Friday 13th that fateful day | Sunday Observer

Friday 13th that fateful day

Luxhman looked at the cheque. It was for 2 million Canadian Dollars. More than 260 million in Sri Lankan Rupees. A vast fortune by any standards. Luxhman never imagined he would possess such a large amount of money although, he worked hard in this cold country. He came to Canada, to be rich, to own a fabulous mansion, drive a luxury car, buy designer clothes and handmade shoes for him and his family. All these are now his, at the age of 55. He took a deep breath and recalled his life in Canada.

Luxhman Samaradivakara came to Canada thirty years back for his postgraduate studies and never went back home.

He married Helen Lee, his batch mate at Carlton University. Her father was from Hong Kong married to a Canadian girl from Toronto. Helen was born in Canada.

Though Canadian born Helen travelled to Hong Kong to visit her father’s birthplace and mixed easily with her eastern relatives.

Luxhman was attracted to her as they had many things in common. They were both Buddhists. They liked Chinese food, and often dined at Chinese and Indian Restaurants.

When their daughter Markee was born they were very happy. She was a beautiful girl. Luxhman was tall and handsome, and Helen was a beauty. Mrs. Samaradivakara, Luxhman’s mother was with them when Markee was born.

She noted the time of birth, and contacted an astrologer from Sri Lanka who asked the baby girl to be named with the initials M and K. The famous song writer and Sinhala scholar the late Arisen Ahubudu gave the name Madhavi Kinkini.

As Luxhman and Helen did not plan to live in Sri Lanka they named the baby girl Markee Samaradivakara. At school and University she was Markee & Sam to her numerous friends. Markee was not only beautiful; she was a bright student.

Luxhman was a Lecturer at the Engineering Faculty, University of Toronto and Helen was a consultant Microbiologist in the local hospital. Their home, in an exclusive suburb of Misisaga was open to many visiting academics from Sri Lanka who were lavishly hosted by the couple.

Mrs. Samaradivakara Markee’s grandmother took the young girl under her wing and accompanied her to Dhamma School in the Buddhist temple.

She was also taught Sinhala. A born leader, Markee was popular at High School and was crowned Avrudu Kumari at a Sinhala New Year celebration in Canada.

Luxhman and Helen were frequent visitors to Sri Lanka. Helen even volunteered during the tsunami to help the ravaged people.

Eventually, Markee entered the University of Toronto, to study sociology. She wanted to join a volunteer organisation after graduation to work for the mentally and physically handicapped in under-developed countries. During High School Markee was chaperoned by her grandmother and parents and not allowed to date like her friends.

Her parents valued tradition and Markee, a sensitive girl consented to go for dances with her father who looked very young. Many thought Luxman was Markee’s fiancee.

However when she entered university her parents relaxed their control and soon Markee fell in love with an Indian, Arun das Gupta who looked like an Indian film star and studied Aeronautical Engineering. The family accepted him.

Most Canadians consider Friday 13th as an unlucky day. However Markee and Arun scoffed at the superstition. On that fatetful day, they went to dine at a popular Italian restaurant in the city. After a glass of red wine they ordered pasta and grilled chicken. They never thought this would be their last meal together. As soon as Markee tasted the chicken she developed a rash and Arun immediately drove her to a hospital.

The doctor examined her and requested the nurse to inject her with some medicine. As soon as the injection was administered Markee felt faint and found breathing difficult. She was immediately rushed to the I.C.U and in 5 minutes was pronounced dead.

At the postmortem the devastated parents were told that death was due to an overdose of the prescribed medicine.

The hospital admitted liability and Lawyers on both sides consented to an out of court settlement. The happy life of the Samaradivakaras turned to one of woe and they took solace in Buddhist teachings. The money paid as compensation failed to make them happy.

A year later Luxhman, Helen, Mrs. Samaradivakara and Arun Das Gupta opened the Madhavi Samaradivakara Memorial Home for orphaned children in a remote village in Deraniyagala Sri Lanka, the birth place of Luxhman to keep the aspirations of Markee Samaradivakara alive.