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The politics surrounding
baby elephants

 

More Review Articles...

 

Loving thy neighbour

 

Valentine is a time to celebrate love

 

Is there a 'chemical romance'?

 

A better life for Akindu and Anuga

 

Balangoda man the father of us all?

 

The gift of hearing


 


Fashion



Humour


By Risidra Mendis

Born Free, Liv-ing Free and Forever Free by Joy Adamson have been books enjoyed by children, adults and environmentalists over the years. But even though these books were based on Elsa, a lioness and her cubs, what Adamson had implied about animals living free is relevant to every other wild animal wherever they may be.

Today sadly due to the selfish attitude of humans many a wild animal has had to pay the ultimate price.   

The latest issue to anger animal rights activists and environmentalists, is the decision taken by the Director, Department of Wild Life Conservation (DWLC), W.A.D.A. Wijesooriya to send three baby elephants from the elephant transit home, Ath Athu Sevana in Uda Walawe, to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage on January 11.

The main aim of the elephant transit home established on October 6, 1995 at the Udawalawe National Park under the 29th Amendment to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance Part II by the DWLC was to look after abandoned baby elephants until they are released into the wild.  

Uda Walawe transit home

The transit home was the brainchild of veterinary surgeon Dr. Nandana Atapattu. At present there are 32 elephants at the elephant transit home in Uda Walawe.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Dr. Atapattu said the main objective of the transit home was to release the orphaned baby elephants back into the wild. Environmentalists said these baby elephants that were born in the wild and destined to live a free life roaming with their herds in the forests had been denied that freedom, due to a decision taken by Director, Wild Life  Conservation to send them to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

 The three  baby elephants were forcibly taken to the Pinnawela orphanage despite the many protests of transit home officials, environmentalists and the public.

"The elephant orphanage unlike the transit home does not have a policy to release baby elephants back into the wild, and the end result would be, these babies will eventually be presented to temples by ministers and live the rest of their lives in captivity.

"Living in captivity is not beneficial to elephants, especially due to the  cruelty inflicted on them by some owners," environmentalists said.

At the transit home the baby elephants get the warmth and love  that they would have  received had they been with their mothers and the herd.  The warmth and love that these babies miss is lavished on them to the fullest by the conservators and veterinary surgeons till the time is ripe for them to be sent back to their natural habitat.

As of June 2008, over 60 orphaned elephants have been returned to the wild by the elephant transit home at Uda Walawe. The ongoing tracking of these animals has revealed that one of the elephants released in 1998 has given birth to a calf in the wilds - the ultimate goal of endangered species rehabilitation.

According to environmentalists, Wijesooriya had said the decision to shift the three milk drinking baby elephants from the transit home to the Pinnawela orphanage had been made to exhibit them for the viewing pleasure of  locals as well as foreign visitors who love to see baby elephants being fed.

Over crowded

However according to other officials, Wijesooriya is alleged to have said the babies were taken away as the transit home was over crowded. 

Environmentalists are questioning the statement by the Wildlife Director that the Pinnawela orphanage was  over crowded, which had been highlighted in recent times.

Environmentalists have also criticised the statement made by Wijesooriya that releasing more elephants into the wild would mean less space for them and more forays into villages, resulting in human-elephant conflicts. They went on to say that presently, the babies at Pinnawela are under-fed by their mothers in captivity.

"At the transit home the babies are not tethered with chains attached to their legs at night, but are tethered with rope around their necks.

Sick and wounded

The elephant transit home is the only home belonging to the DWLC where baby jumbos found abandoned, stranded or orphaned in the jungles from all parts of the island are taken. Some babies are found sick and wounded. They are kept and treated at the Elephant Transit Home and looked after till they are  fit enough to be released back into the wild.

The DWLC has introduced a foster parent scheme for baby jumbos, where the support and participation  of the community would be enlisted.   The DWLC usually spends around Rs. 10,000 per month to feed one baby elephant.

"Before being released to the wild, baby jumbos are fitted with radio collars to help wildlife officials to monitor their movements, behaviour and progress. Elephant dung is diluted and rubbed on their bodies to help them achieve the 'jungle smell' and erase any human smells that they might have developed during their stay at the elephant transit home.

"The whole purpose of the elephant transit home is lost if government officials take decisions to transfer baby elephants from the transit home to the elephant orphanage," the environmentalists said.

