by Hirunika Premachandra
Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was killed a year ago. We have seen a year of Investigations, court procedures, allegations, cover-ups and such. His murderers are still very much at large. This is how that fateful day is remembered by his loving daughter, Hirunika.
There was nothing special about the 8th of October, 2011. As usual, I was the last to wake up. I had a dance class to attend at 10. It was already 8.45. I rushed to the bathroom and found that Thaththi was inside. I was annoyed because I knew him well. ‘He won’t be out for another hour!’ I told myself.
‘Will you finish soon, Thaththi?’ I knocked on the door and asked. ‘In two minutes, Menika,’ he responded. I knew his ‘two minutes’. So I went to the other bathroom and got ready. When I came upstairs again, he was gone. On other occasions I always hugged and kissed his face before I left the house. That day he had already left.
It was around 2.30 when I returned home from the dancing class. Ammi told me to have lunch and then go and vote. I felt very lazy that day. I took a long time over lunch. It was around 3.30 when I got ready to go to the polling station. Then a call came.
“Akke, Lucky Aiya has been shot at Mulleriyawa…find out what has happened!’
When Ammi conveyed this, I was not unduly perturbed. It was not the first time we had received calls like that. I remembered the bomb attack on President Chandrika in 1999. We were told that Thaththi was one of the victims. I was 12 then. Thaththi called us 5 minutes later, realizing that we might be worried. He said he was ok. I saw him only the following morning, just as I was about to leave for school. His national dress was drenched in blood. As always, he smiled, touched my head and went inside.
I always saw my Thaththi as a hero who was not scared of death. So I thought that like that day in 1999, he would come home any moment wearing that very same smile. But as the calls came thick and fast, Ammi said that maybe we should go and find out what had really happened.
Just as we left the house another call came asking us to go to the General Hospital. Ammi started sobbing, as though she felt something terrible had happened. I did not cry. I told her not to cry over nothing, that Thaththi must be safe. The expressions of those in the vehicles caused me to question my own confidence, but I was still convinced that he was alright.
Several ambulances came, but he was not in any of them. Then I shouted and said there’s no point waiting there, that we should go to Mulleriyawa. As we were turning the corner near the Eye Hospital, a call came to the driver. He stopped the vehicle. He said ‘Sirva morchariyata genihilla’ (Sir has been taken to the mortuary).
The entire vehicle was filled with wails. There were tears in my eyes but I was not ready to believe that my darling Thaththi was no more. I got off at the mortuary. ‘I want to see my Thaththi!’ I screamed. The place was teeming with people.
‘Don’t go there!’ people said. They held me back. I heard someone say that he was shot in the head and that a leg had been severed. I collapsed then.
‘Does this mean that I don’t have a Thaththi from now on? Out of everyone I knew, my relatives and friends, the one who knew me best, my life, the purpose of my life….is he gone?’ I felt an indescribable sorrow. I could not believe that his voice, his beautiful smile, the giant that he was, the security that he was, was all gone forever. We were taken home.
Ammi was sobbing. I went silently to Thaththi’s room. I lay down on his bed. I kept my head on his pillow, which still held his fragrance. And then I wept. That’s all I remember. COURTESY: THE NATION