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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

The Taj Mahal - A true symbol of immortal love

We celebrate Valentine’s Day, everything centreing round ‘Love’. Love is defined in so many ways and the great poet Shakespeare in his own way said, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”
An experience of falling in love, being romantic and an imagination of the two coming together to face this world is something which every youngster goes through in his teenage years. More wisdom sets in only after the teenage of nineteen!
Love is described in so many different ways and some are: Love is patient, Love is kind, Love does not envy, Love does not boast, Love is not proud, Love is not rude, Love is not self-seeking, Love is not easily angered, Love does not keep record of wrongs, Love does not delight in evil, Love rejoices with truth, Love always protects, Love always trusts, Love always hopes, Love always perseveres, Love never fails, and of all Love in the real meaning is immortal.

The greatest love story which depicts the immortality is the fine example of the great monument. Emperor Shah Jahan of the erstwhile Moghul Empire in India built this great “Taj Mahal” for his beloved wife Mumtaz in whom he embodied the true meaning of love and which bond was not separated by any means.

Incidentally Mumtaz had 14 children. The Taj Mahal is a Museum for love, which was in white marble. Shah Jahan’s wish was to build an identical one on opposite the Taj Mahal with black marble. This was not to be as his son Arungazel took over the reigns and imprisoned the father granting him the wish of seeing the Taj Mahal from the prison chamber. Grief stricken Shah Jahan died and was buried next to Mumtaz in the Taj Mahal.

This is a true story of the Immortal Love and a true story at that, let us not abuse love for selfish wishes. True love never runs smooth, they say but I say that true love centres on immortality like the greatest historical Monument the Taj Mahal.
So, not only we show love in the romantic way but love your neighbour as yourself and also show your true love and affection not only to fellow human beings but also to all living things be it humans, animals or plants.

“Long live true love”
Kingsley Durairaj
Etulkotte

****

To save environment and solve sand shortage

River sand, one of the most important ingredients for masonry in the construction industry has, because of its acute shortage, become a precious commodity today. The excessive mining of river sand has led to serious environmental problems and it has become necessary to restrict such mining.

However, with the ever increasing demand for sand, illicit sand mining has been on the increase. Sand resources of whatever nature, river banks, beaches, sand dunes that protect the land from the vagaries of the ocean and even sandy soils in reservations have been begun to be exploited illicitly. Extensive damage is being caused to the environment as a result. River banks are collapsing, sea erosion has increased and so have the prospects of flooding.

Sand resources are extremely limited. The supply cannot meet the demand. If illicit mining is effectively checked the construction industry will be starved of sand. The environment has to be protected and at the same time sand has to be found to meet the demand. Radical new thinking is required if this problem is to be solved.

At present, the prospect of a readily available alternative to sand is indeed remote. From a geological point of view the only sources from which virtually inexhaustible quantities of sand could be obtained with minimal environmental impact appear to be the vast expanses of uninhabited desert regions in the world and the ocean bed. What needs to be considered are: (a) the cost factor and (b) the loss of livelihood of the thousands of traditional river sand miners who use manual methods.

Mechanised pumping of sand from the ocean bed is widely resorted to by many countries mainly for purposes of reclaiming land or for the elevation of the land for new roads and railways. Singapore and Hong Kong have increased their land area by pumping sand from the sea bed. Many countries are using this method to expand the land area of sea-ports for construction of warehouses and for container yards. I believe in Sri Lanka too this method was resorted to fill marshy terrain for the Colombo-Katunayake Express way. Sand pumped in this manner to suitable selected locations left exposed to the rain for a reasonable period of time gets desalinated and will be suitable for masonry.

Another possibility is to pump sand to rivers. If sea sand is pumped to a point about 10-15 km upstream and allowed to be washed downstream this sand could be mined using traditional methods. This will ensure traditional miners continued employment. Environmental damage will be minimal as in all rivers the fauna and flora up to about 15 km from the sea have got acclimatised to salinity as tidal effects regularly send sea water upstream except at times when rivers are in spate.

In the pumping of sand from the sea, the cost is bound to be high. But the benefits will outweigh the destruction caused to the environment.

