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A letter from a Malli

This is a letter I wrote several years ago to my older brother, urging him to get married. I came across it whilst going through some old files recently.
But my near lyrical appeal fell on deaf ears, for my brother 45 years old then, yet remained a bachelor for life. Incidentally, my father to whom I refer in this letter remained at the crease up to 96 years and my brother predeceased him. This is the letter.

“My dear Aiya,
First, let me beg your pardon for writing this letter to you, for you may quite rightly, consider it impertinent and presumptuous. Nevertheless, please do not assume that I am mad or bad - I am only sad. And it is this sadness that prompted me to write to you.
My dear Aiya, it is my humble opinion that you have seen, tasted and possibly digested only one aspect of life, while I am well and truly sailing merrily on the vast ocean of life, seeing and tasting life in its glorious entirety.
Life is actually a dream (sometimes a nightmare) and it is only natural that one should try to make this dream one of happiness and fulfilment. After all, assuming that we sleep eight hours a day, we spend one third of our lives in slumber, and the real living is confined to just two-thirds of our lives.
Wedded life is often referred to as two people rowing a boat through life.
If one of the two rows erratically or rocks the boat, it is left to the other to point out, gently and tactfully, the error the other one is committing and show how the boat should be rowed. (Of course, if that person, be he the captain or chief mate, insists on rowing wrong, one is quite justified in throwing him or her overboard. That’s how lawyers earn a living!)
On the way, passengers might board the boat, and believe me, Aiya, they add to all the fun of the journey though sometimes you may not think so, for with them on board, it is most difficult to keep the boat steady and not rocking.
Of course, if you are footloose and fancy-free, you row alone, and may think that it is very jolly to do so. But soon you are going to be tired, bored, frustrated, unhappy and very, very lonely. And when you do, it may be too late. That is why I am writing to you, for soon it would be too late for you too.
The time has come for you to sign on a chief mate.
I was convinced of this during our recent holiday in the Jaffna peninsula, and so were the others in our party.
Aiya, my mind goes back to nearly ten years ago when in 1964, a young administrator sitting in the medical superintendent’s chair in the general hospital, Colombo.
All of you, Aiya, my sisters and their spouses, all sat around me after dinner on my first day in office, and told me that it was time I took a wife.
I followed your advice, and I tell you quite truthfully and sincerely, that I do not regret it at all, far, thanks to her, I have lived (and yet to live) a full and happy life.
I hope and pray, Aiya that you too will add a similarly charming and gracious person to your crew, and taste the same fulfilment and happiness I do. Do it, Aiya, before you are forced to abandon the ship without having lived life to the full.
Take our father as a shining example of a simple man who has lived a full and contented life, something he could not have done if he did not take our mother aboard. On the way, they took six passengers, though one was to last early in the journey.
Many years later, amma too disembarked, but father is not alone in the boat, for we - five passengers - are yet helping him to row the boat slowly, but steadily. Please do give what I have said in this letter serious thought, my dear Aiya.
I am your ever loving Malli.”

W B Wijekoon
Visiting consultant physician


His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith

He brought honour to his country of birth

His Eminence Albert Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo Metropolitan is the pride of Sri Lanka, being the second son of the Sri Lankan soil to be elevated to the much prestigious position, a “Prince of the Universal Church”.
His Eminence has brought honour to his country of birth, to the village, polity at Polgahaweha from where he hails and to Mutuwal where he was brought up by getting a cardinalate to Mother Sri Lanka once again almost after four and half a decade.

His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray OMI, was the first Sri Lankan son elevated by the then Pope Paul VI on February 22, 1965, to the position of Prince of the Church wearing the ‘Red Hat’.
The cardinals will be addressed as “His Eminence”, a practice which comes from the year 1630.
Those elevated to rank of cardinals from then on, place their signature with their first baptismal name in this fashion: Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
The Cardinal was born on November 15, 1947 and was baptised at the church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of Lourdes at Polgahawela.
He is the only son to Patabendige Don William, a station master by profession and to Mrs Hettiarchchige Mary Winifred.

He received his primary education at St Andrew’s Vidyalaya, Mutuwal, at De La Salle College, Mutuwal and at St Benedict’s College, Kotahena.
At the age of 18, he entered St Aloysius Minor Seminary at Borella on March 15, 1965 with a letter of recommendation from Rev Fr H Don Anselm addressed to the then Rector, the late Chilaw Bishop Rt Rev Dr Franck Marcus Fernando. Bishop Franck Marcus, the Auxiliary to His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray OMI, took over the office of the Chilaw See following the retirement of the erudite, scholarly first Sinhala Bishop Rt Rev Dr Edmund Peiris.
With the moving of Fr Franck Marcus as Auxiliary to Cardinal Cooray OMI, Malcolm came under the influence of Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Marcus Fernando, who assumed duties as Rector.
Fr Fernando while serving as a member of the staff of the National Seminary, Kandy was ordained a Coadjutor Bishop of Colombo and later assumed office as the Colombo Archbishop, following the retirement of Cardinal Cooray OMI.

