Search This Blog

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Death Monster Story

D is for Dim, Dull, Doomed and Damned
E is for Everything Evil Empty and drab
A is Anger which sure is crammed
To a trashy terrible Smash and Grab!
Hated uncouth crawling crab!

Demon living on others’ sadness
Evil? Yes! Prince of Badness
Awaiting a loved one to end in madness

Tricky? Yes! And foe of Gladness!
Holding the prize for cool Wickedness!

Grabbing a mother, brother or child
Opening a can of worms if needed

Against all things nice and mild
Winking when a mother pleaded
Alas we all await your call
Young or old, broad, short or tall!

And don’t go getting a swollen head
You, miserable idiot! Wish you were dead!

-         Zita Subasinghe Perera-

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Speedy Virtual Interview Series - Episode 4

Dr Suriyakanthie Amarasekera
Consultant Anaesthesiologist. Colombo, Sri Lanka

It gives me great pleasure to do the fourth Speedy interview. The last three interviews in order were Cyril Ernest, Zita Subasinghe Perera and Lucky Abeyagunawardena, all of whom have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers. My fourth subject is the charming and accomplished Suriyakanthie Amarasekera.

Speedy: Good morning Suri. Is it alright to call you Suri rather than Suriyakanthie?

Suri: Good morning Speedy.Of course it is fine to be addressed as Suri. In fact that is what I prefer to be called. “Suriyakanthie” is rather a mouthful!

Speedy: Well, that’s a good start! Suri let me commence by asking you to say a few words about you parents and family.

Suri:My parents were both teachers.In fact those of you who are Thomians probably would have been taught by my mother as she was on the tutorial staff at STC Mt Lavinia for over 20years. I am the 3rd in a family of 5 having an aiya,akka, malli, and nangi.

Speedy: It is quite clear that you grew up in a very supportive family environment. Could I ask you whether your choice to pursue a career in Medicine was influenced by them?

Suri:No not at all. In fact I wanted to be a teacher like my parents. When I was told that I had been selected to the science stream I was upset and I asked my Grade 8 Class Teacher Ms WimalaJayasekera whether I couldn’t continue to be in the Arts stream. She was very surprised and asked me why I didn’t want to do science as I was good in the subject. When I replied that I want to be a teacher like my parents, she said “so you can be a science teacher” The rest just followed.

Speedy: I am sure Readers would like to know something about your school days. I know that you are an Old girl of Methodist College. May be you have a few amusing anecdotes which you can share with us.

Suri:  Can you remember how we used to carry our school books in rectangular suit cases in those days? One day some of my friends got the bright idea of stacking them one on top of the other as high as we could reach and then pull out the bottom one! Everything tumbled down with a resounding crash while we screamed with laughter! After a repeating this a couple of times we got another crazy idea of pushing hard on the desks in the back row ( the hall had been arranged with desks and chairs in rows for the end of term test ) so that it hits the desk and chair in front and knocks it down causing a domino effect. We were making a big din and laughing when we suddenly spotted the tall figure of our very strict English Principal Miss Grace Robbins watching us from the doorway with stern disapproval, shocked at our unlady like behaviour. Not only were we punished being given detention and “Lines” we were told that we were not eligible to be considered for the coveted Gladys Loos Prize for Good Conduct!   

Suri: There is another memory I like to talk about, if I may.

Speedy: Of course Suri. Please go ahead.

Suri: Thanks Speedy. Our School had bi-annual fund raising Fairs. There were two during my time .They were called One Thousand and One Nights, and Thousand and Two Delights. I remember that our class was in charge of the Pet Stall one year. We were at a loss to find a name for our stall. Carol Aloysius (who is now a well-known Journalist) who was a class matecame up with the suggestion “Shoori’s Pet Stallmaking my name sound Arabian! Unfortunately after one day our teacher in charge thought “ Pashas’s Pet Stall” was more appropriate.

Speedy:OK Pasha! You did extremely well in Your A levels and was selected for Medicine at your first attempt and entered the Colombo Medical Faculty before your 18th birthday. In fact, you were the youngest in our Batch and it so happens by a curious coincidence that the person doing your interview was the second youngest and the youngest among boys!