I trust the minister of environment will give this suggestion the consideration it deserves. If a feasibility study shows that there is merit in this suggestion, I am confident there will be many private sector concerns to launch on a pilot project.

****

   Appreciations 

An instrument of love laughter and learning

Rev. Brother Baptist Croos, FSC

A heart of gold stopped beating and a gentle voice was stilled when Brother Baptist Croos of the De La Salle Brothers passed away on the evening of March 21, 2009. Writing about Bro. Baptist is an awe-inspiring task. I therefore humbly endeavour to confine myself to writing about Bro. Baptist the human being.

I first met Bro. Baptist in 1961 and for 48 years that friendship blossomed and strengthened. He was a sincere and true friend who could be trusted implicitly. Here was a man who radiated love and inspired all those around him. It was his inimitable ability to forge everlasting friendships based on the bedrock of mutual respect that endeared him to people of all ages and walks of life.
He would not hesitate to go that extra mile to help even a complete stranger. He lived the philosophy, “Never ask. Never refuse.” He not only reached out, but reached in helping heal hearts and minds. He really felt for and helped people and in the true Christian tradition his left hand was unaware of what his right hand gave. He never spoke about his good deeds and expected nothing in return.

But for the many people he helped, his magnanimous benevolence will never be forgotten and his revered memory will always be etched in their hearts. Even today the majority of the De La Salle Brothers are unaware of the fact that for the past 25 years, Bro.Baptist had funded a pre-school in Mannar, paid the salaries of its teachers and provided the poorest of the poor not only with an education but books, clothes and shoes free of charge. This, Bro. Baptist was able to achieve because donors believed in his integrity and vision.

In October 1993, Bro. Baptist invited me to set up an institute to train teachers of English and provide them with effective English courses. Bro. Baptist and I were the founder Directors of the La Sallian English Academy which commenced operations in January 1994, in Mutwal. The institute was established in line with the 42nd General Chapter of the De La Salle Brothers which states: “The shared mission is to be one of our priorities in the coming years. This new life we see in our shared mission means that a way of looking at ourselves as the only authorised agents of the Institute’s mission is obsolete.”

However, in August 2004, after much pressure and acrimony this vital educational institute which had operated successfully and self-sufficiently was forced into closure. One of Bro. Baptist’s many admirable qualities was to stand up fearlessly against injustice. When I established the St. La Salle English Academy in September 2002, he continued in partnership as co-Director until his untimely death.

Bro. Baptist believed in partnerships, which he was convinced contributed to growth and progress. He would cite as an example the 35 or so La Sallian Brothers in the Philippines, who although small in numbers, run varied institutes of learning including universities. The La Salle fraternity in the Philippines has been extremely successful in their mission. They are so highly respected that a De La Salle Brother had even been appointed the Minister of Education in the Philippines. Their success he attributed to the forged lay partnerships in their shared mission.

When Bro. Baptist commenced his third term as the Provincial of the La Salle Brothers in 1997, he set about the task of completely overhauling an appallingly disorganised and creaky administrative system. He began an internal spring cleaning exercise sweeping away the existing cobwebs and mustiness while ensuring effective financial controls.

One did not require a mask to speak to Bro. Baptist. He could discuss topics as diverse as religion, cricket, culture, poetry or any experience of human endeavour for that matter. For him the word ‘Brother’ was always held sacred. More importantly he believed that a white heart was profoundly more eminent than a white robe. Here was a humble man of the cloth, a seemingly ordinary man who led an extraordinarily exemplary life. His solid spiritual grounding constrained him to adhere conscientiously to his commitments of religious consecration which included the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

In spite of being a former head of the religious fraternity he was an exceedingly humble cleric. Indeed, soon after his term as Provincial ended in 1999, despite suffering from diabetes, he served an ‘obedience’ in the Philippines from 2001 to 2004 without a murmur of dissent. Soon after his return to Sri Lanka he was constrained to serve in what was considered the worst of scenarios - in war-torn Mannar. Again without a modicum of discord he faithfully carried out his humanitarian mission in these horrendous surroundings for four years.

Conditions in the conflict zone in Mannar were chaotic. But he remained without complaint while his sickness worsened. Medical facilities were non-existent and one had to travel to Colombo even for a simple tooth extraction. He was forced to return to Colombo for medical treatment. But by then it was a case of too little, too late. Bro. Baptist’s kidney had suffered irreparable damage. He died while undergoing painful dialysis treatment.

