Aluwihare, Anne Ranasinghe, Clara, Daniel Ridicki, Dodo Fernando, Ena de Silva, English Writers Cooperative, John Keleher, Lakmahal, Maureen Seneviratne, New Lankan Review, Nihal Fernando, Nirmali Hettiarachchi, Rex Baker, The Past is Another Country, Theja, Vijitha Fernando, Vimala Navaratnam, Yala, Yasmine Gooneratne
but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done
If 2016 saw the end of Lakmahal as it had been known and loved for near 80 years, ‘ a home to so many’ as my cousin Nirmali described it recently, that year had also seen the deaths of many who had been part and parcel of my life, and the life of my parents. In fact the period since my father’s death, at the end of August 2014, had seen the departure of many of those who had been integral to our lives.
In November that year I heard from Anne Ranasinghe that Dr Vimala Navaratnam had died in England, having gone there to look after her daughter during some surgery. She had looked after all of us with enormous dedication over nearly half a century, and had kept me going, along with my cousin Theja, in that last week when I was alone at home with my father as he faded.
Anne was as appreciative of Vimala as we were, stating matter of factly a couple of years earlier that she was still alive only because Vimala had insisted she go to hospital when she had suffered a heart attack. Anne had been determined to stay at home, which she later realized would have meant death. But Vimala, ably assisted by the admirable equally kindly and impeccably professional Dr Sheriffdeen, had got her to hospital. I interviewed Anne shortly after she returned home, and was admitted for I think the first time to her bedroom upstairs, where she held forth admirably for the series called ‘The Past is Another Country’. This was devised by the brilliant Croatian television producer Daniel Ridicki, who has now set it up on vimeo, as what he sees as a seminal aspect of Sri Lankan cultural history. The series, which includes interviews with Iranganie Serasinghe and Laki Senanayake, can be seen on http://www.ridicki.net/the_past_is_another_country.html
My aunt Ena refused to be interviewed, which I was sad about, but perhaps she knew she would not have done herself justice. She was fading by then, and in October 2015 she passed away, having memorably told me the week before, when I had gone up to Aluwihare for her 93rd birthday, that I should not be sad, for we had had such good times. When I spent the night of 31st December with her the previous year, on my way back from electioneering for Maithripala Sirisena in Jaffna, she had told me she was ready to go. I told her this was unthinkable for, citing my grandmother and my father, I told her that our family lasted until they were 93. She was only 92 then, and she asked me whether I thought she had to go on for another year. She died, in fact, a week after her 93rd birthday. Continue reading