Habitats fragmented 

The large scale irrigation and agricultural projects have fragmented the former habitat of elephants resulting in elephant mortality and a decrease in the elephant population.

Irrigation programmes for agriculture which allows human settlements in traditionally dry areas of the country, create problems for the Sri Lankan elephant population in several ways.

The encroachment of humans into this elephant habitat has resulted in increased human-elephant conflict. Each year one hundred or more elephants are killed as a result of this conflict. Calves are orphaned when females are killed and are found starving and alone. Elephants, especially young animals, also fall into irrigation ditches and become trapped, resulting in separation from their herd.

The presence of wild elephant herds within Udawalawe has meant that many of the orphaned calves that are released by the transit home are adopted into a wild herd with experienced adult animals to aid their transition.

Director Wild Life Conservation, Wijesooriya was not available for comment  


A Valentine Special

Loving thy neighbour

By Ranee Mohamed

As Valentine roses bloom and cards of different shades of red adorn both shelves and lives of the young, the Sri Lanka Police and the Women and Children's Bureau remain unmoved and unimpressed by such expressions of love.

"We are keeping a hawk's eye for sex abuse, as most of the time all these cases stem with 'love,'" said a  police source speaking to The Sunday Leader.

SSP Ranjith Gunasekera speaking on the issue said that what girls under 16 years of age do not understand is that when they engage in sexual adventures with their boyfriends, it is the boyfriend who runs the risk of a 20 year sentence due to the offence of having sex with a minor.

Perhaps the most shocking case of Valentine turned awry comes in the form of a complaint into which both the Women and Children's Bureau and the Narahenpita Police are inquiring. Yet these powerful police authorities remain helpless in the face of the fact that the 'beautiful' girl involved happens to be a 17 year old from a leading girls' school in Colombo 4. "Studying bio science, this exceptionally beautiful girl is but a few steps away from becoming a doctor," said a police source.

 Death of the mother

Residing in Narahenpita, this only child had been the darling of her parents. Thus it was only natural that her mother who had been ailing with cancer had written both the mansion type house and the adjoining  property in her daughter's name. Of course her father could live there for as long as he wanted.

And thus the father and daughter lived, sharing the sadness of having lost the light of their lives - the only woman in their lives who kept the happiness in the home aflame.

Immersed in his own sadness, the father may have not have found the will to give his daughter the desired sense of comfort. Yet family members say that time and again he reached out to comfort her - looking after her educational needs and comfort at home. Yet what he had not realised is the deep trauma the girl had suffered after the loss of her mother. It had been a searing wound inside her.

But what the father least expected of her was to go and fall in love. And that too with a neighbour who was about 42 years old and a father of two young children aged four and five.

Father desperate

Desperate to save his daughter from the love of a 'happily' married man, the father had approached every authority. When the daughter had approached the Women and Children's Bureau it was to lodge a complaint against her father and the Narahenpita Police for the way they were harassing her in the face of her true love.

"We remain helpless in this instance for as she is 17 years old we can only advice her," said a police source.

"It breaks my heart to see my daughter behave this way. When I wake up in the morning there are photographs all over the house which depict her love for our neighbour. The photographs show them in various stages of intimacy," the father has reportedly told the police. A retired government servant, he is unable to stop his daughter 'in love.'

"The girl has told us that her married 'boyfriend' has promised that he will divorce his wife and get married to her but there appears to be no such preparations on the part of the couple who remain happily together," observed police.

'Love' and land

Meanwhile the vast land owned by this girl in the heart of Colombo may be a greater strengthening factor of this 'love,' observed outside sources.

"Our message to parents not only at the time of Valentine but at all times is to keep their eyes and ears open and to ensure that children get enough love at home so that they don't have to go and seek it outside, and that they have enough confidence in the family to discuss their issues at home," said a police source.

Meanwhile police at Narahenpita and the Women and Children's Bureau remain helpless as complaints have been lodged by this young girl both against her father and the police for 'intruding into her privacy.'

Shocking stats

The talks delivered and the articles written for a recent Universal Children's Day event told us a few interesting facts about our children. A state newspaper revealed that (a) of our total population 24 per cent are children. (b) 40,000 of our children do not go to school, (c) there are over 2000 child prostitutes in the country and most of them are boys, (d) there are 4500 street children, (e) 10 per cent of our children are under-nourished.

