Chamara: A man with the Midas touch | Sunday Observer

Chamara: A man with the Midas touch

The following is an excerpt of an eulogy at the funeral of Chamara Lakshan Kumara, Editor-in - Chief of Silumina and Resa, by ANCL Chairman Krishantha Prasad Cooray

I have never spoken at a funeral ceremony before. My Sinhala is not at as nice as Chamara’s beautiful language skills. In fact all these years, whenever I made a speech in Sinhala, it was Chamara who would write it for me. But he is not here to help me write this one. So this will be the first speech in Sinhala I have made, that is not written by Chamara Lakshan.

Some things in life are expected. Others are unexpected. Some things we wish will never happen. Today, every eye here is filled with tears and we are all breathless from grief because we cannot bear this unimaginable loss.

In hindsight, 15 years was a long time in Chamara’s life. This is how long we associated closely, as friends and colleagues. For me, it is unbearably painful that the comrade who had joined me on a journey we undertook together, had to get off halfway.

In my life, I have never met a journalist as extraordinarily talented as Chamara Lakshan. But he was also a friend and a brother close to my heart.

He stunned us with the talent and skill he displayed at only 39 years old. Billions of people are born into this world. Extraordinary people are born but rarely. He loved his parents immensely. His heart was full of love for his wife and little son. No matter where he was or what he was doing, his aim was always to get back home to them as soon as possible. His beloved parents can take immense pride in the fact that they bore such a son, who was truly an asset to this nation.

His loving wife was his greatest strength. His little son was Chamara’s pride and joy. Today, the whole country is talking about Chamara Lakshan. He was the kind of person who would lead the way and serve as a guiding light to the nation. His parents, his wife and son can be so very proud of him.

Chamara had the Midas touch. Everything he touched he turned into a roaring success. Everyday of his life he accomplished new milestones. He made great personal sacrifices to reach his goals. And all of us reaped the results.

Every word he penned was anchored to his belief in democracy, compassion, justice and reconciliation. His type of courageous, humane journalism is a lesson to so many others. There is so much we can all learn from Chamara and the way he lived his life. He accepted all his accomplishments with humility. He greeted everyone with a smile, whether they wished him well, or not.

Few people worry about how they can contribute to the country. They focus on negative things, who they can stab in the back, who can they get into trouble. Chamara taught us to help people all the time. No matter what the rest of the world said or did, you do your duty – that was his message to us.

Chamara never asked me for personal favours. Only one time did he make a personal request of me – when he asked me to help his old school. He never forgot his alma mater and worked to uplift the institution all his life.

Some people win recognition all over the world, but they have no connections to their birthplace or their village. But everyone in his village loved Chamara.

Those of you living in this village, lost a man who conquered the world of journalism. The country lost a journalist who was unparalleled because he was armed with knowledge and skill beyond his years. I lost a beloved brother and dear friend.

Every morning, Chamara would walk into my office with a big smile on his face. I will never forget his smile. He had thousands of things to talk about because he was tuned into everything. He knew something about everything.

Chamara always knew that swimming against the tide was a difficult task, but time and again he showed strength of character by choosing that path. He believed that a journey of a thousand miles began with a single step. He took that first step bravely, and with all the strength within him.

My friend Chamara had a gruff voice and a large stature. But underneath all that, was the purest and most sensitive heart. Great individuals take leave of this world quickly. That is true even in Sri Lanka.

When such people fulfill their destiny and depart this world, they leave behind hearts full of pain caused by their absence. Chamara was one such rare human being who decided to leave us too early.

He lived only 39 years in this world, but he achieved what most people do not even when they live to be 100. It is unthinkable what he might have achieved if he had lived another 39 years.

But, while Chamara was on this earth, he gave every task entrusted to him everything he had. His family, this little village and the whole country can take pride in that.

They say that the only thing that is certain in life is its uncertainty. We are born and then we die. This is the great truth. So, what is important is how we live our lives in the time we have been granted. Chamara did things in his lifetime that will outlive him, and last a hundred years to come.

When this shocking incident came to pass, I received a call from Chamara’s mother. She had only one request. “My son loved the Resa newspaper dearly. He loved it like his own breath. The greatest tribute to my son would be to keep publishing Resa,” she said.

At this moment, I want to tell her that Chamara’s greatest hope is our dream too. Resa which Chamara built with so much love and dedication, has won the attention of a whole country. Everything the young newspaper has become is Chamara’s own untiring effort.

We pledge to do everything in our power to keep the Resa banner flying high. We will work to ensure that the newspaper goes from strength to strength, carrying Chamara Lakshan’s vision and legacy to every corner of this small island.

Chamara didn’t have big dreams. He achieved the targets he set himself without hurting anyone else. His journey at the helm of Silumina, published by Lake House, stands testimony to that fact. Every time Chamara accepted a challenge, he succeeded. Resa showed everyone his vision and skill.

After he took over Silumina, a struggling newspaper, he infused it with his energy and vision, and took the paper to incredible heights within a few short weeks. Chamara proved that revolutions without weapons were indeed possible.

It is true that life is all about arrivals and departures. But how can we bear a departure as sudden as this? Chamara it was your habit to always consult me before you made big decisions in life. But this one decision you have decided to make alone. I would have sacrificed everything to keep you.

Yet when you made your decision to go, you left no room for any of that. The great Bard William Shakespeare once said:

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Chamara, my dearest brother, I have no doubt you will do everything right even in your new home in heaven.

May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!