Over a decade ago I wrote the following in a series that appeared in over a couple of years in the Island Newspaper. I had forgotten it until it was sent me by those seeking to revive the memory of Manorani Saravanamuttu, Richard de Zoysa’s mother. At a time when ‘Ceylon Today’ is reproducing ‘The Terrorist Trilogy’ which was written with Richard and about him, I thought it fitting to republish this piece
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly
Till her blood was frozen slowly
I was out of the country when Manorani died, just as I had been when her son Richard de Zoysa was abducted and killed, 11 years previously. And it was before I came back that Victor Ivan published in the ‘Ravaya’ an article that led to a very forceful critique of Richard in the ‘Island’. Those raise issues that I suspect will have to be addressed shortly. However, for the moment it is time, as Evelyn Waugh put it about another woman of extraordinary beauty, to speak of Manorani.
The last time I saw her was in the intensive care unit in January, which was a terrible experience. She was unconscious, and under heavy medication. Yet there had also been reason for regret on previous occasions I saw her, for her memory had faded. On the last of those, her 71st birthday I think it was, one tried to take comfort in the fact that she was no longer tormented by thoughts of Richard and his death. But her contentment was that of a child, so that, that too was upsetting, for the two qualities one remembered most strongly in her were both lacking – her tremendous dignity and her passion. These are qualities one does not often associate, but Manorani had them both in abundance.
I had got to know her well, as all Richard’s friends did, for their lives were shared in a very deep sense. This was inevitable in that, after she and her husband parted, she embarked on a new life and career in Africa, but gave them up to come back to Richard. He in turn recognized what she had given up for him and felt equally committed. They both, only half jokingly, felt they had been together in previous lives – I still have a copy of a poem he sent her shortly before his death, a poem about commitment in various incarnations. His comment was that they were not the only two in a time warp.