It is reported that the rate of child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka has seen a steep rise for some time now. In 2001 there had been 108 incidents which increased up to 194 in 2002 and the figure went up to over 200 in 2003. And how much now, who is pausing to find out?

 We must remember that these are only the cases of sexual abuse reported. Not all the cases of sexual abuse are reported either due to the fear by the  children or the disbelief and non acceptance by elders.

In Sri Lanka, child abuse research began exposing sexual abuse of children as a problem of sizable proportions in the early 1990s. A study done in 1991 estimated that there were 36,000 boy prostitutes in the country. By 2003 it was estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas were trafficked and prostituted by organised crime groups to paedophiles staying at various seedy hotels.

Although public awareness has been raised in Sri Lanka by media advertisements and community programs during the past two decades, research has revealed that the pervasive secrecy of child sexual victimisation continues at an alarming rate. The questions remain unanswered regarding the current extent of non-disclosure and the effectiveness of preventive programs in reducing sexual victimisation.

The Women and Children's Bureau urges citizens to report cases of abuse to their hotline 2444444.


Valentine is a time to celebrate love

People started writing Valentine love letters in the 1400s. Soon some lovers began to draw pictures on their letters. They made their Valentine cards very beautiful by adding "lace" to make them more beautiful.

In ancient Rome young men drew women's names out of a box on Valentine's Day. They became "Sweet Hearts" for a day. People sending "Valentine's" to show their love only on this particular day annually, is utterly useless. Very often people follow others blindly   without knowing the significance.

'Love' at the present time has become a big business. Legally married couples change their partners and have their own way in clubs and karaoke lounges, leaving the children at home. The husband enjoys with another man's wife and the wife enjoys with another woman's husband. This is very common in Sri Lanka today.

As a teacher I could cite many examples of my own students (who were very good in their studies) who have become very backward in their studies because of their parents' follies.

Being a 'loving couple' on Valentine's Day is utterly useless, if they are at loggerheads during the remaining 364 days.

Let me cite a real example. After a certain wedding the video was handed over to the video centre. This particular video centre, which only takes an advance, wanted the total amount of money to be paid on the day of handing over the video.

When the customer questioned the video centre owner, he had said that they have had several instances where the couple who handed over the video never came to collect the video, because they had already divorced or separated, and the video centre incurred a great loss.

At the present time 'love' and 'marriage' are just a past time. Earlier the husband and wife loved each other whole-heartedly. The husband respected the wife and the wife respected the husband. The "nuptial knot" was very strong and no one could untie it.

I always respectfully remember the words of the promises that are made at a Christian wedding before the couple is declared husband and wife: "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part."

How gentle and touching are these words, and earlier - the majority of the married couples adhered to these promises and divorces were very rare.

Let me wind up by quoting God's words; 'What God hath joined together let no man put asunder."  

- Manel Atapattu 


Is there a 'chemical romance'?

Every day, thousands of people look for information about the term "chemical romance" on internet search engines. And while I suspect that most of them are trying to find out about the rock band 'My Chemical Romance' rather than how chemicals in our bodies encourage romantic relationships, we ought to learn and  enjoy knowing a little bit about the role pheromones play in love.

Chemical Romance: it isn't just for insects!

When most of us hear the word "pheromones," I'm sure we think of the chemicals that ellicit instinctual responses between animals and insects. A pheromone is a chemical that is produced by one animal that can affect the behaviour of another animal of the same species. In insects especially, pheromones can trigger responses such as sexual desire, mating, aggression and food gathering. Not exactly romantic, but the power of chemicals when it comes to the animal kingdom is nothing to laugh at.

But what role do chemicals play in romance among human beings?  Is there really such a thing as 'chemical romance,' or love inspired by pheromones passed between two people? Well, many mammals detect pheromones through an organ in the olfactory system, or sense of smell. And there have been several studies that do indicate that natural chemicals may play a part in romance between humans, as well.

These studies suggest that pheromones we detect in odors may make us more apt to chemical romance and love by helping us select boyfriends or girlfriends who are not related to us too closely. In addition, a chemical in male sweat has been shown to encourage a higher production of hormones in women, whichm may suggest that romance is made more likely in the presence of certain pheromones.

So, is chemical romance real or not?

And some scientists point to the fact that receptors specializing in detecting chemical pheromones do exist in humans, which suggests that chemical romance is more than just theory. We've all seen products on the shelves at stores that claim to encourage chemical romance, too. There are plenty of perfumes and other things that call themselves aphrodisiacs that can attract the opposite sex and help you find chemical romance.

