Lionel Douglas Walter de Soysa de Fonseka better known as ‘Dougie’, was a proud product of S Thomas’ College, Boxer, Jockey, a Tea and Rubber Planter and the first stock car racing driver to race Mitsubishi Colt in Sri Lanka.
It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since you were last among us. A lot has changed and the world looks like nothing you could have ever imagined. While my brain can logically comprehend the fact that you have been gone for so long, I still feel your presence by my side, every day. You have helped me find my inner strength during times of weakness and reminded me that my only competition in life, is myself.
Thank you for always embracing me for exactly who I was; for responding to all my crazy activity ideas for us to do together with an enthused ‘alright, my love!’ and for never turning me down when I wanted to play house with you in the front garden, where the roof was made of palm leaves and lunch consisted of multiple coloured pots of ‘curry’ – nothing more than dried coconut flakes in food colouring (which I’m sure tasted awful). My love of dogs was influenced by the nine Dachshunds and two Ridgebacks crossed Great Danes that followed you around wherever you went as if you were Snow White.
One of my favourite childhood memories is sitting on your lap in the living room with the dogs, watching F1 races and placing bets on who would win.
Of course, you won every bet, because you were one of the best stock car racing drivers in Sri Lanka and also because I was seven. Several years later, I remember you saying ‘I say, this Vettel chap is going to have a promising career in F1’ and sure enough, he became a four-time Formula One World Champion a few years ago. You would have been sad to hear that he is, unfortunately, retiring from Formula 1 this year, but he certainly did have a killer career. For an old’ seeya boy, you had ridiculously impressive foresight.
The one memory that makes me laugh, is the time my three-year-old self thought it would be the funniest thing if I locked you in the chicken coop in the garden with all the chickens. I still remember the shock and amusement in your voice as you called after me as I giggled and ran away. (To anyone reading this - in my defence, it was a big coop and my mom who was a few feet away gardening was able to let him out, while rightfully scolding me). I acknowledge that my younger self had an odd sense of humour. I am thankful that my childhood memories are full of you and that so many years later, there isn’t a day that goes by where I do not think of them and the happiness you brought into my life.
I have never met someone who made every decision in life with such a strong moral compass; no short cuts, no compromises. You wore your heart on your sleeve, lead with incredible kindness and always kept your word. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to see you in action, but you are recognized as a legend in the Sri Lankan racing community even today, not only because you were an excellent driver, but also you had unparalleled sportsmanship.
With all the racism, corruption, deceit and cruelty that has appeared to have consumed our world today, thank you for continuing to be my constant reminder of the love, kindness, respect and integrity that humanity is capable of. Thank you for taking me to church on Sundays and coming to temple with me for Buddhist ceremonies. But most of all, thank you for living your life on your terms and for paving the way for generations after you to do the same.
I know we’ll meet again someday when the time is right, and I look forward to catching up and sharing a laugh with you then. Until we meet again
With love always -Your Baybo