Karunaratne Abeysekera (1930–1983) was one of Sri Lanka’s most accomplished Sinhala broadcasters. He was also a poet and lyricist — one who had great talent to combine words and phrases in ways that soothed and energised a whole nation.
In October 1982, Karu (as he was affectionately called by friends and fans alike) wrote an especially moving and memorable Sinhala poem in the then popular Sinhala monthly magazine Kalpana. I first read this poem as a school boy in October 1982, and it left a deep impression that the first few lines stuck in my mind for decades.
In this poem, which opens with the words ආයු දායකයාණනේ, සානුකම්පා පාමිනේ…, Karu asks the giver-of-life (unspecified, and not alluding to any religious or superhuman entity) to grant him 10 more years of life so that he can…do more good, and do things he’s somehow not been able to do yet in his life. (He says it much more beautifully.)
Alas, that was not to be. Six months after this poem appeared in print, Karu was gone: he died in April 1983 aged 53.
As we enter a New Year, I borrow Karu’s evocative words and make them my own personal wish — or plea, if you like. I thank Karu’s son Dileepa Abeysekera for helping locating the full words. He calls it a little “time bomb” of the mind that his father has left behind…