Sunday, March 25, 2012

The way a life ended – Amaradasa or was it really Jakolis Aiya!

I attended a funeral a short while ago in Pahathgama off the Diddeniya Road, close to Hanwella. I only now gathered some information of the deceased which in life he was not unable to share even with his wife.

We knew him as Amaradasa, and so did his wife Seetha. They came to work on the farm about 14 years ago, and they were introduced by a farm worker named Suwaris Singho. They had met at a workplace not too far away and came and lived in one of our farm houses, soon after for a place to begin their life. He took care of the cattle, and the milking. They had both been married before he with 5 children and she with 2 daughters, but he had told her that he had not been legally married and so took her, though we have no proof if either marriage was legal. In the past this marriage thing only came into importance when it came to inheritance etc.

They left us about two years ago, for greener pastures on the say so of a relative who promised to help them. They begged my father, who generally gets taken in by a sob story,, to take them back about a month ago, and that they were living in a house in Marawila, and the owners used to lock them in whenever they went out and wanted out of there.

Within two days of their arrival Amaradasa was taken ill and was admitted to the Homagama base hospital and later transferred to Colombo National Hospital where he died ten days later of pneumonia. It appeared that his wife realized that he was going to die, and not knowing anyone where they were living felt that this was where their married life was most fruitful and came penniless back to us.

The Amaradasa’s family upon being informed of his death told us that they were unable to take care of the expenses, and so the basic costs of organizing the funeral were taken over by us, and once this was done, they decided to change their mind and the body was taken to one of his daughter’s homes in Pahathgama, which was also his village, where the final rites were performed today, and the burial took place in the adjoining cemetery in his village, which was how it should be.

In reality both families had rejected them once this marriage had taken place and till now they had little connection. Seetha’s daughter when given in marriage had put Amaradasa’s name as the father, instead of her real father. So as she is married to a person in the Army, they have taken it upon themselves to help out in many ways and the banners at the funeral were all from the Army. Though Amaradasa’s family were aghast at that, when they see some of the costs borne by the Army, are less inclined to complain, though when a lump sum death benefit is received by the daughter for the loss of her father, the real children will not be amused as they will not share in any of the spoils. I guess in death the family put aside their differences to give the deceased some degree of dignity in death, but once the burial is over some of the disagreements are bound to recur, especially when it comes to money.

Amaradasa had no birth certificate, and had no idea of his date of birth, hence he was not able to obtain a National Identity Card. So his wife may have difficulty in collecting his EPF money collected during his service with us, and so I asked her to get the help of the Army, explain the reality and the problems and try and get what is due, as otherwise it would simply revert to the state.

I suspect he may be about 70, but he never dyed his hair and his full head of hair was black in the end.

In his death her daughters have finally accepted her. I met the youngest who is married to the soldier, with the three little kids at the funeral and she has asked the mother to come live with her in Galgamuwa, in the Kurunegala district I think. Her parents are both alive, and will now accept her back into the fold.

Such is some of the reality, when families break up due to alliances they do not agree with, and before some finally pass on are able to patch up and live happily ever after, when a situation such as this arises.

I note this event in the blog, because one must think of some of the real life consequences of one’s action and take cognizance of it and make a decision on one’s life without regret. When this couple who together had 7 children between them and none in the marriage, had basically been disowned by both families, and we provided the only home they really knew as a couple, I wonder how it may have affected them mentally and psychologically.

Seetha took care of Amaradasa very well during his numerous illnesses, despite him having lied to her about his past and his name, which she realized only when Jakolis Aiya came home to be buried, not even to die.

I know not if their previous spouses are amongst the living or dead, but at least this story does have an end which provides a dignified acceptance to both, one in death and the other for the surviving spouse amongst the living.

I hope for Seetha’s sake it will provide a pleasant retirement with her grandchildren, finally back in the fold, and even she possibly in her 60’s has a full head of black hair with hardly a white to be seen. I wonder if that tells something!

Seetha and Amaradasa at a wedding of one the boys on the farm who married the daughter of another farm laborer.

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