Regardless of whether you think chemical romance really exists or not, though, I don't really think it matters when it comes to romantic relationships. Even if there really are chemicals that can make a person more prone to being romantic, the basic ingredients of a successful relationship remain the same.

Rather than focusing on products that promise to use chemicals to help your love life, the truly romantic person should instead focus on qualities that have always inspired romance between a man and a woman, and those are patience, understanding, and small, subtle acts of love.

It's actually the truth, there have been plenty of people, believe it or not, who actually thought they could get through their entire long lives without falling in love. But the inescapable truth is that human beings can't help falling in love in some way during the course of their lives, because it's really ingrained in our physiological makeup. Even the science of love shows us that we're programmed to need love and project love, and if you can't help falling in love you're in good company: neither can the rest of mankind!

So, what is it in our physiology that makes us need love, want love and unable to avoid falling in love? Some scientists and psychologists claim that because humans are social animals, and need to be surrounded in communities of people to survive, that we have developed a natural need to fall in love in order to be forced to stay around other people. Evolution and natural selection may have a lot to do with the fact that you can't help falling in love.

Then again, there are others who say that evolution and science have nothing to do with falling in love, and that humans are subject to a mysterious, unexplainable force that makes us desire the perfect person for us. In this model, we can't help falling in love because things are destined to happen a certain way, and there is no escaping the fact that you will meet the perfect person for you someday.

Regardless of which theory you subscribe to, you can't deny that it's really useless to try to escape falling in love. The harder you try to get away from it, the more your natural physiology rears its head.  Face it: you just can't help falling in love, my friend.

 


A better life for Akindu and Anuga

Akindu and Anuga with their parents

This plea comes from the parents of Akindu and Anuga, twins aged five years and two months. It was an article in The Sunday Leader in July  2006 that changed the lives of these twins, one of whom was born deaf and the other ailing.

"I am a patient. I suffer from a stomach disorder. I have been warned that it may be malignant. Yet what pains me is not my own illness but my inability to upkeep the medical needs of my twin sons," pleads Ashok Gamage.

Young Akindu B. Gamage and Anuga B. Gamage have undergone much after having been the survivors of three children born to Vyjanthimala. Having been operated and fitted with a cochlear implant, the couple now find it difficult to upkeep and maintain this equipment.

Mapping and speech

therapy

"We are required to take our children for mapping and speech therapy. The greater the number of therapy sessions per   month the faster the progress but it's been three months since we have taken them," cries Gamage who works as a clerk. "I have obtained a loan to build a house, pawned all my wife's jewellery," he said.

The problems of Ashok and Vyjanthimala are not new. They are the everyday problems that  young Sri Lankan couples have to  face, but the fact that their young children - ailing as they are - are made to suffer this way, deprived of medical needs is a sad situation that ought to catch the eye.

"I can cook, I can  make video films, we can model for advertisements, we can sell our house, I can take photographs," offers Ashok Gamage in desperation. Such is the anxiety of desperate  parents wanting to help their children through life.

Long hours of starvation

Ashoka and Vyjanthimala live at 203/7, Kandaboda Road, Malagala, Padukka, and Ashok is an employee of the Medical Supplies Division.

Gamage's own deteriorating health  condition, according to medical reports, has been brought about by long hours of starvation. "I had to forgo my afternoon meal because I could not afford to spend money on lunch for myself," said Gamage.

Please help my children to hear better and talk better, pleads Gamage who is unable to give them the therapy they need due to a multitude of constraints.

 


Balangoda man the father of us all?


Colin Thubron

Genetic studies indicate the ancestors of the Sinhalese and Tamils were not recent immigrants from India but were on this island for 14000 years

By R. Wijewardene

The volume of information on the internet is genu-inely astounding. Of course not all, or even a small fraction of it, is true but a great deal of it is certainly interesting.

The entry in Wikipedia under 'Sinhala people' - makes particularly interesting reading. It says, in reasonably technical jargon, that DNA studies conducted by Stanford University in 2003 indicate that the Sinhala people are not descended from north Indian settlers but rather that they can trace their origins to the indigenous people who populated this island circa 12000 BC.

What this fairly obscure DNA study does therefore is cast doubt on the creation myth central to the identity of the nation's principle ethnic group; the legend that the Sinhalese people are the descendents of a group of marauding North Indians who arrived on the island on precisely the date of the Buddha's death.

