My father's demise

12/2/08

My father died!
Someone who survived from three heart attacks & a stroke, then stayed for number of years very happily with the family should be a lucky person, still our selfishness, bond or love don't let us accept even a simple truths of the life.. I simply couldn't accept this… I was waiting him to come up again with his so refreshing smile!
 
Ending of his life too was very smooth as well as his actions in the day to day life… He was so simple & very realistic with the expectations, but very rigid with the policies. He stayed according to a Buddhist life rules, but never rush to Temples or believed much about hell or heaven. I think, he believed in what he sees & feels; what is good & bad for his senses.
 
I think, the poem below written by my bappa (Mr. Sunil Perera, UK) reveals some of his characteristics very well.. this was posted by him on my father's one of the last birthdays..
 
 
About one & half years back, he was so sick with a stroke & a heart failure at the same time. He was so sick & was just lay on the bed for couple of weeks without any sign of a life. We were so helpless and waiting for miracles. Even when he was brought back to home, he was just a lifeless person who didn't talk or show any emotion. After all the attempts to make him talked, we tried to do something different. Myself, my brother &  Mum sat by his bed & started to sing one of his favourite songs. His lips showed a very slight move & he started to whisper!! I think that was the most emotional moment I faced in my entire life! Then we knew "Lionel Obeysekera" is still in this motionless body!
 
This is what we sang;
 
 
Anyway, a miracle happened! With my Mum's incomparable care, unmatched rehabilitation program worked out by my Bappa & Punchi, doctors fruitful advices, love & blessings of others and mostly Thaththa's willingness to fight back made him improved so much; walk, talk (even with some problems) and live with us..  He was back with us happily!
 
On 7th November 2008, morning was not with much differences, sun was shining.. birds were singing.. I just wanted to say bye to my dad before leaving to office, then I noticed he was in a deep sleep, with a very peaceful smile on his face. He had already said Bye to all of us! I knew, this time, his favourite songs would not wake him up…!
 
My father is like a book. We were so busy to read some of the chapters. At least now we have got time to read it from the scratch. Already we understand the meanings in far different ways.
 
I am so sure; we might reference this book so many times again & again, in this voyage of life and find more and more meanings.
 
I guess, this is the real story of every father…

Legend of Mike Wilson

11/24/08



When I first dived into Conch in 2004 (a 3555 ton big English oil tanker ship sunken near the coast of Akurala on the night of June 3, 1903) I simply understood why ship wrecks are so special within the divers. If you compare it with a normal coral reef, a ship wreck has a long story which attached to maritime history. It needs special attention when you dive in to a wreck than normal recreational diving procedures, in return you are well-rewarded. Sometimes you might be able to find some hidden treasure too! Identifying a shipwreck in the ocean & exploring the treasure is not as simple as I say here or you would see in a movie. Only handful of people in the world had ended up with success stories, yet some people have even sacrificed their lives for such causes. Even when you are just reading this, there are a countless number of ships lie on the beds of oceans with plenty of unrevealed secrets. Most of all, billions worth treasure still lies within those artifacts. Shipwrecks are simply legends!


Even though, people are not that aware, coasts of Sri Lanka is full of shipwrecks! As far as I know, Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson are pioneering adventurers who dug this subject & actually made a success story at the end of the day. Both of them had passed away by now, after gaining very different aspects in the later parts of their lives. Anyway, my enthusiasm on this subject became increased while started reading about their adventures. While "Reefs of Taprobene" explains about their initial diving around the country to identify the wrecks and "The treasure of the great reef" reveals how they identified the Moghul time ship wreck near Great Basses & how they discovered the treasure. Everybody knows about Arthur C. Clarke. Apart from all adventurous work done by them, I started wondering about the extra-ordinary capacity and energy of Mike Wilson through these books. He is simply a wonderful character! For me hero is not Arthur C. Clarke, but Mike Wilson! Anyway, his later life took a very different path way!!