Suri:  Actually Speedy I had got through my O levels in 1958 at the age of 14, and I was in the A Level 2nd Year Class in 1960. My application to sit for the A Level Exam in December 1960 was rejected by the University as the University regulations stipulated that you have to be 17 by the 1st of June the following year. (My birthday is on the 4th of July and I would have been only 16 years and 11 months on the 1st of June 1961) So I had to mark time for one year and sit for the exam in December1961. Believe me I was very upset.

Speedy: That is remarkable! Then what happened?

Suri: Well, my father knew Prof Hoover (remember him, our Biochemistry Prof?) and asked him if any concession could be made and could I be given permission to sit for the A Levels in December 1960? I still have the letter he wrote saying it cannot be allowed and that I am far too immature to face the stresses of University life! I fail to understand how he could come to that conclusion never having met me! Thank God I secured a direct entry to Medical School in the 1961 December Exam.

Speedy: OK you entered a bit later than you would have liked but you were still very young when you entered the Medical Faculty. Can you recall your emotions at the time? Were you anxious or scared in any way?

Suri:No not at all,I thought it very exciting. I found the subjects, particularly physiology, fascinating. Having boys as fellow students was ofcourse a new experience. Remember I entered from Methodist College (nick named Methodist Convent) and we were described as being like “Perera and Son’s”bread,untouched by human hands!

Speedy: Ha! Ha! I haven’t heard that before.

Suri: What? You must have Speedy!
Speedy:No, that is the truth, never heard that before! Fascinating!Let’s us now hear about your experience in the Faculty years, may be something about your Teachers, your colleagues. I am sure that would interest our Readers.

Suri: The most traumatic experience was of course the cadaver dissections. I remember sitting and staring at the cadaver with my body partner Zita reluctant to touch it till an anatomy demonstrator, I think it wasDr L A G Jayasekera, screamed at us to get started.I also rememberquite vividly the 3rd Abdo Signature by Prof S SPanditharatne that went on and on with seniors crowding around us making us even more jittery, and Dr Panditharatne taking a break to have a smoke while we waited nervously.
Physiology was fascinating though some of Prof Koch’s lectures went way above our heads. I clearly remember how Prof Carlo Fonseka began his lecture on Gastroenterology with a poem
“You can do without Sleep what is sleep but reclining,
You can do without Books what are books for but learning,
You can do without Love for what is love but pining,
But show me a man who can do without Dining!”
Then there was the unforgettable “Path Cooray” who made us sit according to the merit list at the 2nd MBBS (and not alphabetical order). He had this daunting habit of pointing to you during lectures and asking questions. I got quite fed up sitting under his nose as Number4 and was often pulled up for chatting to number 3, Swyrie. Then in contrast there was Prof H V J Fernando our Forensic Prof who segregated the sexes during lectures for some reason best known to him.

Speedy: What about Clinical teachers?

Suri: As you well know Speedy, we had some amazing clinical teachers.  I rememberDr Oliver R Medonzawho would imitate sounds of Heart murmurs in a way you never forget LubTushh…LubTushh  (Aortic Incompetence) rrrph dub…..rrrph dub ( Mitral Stenosis). 
We were lucky to have teachers like Dr George Ratnavale. I remember how he made Kunasingham walk with a stiff knee and then ask him to walk with a stiff knee and anda foot drop … demonstrating the circumduction of a hemiplegic walk.
Oh! And how can we forget our beloved Dean “Patchaya”, and his unique lectures “Takarang roofsare hot in sunny weather, noisy in rainy weather”,“scoring a bull’s eye while using a squatting plate!”
We had Surgeons who were legendary. Charming Dr P R Anthonis with his “I shay mish……..”. I had the privilege of anaesthetising for his operation lists while being a junior anaesthetist. He was unfailingly courteous always letting you know when he had to deviate from the planned procedure and actually asking if it’s OK to take longer!Dr Noel Bartholomeusz,a striking figure with a fresh orchid in his button hole every day. I remember taking up a dare to ask him the name of the Orchid one day. After an initial glare at me for being so cheeky, he realised it was a dare and was amused. Dr Clifford Misso with whom we did our first surgical appointment was so kind and had a good sense of humour. I remember when I scrubbed for him for the first time in Operating Theatre D, I was so shy that I stood as far away from him as I possibly could. He started whistling a tune. When I did not react he asked “do you recognize the tune?” When I said “Yes Sir,it’s come closer to me”. So why don’t you do it, he quipped!