Myth

While the Vijaya story is understood in terms of a myth nevertheless the assumption that the ancestors of the Sinhalese arrived on this island relatively recently - 543 BC and that the Sinhalese were nevertheless the 'first' of the major ethnic groups to arrive on the island underlies claims of 'ownership' the are central to the broader ethnic conflict.

However what these genetic studies indicate is that where DNA is concerned the people of Sri Lanka, never really arrived from anywhere. This applies to both Tamils as well as Sinhalese as the study found that in genetic terms the difference between the communities was either marginal or non existent.

The majority of DNA - in Tamils and Sinhalese alike appears tobe indigenous which is to say that the bulk of the island's people are descended from natives of this island rather than settlers. What this means is that the Sinhalese do not trace their ancestry to Orissa or North West India as often claimed but instead to Balangoda man - the ancient Paleolithic people who populated this island thousands of years ago - the yakshas and nagas of legend.

While the study is not definitive - the suggestion that the people of this island while identified as Sinhala, Indo Aryans and Tamil Dravidians for linguistic reasons, where ancestry is concerned descended from predominately indigenous stock, is not a new one.

Evidence

Local historians such as K.M. de Silva, as well as British and European archaeologists and anthropologists working half a century ago began to suggest that evidence of migration from India in and after 500BC was limited and began to find evidence to support the theory that the bulk of the population was of essentially indigenous origin.

The Indo-Aryan language - 'Sinhala' which is often cited as evidence for the north Indian origins of the Sinhalese, is according the genetic study a result of 'cultural diffusion' not settlement.

The Indo Aryan languages Sanskrit and Pali were introduced by monks and possibly a small number of invaders and adopted by the indigenous people as they had no written language of their own.

Rather than being settled by people from India the reality is that a small number of North Indians brought the people a written language and sacred texts the influence of which caused the indigenous population to modulate their speech - and begin speaking an Indo Aryan language.

Suspect

The old legend that Vijaya displaced the island's indigenous people chasing them into the jungles to become veddahs therefore is rather suspect. It seems rather that the descendents of the island's indigenous pre Vijayan people include most of us on the island today. And the veddahs possibly represent a small  group of indigenous people who did not become as thoroughly assimilated into the civilisations brought to the island from India.

Anthropologists have long suggested that veddahs are not a distinct aboriginal race but rather represent an earlier stratum of Sinhala culture, as their language and rituals are closely related to those of the Sinhalese. The DNA of the islands original yaksha inhabitants lives on - not just in the veddahs but in all of us.

Again what is crucial is that the entire population was found to be of largely indigenous descent and the study included DNA samples from 90 Sri Lankan Tamils.

Which means that Tamil the community is either extensively intermixed with the indigenous community or that many indigenous people simply adopted a Tamil identity at times when the island was ruled by Tamil kings.

The Tamil and Sinhala identities are both therefore the result of cultural diffusions rather than distinct racial origins.

Origins

Ultimately this genetic evidence casts doubts on established ideas regarding the origins of the nation's major ethnic groups. However by concluding that the Sinhalese and Tamil people are effectively identical, and indigenous the study also provides a basis for unity. What distinguishes the people of this island is not genetics but only languages and religions introduced relatively recently from abroad.

While this is fascinating theory it is despite the genetic component of the research being definitive and does not by any means settle the historical issue regarding the origins of this island's presentinhabitants. What the study does do however is make it clear that there is a need to reopen the debate regarding the origins of civilisation on this island.

While in other parts of the world history has been subject to revision, re-examination and debate, in Sri Lanka history or the study of history has since the mid 20th century been largely stagnant with established versions - the Vijayan legends etc. etched in stone.

The debate, discussion and exploration of this country's history has largely vanished from the public eye and today history is confined to outdated text books and dusty unvisited museums. This is ultimately a great shame as history is vital not simply as the study of a static past but in terms of establishing identity in the present.

The ethnic conflict however has politicized and restricted its study with various established biases serving both warring parties and the ultimate loser has been as ever the people of this country who have been deprived of a fuller understanding of this country's fascinating past.

Debate

While theories regarding the origins of the Sinhala and Tamil people on the island invariably lead to heated debate the ultimate objective of historical investigation should not be to propose any one view as definitively right but rather through the analysis of  many considered points of view to come to a clearer version of our history. And of course to discover if we really are genetically at least still the nagas and yakshas of 14000 years ago.

