On this day ten years ago, our parents were taken from this world alongside thirty other innocent civilians in the city of Anuradhapura in a senseless violent suicide bombing. There were no warnings and no goodbyes. While it was the worst day for us in our lives, dwelling on that act does not take away the pain inflicted in the minds of the families of all those who are no longer here, including us.
As such, instead of giving that horrible act prominence, we choose to remember our parents, Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera and Mrs. Wajira Perera -- to us, Ammi and Thaththi -- who were larger than life itself. They were both such vibrant and positive contributors to the world in general and Sri Lanka in particular. The world is certainly a bleaker place for their loss.
Ammi was no less a patriot and had the same sense of strength of character and honour as Thaththi
Our parents were true patriots, dedicated to the betterment of Sri Lanka. Our father was not only held in high esteem publicly, he was adored by us at home. Most people only saw his public persona of duty, decency, reliability, honour, dignity and respect. They were not lucky enough to see the funny, relaxed and playful father and husband he was to us and to our mother. He never resisted the opportunity to have a laugh with friends and loved ones, given half the chance. His generosity was only second to our mother’s. While we are proud of all his achievements in life, we truly miss this amazing man who taught us to stand up for what we believe in and always be proud of who you are.
He was a decorated military man, proud of his over 40 years of service to Sri Lanka, first in the military, then later in life, through his diplomatic and brief political career. Thaththi was considered one of the most distinguished army generals in Sri Lankan history. After retiring from the army, be served as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia and thereafter as Ambassador to Indonesia. He was later elected as the leader of the opposition of the North Central Provincial Council, during a brief political career, which was cut short by an act of terror. He received many commendations for his exemplary military career and his significant roles in suppressing the JVP insurrection in his early career, to the many roles he played in combating the LTTE terror during the most difficult periods of the Sri Lankan civil war. He had the unique distinction of being the Colonel Commandant of the then newly-established Commando Regiment, the Special Forces Regiment and the Corps of Sri Lanka Engineers.
Ammi was such a vibrant soul. One who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. She was so full of joy and love. She was as dedicated to Thaththi as he was to her
Among his commendations were the awards for gallantry, Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama, distinguished service medals, the Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, long service medals, Uttama Seva Padakkama, Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal, foreign service medal, Videsha Seva Padakkama. combat service medals Purna Bhumi Padakkama, North and East Operations Medal, the campaign medals, Vadamarachchi Operation Medal and the Riviresa Campaign Services Medal as also, the Republic of Sri Lanka Armed Services and the President’s Inauguration Medal. Although he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, same year, he was subsequently bypassed for promotion as Army Commander, prompting his resignation in 2001, which led to his diplomatic and political careers. Thaththi’s military and diplomatic achievements would not have been possible without the love and support he received from our mother. Ammi was no less a patriot and had the same sense of strength of character and honour as Thaththi. She was one of the first six women officers to join the Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps in 1982 and she trained at the Women’s Royal Army Corps College in England. While her military career was not as extensive as Thaththi’s, she was still able to pave the way for other young women to follow and join the military during those difficult times.
Our father was not only held in high esteem publicly, he was adored by us at home
Ammi was such a vibrant soul. One who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. She was so full of joy and love. She was as dedicated to Thaththi as he was to her. Being the wife of Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera, a public figure, was probably not very easy, but Ammi handled it with grace. We believe Ammi was the most beautiful woman to ever live, not because of her physical appearance, though she was strikingly-beautiful. It was her heart and her mind that were truly remarkable. She was generous, warm and loving to everyone she met, and made every person feel so special. We have so many memories of loving moments, hugs, kisses and laughter with Ammi at the centre of it, that it’s hard to pick a favourite time or moment. Anyone lucky enough to meet our mother was instantly drawn to her.
Ammi taught us to always be strong and to love without condition. She was the true heart of our family, making sure everyone was taken care of and the house ran quite smoothly with her guidance and leadership. Thaththi progressed up the ranks throughout his career, but Ammi was the Queen and Commander in Chief from the day she married him. They were a great team, always together and supporting each other. In the end, that is how they left this earth. Even though it was a suicide bomber who took them away from us, they were together in death, just as much as they were in their lives.
He received many commendations for his exemplary military career and his significant roles in suppressing the JVP insurrection
As we remember and commemorate their lives, our Ammi and Thaththi, the two souls whose lives were brought to an end too soon, but whose lives brought joy and fulfilment to many, let us remember their legacy and remember to ‘love without condition and live without regret.’ That is the motto which they lived with, throughout their lives times!
We love you and miss you both, Ammi and Thaththi. Your loss to us is irreparable!
Janukshi Shehara and Ashanka