Archbishop Emeritus N M Fernando is now spending his retirement days at Emmaus at Tewatte. His Spiritual Director at the Minor Seminary was, Archbishop Emeritus Rt Rev Dr Oswald Gomis who served as Gnanartha Pradeepaya Editor simultaneously. Bishop Gomis now spends his retirement days doing research to divulge the hidden history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.

Having completed his philosophical studies at Ampitiya and after a period of regency (going back to the world) to test his vocation to the priesthood, he was sent to Rome to continue his Theological studies. He was ordained a Priest of God by Pope Paul VI on June 29, 1975 and was back in the country in 1978 to serve the People God first as an Assistant Parish Priest and initiated the Seth Sarana project in 1983.
He served as the Assistant Parish Priest, Pamunugama / Kepungoda and Dungalpitiya. He then served as the Parish Priest of Payagala, Kalutara and Kolonnawa. He also served as lecturer at the Museaus College Kalutara and Professor at the Blessed Joseph Vaz Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, Colombo. He then served as the National Director of Pontifical Mission Society and was also the Archdiocesan Coordinator for Human Development and Archdiocesan Director of Caritas Colombo - Seth Sarana.

Fr Malcolm was consecrated as an Auxiliary Bishop on August 31, 1991 by the then Archbishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, Tewatta and was appointed the first Bishop of newly created Ratnapura Diocese on November 2, 1995 and took over the diocese on January 5, 1996. On 2001 October 1, appointed as the Adjunct Secretary, Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, Vatican.
In the year 2004, he was sent as the Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia and Timor East and called back to Vatican in 2005 and was appointed as the Secretary General of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican. He then being appointed as Archbishop of Colombo See took over the office on August 5, 2009 as the 11th Archbishop with the installation ceremony held at St Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena, Colombo.

His Eminence took over office of the Colombo See from his former Spiritual Director, who served the Colombo See having come from Anuradhapura Diocese rendering service for five years in the North Central Province.

E Weerapperuma


Eschew violence to relish peace dividends

The recent uproars in the educational institutions in our country gives us clear evidence to the theory of social learning of the modus operandi of using aggression and violence to achieve goal.
These issues are emerging after the victory achieved in the battle front inducted by the 30 years of various terrorist tactics and activities applied by the rebel groups to attain the so-called emancipation for the subjugated section of our people,
Due to this state of affairs, the moral values and standards of the nation have been placed in quandary that augurs bad to our future generation.
The degeneration of disciplines and etiquettes in the educational institutions needs an urgent attention from the concerned authority to contain the escalating trend of using violence and immediate remedial action should be instituted.
Aggressive behaviours, as expounded in social learning theory, are learned by observation.
Violence has been used as a response to adverse situation and as a method to attain goal in life. Social, religious and political organisations have been applying the violent tactics to coerce people to the confession of dogmas.
Many of the stalwarts of our political institutions use violence and accommodate hooliganism as an appendage to their parties to attain their political, personal and parochial gains.
Religious institutions have been wallowing in violence to establish their doctrinal hegemony over the other sects with internecine fighting and killing.
All these greatly influenced the mind of younger generation and gave vent to the expression of their frustration using violence as a method of achieving goal in an adverse circumstance.
They resort to violence to find solution to their problems and grievances disregarding the accepted peaceful means and ways.
It is believed that using violence is an easy way of attaining goals.
The process of consultative methods with compromise and consensus to resolve conflict and contradiction has become as an obsolete to our present generation since they are not exposed and did not have opportunity to engage in such process.
So, the validity and importance of dialogue in resolving problems should be inculcated in the minds of our students and the present younger generation.
The religious and political leaders of our nation should set example to our younger generation to pursue peaceful means to solve problems adhering to accepted social norms and values.
In this regard, the teachers and lectures of our educational institutions have to a play major role in edifying our students with the emphasise on the importance of using peaceful means in seeking solution to problems without resorting to aggressive and violent methods.
If we can not achieve this, the whole purpose of education will be lost and our future generation, who is expected to bring progress with permanent peace and prosperity to our fractured nation by the protracted 30 years of war, will be fragmented among themselves without enjoying the peace recently achieved by the present government with the concerted effort of all concerned.
I hope that the learned, intellectuals, professions and all politicians of our country will unite to achieve this goal by burying the differences among them in the best interest of our beautiful nation.