 


The gift of hearing

By Nirmala Kannangara


The children with their
mother and grandmother

He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Little Dilshan (nine years) and Sandali (six years) are deaf from birth but unlike other small children of their age, they are determined to overcome their disability although their parents are not financially strong to give their two children some sort of hope in their quest.

Both Dilshan and Sandali were born deaf and these two innocent, helpless children are wondering as to why only both of them have to suffer this way seeing how happily their own cousins are communicating with their siblings.

"When these two children meet their cousins who are of the same age they always come to me and from their gestures they ask me as to why they cannot talk. This hurts me a lot and there were numerous occasions when I  felt like  committing suicide as I was unable to get them the hearing aids that the National Council for the Deaf (NCD) has recommended," said Ganga, the heartbroken mother of the two children.

According to her the doctors have failed to ascertain as to why both her children are deaf although the parents are not blood relations.

"Ours is an arranged marriage and the doctors are wondering as to why this happened to both my children. My son was eight months old when we understood that he was deaf but kept on taking him to various doctors to get him cured but to no avail," this young, innocent mother told The Sunday Leader.

Seeks help

This young mother came to The Sunday Leader office a few days ago with her two children seeking  assistance from the newspaper to get her precious children some help from the readers.

"We are staying at 142 D, Wathupitiwala, Nittambuwa in the Gampaha District. Since there was no other way we could collect money to buy the hearing aids for the two children we thought that we should come to this newspaper to get some  kind of publicity," said the mother.

According to the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital medical reports both Dilshan and Sandali are suffering from profound bilateral hearing loss and need powerful behind the ear hearing aids if they are to overcome their illness.

"We even took these two children to see a doctor at the Nawaloka Hospital and after thorough examinations the doctor said that both my children are suffering from profound bilateral hearing losses. He refunded the consultation fees and wanted us to go to the NCD for assistance," said the mother.

Second child also born deaf

"When we took our son to the doctors when he was small the doctors advised us to have another child and once he is with another child he would be able to overcome his illness. But instead what happened was my other child too was born deaf  and I cannot bear the pain now.  A mother who is undergoing such a situation would know the pain and agony I am going through.  I have still failed to get the hearing aids for my children for which they were longing for a long time," said the mother.

Children are assets to the parents. They want to keep their children happy and never want to see them suffering. To see their children undergo undue hardships due to an illness is the worst nightmare any parent would go through.

Saman Priyantha, the father of these two children is a private bus driver and does not earn more than Rs.500 per day according to the mother.

"That five hundred rupees is not enough to meet the daily needs as we need Rs.300 per day for the bus fares. We need to take the two children to the St. Joseph's Deaf School at Ragama. Since my children are deaf and  small I cannot control both the children together on the road and hence my mother too joins me to take the children to school. From Wathupitiwala to Nittambuwa we go by bus and from there to Kadawatha and from Kadawatha to Ragama, we have to take three buses and return. We are surviving with the balance two hundred rupees only," added the mother.

However she said that although she finds it extremely difficult to provide three square meals for the children she manages to give the children what they want and if there is any food left she would give her mother and the husband and she survives with a piece of bread.   

Needs Rs. 200,000

"Although my two children attend the school for the deaf, without hearing aids they cannot attend the special speech therapy classes. At school  they give the children who do not have hearing aids second hand hearing aids.  If any kind person or organisation could get my children hearing aids which amount to around Rs.200,000, I would be very grateful to them as I want to bring up my precious children as normal as possible. I could even sacrifice our day to day needs," claimed the mother.

According to the medical reports both the children have to wear two hearing aids each and little Sandali's hearing aid is more expensive than her brother Dilshan's.

"My daughter's hearing ability is less than that of my son's and as a result her hearing aid is much more expensive compared to my son's," the mother said.

According to the NCD  the hearing aids for both the children will  cost a little more than Rs.200,000.

According to the health authorities these powerful behind-ear hearing-aids are the best devices to give extremely deaf patients the ability to hear thus enabling them to talk.

The kids' mother told The Sunday Leader that the ENT doctor who treats the two children has said that the recommended equipment would give a normal life to her children.

"Since I know that those who have money read this paper I came all the way from Wathupitiwala to Ratmalana to get my plight highlighted in your paper. Since I did not know the way to this office I requested my husband to accompany us today but as he will not earn the day's wages he went to work and that is why I had to come with my mother. From morning we have been starving," added the mother.

