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My mentor was killed!
OBU, ColomboHe was not a mere journalist, but a visionary. Pen was his sword, a fighter belonging to a league of his own. Four years have lapsed, his words have come true; ‘Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me’.

I met him first when I was 12 during an Old boys meeting at St. Benedict’s College, Colombo when my father said, “Son, I want you to meet one of my favourite classmates. He is Lasantha Wickrematunge and he owns the pen that is feared the most in the country”. Dreamt of being a pilot, but over the next seven years I didn’t miss his column, he inspired me to take up journalism. That fateful morning on the 8th of January 2009, arguably the most courageous journalist the island has produced was murdered in cold blood, silencing not only him, but the entire profession.

Four years ago at his funeral procession crowded by hundreds of thousands, the ferocious voices of the opposition parliamentarians, civil leaders and journalism activists swore upon Lasantha’s dead body to lay their lives to continue his fight and to fast to death until his murderers were brought to book. Opportunists! Today none of them could be bothered to wake up half an hour early and attend his memorial mass which only saw the participation of his close family, four parliamentarians, few staff members of The Sunday Leader, a handful of Benedictines and barely any journalists.

Entering through the gate to the Borella cemetery an empty, gloomy and morbid drive-way awaited us (My dad and I), instead of an expected gathering of thousands. We squinted in the morning sunlight as we looked out for Lasantha’s grave for there was no sign of a memorial mass of a great human being. A five hundred metre walk through the long rows of head-boards denoting the trenches where our dead are buried, got us to the destination where hardly fifty had gathered.

My dad then explained the stark reality of life while at the quiet, windswept cemetery, ‘No matter how great, once gone, you are forgotten unless the living still could benefit from you’.

Sunesh Rodrigo

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 Posted by DARREL LUDOWYKE on January 08 2013 05:01:57 · 0 Comments · 791 Reads Print
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