Bro. Baptist’s literary greatness was but one of his incredible endowments. His creative talents included a mellow singing voice, the intellect of an articulate public speaker and the deft hand of a calligraphist, artist and painter. But above all, those who knew him will never forget his radiant, unobtrusive yet inspiring presence. He cheered the jaded spirits of all those around him with his charm, compassion and light banter. Bro. Baptist was also imbued with those great gifts of humour and humanitarianism.
Bro. Baptist, for the many people who really loved and admired you, the cross is difficult to bear. You were part of the family to all those who had the good fortune to know you. We cherish the time we were in your company. The people whose lives you touched will be forever grateful. To us all you were simultaneously the instrument of love, laughter and learning. We are proud to call you our teacher, mentor and friend.
Denis de Rosayro
(The writer is the Director of the St. La Salle English Academy. He is an international English teacher trainer, author and editor.)

****

Major Surendra Lal Wijewardane

It is very sad to learn the sudden demise of Major S.L. Wijewardane who is a gentleman and officer in the Sri Lanka Army National Service Regiment and Sri Lanka Army Rifle Corp. He is the son of late Mr and Mrs DE Wijewardane (Public Trustee) then. He was educated in Royal College, Colombo 7 and St Joseph College, Colombo 10.

He excelled in his studies, sports and cadetting. Since leaving college, with his London GCE ­AL he entered London School of Printing, London (UK) and obtained Diploma in printing. As soon as he retuned to Ceylon then, he joined the department of printing in the Associated News Papers of Ceylon Ltd. Later, he was appointed as compiler of Fergusion Directory which is printed by Lake House. He was a land owner/agriculturist and coconut planter in Kurunagala District.

With the nationalisation of Lake House Group of Newspapers during the term of office of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon then, he resigned and attended to his agricultural/farming activities, being a land owner. He was a founder member of the Sinhala National Heritage with the late Upali Senanayaka who is the son of late FR Senanayaka .

In April 1971, during the very peak of JVP/ DJV insurgency in entire Ceylon then, he was commissioned as an Officer in Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force where I met him at Sri Lanka Army Artillery Regiment, Panagoda for National Service. In 1978, he was transferred to Sri Lanka Army Rifle Corp commanded by the late General Ranjan Wijerathne and was a appointed as Adjutant of the unit. Since retirement, he took a keen interest for the welfare services of the poverty stricken community in Rajarata through an NGO known as Rural Youths Leadership Training Institute Foundation. He obtained aid from the Japanese Government and Australian Government directly, sponsored by his uncle late EJR Wijewardana being close relations. He was married to very lovely lady Miss Wimala Perera Wijewardana of Panadura and he had a son Demintha who is doing very well in life in Australia and his daughter Olu is married with three children now. They possess dual citizenship in Sri Lanka / Australia. Our deepest sympathies to his wife and children
May he born among us till he achieves Nibbhana in his journey in Sansara.

Capt.LB Lanka
(Wilbawe ) Jayaratne
Mrs Iranganie Devi Seneviratne B. Jayaratne
Weligama

****

 Tribute

A birthday tribute to Ganjali Jayasekera

It would have been your birthday today and I, together with your family and friends, would have shared some laughter and cheer and this despite of your discomfort and pain. Dear sister-in-taw I miss you, as I know your family and friends do as everyone whose lives you touched will.

You left us six months ago, after a long and painful illness, bravely borne. Never during this time did you lose your sense of caring, compassion and humour and above all, the love you so unstintingly radiated among all of us. I was your brother’s wife, but I know you cared for me as you would have cared for a sister. You were always there for me, encouraging me through good times and bad.

These memories of you are, and will always be, etched in my mind and to me you will always be ‘Mother Courage’.
“This day for us is sacred, so it will always be - a day of dear remembrance and fondest memory. But not on this day only upon our loss we dwell. She is remembered always by those who loved her well.” ­(From Patience Strong).
Dear Ganji, may your journey in Sansara be short and may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana soon.

Verna L. de Silva
Kelaniya

 

 

 

 

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