the disease.
The incidence of tuberculosis in the country
has declined dramatically and the recent
administration of the BCG vaccination at
birth has made tuberculosis in children a
negligible factor, which resulted in the
closure of the children's ward built by the
It is the regular administration of drugs
and not the provision of nutrients to
patients that is the important factor now.
The duration of treatment which originally
dragged on for 4 years has now been reduced
to 6 months.." points out President of the
CNAPT Dr. Kaluarachchi.
Today the CNAPT is carrying out a national
school health programme to promote awareness
on TB. CNAPT has also initiated a study
which has been undertaken by the Department
of Sociology of the Sri Jayawardenapura
University under the supervision of the
Professor of Sociology acting as consultant
to the CNAPT.
June 12 - International
day against child labour
Child labour - eliminate or encourage?
Sri Lanka can eliminate child labour if an
honest attempt is made, and one child
working as a domestic help is one child too
many," declared Hiranthi Wijemanne former
chairman, National Child Protection
Authority and presently Advisor, in her
presentation at the dialogue for
stakeholders and the media organised under
the aegis of Panos South Asia last week.
The legal basis related to child labour in
clearly defined in the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child, the ILO Conventions 138
and 182, and the minimum age for admission
to employment/work, standards to regulate
hours of work, the conditions of employment,
penalties thereof and methods to enforce
regulations, supported by amendments to the
Penal Code very lucidly defining the norms
in this regard.
An alarming percentage of children are
employed in Sri Lanka - 21% - for economic
gains, some of them attending school or an
educational institution but nevertheless
engaging in labour at other times. "Around
19,110 children are engaged as domestic
helps," Wijemanne told a rapt audience. The
majority is girls (70%) and of them 79% are
from rural areas. Research has found that
children also work in construction sites,
textile and garment trade are no exception
and manufacturing establishments also employ
children below 15 years. Some are forced to
give up school and their education to
support their families.
Six percent of children do not attend school
or any educational institute. Wijemanne said
that there are many child beggars on the
streets in the cities while thankfully the
rural areas are devoid of such sights.
Referring to the worst form of child labour
as those who in the process suffer physical,
sexual and emotional abuse Wijemanne went on
to explain that all these forms of abuse
sometimes take place at the same time as the
issues are inter-connected. Add to this
recruitment of children as child combatants
and the future of generation of Sri Lanka
appears to be doomed.
"Where child labour is concerned there is a
demand and supply situation. One effective
way of combating or containing the number of
children who may end up in child labour is
by conducting child to child campaigns,"
stressed Wijemanne. The negative impact of
child labour is amplified through the denial
of education, the impact on health and
nutrition, the abuses a child is subjected
to, being deprived of parents, family and
social contact, lack of an identity, lack of
an opportunity to fulfill their potential
and most importantly the loss of childhood
which is irreplaceable.
What then is society doing? is the question
that begs an answer.
For a start an attitudinal and behavioural
change is important while one should adopt
zero tolerance. Poverty being the root cause
needs to be addressed with the objective of
reducing demand rather than supplying since
if no one employs a child it obviously will
mean that it is not possible to have child
labour. It's that simple.
Education must be made compulsory and
legislation in this regard be strictly
enforced. Improving avenues for non formal
education will also complement positive
steps towards eliminating child labour.
Society needs to get proactively engaged in
combating child labour in all forms. After
all, which parent would want to see his/her
child working for a stranger, another
household or commercial establishment and in
most cases being subject to some or many
forms of abuse? At the end of the day, is it
worthwhile for a poor parent to send his
child to engage in some form of labour to
supplement the family coffers when
irrespective of the salary that is being
paid, be it princely or otherwise, will
still have robbed that child of his treasure
at a tender age - his childhood?
Time and again the media highlights the
ill-effects of child labour making one
wonder how much those who read/view these
ill-effects feel about the plight of a
young, innocent child exposed to a strange,
new world, sans family and familiar
surroundings? "Do avoid stigmatisation when
reporting on such sensitive issues and do
not just black out the eyes only when
featuring a child," pleaded Wijemanne, who
went on to say that in such situations the
child should not be featured at all. With
her vast experience in dealing with such
issues for decades having seen how news on
issues pertaining to child labour can cause
a ripple effect on children themselves she
went on to say that the names of the
parents, their village and reporting on
court cases dealing with children should be
"Eliminating child labour should be
everyone's business," she emphasised in
Today is Father's Day
Are fathers celebrated only once a year?
