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To eradicate terrorism, the executive should closely examine the roots that
foster it. The Northern and Eastern Provinces where the Tamil speaking people
live is affected by this scourge. There being nine provinces, each province
covers a large extent of land.
The governance of each province is left to the chief minister and elected
representatives of the council. The President’s hand enters the administration
by his appointment of a governor. The governor summons the council for meetings
and administration goes on apace, guided by the constitutional provisions.
The Northern Province, the home of the early Sinhalese, saw a steady stream of
Muslims at first and thereafter Tamils, who wandered in from neighbouring India.
Like Hitler of Germany, a dictatorial minded Tamil surfaced, who wanted the
province for Tamils only. He gave the Muslims and Sinhalese 24 hours to leave
the Jaffna District, and established his writ by setting up a paramilitary Army,
Police force and a kangaroo legal system, and saw to it that all free movement
of the people was curtailed. With the assistance of Rajiv Ghandi of India he
extended his reign to the east and the hapless residents of the area lived under
his jack boot. To secure his dominance, he had to commence a war with the
security forces of Sri Lanka. It went on for near two decades, when a Norwegian
minister saw money in the skirmish and at first, surreptitiously financed it.
When the battle raged, they sold arms to the terrorists and enriched the
Norwegian state coffers.
Then came along a foolish Prime Minister, who egged on by the Norwegians signed
a ceasefire agreement with the callow insurgents. The document transformed the
land of the terrorists to a territory which they claimed ‘Eelam’ – the Tamil
They continued the fight to establish their dominance over the region. The
present government, in no mood to mollycoddle the LTTE, has set the security
forces to suppress the separatists. The LTTE has lost in the east and is
battling desperately in the north. The forces, confident of victory, are now
mopping up the dispersing terrorists. When the movement is on its last legs, the
sure way to defeat them completely would be to disband the provincial councils
and set up district councils: Smaller units where no ethnic community is likely
to predominate ensuring ethnic harmony. Pious prayers and wishes will not bring
peace. The ground reality is the only path that will lead to peace.
The 1978 Constitution is a drawback for smooth untrammelled governance. Ancient
Lanka had no Constitution. England has no Constitution. The 13th and 17th
Amendments only stultify governance.
The President has unlimited powers, which he should judiciously use. To assist
him, he should rely on the Sixth Amendment and determinedly eradicate every
vestige of a desire to set up a separate state. Power comes from the barrel of a
gun, said Zapata of South America and recently repeated by a Chinese leader.
Sovereign Sri Lanka should always be prepared, but bear in mind the great
philosophical pronouncement of renowned space visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke,
“Guns are the crutches of the impotent.”
That wisecrack should halt the US maniacal quest to rule the world and thereby
terminate wars. Gun powder will be directed to the manufacture of fire crackers
for the titillation of little children and uranium for peaceful purposes to make
life on earth a pleasure.
Studies prove enormous benefits of drinking tea
With reference to Dr. D. P. Atukorale letter on the 24.02.08 (Lakbima News), I
wish to add that research studies undertaken conclusively establish the enormous
health benefits of tea. The possibility of cutting the risk of heart attacks,
hypertension and certain types of cancer (colon) as well as improving dental
health due to its high fluoride content are some of these benefits. The
researchers have also said to drink at least six (6) cups of tea a day.
Heavy and expensive advertising by soft drink companies have daily increased
their sales at the expense of Sri Lankan tea, with the present day generation
and future generations getting caught in these advertising jinks. So tea sales
are gradually being replaced by soft drinks, with adverse effects to future
Sri Lanka should not only promote tea in foreign countries but locally as well..
Another scientific research has found that, “Fizzy drinks may weaken growing
bones and increase the chances of Osteoporosis in later life”. Researchers have
also mentioned that phosphoric acid in some fizzy drinks may have a damaging
effect on bone mass.’ The adverse effects of carbonated beverages consumption on
obesity, tooth decay and osteoporosis have also been mentioned..
