Sunday, July 31, 2011

Denzil Kobbekaduwa

article_imageDenzil left us on Saturday August 8, 1992, with a number of others who were in that vehicle which was land-mined at Araly Point. This is one of the many tragedies of our times. My connection with him dates back to our school days at Kandy.
Since Father Neil will not be available on August 8 this year, Lali and the family had the 19th death anniversary mass at her parish church, St Theresa’s, Thimbrigasyaya, on July 18. Seated there that evening, my mind went back to that Saturday on which Denzil died.
It was at a seminar that the late founder of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Ashraff who announced that Denzil had died. This appreciation is also a reflection of our times.
Denzil was one of those who wanted to solve our national problem as soon as it was possible. He, being mindful of his men defending the nation in fighting with perhaps with one of the most powerful terrorist organizations in the world, wanted to negotiate with the other side from the position of strength. However, there were those who even in the 1990s were against a political solution.
That evening at the Cathedral where I was working, we had a wedding at which a VVIP was one of the attesting witnesses. Soon after he signed the register he told me "Father, I am so sad today; therefore, I will not be attending the post wedding reception".

Then I responded to him " Sir, if you and all party politicians of our time had listened to Denzil, today he would had been alive, and you and I would have gone for the reception". He, in his characteristic style nodded, shook my hand and left the church.

When Jaffna’s political activist, Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama was shot dead in September 1989, at a memorial in Colombo her friend, another political activist, playing a guitar sang a popular song "How many miles should a man go?"

That evening at Denzil’s thanksgiving I asked myself how many more days should the people of Sri Lanka wait to see the political solution that Denzil wanted.

Denzil was a man for all seasons. From Trinity he went to Sandhurst and thereafter joined what was then called The Ceremonial Army of Ceylon. However, when he died, Vavuniya mourned - symbolic of the reality that he was more than a Sri Lankan soldier.

My prayer is not only for Lali and her family and for Denzil, but also that Sri Lanka as a nation will rise from its slumber and work for a political solution that will remember the sacrifice of persons like Denzil.

Courtesy - Sunday Island - Sydney Knight