Respice Finem – TCK, you rock.

Respice Finem – TCK, you rock.

When the whole drama of the little boy without a school ( forbidden word – HIV –  he is not infected , it is confirmed ) unfolded, what broke my heart was the way in which the little tyke sat, alone and downcast, his face turned away from prying cameras. The little blue shorts and the crisp white shirt reminded me of my son’s first day at the school by the sea. Seeing adults trying to outdo each other in shouting out against his admission to the school of their children, made it worse. This was Sri Lanka. In the 21st century.

As the little guy waited with vacant eyes, there was the silence, loud and clear. Folk on social media argued , appalled by the agitating parents and the school authorities. It was a moment when Sri Lanka would showcase her heritage, her pride and joy, her cultural upbringing, her deep sense of hospitality and her hope for her future generations.

It took a school with a strong and deep Christian heritage from the hills of Kandy, to break the deadlock. And to stand up and tell the world despite the protests, the concerns, there were people whose ethics would not permit them to sit still and do nothing when the call was for sanity and for acceptance. To the end. Respice Finem. In the hallowed traditions of the Trinity College Kandy, the values imbibed within its precincts by men the calibre of Rev. Senior who loved Ceylon and composed the beautiful hymn for Sri Lanka, the tune of which is adapted for Danno Budunge, which caused a storm in a tea cup recently when the well known soprano Kishani Jayasinghe sang it.

And so Trinity it was. It was heartening to see the Principal of TCK sign a MOU with the Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam in the presence of Bishop Dhilo, Bishop of Colombo. It was a brilliant move, Trinity – one that showed Sri Lanka and the world that as a Christian school built on values of humility, love and empathy, what it takes to make a difference is action not words. As empty words were exchanged between all parties, verbal swords were crossed and opinions aired, Trinity College moved in with deed, sealing the end of a poignant tale with agape love, as embodied in Christ’s mission to the world.

With a son who just left S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, I deeply appreciate the wonderful cultural mix of Christian schools,not just as a Christian but also a Sri Lankan. At STC or at TCK, and also at Ladies College where my nine year old daughter schools and all other Christian schools, the children have the opportunity to mix and blend wonderfully – Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Moslems work and eat together, laugh together and learn together. To me, it is a truly beautiful representation of the multi cultural country Sri Lanka is. This little boy will get to experience a culture at TCK that is rich with diversity, that represents the true heart of Sri Lanka. Prejudice along racial and religious lines will be far from his orbit.

Thank Heaven for that.

He will have the opportunity to be a man of courage and conviction, a true Sri Lankan who someday, will give back to society what TCK taught him.

When the story broke, I looked around for any links that I may find in my immediate environment to TCK. And found some  that made me glad to claim a distant yet a link nevertheless, to this great school – my uncles from my mother’s side , the Devendra clan, taught there. My husband’s clan, Dodanduwa Weerasooriyas have had and continue to have Trinitians among its members. Its most illustrious Weerasooriya was Arnolis Weerasooriya who left the college in early 20th century to serve God ; Arnolis is credited with the arrival of Salvation Army in Sri Lanka. The next illustrious member of the Weerasooriya clan to have graced the halls of TCK was David Paynter, whose mother was Anagi Weerasooriya, wife of Rev. Paynter. David Paynter’s beautiful legacy of murals are etched in the chapels of STC and TCK – brilliant creations glorifying Christ, from the hands of a true master. The chapel at Trinity College is featured on a stamp as well and is recogniszed widely for its uniquely Sri Lankan architecture. My father-in-law Maurice Weerasooriya was also a Trinitian, one of the many Christian boys from Galle who went there.

So Trinity, you made us proud. We salute you because you showed everyone that you could make a difference. Stand up and be counted.

” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” – Matthew 25:35

 

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Kumar Sangakkara’s legacy …

Kumar Sangakkara’s legacy …

I am not exactly a cricket fan although Sri Lanka rising like we did on Indian Independence Day, breaking through the impossible to the possible, does get me interested. But watching Kumar Sangakkara, ever the gentleman, ever a true Trinitian who personifies everything about that great school in the hills, make a very poignant farewell speech, was one of those moments which will for certain stay etched in our memories, for all of us as Sri Lankans.

Many of us, if not all of us, will always remember where we were when we heard his words – my husband and I listened to his speech on Facebook, sitting in the quietness of our Holiday Inn City Centre room in Singapore. Everything stopped for a brief moment as we took in his words – and I am not ashamed to say we both found ourselves teary eyed.

His last speech on the turf took me back to one of the most famous speeches that truly defined Kumar Sangakkara the cricketer. We all know what that speech is and what features it raffled among the idiots who simply could neither decipher the true meaning of his words nor be in possession of the capacity to do so.

For my generation and happily for my son’s, Kumar will always be the finest Sri Lankan who rose above the pettiness that has become a sad habit of this country and its people. He rose above the insecurity, the jealousy, the small mindedness, the prejudice and above all, the tendency to condemn that seem to plague many of us. He stood tall with his fellow Lankans and fellow cricketers all together, all as one. In rising higher, not just on the cricket pitch but outside it as well, he became the icon of hope that we lacked.

He flickered and lit a thousand lights in the minds of my son’s generation of Lankans. His command of the Queen’s language , his ability to articulate and his capacity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s finest cricketers, truly lifted him up to great heights, higher than any Lankan cricketer before him. And needless to say, it makes us proud ; not in a snobbish kind of way but in a way that assures the rest of the civilized world that no matter how tarnished our name as a nation may have been once upon a time, we are still one of the finest civilizations on earth. Kumar Sangakkara’s behaviour has been impeccable both on and off the field – he, one could truly say, reflected the 2,000 year old heritage the un-civilised politicos love to throw around to fool voters. He personified the Lankan spirit, the Lankan talent, the Lankanness of open homes, smiles of welcome and gratitude.

Kumar brought home the importance of values to the young generation as he gave his farewell speech.  He was grateful to his parents, his school, his coaches, his family and everyone else who contributed towards his success. He humbly acknowledged  their contribution and was thankful for it. In doing so, he sent a powerful signal to the wired generation of today. If he could be thankful , so could they.

Kumar Sangakkara, to my mind, has never been seen or heard to shout it out, engage in brazen acts some sportsmen seem to specialise in – neither does he give attitude, a favourite past time of the famous and the brat pack. He is a credit to his parents who raised him and a symbol of finesse to all. Gossip media has not been able to go after him – there’s been no need to. He has always been a class, clean act to follow.

Thank you Kumar for all that you did for Sri Lanka – you are a Sri Lankan icon the world recognises and admires…if we lost credibility on the world stage for one reason or another, if we are dejected when our passports are scrutinized at international airports, if we feel ashamed when the Australian government had to sponsor advertisements on local TV advising us not to come there in boats, if we felt violated to watch absolute mutts masquerade as diplomats on the world stage, we could always point you to them. There is the one true Sri Lankan who can stand up there – this country nurtured him and despite the negatives, it does and will nurture a thousand other Sangakkaras.