Indigenous drinks such as thambili, kurumba and tea are the best drinks in the
world. Our future generations should be protected from dangerous advertising to
promote soft drinks.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
Farewell to “a colossus of our times”
“A man in a million, my mentor, farewell!” – I dread to recall that moment when
I penned this phrase in the condolence book kept in the glum surroundings of the
Acland House on that fateful Monday morning.
You were my childhood hero, a friend, a mentor and a guiding light. It was not
until 1977, when you entered Parliament, that we made our first contact.
Together we chatted about evolving global patterns in politics, socioeconomic
changes, a future Sri Lanka which we both dreamt of as we made long car journeys
outside Colombo, sometimes on gruelling election campaigns. You respected me for
my ability to engage you in an intelligent conversation.
I was someone with modest standing in terms of money, power and social
background in comparison with your rich and famous friends, the world over. Yet
you related to me in a way which was not even a notch below the way you treated
the mighty and the glitterati.
We shared our passion for the English language. You encouraged me in my writing,
and admired my skills whilst stressing the need to improve. There were times
when you even edited my professional writing.
I recall my first ever visit to London. On the eve of my flight, it took you
just a couple of minutes at the dining table to provide me with your own
handwritten guide on the use of the London Underground to my location. Such was
your personal touch.
I was a prime source for comments and feedback on your Parliamentary speeches,
which you yearned for. You ensured my presence in the gallery to listen to them
– if I failed to be there, you made it a point to drop me a copy of the Hansard
with a personal note.
Your speeches came after painstaking preparations and your inimitable
two-fingered typing on the old manual typewriter. They were speeches
extraordinarily enriched with substance, garnished with banter, parry and
Sadly, even your most innocuous of mannerisms provided ammunition to your
detractors. You loathed the smell of food on your fingers. Your use of cutlery
to eat kiribath was misconstrued as a trait of your snobbishness. No drive out
of Colombo was possible without at least one change of clothing along the way.
These were insights to your obsession with personal hygiene.
There was not a day in your political life when you were afforded the chance to
take things easy. You were in recurring perplexity as a result of constant
backstabbing and conspiracies to undermine your progress in the party your
father founded and your mother led.
Your unfailing love for your mother knew no bounds despite all the differences
of ideology that you may have had with her. Her tears held you back when you
were thrust in to the position of the general secretary of the SLFP. The entire
Parliamentary group had endorsed the move, defying your mother’s wishes. You
gave up because you were moved by your mother’s pain, evident by her tears. In
retrospect that sealed your fate in the party.
You received flak for leaving the SLFP but only a handful knew what a difficult
decision it was for you to resign from the party you so dearly loved. You broke
down sobbing with your political friends over the phone, having returned home
upon receiving the UNP membership. Some of them now occupy high positions in the
The outpouring of your emotions in front of your father’s portrait just before
leaving for Parliament to take oaths as an UNP MP is something I shall never
ever be able to erase from my mind. This country was not fortunate enough to see
you as its leader but you will be revered in the thoughts of millions forever.
You were indeed a gentleman to the core and a colossus of our times.
– Mahendra Ratnaweera
Nirantha De Silva
He walked with kings but never lost the common touch
The news of the sudden death of Nirantha came to me as a rude shock. The sting
of pain and grief of the loss of a beloved friend gripped my heart with sorrow.
Nirantha and I worked at Car Mart Ltd. in 1972. He was attached to the Parts
Department and I was in the Sales Division. He carried himself with dignity and
self-confidence. His charming smile, good looks and honesty won the hearts of
his superiors and co-workers.
Nirantha was about 23 years in age in 1972. After a brief period at Car Mart, he
left to the UAE. He was appointed as the general manager of a leading property
development company in UAE. His hard work, dedication and honesty kept him in
good stead. All these amiable qualities, combined with his social grace, won the
smile and approval of his directors and also of the owner of that reputed
organisation. Nirantha was a man who walked with kings but never lost the common
touch. There was charisma and a kind of divinity in this man, who always wore a
After a considerable period of time and work, he migrated to Canada and
established a freight forwarding company – Trico International Canada Inc. This
company, with Nirantha at the helm, became a household name among the Sri Lankan
community in Canada and also among the Canadians who held high positions.