Mike Wilson & Arthur C. Clarke



Mike Wilson's early life


Mike was born in London, England. He sailed to east with Merchant ships in his early life and then joined army. Then he was transferred to Parachute regiment & then again attached to special Frogmen unit of Royal Navy, where he became a very successful carder. After he discharged from the duties, he moved to Australia & became a licensed pearl diver. He was so crazy in scuba diving and under water explorations. He dived in Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Anyway, what is important from our point of view is, he moved to Sri Lanka with Arthur C. Clarke in 1956 & decided to stay in Sri Lanka, discovering her crystal clear waters & marine life.

They started exploring the Indian Ocean around Sri Lanka for coral reefs & wrecks as soon as they come to Sri Lanka. They were accompanied by the marine biologist: Mr. Rodney Jonklass. He has done a remarkable role in identifying the tropical fishes in Sri Lanka and Jonklaas's loach (or Lepidocephalichthys jonklaasi) is a rare endemic fresh water fish in Sri Lanka, which was named to commemorate his scientific service to the industry. They spent an enjoyable life in Sri Lanka while diving, diving with Sharks, catching fishes with spear guns, reading historical data & traveling everywhere. First under water filming in Sri Lankan waters were done in this era, for the first time in the history.

See what Arthur C. Clarke has to say about the motive force that made him fascinated of Indian Ocean around Sri Lanka;

“When I left England to join Mike Wilson on The Great Barrier Reef in 1954, I had np plans for any further under-water expeditions. However, during the afternoon that the P&O Himalaya stopped in Colombo, I met Ceylon’s pioneer skin diver, Rodney Jonklass, and he infected me with his enthusiasm for Indian Ocean.”

First underwater filming in Sri Lankan waters..



Treasure in the Great Basses
On March 12th 1961, Mike left to Kirinda with two other American boys to dive in Great Basses. They did some diving & filming as usual & had a good time. One morning, the sea was not that clear enough for filming, which made them decide to have a swim (as Arthur C. Clarke said later, it was the luckiest thing ever happened to them). They swam a long to find some more new regions of the reef. When they were about to return back, Mike observed something interesting on the sea bed. That was a small old canon, glittering with the sunshine. This simple incident was the starting point of a great discovery, a new ship wreck with treasure, which hadn't been identified by anyone else!

Words of Arthur C. Clarke;

 

Ran Muthu Duwa
In order to start the detail survey about the wreck in the next season, they needed some money to utilize. They needed a boat of their own & other equipments. When they were thinking of solving this financial problem, Mike came up with another bright idea of producing a Sinhala movie with under water scenes, which they can manage easily. This idea presented the first Sinhala Colour film Ranmuthu Duwa to Sinhala film history. Mike Wilson was the director while famous Gamini Fonseka, Joe Abeywickrema and Jeevarani Kurukulasooriya did the main roles. Nanda Malini, Amaradewa & Narada Dissasekara joined as vocalists while some lyrics were written by Mahagama Sekera.
Ranmuthu duwa was released in 1962 & it became very successful. From the money they earned, they did the exploration & managed to identify the wreck as a ship belongs to Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707, son of the great Shah Jehan who built the Taj Mahal in Agra, India)  which was sent off for trade in the far east but was sunk in a storm off the Great Basses. Also they discovered some silver treasure in it. Boat they built to do the expedition was named Ran Muthu.

