Aren't we all mother Lanka's children?
I appeal to Sinhala and Muslim communities to stop trading blame on each other. Please think of the centuries old good relation existed between both friendly communities, which is still being envied by some of our neighboring countries.
Why then this sudden change and what is the actual agenda behind it? Don't be misled by trouble makers who try to isolate our country from the international arena and world organizations!
My family was the sole Muslim residents lived down Nagahawatta Road in Maharagama, in the sixties, before I embarked on an assignment to the Gulf, in mid-seventies.
Although our original plan was to return to our homeland on completion of the assignment, one thing led to another and until I got involved in business with partnership with a local.
I cannot believe that I have spent 37 years in the Gulf so far. My very recent visits to my motherland and the latest news items I frequently read in the newspapers make me wonder ‘where are the Sinhala and Muslim communities, I knew then, have gone?’
Being the only Muslim family among the Sinhala residents on Nagahawatta Road, made us to receive more attention and care from the neighbors, which, we would not have got in an environment with our own community, for sure.
The Buddhist temple of the locality was just hundred meters away from our house and the chief priest was a frequent visitor to my residence equaling my visits to the temple or little less.
Once, I recall, we were involved in a project in installing a water-pump for the temple, before water supply was made available for the area. I am proud to say that I got enormous support from my Buddhist friends in my work place, where I worked then. I cannot imagine how much grateful the chief priest was about the little thing I could do for him in the successful installation of that pump. This was a theme subject at every ‘pinkama’ at the temple, thereafter.
Although there were three other refrigerators available on the same road most of the poor neighbors chose our house to store their home made fruit salads for any ‘Dana’ ceremonies for the priests. It was something extra ordinary to see how our house used to get filled with sweets like kokis, kevung, and kiribath etc., on a Sinhala new year.
This is in addition to the elaborately prepared lunch and dinner delivered to us by the immediate neighbors.
We used to reciprocate these good friendly gestures, on our Eid days. The extra ordinary friendly atmosphere, which prevailed then really touched our hearts. I might even say that was the best part of our life.
Once during a campaign trail, our late Kotte MP and speaker of the house, Stanley Tilakaratne visited me at my residence at Maharagama and expressed his appreciation on our extremely cordial relation, which existed between us and the rest and the respect we received despite being the only non-Sinhala family at Nagahawatta Road.
I compliment all of them for the gratitude they unreservedly showed us even for the favor we would consider as minute. This is something I have never failed to see in most of them.
On one instance my mother in law noticed that someone has plucked two young coconuts from our ‘Gundera’ tree, which was in our front garden. As everyone knows these coconut trees are dwarf and even a child could reach the bunch easily without any assistance. The good old lady confided this to the next door neighbor, who straight away passed the message to the chief priest in the temple.
Incidentally, he is from Kumbalgamuwa – Weligama, which is my birth place too. He could not bear this up and had told the next door neighbor that this is an insult for all of us and we have to find the culprits. He sent people around in various directions and caught the two boys who were in their early teens. He ordered their parents to take the children to me and seek my pardon.
The next day the parents called at my place with the boys. After serving them refreshment I told the parents please take them home because it was really an embarrassment for me to have them seeking pardon from me for just two young coconuts. The parents insisted ‘Loku Hamuduruwo will not spare us, if we don’t give him a satisfactory answer!’. I assured them that I will tell the chief priest that you came to my residence and I have pardoned the boys.
I am simply bewildered with what I am reading frequently in local newspapers about the prevailing relation between the two communities in some areas created by a negligible section of one community. I vividly remember my childhood days in a Sinhala school, at Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya in Weligama, where I was the only Muslim student and was not treated differently for being so but on the contrary well loved by all. My best of friends were those who grew up with me in school. I also remember my working life in Colombo where communal identity was never an issue at any time and we enjoyed being together to the maximum.
Our old albums bear witness for all our yearly picnics with families to all parts of the island. I urge the leaders of both communities to study in depth as to what really went wrong for such an unexpected breakdown in relation in some areas.
I also urge the government to involve in helping the two communities to restore their good old relation between them.
I appeal to all concerned to avoid blaming each other for this artificially created fear between the communities by some interested parties with some hidden agendas. Please also avoid criticizing each other’s faith, claiming one is superior to the other.
I am yearning to see the Sinhala and Muslim communities, I knew, during my school days, during my working life and most importantly the years I spent at Nagahwatta Road in Maharagama to be back to their normal self. After all we are all mother-Lanka’s children, be it Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims and let us all be identified as only Sri Lankans! May unity prevail among us all forever!
- Asian Tribune -