He was invited to all social gatherings of important personalities. Nirantha
walked the red carpet but maintained his simplicity. He possessed a heart of
gold. He never turned down anyone who came for help. His generosity knew no
bounds. I got to know that Nirantha has been helping the poor and needy in Sri
Lanka. His left hand did not know what his right hand did.
Pride was alien to his noble nature. He was truly a boon from heaven to his
charming wife Dawn and to his two sons, and also to society at large. He
respected all religions but stuck to his faith. He was a devout Catholic. The
noble truths of the Bible and its great teachings were woven into the fabric of
his being. Honesty and kindness flowed abundantly from his heart. Social service
became a part and parcel of his life. He was the vice president of the Canadian
Sri Lanka Business Council and also an active member of the Canadian Tamils’
Chamber of Commerce.
Nirantha leaves behind his beloved wife Dawn and his loving sons Hillary and
Harsha. Nirantha, the golden memories of your beautiful life spent on earth will
be carved in our hearts. May the angels sing you to your eternal rest.
– Palitha Wijesekera, Toronto
Mrs. Mary Hayman
Mrs Mary Hayman, widow of late Dr R.L.Hayman, legendary Sub Warden and
Headmaster of S.Thomas’College Mount Lavinia and Gurutalawa, passed away in a
private Nursing Home on November 17th, 2007. She was accorded a simple funeral
at the crematorium, at Atwood Road Worcester, on November 27th, 2007.. In her
life, she recoiled from being the cause of any ‘fuss’, and so it was ensured
that, it should be so, as she passed away too.
Writing of her funeral old boy expatriates Kamal Gammanpila together with Kamal
Nilaweera wrote evocatively. Of the pervasive Gurutalawa ambience of that
morning, of the overnight mist lifting to a thin crispy hue, so familiar, as one
looked across the paddy fields from the Headmasters bungalow, as the hearse
bearing her name, rolled its way gently through the wooded landscapes
reminiscent of the Farm’s windbreak, and of the autumn leaves gentle fall: in
nostalgic contrast to the rainbow hues of the summer flowers of Gurutalawa, as
if to comply with her request; No flowers Please!
Mrs Hayman was the last, but not the least of that great triumvirate which
moulded the lives of the many boys at Gurutalawa, in their formative years.
While it is inevitable to associate her as the wife of Dr Hayman, she emerged
from the shadows of his towering presence, albeit in her characteristic self
effacing manner to establish herself, in her own right as the sickroom matron,
complementing the Headmaster and the Chaplain Canon, A.J.Foster.
Together, they established the ethos of a public school in the illustrious
tradition of such schools which were bywords for gentlemanliness, leadership,
learning, fair play and manners: in the English paradigm of such schools at
She was born Mary Rudd in Sutton Surrey, and her family settled down in
Worcestershire. Trained as a nurse, she joined the Army and in the line of
service was posted to the military base hospital in Bombay. The Divine hand
which passes as fortuity in the Secular view, in its benevolence, brought her to
Ceylon and to the military hospital established at S.Thomas’College Mount
Her contact with the College, therefore predated her meeting with Dr.Hayman, who
was sent in charge to a part of the College relocated in a showpiece farm of
thirty five acres, at Gurutalawa in April 1942.But Diyatalawa, across the hills
was( and is )an Army camp and so there was a ‘fortuity’, in their meeting. Hikes
were exchanged since Dr.Hayman made use of the Army personnel, to help out with
physical training, boxing, the establishment of a battle course and other
They married in 1945, when Dr Hayman took leave after the war was over.
Initially, they returned to the College at Mount, which had been
derequisitioned. Warden de Saram needed the old and well tried firm to
rehabilitate the School, with Canon Foster an integral part of it (1931 –1942),
who has also returned from his Leave.
The triumvirate was back in harness at Gurutalawa from the first term of 1948.