Some of the Artifacts and treasure found from Great Basses;

One of my diving pals, Kusum managed to search the site in 2008 and captured this photo of the area. He was amazed with the beauty of the diving site.
How Mike's life changed
Mike visited Trincomalee in 1956 for the first time. He dived near Koneswarar Temple and also got some knowledge from Rodney, about what he could expect to see. He managed to find the old temple scattered beneath the sea as he was being explained. He understood it was a quite extra ordinary site with some hidden archeological and also a spiritual value. Also Mike had been told about the "Swayambhu Linga" which all the devotees of god Kataragama, were very much interested about.
"Swayambhu Linga" is somewhat, tomb like object which said to have a spiritual power, which originally found in Tibetan mountains, later brought to Sri Lanka by King Ravana, according to the legends. There said to have 69 such tombs originally. It has been kept in a sacred temple in the Koneswarar, but had been destroyed and splashed in to the sea by Portuguese invaders in the seventeenth century. Till then, this "Swayambhu Linga" was being searched by holy people worldwide who devote the legends of god Skunda, but couldn't find any trace.
When it was the time, Ranmuthu Duwa was filming near Trincomalee; Mike Wilson discovered this holy object and delivered it to Koneswarar Temple, where people started worshipping ever since. Mike came straight to the Colombo Museum archive & started reading about the history of the finding. He understood that, what he found was one of the original Lingums from 69 originals, where only few remains in the world today.
With all these findings, Mike started to believe that finding of the Lingum is not just a random happening, started to feel the power of it and finally decided to commit his entire life devoting the holy gift and do the needful rituals.
He believed that being seated alone in the presence of the Swayambhuwa Linga is, itself a part of the ritual. So he did so. He explained his experience; "One is aware of its enormous antiquity. And one's mind is able to soar back to the distant past and see all those who have sat there before."
He became a Swami (Swami Siva Kalki) and spent his remaining life in Kataragama as a devotee & doing rituals accordingly, till he passed away.

Mike Wilson as Swami Siva Kalki

"It changed me completely," he declared in an interview in The Sunday Times of 18 November, 1990. "It was diksha (initiation) and darshan (divine vision) all in one. I understood something, how I had spent many lives here in Sri Lanka already, how this was not my first. I was prompted to go to Kataragama. One needs a place to sit and ponder; that place for me was Kataragama.

Note 1 : Added on 02/09/2010
Last month I managed to visit Koneswarar at Trinco on my way to diving and photographed below object which I belived to be the legendary "Swayambhu Linga" which was discovered by Mike Wilson. People I met at the Kovil was not much aware about history, but they managed to tell this was discovered by Sudda (foreigner). Please correct me if I am wrong.


 
References;
The Reefs of Taprobane - Arthur C. Clarke
The Treasure of the Great Reef - Arthur C. Clarke & Mike Wilson

More Interesting articles;
http://www.sarasaviya.lk/2015/03/19/?fn=sa1503199

Listen to Amadahara

10/20/08

Visit http://www.amadahara.org/ and listen to Damma talks, either in Sinhala or English language.

 This consists of very clear & nice Buddhist talks. 

You have just killed Beethoven!

10/19/08

I got an interesting mail from a friend. Please read it;

“ If you knew a woman who was pregnant, and she had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis; would you recommend that she have an abortion?

If you said yes, you just killed Beethoven. “

Anyway, after sometime I wanted to read about Beethoven and saw some incompatibility with the facts I read in the mail. So I managed to dig it & found that the mail wasn’t so correct. Also there had been worse types of the lies. Correction to the mail had been revealed by so many people in the web.  Please read below. 

"Though Ludwig Van Beethoven's parents did have 7 children. Beethoven was NOT the youngest. He was the 2nd born child to his parents on December 17th 1770. The first born was named Ludwig Maria. Though Ludwig Maria did die six days after his birth. There is no knowledge that he was born blind, deaf or mentally retarded.

Though Beethoven's father was a known alcoholic, he was not known to abuse his children. As far as the sniffles argument, the sniffles are simply when you have a stuffy nose from allergies or a cold. It's not a fatal disease. I don't think most people base decisions on weather or not the father to be, happens to have a cold or allergies, and history tends not record every little sneeze a person has during their life. Even if that person is Beethoven's father.