Speedy: That was most interesting and entertaining. What about your Batch mates?

Suri:Talking of batch mates, our one and only Patas had one goal …. To get all the shy girls to dance! I remember him steering me across the dance floor in King George’s Hallmuttering “back side together side, forward side together side!” under his breath. J C was the one who taught us the Cha Cha, and Lareef hisown variation, the “Off Beat Cha Cha”. I could go on!

Speedy: Anything else we need to talk about as part of your student experience?

Suri: Thanks for giving me this opportunity Speedy. My experiences as a medical student would not be complete without some mention 0f the Student’s Christian Movement. We had a lot of fun - SCM Picnics, Fund Raiser Concerts, going carolling, parties, and Carol Services at Christmas. Patrick Fernando, who was in our senior batch and sadly no more, would play “Christians awake salute the happy morn” on his trumpet to wake up the people we used to visit in the early hours of the morning. We were treated very well by all, particularly some of our teachers who would offer “spiritual” refreshment to the boys.

Speedy: I can just visualise the happy faces, in high spirits!

Suri: You got it! The SCM gave me my first experience in engaging in Social Work. We used to visit the Wanathamulla slums every fortnight, distributing dry rations provided by the CNAPT.Though we were supposed to go in pairs I often found that I had to go alone, but I wasn’t scared because the slum dwellers treated us with respect. It was indeed a novel experience and we were expected to give advice and help to solve marital problems, child guidance, housing problems, livelihood support etc. The end of the year Picnic we organised for the children from the homes we visited was so enjoyable. I remember we took them to the Dehiwala Zoo one year and while watching the Elephant Dance one little girl crept on to my lap, hugged me and said “I wish you were my mother!” I will never forget how moved I was by her spontaneous love.  

Speedy: How wonderful and touching!

Suri:Yes it certainly was. Visiting a Home for the Aged run by the government in Borella was also another activity I engaged in. It was a rewarding experience to interact with these dear old people who had been virtually abandoned by their families.They looked forward to our visits and loved to sing and have a chat.

Speedy: Let us pick up the story from there. Where did you do your internship?

Suri:  My first 6 months was at DMH with Dr A M Mendis and then 6 months Medicine with Dr E V Pieris at GH Colombo. I decided to specialise inAnaesthesia because I found the total commitment to a patient needed in the Operating Theatre very satisfying and the quick responses that are needed very challenging.

Speedy: And then you went to the UK?

Suri: Yes, I resigned from Government Service and went to UK for Post Graduate studies in Anaesthesia in 1975. I got through my Part 1 in 1976 and the Final Fellowship in 1977. I was very fortunate to secure a Senior Registrar Post in Anaesthesia at Kings College Hospital London and was able to obtain my Certificate of Higher Professional Training by 1981.

Speedy: And then you returned to Sri Lanka?

Suri: Yes, and on my return to Sri Lanka in 1981 I re-joined Government Service and my first appointment was as Supernumerary Consultant Anaesthetist in the Colombo Group of Hospitals for 2 years and then 1 year as Consultant Anaesthetist at Base Hospital Panadura
I was selected as a Consultant Anaesthetist to Sri Jayawardanepura General HospitalKotte at its very inception in 1985, which post I held till my retirement in 2009.

Speedy: It is great to hear how well you served your Country as a Consultant Anaesthetist.

Suri: Thank you Speedy. I enjoyed my work and found it very satisfying.

Speedy: Could I ask you to comment on our Blog and how useful it has been? At the same time, could you say something about the Batch Reunions?

Suri: I must confess that I do not visit our Blog too often. Lucky keeps us updated on news so that I feel I am not missing much. However I feel that after this interview I will try to be a more regular visitor.

Speedy: I sincerely hope so Suri. The Blog which was created by our own Lucky and so lovingly managed by him couldn’t survive without our participation and I know that you have a lot to offer. Yes, please do visit it regularly. Now, let us move on to batch reunions.