As a nurse, Mrs Hayman epitomised the highest standards of the profession. As
sickroom matron she established her own particular Regency, over the Thomian
Community. She made the sickroom, a haven of care and love, and adhered to the
maxim, that prevention was better than cure, particularly with the junior boys
with their predilection to colds and coughs, as temperatures plummeted in the
‘winter months’ and again, as the seasonal winds savaged through the campus in
all their fury. Apart from ministering to the College boys and Staff of every
category, she opened the doors of the sick room to the surrounding villages. It
was characteristic of her that, those needing hospital attention were sent in
the school vehicle, invariably Dr.Hayman’s car, to Badulla, 25 miles away with
firm instructions to the accompanying attendant, from the school, to take good
care of the patient, and she would follow up with telephone calls to the
hospital, monitoring the progress. She made it a point, to train two members of
the College Domestic staff, to be Locums in her absence.
Her regency extended beyond her primary writ of caring, for the sick. It
included the House keeping of the built premises as well as the vast campus,
redolent with gum and Fir trees, fruits of every kind and flowers of every hue.
Under her unrelenting eye, grass was mowed, hedges trimmed, roofs and gutters
cleared of debris, and flowers blossomed in their chosen locations. A stickler
for cleanliness, every morning she was in the dining hall, supervising the
cleaning of its floors and tables. She persisted and succeeded in opening out
the kitchen to air and light, and making it easy to move around for the staff by
increasing its size. She was adamant that, food should be served hot to the
boys, and ensured that, through a queue system, each boy should be served,
straight from the particular cooking utensil. Her ubiquity, kept every one on
their toes .
She was a committed environmentalist and conservationist .She found bird
watching an exciting hobby, and a wonderful therapy, and initiated the boys to
Her compassion extended to all forms of life. On one occasion, she had the nerve
to upbraid a burly retired Rugger playing English planter, for snipe shooting in
the paddy fields bordering the campus. “Madam,” he had said to her “You must be
a vegetarian”. He had his day then, but that was the last occasion, he was seen
Once she received a turkey for Christmas, but the bird found in her, a benign
new owner, and lived to die of old age. On another occasion, some villagers
brought her a python they had captured, but she discreetly had it released by
the same sisal plant where it was caught. She had a Siamese cat as a pet, which
she managed to take to England when she left. She adopted a deer and a peacock
which actually followed her around. She empathised with them, as St. Francis
would have done, presiding ‘as the Patron saint of the College Chapel.’
Her love for gardening and plants, once led her to an embarrassing contretemps.
On a visit to the famous Hakgala gardens, as well known and distinguished
visitors, she and the others who accompanied her, were taken round by the
curator himself. Typical of the weather, there was a sudden downpour, which
caused Mrs Hayman to open her parasol to protect herself, whereupon a shower of
plant slips rained to the ground. The curator, a gentleman of the highest order
did not merely look the other way, but hastily helped Mrs Hayman, to collect
them, and got them packed.
Most boys saw her, as a latter day Forence Nightingale. But there was in her,
more than a little touch of Margaret Thatcher. Kind and compassionate, she was
also firm and resolute, when the occasion warranted , often in counterpoint to
the innate predisposition of both Dr Hayman and Canon Foster, to be too
accommodating of human frailty. Important decisions no doubt, carried some
weight of her own views. She was candid and open, and called ‘a spade a spade.’
Mrs Hayman was slightly built, but was always very simply dressed and had the
minimum make- up, perhaps a touch of lipstick. There was generally a suspicion
of a smile in her eyes, benevolent and not derisive, as if she saw through
people and things, to what was spurious. Very much the country lass, she was not
spoilt by her exalted position, as the Headmaster’s wife and completely free of
any desire to acquire the sophistication, that ensnared lesser mortals, to
veneer shallow personalities. She was soft spoken as one would have expected,
and in fact, when she spoke, it was in a whisper. She would venture the odd joke
to a close friend, sotto voce’ and ensured that, it would not be a source of any
embarrassment, to whoever it was holding forth, on the ‘Thusness of Thus’ often
at dinners, she was obliged to attend, as the Headmaster’s wife.