Punchibanda, Naris and David
By Nirmala Kannangara
Fathers Day is celebrated around the world
today to show love and affection to fathers
who are as important as mothers in one's
life. . Though this has been celebrated the
world over it is disheartening to note that
Sri Lankans, across the board celebrate
Fathers Day in different ways. And one
wonders how in a country like Sri Lanka that
has rich cultural values only one day in the
year is set apart to celebrate a father.
Do Sri Lankans really need to shower a
father - invariably the rock in the family
with unconditional love and affection only
on a particular day to express gratitude?
It is our duty to show a father how much we
care every day of the year while seeing to
his well-being as well since he does not set
aside days in which to feed, clothe and
educate his children. He provides for his
family everyday, almost throughout his life.
A father toils day in day out to raise his
family undergoing many difficulties in the
process. He is always there when the family
needs him irrespective of his other
commitments - always helping, protecting,
advising and nurturing the family.
Do you remember the day when as a child you
fell and hurt yourself? And do you remember
what your father did to ease the pain? He
would have carried you immediately,
comforted you and would have done whatever
possible to relieve you of the pain at that
time. In a serious situation he would put
you into the car and rushed you to a doctor
or a hospital.
Having a father in the family is one of the
best gifts that a child can have. The family
has a sense of security with a father being
How wonderful it would be when children have
fathers who love them? A father can inspire
children to strike a balance in life -
physically, mentally and spiritually.
The rich, booming sound of a father's
laughter echoes throughout and families
recall with happiness or even with sadness
of moments when the walls of a room have
reveberated with the sounds of a fathers
Appreciate your father every day. Fathers do
not change but unfortunately children do as
they grow older. Do not wait to speak well
of your father till he leaves this world.
Appreciate him and what he does for you when
he is alive. Tributes to him when he is no
more don't matter much.
How can a child thank a father for life it
self? Children do tend to take so much for
granted that today one finds many fathers
who wonder where they went wrong.
Yet it is disheartening to note that fathers
are left in elders homes in the evening of
their lives where they are left to struggle
with the loneliness they undergo. How is it
that children fail to appreciate their
parent when they become old?
The Sunday Leader visited the Grace Perera
Elders' Home in Sri Saranankara Road,
Dehiwela and spoke to some of the fathers
who have been left there by their families.
Although the children of these fathers
hardly visit them the fathers eagerly await
a visit by their children that are so rare.
And despite such obvious loneliness they do
not wish to reveal how they feel to the
Suffer in silence
Grace Perera Elders Home, Secretary, Mala
Samaranayake and the Matron, Mangalika
Weerasinghe told The Sunday Leader how these
fathers suffer in silence due to their
"Not only the fathers but the mothers too do
not like to speak ill of their children,"
The most hallowed persons in the world -
mothers and fathers are left behind by their
own children in the care of unknown people
but the secretary and the matron at Grace
Perera Elders Home look after these senior
citizens to the best of their ability. They
treat them as their own parents and also
ensure that the elders are entertained
Naris (80), Krishna (86), R.M. Punchibanda
(72) and R.A. David Peiris (82) were longing
to see their children but according to
Samaranayake their children appear to have
forgotten that their parents are still
Typically, these elders continue to stand by
their children telling this newspaper that
their children visit them regularly and
provide for their needs.
"They come very often and bring necessary
things for us. Although they tell us to live
with them we don't want to be a burden to
our children. Some of have come here without
the knowledge of our children as we want to
spend the rest of our lives freely," these
helpless fathers told The Sunday Leader.
However the reality is that these elders are
neglected by their children according to
sources at the Grace Perera Elders Home.