His mother did not have syphilis. She did contract tuberculosis, but not until Beethoven was nearly 20 years old. Beethoven's parents had 5 children after him. Casper Anton Carl, Nikolaus Johann, Anna-Maria Franziska, Franz Georg, and Maria Margareth Josepha. Anna-Maria and Franz Georg both died only days after their birth. None of the children were known to be blind, deaf or mentally retarded. None were ever in a mental institution.

There are many versions to this lie. Some claim that Beethoven was deaf at birth and became a great composer despite this disability. This is also false information. Beethoven suffered hearing loss which was caused by scarlet fever not genetics. He was already an accomplished composer by the time he started to lose his hearing. Beethoven's loss of hearing caused him to withdraw into a deep depression. He withdrew himself from the public and his friends.

Other versions of this abortion argument state that Ludwig Van Beethoven was blind. This was never true at all."

Hm..I am sorry! I too forwarded this in-ethical mail to few of my friends!

Sri Lankan Márquez !

9/29/08


Gabriel García Márquez is considered to be the most significant novelist who went his journey on a different path. On other hand, his novels were typical examples that challenge the traditional framework of writing through "Magic Realism"

Actually alternative pathways come in to the scene, when current frameworks are no more enough to express their ideas. History proves it well. After the world wars, development in communication & transportation made the western world changed a lot which resulted complexity & frustration. Money & Power dominated the societies. People struggled to express the realities they felt.. People, politics & society were no more explained with just realism. With those changes, we can see the evolution in art media, that became quite complex. Realism is no more enough.. New structures were being introduced like Surrealism. A novelist like Marcas is a typical result from a society (deformed?) that doesn't know where it heads! He was one of the most significant writers in the 20th century and Nobel Prize was awarded to him in 1982.

Is Martin Wickramasinghe's Gamperaliya enough to explain the realities we feel today?
As I could remember Madawala (Mohan Raj Madawala) had done a great effort to go beyond the traditional expressionism through his short story book.(i.e Bodilima) It was released in mid nineties. It contained a very different model that I haven't read in any Sinhala book. He was brave enough to do that research. Even though, I don't know, whether it was successful in Sinhala reading crowd, a lot of intellectuals were keeping hopes on this new model in Sinhala literature. He could have been the Marques in Sri Lankan context!

Please read below extract from the book.

I was among the people, who expected more books from Madawala. I became a self appointed campaigner for his book. Most of the people around me (Including my Mum) became very harsh Criticizers!

Please refer Another example;

I didn't hear anything more about this writer for another few years. I thought, may be he would have gone out of the country for his higher studies or something.. But then I heard his name in a third class radio channel as a presenter! I couldn't believe that he was doing this kind of thing to make his living. Who could believe this one was a radical writer that gave a lot of hopes to Sinhala readers.

This creative writer had been killed by this commoditized society!

For me.. Sri Lankan Márquez had died in his early ages!

Related post : Contravention of Victorianism: Magam Soliya (මාගම් සෝලිය)

Song of the River.

8/21/08


This is a book I enjoyed since I was very small. Book consists of a collection of very nice poems. Still I am enjoying this poetry when I have free time.. These Sinhala poems should belong to the Colombo Era (“kolamba yugaya”), if we try to recognize them. Anyway, these poems illustrate very beautiful and strong images in my mind. Simple themes are so nice & background touches the typical Sinhala old villages & people. I am always with these kinds of classical fantasies! 

Please read below poem which was selected from this book. See, whether you can agree with me.. This great poem is by the poet Kudaligama.


This book has been compiled by another poet: Meemana Premathilake. Sunil Madhawa Premathilaka’s father. We will discuss about Sunil Madhawa in some other blog post. He too is a remarkable symbol in contemporary Sri Lankan literature & journalism.  

The Lovable Dictator

8/13/08


Sugathapala de Silva is a very strange & remarkable symbol in Sinhala Stage Drama community. No one addresses him with a prefix "Mr.", nor with Dr. or Prof.. Also he wasn't with any honorary names like "Kala Bushana" & etc. He is just Sugathapala de Silva or else the Lovable Dictator!

