Monday, January 10, 2011

Proud to be Lasantha's daughter

By Ahimsa Wickrematunge | The Sunday Times

Two years ago, the Sunday Leader founder editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, was brutally murdered by an armed gang in the high-security area near Attidiya. As the cowardly murder, which shocked the country and drew international headlines, still remains a mystery with his killers still at large, his only daughter sent us this appreciation, where she reminisces Lasantha the father.

The morning of January 8, 2009: I sat with you while you had your breakfast; you kissed me goodbye like you always did. I still remember the song that was playing as you were, unknowingly, preparing for death. Ironically enough, it was Pink Floyd's 'Great Gig in The Sky’.

Two sad years have passed since the day you left home never to return, but to me the shock of losing you seems like it happened just yesterday. The violent events of that traumatic day have been branded into my mind forever.

If only I had had the tiniest of inklings of what was waiting out there for you, I would never have let you leave through that door. And then soon after, to pass by the TV and hear the news, I can't begin to explain how shocking and painful that was. After that it was just a blur.. a nightmare that I have still, barely woken up from.

My mother, brothers and I dream of you so often... you tell me so many things in my dreams and when I wake up it still seems so real.

Life just goes on for us; so much has happened since you were taken; our lives have changed, yet nothing seems to matter much without you here Thathi. To me, each day is just another day without you. Aadesh is beginning to look more like you every day. He will be starting high school soon.

We had bittersweet sentiments on the day of his primary school graduation thinking how proud you would have felt seeing him on that stage receiving his certificate. We still laugh about how you would watch his school plays here in Melbourne with tears streaming down your eyes. You were always quick with the waterworks, embarrassing us each time you left Melbourne with your bawling, but now it is us who are left with the tears of grief.

Your picture smiles at us everyday... and we know you are looking down at us, blessing us with your every thought. Your love was so great, I feel it even now. How many times have you told us, "If you need a heart, I will rip mine out for you." Drama queen though you were, you meant every word.

We miss your pranks, your guffawing laughter, your teasing… but most of all we just miss your loving, kind presence. You were my best friend and I wish everyone can have the relationship with their father that I had with you.

You weren't a man who let success get to your head; you remained humble, treating everyone including our domestics with patience and kindness. Now, all I can do is reminisce the happy times we shared and do acts of kindness and generosity in your honour.

You believed in equality and justice for all humanity. You taught me and my two brothers that all religions, races, colour and sexual orientations were equal and deserved the same rights and respect.
Murder is always heinous but the slaying of a journalist is the annihilation of freedom and the murder of truth. It is the cruellest smite at the very heartbeat of a nation. But I take comfort and pride in the fact that you have, with your courage, inspired a whole generation of writers who will follow in your indelible footsteps.

World history shows us that in this world of corruption and self-aggrandisement, there are those who cannot handle change and will crush anyone brave enough to strive for it under their monstrous jackboot. You strove for change; you dared to dream of a better tomorrow for everyone. And in your pursuit of that ideal, you feared none. Indeed, you often said to me, if anyone were to attack you, you wouldn't run away but face your killer with courage.

At the risk of being called biased I'd say rare indeed are such brave men, so passionate in the pursuit of their mission. And as you wished, your death has "not been seen as the defeat of liberty but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts and usher in a new era of human liberty in our motherland."

Thathi, I am proud to be your daughter just as Sri Lanka should rightly be proud to have produced a son so fearless as you.

© The Sunday Times

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