Suri:The first ever batch reunion in Sri Lanka was organised by just a few of us, J C, Sura, Lucky and myself. We had to work hard to find contact details of those living in Sri Lanka and we were able to muster only about 18 batch mates. The reunion was held at the Holiday Inn Colombo in 1988.  Since then our reunions have grown and the success of these have been largely due to Swyrie’s efficiency and commitment ably supported by husband Bala. Getting the participation of our batch mates domiciled abroad took a lot of effort and planning but it has been well worth it. All the reunions have been enjoyable and it has been so heart-warming to catch upwith batch mates, some who we have not met in half a century.

Speedy: Now, I am aware that you got married to Mahendra Amarasekera in 1972. We would love to know how you met him. Was it love at first sight!


Suri: To be very honest we had each gone through a bad experience and were both rather disenchanted with romance. Our meeting was not at all romantic. We were formally introduced by one of Mahendra’s adopted uncles (who was a good friend of my father). The strange thing is that we found we had so much in common.  We love to sing, dance, we both had a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at ourselves, we love the theatre and we are both devout Christians. Would you believe it we found out that we were both ardent Pat Boone Fans too! The only thing we did not share was my love of reading. Mahendra only reads the Newspaper! So we “clicked” from the very start and I can truly say Mahendra is my Best Friend as well as my Husband.

Speedy:Aah! How lovely! You should write a book about couples “made for each other”! You have now been happily married for 45 years. Congratulations! You have not just your kids Manique and Sean, but grandchildren too.

Suri: Yes we are so blessed. Our daughter Maniquewho obtained an Honours Degree in IT from Manchester Metropolitan University and a MBA from University of Sri Jayawardanepura, has a 10 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. She has inherited Mahendra’s musical talent. She conducts the Old Girls’ Choir “MethoCantanti“ and writes music for them.
Most of you have met Sean. Rememberhow he entertained us at the 40th Anniversary Reunion at Kandalama? Though a doctor by profession, acting and singing remains his first love. He played the title role of Phantom of the Opera last year which ran to full houses at the Lionel Wendt.

Speedy: What a talented pair! Runs in the genes obviously.I know you too have musical talent and was a member of the Moratuwa Choral Society for over 18 years. Tell us something about it.

Suri.Yes, I shall tell you how that happened. When we returned to Sri Lanka in 1981 we were invited to join the Moratuwa Choral Society that had just been formed and was trained by Kala Suri LylieGodridge. We had practices every Sunday and we used to pick up Lylie who lived just shouting distance away from my home in Dehiwala and drive down to Moratuwa. We sang Spiritual Songs, Easter and Christmas Carols in Churches. We had several Secular Concerts at the Lionel Wendt, and performed on Sawa Sangeetha on TV, had several Radio Broadcasts.We have also performedin other venues in Colombo as well as Kandy, Negombo, andKurunegala. Our repertoire included music from Mozart, Handel and Bach to Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, from Negro spirituals to old English favourites.We also sang perennial favouritesinhala folk songs likeTkiriTikiriTikiriliya, Suwanda Rosa Mal Nela, OluPipeela, DhannoBudunge set to exquisite 4 part harmony by Maestro Lylie. We even sang the National anthem with the chorus set to 4 part harmony which sounded great giving you goose bumps!

Speedy: Sorry to interrupt but I must say I really love songs sung in 4-part harmony. They sound so much deeper and resonant.

Suri: I agree. Our most enjoyable production was the “South Town Minstrels” when we sang and danced to Negro Spirituals and Plantation Songs, interspersed with jokes by the “Corner Man” Mahendra. We had our faces painted black; the girls wore colourful skirts and the boys in black and white striped jackets with colourful cumber bands, and straw boaters and canes. We had over 25 shows in and outside Colombo. Our Concerts were held to aid fund raising efforts for worthy causes I remember His Excellency President J R Jayawardena, (who normally has a dead pan face),being the Chief Guest at one show throw his head back and laugh out loud at Mahendra’s jokes. I remember Hon, LalithAthulathmudaliwas the Chief Guest at our fund raising effort for the Jaipoor Foot Fund . We also recorded a Cassette “A Decade of Singing” with Spiritual and Secular songs in 1991.