I happened to recollect thoughts about him recently because his 80th birthday was commemorated recently at Punchi Theater,Borella. Darmasiri Bandaranayake delivered a lecture on Sugathapala de Silva & his vision in a very sensitive manner.

Among his books, I can remember that I enjoyed the Sinhala translation of "The Gadfly" (ATA MASSA) very much. When I was reading it, I was so young & with full of revolutionary ideas.. So this book gave me much more energy to very progressive thoughts that I was with..

I wasn't so fortunate to see most of his early stage dramas, but I was fortunate enough to enjoy one of his master pieces, MARASAD (translated & produced, original script is from Peter Wise) stage drama. If I am correct, it was his last stage play & last public show.. I was also fortunate enough to see this "Giant" personality of just about 5 feet tall! When I was returning home, my palms were paining because we clapped continuously after he appeared on the stage. It was a great play, yet I didn't know why we clapped that much.. Everybody in the crowd stood up from their chairs & clapped.. So I followed.. Anyway, after that I read & learned from other people and books about the great characteristics of this person & got to know the real value of this artist.

SugathaPala was so straight forward with his ideas & didn't want to go after the governments to get awards or any titles; instead he wrote the truth & did his role as a dramatist to educate the Sri Lankan society. He was so poor in wealth, because he didn't go after money. One of my friends visited him (I wanted to join him, but I Couldn't) when he was critically ill.. My friend said, "I feel so sorry about him.. he is about to die, he lies pathetically in a very small room...his family doesn't have a home or any asset, it seems.." At that day we talked more & more about Sugathapala de Silva's fate & his role in this society. Anyhow, we came to the conclusion that Sugathapala is a happy and successful man. There is nothing to worry about him, because he wanted to do something & he did it. Money or other possessions are not with his priorities. He died on 28th October 2002.

Some of the giant personalities we see on the stage drama today are the students of Sugathapala. For example; Jackson Anthony & Darmasiri Bandaranayake

Stories are inter-connected..! If you can remember about the famous singer, late Gunadasa Kapuge, he was so hammered by media & critiques for releasing a cassette with more western type music done by famous group SUNFLOWERS. This cassette release was criticized so harshly & it was told that he has sold out his own children (his songs!) for the greed of money. Kapuge faced everything without telling any word. Only few people around him knew that Kapuge had done that cassette to get some money to help Sugathapala de Silva to spend on his medicine. People do such sacrifices! How beautiful is this world?

I always feel great, when I think about such beautiful lives, who loved mankind by means & scarified their personality for achieving much greater goals.. Definitely world has come this far because of such noble people!

I can still remember one quote told in MARASAD drama.. It’s very strange, quite funny, yet with a deep meaning..

Nandana Marasinghe : a fallen bird !

7/24/08

I haven’t seen Nandana Marasinghe. But I have heard & read about him. He seems to be a real man with a lot of admirable qualities. He was with dreams of a nice and equal society in Sri Lanka. Difference between all other people who see dreams & Nandana was significant. He worked hard to make those dreams realities. He was an artist, musician, poet, humanitarian , visionary, rebel, great husband and a great father.

He is a founder member of JVP. In 1971, he fought to make a better change in Sri Lankan society. He is also the creator of famous “Vimukthi Gee” concert. He was more in to love humanity & mankind while fighting for a better world..Such straightforward and broad attitudes towards the revolution was quite strange for a party like JVP, I believe now. When it comes to the second (lost) revolution in 1989, Nandana was doing his social duties independently (he left JVP!), but very firmly. So JVP killed him. He was so pathetically shot at Anuradhapura pola, in October 1987. Old JVP members knew how many times Nandana had saved Wijeweera’s life in 71! “Vimukthi Gee” is still being sung by JVP without knowing that they killed the person who wrote!

