Chandrakala Ratnayake (nee Senanayake) : The void left behind can never be filled | Sunday Observer

Chandrakala Ratnayake (nee Senanayake) : The void left behind can never be filled

Three months ago, on May 12th 2017 at around 1.05 p.m., my beloved mother departed this world, after courageously fighting ailment that was discovered, treated for, and persisted for only three ephemeral months. Even after three months of her passing, her abrupt leave-taking from life continues to be an unacceptable, indescribable,atypical feeling in my life. The only consolation of my mother’s unanticipated demise that I bear in my heart is the fact that the duration of her anguish was minimal.

Over the past three months of Ammi’s life, the extent of emotional suffering my father Ananda Ratnayake and I underwent, along with my mother’s closest relatives cannot be woven into mere words. Likewise, it was even the more startling to witness such a strong-willed woman, who was once robust, courageous and good-looking, bearing void of complaint, all the complications involved with an ailment of the nature. Yet, what amazed me the most was the fact that she did not give-up until her very last breath, in the Kurunegala hospital’s coronary care unit. That was after undergoing treatment in the hospital’s Oncology unit for two months. The last two beings her deteriorating eyes perceived from her deathbed merely before her very last breath,were that of mine; her only child, and that of her much adored brother ‘Harischandra’. “Life breaks everyone, but some people heal stronger in the breaks,” they say, and my mother was one of those who healed stronger in the breaks.

My mother lived a complete and dynamic life. Amongst the seven siblings of the Senanayake family from Kurunegala, she was the fourth. Having obtained her education from Maliyadeva Girls’ College in Kurunegala, she joined the Hayleys Group back in the 1960’s, where she served for nine years. While in school and in later years she played basketball under the guidance of All-India Basketball Coach Mr. P. Chelladurai, and also represented St. Anne’s College, Kurunegala in a trainee camp held in St. Anthony’s College Courts in Katugastota back in the 1960’s. After tying the knot with my father in 1973, she pursued a career at Marhaba Travels in Sharjah, U.A.E. where she served for several years before returning to Sri Lanka. Later in her life, she lived with me, in California U.S.A. andin Sri Lanka until her passing.

Ammi was divergent in every possible way from her siblings and all others in her family circle and friends. When her three sisters who served as teachers wore saree, Ammi chose mini-skirts and slacksover the traditional Sri Lankan attire. She always pursued for the finest, even in trivial entities. Having been the detailed oriented person she was, everything had to be well-defined and clear-cut to earn her acceptance, or else, entities were rejected unswervingly.

She dressed uniquely and matching jewellery was a key. All her jewellery sets, handbags and shoes that matched her elegant attire, now deposited in her almirah brings back memories of her unique attendances and unforgettable appearances during her life and times. She always kept the ball rolling, and at functions, she illuminated the table with her chuckle and adorable smile.

She loved me dearly, regardless of the mother-daughter disagreements in various matters, a common domestic scenario.

Even all the lovely verses in the entire universe knitted into a single tapestry shall still not explain the boundless feeling I hold in my chest, with every passing day of her absenteeism.

Ammi, I love you and I always will!

Sunalie Ratnayake 

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