What this mother wants is not any financial assistance. If any person or any organisation could buy the hearing aids for the children that would be the greatest joy for her and her innocent children as that alone could bring a ray of sunshine to their gloomy world.

According to the grandmother of the children there were numerous occasions when the bus conductors have  insulted the children as they could not hear the conductors' instructions.

"Its really disheartening to see how these people scold our children even after understanding that they are deaf. My daughter has tried to commit suicide several times because she could not bear these insults and if they get the sympathy of the readers these innocent children could lead a normal life," said the grandmother. 

 


 

Be my sweet Valentine

So it's Valentine's Day once again. The commercial aspect of it is very apparent these days. Red roses will be exorbitant, restaurants will advertise tantalising sounding menus, jewellers will also offer various items in heart shapes, and stationers will be stocked with cards and so on.

The young boys are much bolder than in our time. I've actually seen them buying saucy lingerie during this week. Just imagine if any boy we knew gave us undies as a gift, he would probably get a resounding smack on the cheek and it would be flung back at his face! Well, I'm speaking for myself.

Valentine's Day is supposed to be the combination of a Roman and Christian tradition. Emperor Claudius II decreed that all soldiers in his army should be unwed. He thought women in their lives would limit their performance. So this priest Valentine went around marrying couples in secret since he didn't approve of it. 

Fell in love

When he was found out and thrown in jail, he fell in love with the jailor's daughter and supposedly sent her a love letter signed from your Valentine. So Valentine's Day is celebrated on the day he was executed or buried.

The oldest known Valentine is supposed to be a poem from Charles, the Duke of New Orleans, to his wife, whilst he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Cupid is also prominently featured during Valentine's Day. He was the son of the Goddess Venus. She was jealous of the beauty of a woman called Psyche and commanded Cupid to shoot his golden arrows at her so she would fall in love with the most loathsome creature on earth. But Cupid fell in love with her, and though Venus set many obstacles in their way, love triumphed in the end and she was allowed to become immortal and live happily ever after with Cupid.

A funny Valentine episode was when this lady decided to cook her husband this special meal. She decided to do lobster as the main course with a starter of oysters. A gourmet meal with aphrodisiac possibilities!

Billowing smoke!

She set the stage before her husband came home, champagne on ice, soft music, candlelight and kept the dinner in the oven so it would be warm when he arrived. She went to have a shower, and her husband arrived before she had finished, to a house reeking of burnt seafood and billowing smoke!

Alas, it had got burnt and the whole house stank so they had to open the doors and windows. They ordered pizza and whilst waiting for it she remembered the oysters in the fridge. So they had that, and were down with food poisoning the next day! The draperies and carpets smelt bad for days.

Then this other guy was going to pop the question to his current girlfriend after cooking her a fancy dinner at his place. Just as he was about to propose, the telephone rang, and since it was closer to her, his girlfriend answered, only to find it was his ex calling him!

Origins of Valentine's Day

So understandably, she stormed off in a huff, whilst he had to go chasing behind her on the street wildly explaining that he hadn't heard from the ex for years, and he had planned to propose to her tonight and finally going down on his knees in public! All's well that ended well.

Then I have to share this hilarious mail I received which gave the origins of Valentine's Day, (with a thousand apologies to any Indians reading this, I hope I won't offend your sensibilities!) This claimed that Valentine's Day originated hundreds of years ago in India, in the state of Gujarat. Apparently the men were quite mean to the women and one wife having had enough of this, beat him up with a rolling pin used to make chapatis called a velan.

It was February 14. The news spread like wildfire, and soon all the women in Gujarat started beating up their husbands. So the men learnt to be more respectful towards their women. To commemorate that eventful day, every year they would beat up their husbands who would submit to the will of the women they loved.

 The men realised that in order to avoid this, at this time they would have to give their wives flowers, sweets and other goodies. So, this is how 'Velan Time' originated. After Gujarat became influenced by Western British culture, the word Velantime got anglicised to Valentine! And a very Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

- Honky Tonk Woman

 


Humour

Gifts for mother

Three sons left home, went out on their own and prospered. Getting together for Christmas, they discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother.

The first said, "I built a big house for our mother."

The second said, "I sent her a Mercedes."

The third smiled and said, "I've got you both beat. You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can't see very well. So I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He's one of a kind. Mom just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it."