She arrived in Colombo from Bombay, on April 2nd 1942 ,when Colombo harbour was
being subject to, an aerial attack by the Japanese, and watched proceedings
perforce from outside Colombo harbour. One of the planes was brought down, on
the College Big Club Grounds. Prospects of danger left her undeterred. We had
ample evidence of it, during her stay at Gurutalawa, whether it was climbing up
the sheer face of forbidding mountains, exploring underground caves or
negotiating forest short cuts, where leopards had been sighted, and the wild
buffalos were a clear and present danger.
The Haymans left Gurutalawa, on March 14th, 1963.There were a series of
valedictory gatherings and speeches leading to the departure. But nothing could
assuage the dillusionment of the Reality.They had planned to settle down, within
an hours hike from Gurutalawa, in the vicinity of Erabadde, but took note of the
message of political change, and were eye witnesses to the early turbulence.
They were concerned with,, how the cross currents of events would affect the
school. ’But the best laid schemes of mice and men, and they absorbed the wrench
with the typical unsentimentality of the English character.
Mrs Hayman settled down to run their Bournemout Establishment. But they never
lost touch, looking forward to entertaining Old Boys, who made their visits a
kind of pilgrimage. She delighted in giving them the traditional, Thomian fare
of rice, dhal and coconut sambol, and getting first hand news of the school. She
never failed to see that the visiting car was provided with sandwiches and a
soft drink, for the return journey.
But the Thomian connection was too compelling . She returned five times in all,
three, after Dr Hayman’s death in 1983. Appropriately her final visit to Sri
Lanka was, in 1992, in connection with, the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the
College at Gurutalawa, at which, she was the Chief Guest. She found that many
things had changed and maintained a discreet silence, except in Sotto Voce’ to
close friends, who shared her views. After Dr Hayman’s death she was immediately
appointed, as the President of the OBA, UK Association, and she made the journey
from Bourne mouth, for every meeting, till she was physically not fit, for
After Dr Hayman’s death, she was the ministering angel looking after the infirm
and the bed ridden. Sometimes her rounds, including caring for around 17 or 18
patients, daily. These included Miss Joan Foster, Canon Foster’s sister, Mrs
Mowena Hayman, Dr Hayman’s sister and Mrs Blanchard (prep School) with Thomian
associations. It involved attending to daily needs, shopping, collecting
medicines, arranging transport visiting Nursing homes and Hospitals, and even
caring for pets.51, Boscombe Overcliff drive, was a drop point for groceries,
medicine and launderies, which she would deliver by car, for friends who were
not mobile, the car, a generous gift from a grateful Thomian Ward.
Laid back and simple, Mrs Hayman had nerves of steel and a heart of gold. She
will definitely, have a foremost place in the History of the School, in her own
right. In later years, when she was unable to continue her voluntary medical
service, and her faculties had dimmed, she preferred the tranquilty of solitude.
She divested herself of mementos, to be placed in the Hayman Foster memorial
museum, at Gurutalawa. Her casket was draped in the College flag and the funeral
service was completed, with the Thomian Song in the background. She has gone
beyond the ken of human consciousness, but her twilight thoughts, would have
typically echoed Christiana Rosetti’s famous lines, in keeping with her matter
of fact approach to life. ‘If thou wilt, Remember, If thou wilt Forget.’ She was
completely free of Romantic Illusions.
But we shall remember, we shall not forget. Her memory remains within our
domain, inspiring us, to love life, and indeed, life itself, as a gift to be
shared and given in the service of others. Mrs Hayman was not a religious
person, in the commonly misguided perception of the religious. She lived the
maxim laborare est Orare.(To work is to pray).
She lived her life, the epitome of a verse from J. Keble’s familiar Hymn.
The trivial round, the common task
Would furnish all we need to ask,--
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.
And on that road, Mrs Mary Hayman walked the extra mile.