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Tribute:

Vinitha Samarawickrama

That fateful day, February 21, 2008 was an extremely sad day that brought very sad news of a dear one giving great pain of mind to all who knew her specially to our family. It is really too much and too bitter to hear that she is no more. To those of us who had the good fortune to associate her closely, we have lost a sincere genuine personality from our midst - a lovable and charming lady of exceptional calibre.

My association with her, commenced after the marriage of my daughter to her son. It is little over a decade since I got to know her. She is exceptionally a fine person, the type that one will rarely come across. She was calm, soft spoken, warm and well mannered with her friendly personality.

It is with great respect that I recall the time, though not very long, I spent with her. Small in stature, she was a very smart lady always attired very neatly in a simple way but sophisticated at the same time in keeping with her dignity. The fact that she belonged to the old stock of imperial days was well reflected in her. From her early childhood she had been brought up in the family traditions and grew up to be a pretty young lady at the time of her marriage.

Born to a very respectable and well-renowned aristocratic family in the South during the Imperial regime, she was very proud to speak of her ancestry. She took great delight in relating them to us as a common topic when reminiscing the past. During happy moments she would narrate the glorious past of her family. Being the only daughter, one person whom she adored very much was her only brother Danister Serasinghe, a reputed Lawyer of the Imperial era.

She has had a very happy family life married to late DIG Winnie Samarawickrama, a very sincere and honest personality dedicated to the profession - a person of rare quality who is said to have believed in the honest performance of his duties. She took great delight and pleasure in actively participating in the household activities naturally in a happy family.

The stability of a good home was always there. She was a devoted wife and an affectionate mother to her illustrious children, all doing well in life. She lost her husband in late 90s’ (September 1996). She speaks about her husband with admiration recalling the good work and the service he had rendered.

She was a pillar of strength in all his activities. The Venerable Nayaka Thera of Mettarama temple mentioned how she displayed her concern and deep affection during the terminal illness of her husband who also was in the habit of visiting and had close connections with the temple consulting them on important matters. He repeatedly emphasized how he had been blessed with a caring, dedicated wife who attended to all his needs to the last.

She had a deep respect for the Sanga. She spent her sunset years mostly involved in religious activities and regular alms were given to the temple. She knew the essence of the teachings of the Buddha very well. According to the Nayaka Thera, the merit she had acquired in her life span was more than sufficient for her Sansaric journey.

We all have our special memories. Those I cherish most are her visits to my residence with her son. This noble hearted lady will spend hours reminiscing the past.

She had no grudges or ill will towards anybody, no gossip whatsoever. During happy moments she will recall her student days at her Alma Mater. I was told that she received her education boarded in the hostel of most prestigious school at Matara, St. Mary’s Convent. She was a very familiar figure in the school, actively participating in most of the activities of the day. Very often she fondly recalled happy moments of laughter in school.

Her sincerity and affection towards us can never be erased from my mind. I remember so well the many trips we went together to Kataragama, Kandy etc. to visit religious places, whose company I treasured very much.

On every occasion we met at, a party or get-together she was there with her usual smile, warmth and hospitality beyond words. She was the chief entertainer at family gatherings which was later passed on to her children during the evening of her life. Her birthday, July 7 was celebrated annually by the children where we also participated to make her happy.

Lalith figured prominently on every occasion. She had led a very good social life helping the poor and the needy and also enjoyed her life to the fullest before the demise of her husband after which she tried her best to fulfil her family obligations.

Her mouth-watering brinjal pickle, marshmallows, milk and coconut toffees prepared by her were delicacies enjoyed by the entire household. Her demise is mourned by all her relatives and friends and those whom she helped with a noble heart. Her only loving grandson, little Vihan also feels her absence very much. She was often well praised as a very good mother-in-law.

Her memory will certainly live as one of those who led a very meaningful life. She has left a memory so beautiful which will not fade away with the passage of time. Let this be a tribute to her. The sweet fragrance of the days gone by will never fade away. May she attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

- Rupa Banduwardene

 

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