Speedy: I want to now devote some time to your many Professional accomplishments. The list is long and we are truly proud of you. President of the College of Anaesthesiiologists of Sri Lanka in 1996 ,1997, President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) in 2006, Member of the Editorial Council of the Indian Journal of Anaesthesiology and many more. You have a host of Publications in Medical Journals and delivered many keynote lectures.
What was your driving force and how difficult was it for you to combine your career with being a mother and wife? What are your views on how women can be encouraged to contribute to the Community as Professionals on equal terms with men?

Suri: My driving force in my career has been my love for my career as an anaesthetist.  I truly enjoy my work. The privilege I have to care and comfort my patients who are either undergoing surgery or battling life threatening illnesses in the Intensive Care Unit has been truly rewarding. Of course there have been instances of sadness and helplessness when all my best efforts seem to make no difference to the outcome, but I have learned to accept the bad with the good and not feel frustrated.
Combining a full time career with that of a mother was certainly challenging. But I believe that it is the quality of time you spend with your children that is important. I always tried to get involved and supported whole heartedly all the activities of my children, whether it was helping my daughter to obtain her “Wings” as a Brownie Guide, or helping her to get the House corner decorated for the Sports Meet when she was a House Captain, or running around getting stage props for Drama productions for my son and helping with costumes, or training him for Oratory Competitions.
May I take this chance to state that I truly felt very humbled when they elected me to the position of the President SLMA in 2006 only the 6th woman to hold this high office and the 2nd Anaesthetist in 119 years.
What I consider to be my greatest achievement is to be able to raise funds to set up a Scholarship for Children who lost one or both parents in the Tsunami Disaster of Dec 2004. US $ 50,000 was received from the Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceana(CMAAO) and a joint scholarship was set up. This is an ongoing project. Of the original 24 children several have completed their educational and vocational training activities and are gainfully employed in various fields, e.g., 3 D Graphic Design engineers, Diploma holding Beauticians, Motor Mechanics, Back loader operators etc. There in one in the Kelaniya University following a Degree course in Management & IT, and another following accountancy Diploma run by the institute of Accountants Sri Lanka. The rest are still in school.

Speedy:These are significant achievements and you should be justifiably proud of them. Is there anything innovative you did in your own specialist field?

Suri: I can mention two things that I am proud of. The first is what I did jointly with the late Prof RandunneCorea (who was in the first Peradeniya batch). We launched the Programme for Corrective Surgery for Scoliosis. Up to that time no corrective surgery was done in Sri Lanka. Patients were treated by putting them in plaster jackets in the hope of halting the progress of the deformity.
The first corrective Scoliosis Surgery in Sri Lanka was performed in 1990 at the Sri Jayewardanepura General Hospital.
I remember the patient very well, a pretty 15 year old girl from Wellawatta who had this disfiguring Thoraco-Lumbar curvature. The Surgery required Induced Hypotension  with blood pressures maintained around 70 mm Hg This makes it mandatory that the Blood Pressure is monitored directly with an arterial line and a Direct Arterial Monitor. Unfortunately we did not have these and I had to improvise using a 3 way tap connected to a radial arterial line, a pressurised Heparin Saline and the 3rd limb connected to an Aneroid Gauge (You know the circular gauge you get in some BP apparatus). It worked very well with the needle of the gauge flickering at the mean arterial pressure which is what we are interested in.

I presented a paper on 20 patients at the College of Surgeons Annual Sessions in 1992, and to my surprise and delight was awarded the S E Seneviratne Award for the best Free Paper, much to the consternation of the Surgeons who took a decision that no paper can be presented by a non-member of the College of Surgeons!
As Prof.Randunna was practising in Saudi Arabia we could only do the procedures only when he was home on vacation. It took a long time to add up the numbers, but up to 1997 we did over 100 patients. We were able to get the necessary monitors as the years went by and my job became much less stressful. This was also presented at the SACA congress in Pakistan in 1997.

Speedy: And the second thing Suri? 