Dr U L Sarafdeen


Accolades for Defence Secretary’s sincere efforts

As the residents of the area, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for the first credible raid on this notorious brothel, the biggest in Colombo, which has been scandalously functioning quite openly for years at this apartment complex in the heart of Kollupitiya, no doubt, with the blessings of the owners of the condominium, the management, and with the knowledge of the police.
It is not only the brothel that functions in this apartment building but also a supportive night club owned by the brothel owners with the permission of the apartment owning company and the management.
We, the residents on the area in particular, are indeed grateful that the ‘Clean-up Colombo’ project of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is there for us to see. We do most sincerely hope that he would ensure that this vice den will never again be reopened, for on previous occasions a few weeks after the token raids, the brothel was reopened for business again. The police and the condominium authority should question the management of this complex as to how permission has been granted and the lease periodically renewed for its continuance. The smell of corruption pervades.
Concerned citizen


Olde Ceylon’s Charm

Old Ceylon ne’er lost her charm
Year in year out, oh! oh!
With an air air here
And an heir heir there
Yet ne’er to be familiar
Now it is, mama, akka, aunty, oh! oh!
If decorum is not addressed
Next will be “respectfully” Yakko. Oh! Oh!
Irene de Silva


Health hazard at Kalutara bus stand

The public toilets in the Kalutara main CTB bus stand are a health hazard causing much discomfort to the people.
They are not maintained to the proper hygienic standard and emanate unbearable odour, let alone reaching them.
No action has been taken by the relevant authorities so far.
Complaints made by the public have fallen on deaf ears.
C M Kamburawala


Protecting minority rights

This refers to Mifly’s letter on ‘Proposed ban on cattle slaughter’ that appeared in the media.
I wish to submit my opinion on the issue as he has requested for same from other readers.
I, as a Muslim, have a lot of colleagues, who are non-Muslims working with me.
They are not only very friendly, co-operative but also very helpful.
It is so with my neighbours from the majority who have a very cordial relationship with all the Muslims.
They are ever ready to help us at any time.
Therefore, I completely disagree with his accusation that the majority community looks at Muslims as intolerant people.
As regards his another comment, it is the West who looks at Muslims as enslaving the women and not the majority community of our island as alleged by this writer who has nevertheless come out with a unique suggestion.
As regards his main concern about cruelty to animals, it is only a very few – infinitesimal - who object to the slaughter.
This, of course, will be there in any community.
We do have these conflicting situations even within our own family circles which I think no one can deny.
I also wish to point out that he has forgotten about Aqeeqah which is sacrificing goats on behalf of a newborn child.
According to the vast majority of scholars of Islam, it is a highly recommended practice (Sunnah).
There is, however, a small minority of scholars who consider it obligatory.
Let me also point out that Mifly has not given any thought to the predicament of those Muslims who are either directly or indirectly associated with this trade. How are these people going to survive when people are already finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet?
Although it is true that the consumption of beef or meat is not compulsory or obligatory for us in terms of our religion and on the contrary, it is permissible. May I also add that my children relish meat curry than fish curry and on the days when fish is cooked, very often I have observed that they consume less food and thereby, substantial amount of food is left over which has to be either put into the refrigerator or has to be eaten by us, the parents, to avoid it going waste.
This is mentioned not to defend my point of view but to express the true state of affairs and it could be sometimes an exception.
But, it is also likely that this situation, where children relish meat over fish, may exist in other homes as well.
Being aware that Muslims have the right to slaughter enshrined in Sri Lanka’s constitution, I foresee that the proposed ban will not see the light of the day and I humbly pray that it be so.
Hope, the President will ensure that our minority rights are not trampled and that we are given the freedom to practise our religion but also permit us our other usual customary practices, without any encumbrances whatsoever, as we have been practising to date.
In short, please let each and everyone in this island practise his/her religion as has been the practice to date.
Mohamed Zahran


Lessons to learn from overseas cricket

On the day President Mahinda Rajapaksa took his oaths for the second time, to avoid being in the high security zone in the vicinity of the oath-taking ceremony, I chose to go for the T20 game at the NCC grounds, where the English women cricketers beat our women. While watching this game, I also saw the game in Galle on TV, where our men’s Test Eleven were being played.
When our women batted in that T20 game, I couldn’t see any difference between the test match batting in Galle and that of the Sri Lankan women batting at the NCC grounds. However, when the English women batted, it was scintillating cricket.
While watching their captain Edwards batting, I was reminded of my school days in Kandy when the likes of the late Canto Pieris batted.
Being a very keen follower of the game, I think we should take a leaf from cricket overseas and groom different teams for Test Cricket, One Day games and for T20. All these formats require different batting styles. Can this be done? Overto Sri Lanka Cricket.
Sydney Knight




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