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Dr. Leel Gunasekara-A Happy Birthday To You, Little unremembered acts of kindness and love


6 December 2015 07:23 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Mahinda Jayaweera
A Civil Servant of great repute both national and international, an award winning writer, a veteran literary critic, a professional social service administrator, a great lover of art, music and drama and a thorough gentleman - all this is Dr. Leel Gunasekara.
A rare combination of charm, dignity and versatility, Leel Gunasekara in his eighties is agile, energetic, cheerful and young at heart.
In mass media, so much has been talked of and written about Leel Gunasekara that it is difficult for one to write about him without repeating what eminent scholars have already discussed. However, in my humble way let me write here how I see him and what I feel about him.

In the mid-twentieth century, the country was governed by nine Civil Servants who held office as Government Agents of the nine provinces. During those days Leel Gunasekara’s seat of authority was Anuradhapura, the capital of the North Central province, better known as Rajarata. This young administrator, youthful and handsome, was on circuit, driving his vehicle down the bund of Kalawewa when he saw a charming village lass in her bathing clothes dipping in the blue waters of the tank all alone. The stimulus naturally stirred the romantic pulses of the youth. The refined poet in him overpowered the natural impulse, and the final outcome is this fine piece of verse.
He managed to control his emotions, finding refuge in his inborn talent, the poetry which displayed the quality and calibre of his character too.

Though he has never been rich in life, all that he needed for a simple yet comfortable life has been at his reach. Extravagance has never been his way of life. During his long tenure of office he has been above board, having his hands clean. He set an example to the generations that followed.
A sage had once said,
“The best portion of  a Good Man’s Life, His little unremembered Acts, Of  Kindness and of Love”.
This is very true in Leel Gunasekara’s life. Dr. Leel Gunasekara belongs to the new breed of Civil Servants who were responsible for bringing about a distinct change of the Civil Service culture, which took place in the late fifties and early sixties. The old brigade of the Ceylon Civil Service, as the saying goes, walked with kings, but had lost the common touch.


"The Residency became Disapathi Mandiraya. He began freely moving about with the citizenry of the town.  "

They conducted government business through officers of subordinate grades, and seldom dealt directly with the public. They kept their chambers closed, and entry point watched by a supra peon in uniform, called Arachchi.
When Leel Gunasekara came on transfer to Kegalle and assumed duties at the Kachcheri as the new Government Agent, he wanted all doors and windows of his chamber kept open, not only for fresh air to get in, but for fresh ideas from out to get in too.
The ancient standard of the Four Korale, ‘Ira Honda Kodiya’ was hung on a wall inside the chamber. The name boards and plaques were rewritten is Sinhala. The Residency’ became Disapathi Mandiraya.

Dr. Leel Gunasekara had made a noteworthy contribution to Sri Lankan literature. He is a bilingual writer. His very first work of fiction, Pethsama won him the State Literary Award in the year 1962. Since then, he has written many books, among them are novels, short stories, poetry, research studies and children’s books as well.   In recognition of the great service Dr. Leel Gunasekara has rendered to the Sri Lankan community, the State honoured him with one of the most prestigious positions in public life, the post of Chancellor of a University. The beauty of the appointment is that Dr. Gunasekara today is the Chancellor of the University of Rajarata, a country that has always been close to his heart.
“Many Happy returns of the Day, Sir.”

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