Suri: I had the privilege of training and setting up the first ever Cardiac Arrest Team in S L in 1985 perhaps the only one of its kind even today. I can also mention a second innovation. I had the privilege of introducing Caudal Epidurals to the practice of Paediatric Anaesthesia in 1987. I remember presenting a series of 100 patients at the centenary SLMA sessions. I was bombarded with questions. Is it safe? Is it cost effective? Is it practical in terms of time taken considering how heavy our op lists were? Dr GaminiKarunaratne who was my Paediatric Surgeon and the President of SLMA at the time who was chairing the Sessions Interrupted and said "I can only say that since Dr Amarasekera started doing these blocks she has created a problem in my ward!" I thought Ettu Brute! Then much to my relief, he went on to say “my post op patients used to be heavily sedated those days but now they are all running around the ward and demanding food!” That was the end of the arguments I got a spontaneous round of applause, and Paediatric Caudal Blocks have come to stay.

Speedy: I love happy endings! I can well understand your satisfaction in setting up such ground-breaking services in Sri Lanka.

Speedy: Apart from your work as a Doctor, you have been a regular contributor to the local Newspapers and your articles are known for the excellent style in which they are written. How did you develop this talent? Did you ever contribute as an Editor at school?

Suri : I think what little skill I have in creative writing has been due to my Mother’s influence. She would often delight us with personalised verses to mark our Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries. I remember how she wrote a song and made our kids practice in secret and give us a wonderful surprise at our 13th Wedding Anniversary (CopperWedding) Party.

Speedy: Finally Suri, I know that you are devout Christian and you have always gained strength from your religious beliefs. How big a part did your Faith play in your life?

Suri: I can honestly say that I am what I am today because of the Guidance, Strength and Inspiration I get from my Lord and Saviour Jesus who loves me unconditionally.
I have claimed the promise in the Holy Bible Isaiah Chapter 40vs 31- Many of you may be familiar with it because it was quoted in the film “Chariots of Fire”
“They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint“. I had the privilege of stating this on my induction as President SLMA in 2006.

Speedy: And finally Suri, how would you like to describe yourself as a woman, a doctor, a wife and a mother? Can you quote something inspirational for us to conclude this interview?

Suri:  I think that I can describe myself as a woman, a doctor and a mother who is content and has a deep inner Peace and Joy not because I have had a trouble free life, as I have had my share of disappointments and heartbreak, challenges and life threatening illnesses, but through it all I have had the presence of my Friend and Saviour Jesus who is my never failing source of strength and inspiration.
You ask me for a Quote and I can do no better than quote Mother Theresa’s words which have helped me throughout my life.

The Final Analysis
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred - Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people accuse you of having selfish ulterior motives – Be kind anyway
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies –Succeed anyway                      
If you are honest and frank people may cheat you – be Honest and Frank anyway
What you spend years in building someone could destroy overnight – Build anyway
If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous – be Happy anyway
The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow – do Good anyway
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough – Give the world the best you have anyway
You see in the Final Analysis it is between you and God it was never between you and them anyway”                       

Speedy: Suri, it has been an immense pleasure to journey through your life and I wish to thank you for agreeing to feature in the Speedy Interview.

Suri: Thank You. It has been a pleasure and privilege.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Creative Spot by Mahendra Gonsalkorale

"Mavila Penevi" - Old Rukmani Devi Song, now sung by our own Speedy. The song is from the Sinhala movie Kele Handa which was screened in 1953. The story was adopted from the celebrated novel by W.A. Silva. Rukmani Devi (Malini in the film) played opposite Stanley Perera (John Jayapala). Stanley Perera is film actress Sabitha Perera's father. Rest of the cast included Rita Ratnayake, Rukmani Devi's late husband Eddie Jayamanne and Mabel Blythe.

I have fond memories of this song. In the year 1953, I remember our class master SKK Suriarachchi drawing a picture of Nikiniyana on the black board (chalk board), the village which provided the setting for the story, when discussing the movie while teaching Sinhala Literature. The film ended with another popular song "Nari Latha Pushpe sung by the late Mohideen Baig, with Stanley Perera carrying the limp body of Rukmani Devi who had committed suicide in the movie. Speedy's version of "Nari Latha Pushpe" is also on You Tube.

Incidentally, as I had mentioned in the blog before, my former teacher Mr. Suriarachchi later took to politics and was a Cabinet Minister in Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike's government of 1970. Present Speaker Karu Jayasuriya (our batch mate Wasantha Owitigala's husband) was in my class that year.