Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Tribute to Kalindi Wijetunge

- By IlIca MalkanthI karunaratn­e

The old adage,’ Only the good die young’ rang in my ears as I heard with shock of Kalindi’s death. She was one of those golden girls, richly endowed with ‘joie de vivre’, love and a radiant smile which glowed from within. Outward beauty and that of the soul were both hers in abundance. A devoted daughter, wife and mother, she has left her mother Kamini, her husband and two sons devastated by the irreparabl­e void she has left by her tragic demise, so early in life. She had been to see me just a few days before her death, to invite me to their Xmas Market, which I have never failed to attend, ever since I first met her and her mother. Each year as the end of the year approached, she came to see me to personally hand over the invitation.

When I think back, I wonder now if I had included her as one of the youngest personalit­ies, in my book ‘Fifty is Company’, because of a sixth sense that she would not be with us for long. As mothers, we all have our dreams, that our children would follow our footsteps in one way or another. Kamini was fortunate that not only did Kalindi follow her footsteps in the creative talent she possessed, but was her right hand in her classes in needlecraf­t and Interior décor, and the dynamic force behind every exhibition. They were an inseparabl­e couple, this mother and daughter and had a deep and symbiotic relationsh­ip. Working together, teaching together, passing on their talent and knowledge to others, which would enable these pupils to enhance their lives; all this joint effort on their part had forged an unbreakabl­e bond which was with them, till the cruel hand of death took Kalindi away. Although an only child, Kalindi was refreshing­ly unspoiled and was constantly reaching out to others, particular­ly those in need in love and care. Her parents, Kamini and the late Harold, although their respective worlds revolved round her, had given her the right upbringing. She was unselfish, practical and down to earth; didn’t live in a dream world with her head in the clouds. The beauty and mystery of life is not about arriving at answers, but in the process of seeking them.

Another link between Kalindi and me was that we were both past pupils of Bishops College, Colombo. She had even visited the Sisters of St. Margaret who founded Bishops College at their convent at East Grinstead, although they had left Bishops College, long before she entered its hallowed portals. I think the fact that she was a Bishopian, had influenced Kalindi in her short life, helped her to ’face both Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same’. Kalindi had a wide network of friends, built up from among pupils to whom she and Kamini passed on their talent. She thought of her talent as a kind of therapy too. Apart from her exceptiona­l good looks, Kalindi was a seriously insightful and emotionall­y sensitive person. I’m so thankful that she was blessed with a most supportive husband and a happy marriage which underpins and is the base of life.

I shall miss you, Kalindi, your visits, your lovely smile and cheerful voice over the phone, all of which were like a welcome burst of sunshine on a dull day. My prayers will always be for her mother, husband and children as I grieve with them for a wonderful irreplacea­ble person. We must thank God that we had the joy of her presence, although all too brief with us; the memories of which, will never fade away.

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