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A heartbreaking tale of love, loss and a quest for identity

23 September 2013 04:20 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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- By  Shihara Maduwage

Swendrini  Safla (nee Peters) grew up in South Africa with her Sri Lankan mother Beryl Jurgen Ondaatje and Beryl’s husband Doctor Maurice Peters who was South African. She was the youngest of eight children. Swendrini always thought that the man who raised her was her father and thus saw herself as South African – Sri Lankan. She was only seven-years-old when Dr. Peters passed away, leaving her mother to take care of her family.

After she grew up Swendrini married a South African Dawood Safla, a businessman, and had two children. Her daughter Scheherazade Gaffoor is a journalist, married to Ali Gaffoor while her son Shimon Safla is an attorney. She is also a grandmother to three beautiful children, Azhad, Zarin Gaffoor and Shiar Safla.
" Wanting to fully embrace her Sri Lankan identity, Swendrini attempted to get Sri Lankan citizenship. However, she ran into many obstacles "
Since late Beryl Jurgen Ondaatje was Sri Lankan, Swendrini occasionally visited the beautiful island where her mother grew up. On her fateful second trip to Sri Lanka, shocking news awaited her. From her relatives in Sri Lanka, she discovered the surprising truth surrounding her birth. Out of the blue, she was told that her real father was Francis Arulanandam and not Dr. Peters as she had previously thought. Francis Arulanandam was a Sri Lankan which meant that Swendrini too was a Sri Lankan. In a matter of minutes, baffled Swendrini had gained a new identity and a new family.

She learnt that her mother and father were childhood sweethearts and she was a lovechild resulting from their union. However, when her stepfather visited Sri Lanka, her mother’s family had got Beryl married to Dr. Peters, despite the fact that she was still in love with Francis. Swendrini recalled that her mother made many trips to Sri Lanka and on one trip brought back a gold cross and chain and said a very kind uncle had sent a gift for her. Swendrini had never imagined that the ‘kind uncle’ was in fact her birth father.



Upon learning about her real father, Swendrini set out to look for him. However, when she met her father’s family in Pita Kotte, she was heartbroken to discover that he had passed away. She could only visit her father at his grave in St. Thomas’ Church in Pita Kotte. From her new cousins she learnt that he had married a lady named Winne Corea later in his life but did not have any children.

Wanting to fully embrace her Sri Lankan identity, Swendrini attempted to get Sri Lankan citizenship. However, she ran into many obstacles, mainly because her father’s birth certificates could not be traced. She was disappointed to hear that a fire in the birth records office in Sri Lanka had destroyed any official documents she wanted to obtain of her long-lost father. Her cousins from her father’s side did not have enough information which could have help her. In desperation, she even visited the Borella Archbishops House in Borella hoping of find her father’s baptismal certificate but to no avail.

Swendrini said she feels that she deserves to gain Sri Lankan citizenship as she is extremely proud of her roots.
" From her relatives in Sri Lanka, she discovered the surprising truth surrounding her birth. Out of the blue, she was told that her real father was Francis Arulanandam and not Dr. Peters as she had previously thought. "
“It was heartbreaking for me to discover my true identity at such a late stage in life and I need closure in my life. Growing up in a country under the laws of apartheid was hell on earth because people of colour were and still are treated like they are second class citizens, seeing beauty, trust and loyalty only in fair-skinned people” she recollected.

“I personally am against this cast and colour systems which plagues South Africa. To me people of colour are just as beautiful.”
As her father’s only child she also wants to obtain as much information as she can about him and feels that it is her duty to pass on her late parents’ love story. She appeals to the public to give her any information regarding her father Francis Arulanandam.
Swendrini also has a book in the pipeline about her life story which she hopes to publish soon.
Swendrini’s contact details: T.P. 082-402-3620, email wen@mobileemail.vodafonesa.co.za
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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 


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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 


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