Some people believe this killing lead to another killing of a giant figure in Sri Lankan politics & Sinhala cinema; that’s Wijaya Kumaranatunga. Since Wijaya was a close friend of Nandana, he had delivered a quite aggressive speech at Nandana’s funeral pointing fingers to JVP. In fact, JVP decided to get rid of Wijaya too, without any delay.

When I entered the University in 1996, there were JVP supporters with a lot of theories about two lost revolutions. I was very much keen on these political activities. Sadly, most of them didn’t know about people like Nandana. The poem (by famous Rathna Sri) attached below was written about Nanda Marasinghe on the wallpaper called “Prabathaya” in the “Open Canteen” which I happen to do the editing. You can still see this wallpaper hanging on the “Open Canteen” of Colombo University.


It is so surprising to talk about the general knowledge of the students. At that time there was a student leader whose surname too was Marasinghe & they have thought this poem is about him..! What other things could I say.. as far as I know Rathna Sri is not a joker but a very respectable poet!!

At Nandana’s funeral Wijaya has openly questioned “What kind of revolution one can do by killing such people…”

Not Nandana, Nor Wijaya is in our society today!

I think our society is greatly suffering from lack of ideal people.. We still have leaders and artists in our society, but still there is lot of room for real people with real human touch & better sensitivity!

Goodbye my friend!

6/16/08


Menaka was calling my phone in an odd time.. hm, I knew it cant be for any diving business, since sea should be really rough with the south western monsoon season. When I really heard the trembling voice, I felt something is wrong.. then I heard this pathetic story, Nalaka’s untimely death!

I had known Nalaka as a very friendly character who was loved by everyone, since I met him when I started my diving expeditions. He was a superb PADI (Professional association of diving instructors) dive master who was capable of facing any challenge at sea. I can recollect the nice dives we did together… oh no.. Nalaka is no more!

Nalaka’s tragic death had happened due to a Kite Surfing accident. Since it was windy season, he had tried Kite surfing in the beach, with a rope tied to his body supported by a belt which is not having a release. ( there is a special kind of belt which is used for kite surfing, but he had used something else) He hadn’t used a helmet either! A sudden wind had blown and made him hit the ground once, while he tried to settle down in the correct position, another strong gale had blown towards shore from the sea and struck him on a concrete pillar. This is the exact place that we used to sit and keep on talking about the sea, sharks, whales and of course about our personal lives! According to a witness, Nalaka hadn’t made any movement afterwards; probably his neck had been broken! He further added.. “I have never seen such a pool of blood”

When I reached the funeral house with Kusum, I saw the faded faces of our colleagues who used to be really cheerful people other days.. Even in the coffin, I saw his mild whispering smile from the corners of his lips, which is really unique of him. I doubt whether this one would suddenly say “Koi welaweda machan awe? (when did you come pal?)” When I face shocking moments sometimes, I needed time to believe its not a dream… its not a dream, Nalaka is dead!

Nalaka’s Russian girl friend was returning to Sri Lanka with the news of this tragic incident.” How would she feel about this?” I thought for a while. She had come to Sri Lanka last year for a vacation. That’s when she had met this wonderful guy and decided to spend her whole life with this handsome person. As I got to know, Nalaka had been planning to start a restaurant on his own, with the help of his girl friend, after visiting her country for a short stay. He had been spending the time with extra happiness and enthusiasm on his last few days, not knowing anything about what life had in store for him.

I can still remember the voice of Kalu, the leader of the Blue Deep diving group, ..”I can’t still believe this.. once all the funeral rituals are over, everybody would divert to their normal lives again.. then I will feel the void made by the absence of Nalaka.. What is this life?”

What is this life… We are running this horse race even without knowing where we head..

Will I meet Nalaka again in this chakra of Sansara.. ?

Goodbye my friend! May you rest in peace..

 
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