" Most of the children never visit their
fathers but there are some who visit them
once in a while. In such instances too the
children do not bring their fathers
anything and instead take away what the
fathers get from donors. It's really
pathetic to see how the elders react when
they see their own kith and kin and they
readily give away the gifts they receive
from well-wishers. They hardily keep even a
cake of soap giving away every single item
they have to their children. Sometimes we
wonder whether these children visit their
fathers to see them or to 'rob' them. If
children drop by during meal times these
elders still prefer to give their meal to
the children. Although they have been
neglected by the children it's fascinating
to see how they defend them. Other than a
few mothers and fathers the rest will not
say a single word against their children.
This is amazing and such devotion and
loyalty should be a fine example to
children," Samaranayake told The Sunday
Some fathers live in a world of make
believe thinking of their beloved children.
They think that their children would visit
either today or tomorrow.
It is a pity that their children have
completely forgotten their fathers - the
person who provided them all the comforts
when they were kids.
Now that they are old and feeble, and at a
time that they really need their children's
love and attention it is sad that children
personify callous disregard to the simple
needs and wants of their fathers who have
been their rock till they reached a stage
when they could stand on their own two feet.
A tribute to my father - the legend in
I respectfully remember my beloved
father, the late E.T. Kannangara today,
the day fathers are remembered globally.
For me though a single day marked
internationally to remember a father is
not the ideal - rather we have to
remember our fathers everyday.
It's 11, painful, long years since the
demise of 'the legend' in my life and
this is a mere tribute to a life of
exceptional grace so endearing.
Re-kindling memories of the greatest
person in my life who was in fact the
beacon, blinds me with tears. Always
punctual and well-groomed he wanted his
children to stand up for what is right
with unshakable faith.
Thatha was the 'rock' in our family and
his exceptional qualities are too
numerous to mention. His strong
personality was an inspiration to me and
though held many responsible positions
throughout his career he taught us how
to be simple, honest and sincere through
My siblings and I were a difficult lot.
It was not easy to discipline us but the
mere presence of your imposing stature
and robust physique was sufficient to
instill discipline in us. Discipline was
your forte and you ensured that we grew
up as a disciplined lot making us learn
good manners, proper behaviour and
develop our personality.
With the demise of ammi, seven years
after you left us forever, life has not
been the same. Not a minute in my life
passes without thoughts of you my
darling thatha. When I visualise your
smart appearance with a perpetual smile
I wish I could be with you. Words cannot
describe how your loss has affected me.
You were not a father for the sake of
simply being a father. You showered a
father's blessings, fortitude and gave
us the best of protection in abundance.
You loved us unconditionally though you
did not show that to us. You were the
guiding light in all my activities. You
were the tower of strength to me in
difficult times. You taught us how to
face life with indomitable courage and
You wanted us to accept both victory and
defeat alike, with a broad smile. You
always admonished us to adhere to and
protect the rich traditions of our
ancient lineage. You also showed us how
to follow the rich, Sinhala Buddhist
Darling thatha, my love for you is
constant. Now ammi too has joined you
and the pain inside me is unbearable and
nobody knows how I handle my grief and
emotions in silence.
Words cannot describe what that loss
means to me. You were an asset to me.
You were worth more than your weight in
gold. My pure love and affection towards
you can be compared only to the
limitless horizon and will be in my
heart as a rock inscription till I join
The story of Socks
Socks — a long way from home?
By Ranee Mohamed
"Please help to find Socks, for his loss has
broken his master's heart,' said Dixon
Wickremasinghe, manager, Borneo Exotics.
Socks, a four and a half year male dog had
been the best friend of his master, Robert
Cantley from the United Kingdom, the
proprietor of Borneo Exotics. "He treated us
as friends too because he knew that we were
working for his master,' said Wickremasinghe.
But in March when Robert Cantley left the
country on a business trip, Socks as usual
was sent to the highland plant nursery in
Hindula where he was looked after by the
"Socks used to travelling almost once a week
from their residence in Thalawathugoda (in
the Malabe area) to Hindula. He had a
separate seat in the Hyundai Caravan type
vehicle where they used to travel with
foreign visitors and his master," said
But in March, when Socks had been sent away
for safe keeping to the Hindula Plant
Nursery, a gate had been opened by some
painters who had come into the nursery and
Socks had wandered away.
"When his master returned to Sri Lanka the
news that Socks was lost almost broke his
heart. He drove to Hindula immediately and
spent over two weeks there looking for
Socks. There is nothing that we did not do.