Soon thereafter,

Mom sent out her letters of thanks:

"Dear Milton," she wrote one son, "The house you built is too huge. I live in only one room, but I have to keep the whole house clean!"

"Dear Gerald," she wrote to another, "I am too old to travel. I stay at home most of the time, so I rarely use the Mercedes."

"Dearest Donald," she wrote to her third son, "You have the good sense to know what your Mother likes.

The chicken was delicious!" 

Compassion by post

A Post Office worker at the main sorting office, finds an unstamped and very poorly handwritten envelope addressed to God.He opens it and discovers that it was written by an elderly lady who is distressed because $100 (all of her life savings) had been stolen. She said that she would be cold and hungry this Christmas without divine intervention.

He shares the letter with his fellow postal workers and they all dig deep in their pockets and come up with $96. They sent it to her by special courier that same morning. A week later, the same postal worker recognises the same handwriting on another envelope. He opens it and reads....." Dear God, Thank you for the $100 for Christmas, which would have been so bleak and cold otherwise. P.S. It was four dollars short but that was probably because of those thieving bums at the Post Office." 

Solitary confinement

Three guys are convicted of a very serious crime, and they're all sentenced to 20 years in solitary confinement.

They're each allowed one thing to bring into the cell with them. The first guy asks for a big stack of books. The second guy asks for his wife. And the third guy asks for two hundred cartons of cigarettes.

At the end of the 20 years, they open up the first guy's cell.

He comes out and says, "I studied so hard. I'm so bright now, I could be a lawyer. It was terrific." They open up the second guy's door. He comes out with his wife, and they've got five new kids. He says. "It was the greatest thing of my life. My wife and I have never been so close. I have a beautiful new family. I love it." They open up the third guy's door, and he's slapping at his pockets, going "Anybody got a match?"

The lawyer

A lawyer was walking down the street and saw an auto accident. He rushed over, started handing out business cards, and said, "I saw the whole thing. I'll take either side."

A different job, please

Several years ago, Andy was sentenced to prison. During his stay, he got along well with the guards and all his fellow inmates. The warden saw that deep down, Andy was a good person and made arrangements for Andy to learn a trade while doing his time. After three years, Andy was recognised as one of the best carpenters in the local area. Often he would be given a weekend pass to do odd jobs for the citizens of the community.... and he always reported back to prison before Sunday night was over.

The warden was thinking of remodeling his kitchen and in fact had done much of the work himself. But he lacked the skills to build a set of kitchen cupboards and a large counter top which he had promised his wife. So he called Andy into his office and asked him to complete the job for him.

But, alas, Andy refused. He told the warden, "Gosh, I'd really like to help you but counter fitting is what got me into prison in the first place."

The fight

Last night there was a big fight in our local fish and chip shop - a lot of fish got battered.

Ambulance or police

A woman woke her husband one night and said, 'There's a burglar in the kitchen eating my home-made steak and kidney pie!'

'Oh dear: said her husband. 'Who shall I call, police or ambulance?'

The owl

There was me and my brother, in this cottage in the country, all on our own in the dead of night. My brother said, 'What was that noise? I thought I heard an owl.'

I said, 'You probably did. I stepped on the dog's paw.'

The pilot and the psychiatrist

Why did the airline pilot go to see a psychiatrist?

He thought that he was plane crazy.

Appreciate our wife

A psychiatrist is a person who will give you expensive answers that your wife will give you for free.

He knows you

An elderly couple was driving across the country. While the woman was behind the wheel, the couple was pulled over by the highway patrol.

"Ma'am, did you know you were speeding?" the officer said.

The woman, hard of hearing, turned to her husband and asked, "What did he say?"

"He said you were speeding!" the old man yelled.

The patrolman then asked, "May I see your license?"

The woman turned to her husband again, "What did he say?"

The old man yelled back, "He wants to see your license!"

The woman then gave the officer her license.

"I see you are from Arkansas," the patrolman said. "I spent some time there once and went on a blind date with the ugliest woman I've ever seen."

The woman turned to her husband again and asked, "What did he say?"

The old man replied, "He said he knows you."

A different Bhadraji

The photo of Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilaka published in the article written by Risidra Mendis on Page 29 of our issue of February 1,  titled 'Lankan novelist, singer, actor and artist going places .was not of Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilaka who was interviewed.

 We regret the inconvenience caused to Jayatilaka

 


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