We looked all over, we informed people, we
published advertisements in the newspapers.
We also printed leaflets and distributed
them all everywhere," said Wickremasinghe.
The reward for finding Socks which during
the first few days was Rs.10,000 became
Rs.30,000. The leaflets plead with would-be
finders to feed and care for Socks the
moment he is found. Yet there was no sign of
Socks described as 'an ordinary Sri Lankan
dog', is undoubtedly extra ordinary when it
comes to winning hearts.
There is much heartache and many tears shed
in the name of Socks who was fed on imported
pet food. Docile and loving, Socks had only
been used to love and kindness by his master
and all his employees.
Socks had never eaten rice, so in his long
tread back home from Hindula to
Thalawathugoda, it is unlikely that Socks
has eaten a meal. Frightened and alone, the
only spurring factor in Socks' long journey
is his master's voice and his master's
"We know that Socks has left the Hindula
Plant Nursery and is making his way back to
Thalawathugoda," said Wickremasinghe. But so
far, no one has found him.
Help find him
Socks has to pass through many a winding
road - it is a long, hard walk towards the
one he loves. Search parties have looked
everywhere in the Talawakelle and Hatton
areas, but Socks has never been sighted.
The plea is to find Socks whose feet may by
now be worn in trying to reach his master.
The plea is find this best friend who is
lost and who may not last in the harsh and
unfriendly surroundings of the streets where
dogs are pelted with stones and chased away
Please help to find Socks and wipe the tears
and heartache. For it is only Socks that can
make happiness bloom again at the Borneo
Exotics Plant Nursery.
Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a
fruit. Wisdom is when you know not to put it
in a fruit salad."
This phrase flashed into my mind recently.
Obviously, the author didn't know about the
tree tomatoes in Sri Lanka. When these are
stewed with cinnamon and sugar, they would
taste absolutely yummy in a fruit salad!
But I'm straying from the point as always,
at the thought of something delicious!
Anyway, the previous night I had attended a
cocktail party after a long time. I'm not a
fan of these events, and unless Caveman
insists, I try to avoid them.
Too crowded, my feet ache, and you don't
hear anything new. So after meandering
around with a friend I bumped into, I was
ready to go home. This meant I had to wait
another 30 to 45 minutes, which is the
average time it takes to absolutely drag
Caveman from an intense conversation he's
When I finally located him, he was talking
to a youngish pleasant looking guy, who
looked vaguely familiar. So Caveman
introduced me, and told me that he was a
budding politician. I'm really allergic to
these individuals, but I was forced to stay
on in order to prise hubby away.
The conversation was going on these lines,"
So, people will see what I have done for
them and they will vote for me. They will
see everything that I have done." So me,
wanting to end this conversation quickly,
asked him, " So, what exactly have you done
for these people?" To which he evasively
replied," I'm planning to do lots of things.
So, then, they will see that and vote for
I lifted my eyebrows and loudly said, "In
this country? You're hoping to win an
election by counting on people voting for
you? You can't win like that, you have to
resort to other means, like cunning, foul
means and maybe even resort to violence!"
Oooops! I instantly thought, now I'm going
to get told off by Caveman, but he said,
"Exactly! Very true! That is the correct
picture! This is what we have come down to!"
Someone else came up at that moment and The
Politician (whose name I didn't know)
quietly joined another group.
The next morning, I asked Caveman who he
was. Apparently he had joined the ruling
party! Help! How am I to keep track the way
they keep jumping about like leapfrogs? I
thought he was in the Opposition. No wonder
he kept eyeing me speculatively the rest of
the evening. Hence, my thoughts on the
So, generally speaking, you have to use your
noodle before voicing an opinion. But I must
say I find that very irritating, since I
just tend to blurt out the first thing that
comes into my head. Not a very handy trait,
I'm afraid. It has got me into hot water on
many an occasion.
Some people I know are ultra cautious about
what they say, apparently due to previous
bad experiences. But I find that utterly
boring, as they don't say anything at all,
voice no opinion, and just silently sit and
listen. It seems rather judgemental, as if
they are criticising you.
I always get on better with the blunt types
who speak their mind out rather than the
diplomatic ones. The thing is, if you were
all-wise, you wouldn't be human.
So, with this in mind, in addition to the
tomato, this is how I deal with my friend
who has been recently widowed when she
threatens to jump off the balcony next door.
She says she can hear her husband calling
her to join him. Instead of telling her not
to talk poppycock I answer, " And I can also
hear him telling me to tell you to go home
and look after the kids." Then she says that
the kids too feel there is no point living
without him, they all want to join him!
So, with all the neighbours listening
interestedly to this mini drama, instead of
calling her a selfish beast, I say, " As a
mother, how can you say that? You have lived
your life and they haven't. They are not old
enough to take decisions." Then I forgot
about using my noodle, "And now, if you
don't shut up and go inside now, I'll climb
up this coconut tree and give you a
thundering slap!" At which point she burst
out laughing, and we spoke of other things.
- Honky Tonk Woman
A man walks into a drug store with his
8-year old son.
They happen to walk by the condom display,
and the boy asks. "What are these, Dad?"
To which the man matter-of-factly replies,
"Those are called condoms, son. Men use them
to have safe sex,"
"Oh I see," replied the boy. "Yes, I've
heard of safe sex in health class at
He looks over the display and picks up a
package of three and asks, "Why are there
three in this package?"
The dad replies, "Those are for high
schoolboys, one for Friday, one for
Saturday, and one for Sunday."
'Cool," says the boy.
He notices a six pack and asks, "Then who
are these for?'
"Those are for college men," the dad
answers, "TWO for Friday, TWO for Saturday,
and TWO for Sunday."
"WOW!' exclaimed the boy, 'then who uses
THESE?' he asks, picking up a 12 pack.
With a sigh and a tear in his eye, the dad
replied, "Those are for married men. One for
January, one for February, one for
The bathtub test
During a visit to the mental asylum, a
visitor asked the director how do you
determine whether or not a patient should be
institutionalised. "Well," said the
Director, 'we fill up a bathtub, then we
offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to
the patient and ask him or her to empty the
'Oh, I understand,' said the visitor. "A
normal person would use the bucket because
it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup.."
"No." said the director, "A normal person
would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near
Irishman in America
An irishman in America spots a sandwich on
the ground with wires sticking out of it .
He phones the bomb squad and tells them
about the sandwich with wires sticking out
The bomb expert asks, "Is it ticking." "No,"
says the irishman, "it's beef."
How to tell you are married
Three women: one engaged, one married and
one a mistress, are chatting about their
relationships and decided to amaze their
That night all three will wear black leather
bras, stiletto heels and a mask over their
After a few days they meet up for lunch.
The engaged woman: "The other night when my
boyfriend came over he found me with a black
leather bodice, tall stilettos and a mask.
He saw me and said, 'You are the woman of my
life. I love you.' Then we made love all
The mistress: "Me too! The other night I met
my lover at his office and I was wearing the
leather bodice, heels, mask over my eyes and
a raincoat. When I opened the raincoat he
didn't say a word, but we had wild sex all
The married woman: "I sent the kids to stay
at my mother's house for the night. When my
husband came home I was wearing the leather
bodice, black stockings, stilettos and a
mask over my eyes. As soon as he came in the
door and saw me he said, 'What's for dinner,
Why do parents drink?
The boss wondered why one of his most valued
employees had not phoned in sick one day.
Having an urgent problem with one of the
main computers, he dialled the employee's
home phone number and was greeted with a
"Is your daddy home?" he asked.
" Yes," whispered the small voice.
"May I talk with him?"
The child whispered, "No."
Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult,
the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?"
"May I talk with her?" Again the small voice
Hoping there was somebody with whom he could
leave a message, the boss asked, "Is anybody
" Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his
employee's home, the boss asked, "May I
speak with the policeman?"
"No, he's busy," whispered the child.
"Busy doing what?"
"Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the
Fireman," came the whispered answer.
Growing more worried as he heard a loud
noise in the background through the ear
piece on the phone, the boss asked, "What is
"A helicopter," answered the whispering
"What is going on there?" demanded the boss,
now truly apprehensive.
Again, whispering, the child answered,
"The search team just landed a helicopter."
Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated
the boss asked, "What are they searching
Still whispering, the young voice replied
with a muffled giggle... "Me."