A genuine man and brilliant artiste in many respects
by P.L. DHARMASIRI PERERA
I have been given the rare privilege of frankly appreciating ‘a genuine – character’. Let’s imagine a person who has to reach Colombo from Kohuwala and a second from a remote area like Pasdun Korale.
In comparison with the first person, the task of the second is extremely weary and tiresome amidst long struggle with time, money and energy.
To flash back the entire life of Mr. Gunadasa Liyanage, one may notice that he has played the role of the second in every respect. This has been so with all his adventures, education, creative ability that is blended with his entire career as a teacher, free-lancer, translator, editor, novelist etc. and media person both in print and electronic.
In short, his was an extremely rare combination of a ‘genuine man’ and a brilliant ‘artiste’ in many respects.
To start with he was a contemporary member of mine on the tutorial staff of Sri Palee, Horana and a news correspondent.
I wish to pen here, with sincerity that he was no person to forget his parents and family members and his ‘cradle’, the village of Divalakada where he was natured and nurtured from his infancy to the end of his school days. He never failed to remember his colleagues, villagers and relatives although he earned himself an international reputation and remained/resided at Mirihana, Nugegoda throughout the rest of his life and his entire career in Colombo.
It is sound proof to cite that he titled his auto-biography as ‘Divalakada Gunadasa’, the name of the village preceding his own.
I still remember how Mr. Liyanage was passing my place of residence with a sincere and a hearty smile along with a few words of intimacy with me every Sunday morning on his way from Nugegoda to visit his beloved mother at Divalakada.
He was courteous to respect his ‘step-mother’ Sri Palee, Horana – the ‘Abode of Beauty’ where he was fed and adorned with knowledge, skills and aesthetic sense along with simple life and lofty ideals and the revered ‘Teachers’ as well, at the time.
It is thorough sincerity that Sri Palee was brought to Limelight with all its full fledged faculties and artistic products at the time by Liyanage through Lankadeepa. If so, how could ‘Gunadasa’ forget his ‘tutelary-deity’, Mr. Wilmot A. Perera, founder of Sri Palee.
It was due to his sincerity and faith that the readers were privileged to enjoy a fine piece of work of appreciation by the title ‘Siri Katha and Wilmot’.
I wonder whether there was a student whom Wilmot loved more and vice versa. Its no secret that ‘Guli’ (the ‘non-de-plume’ by which he was popular) was extremely busy with his pen, accompanied and surrounded by a retinue of imaginations and imageries; but still, the surprise and incredibility was that the seat facing him was ever ready to welcome any visitor – mostly an amateur writer or a novice.
Guli honoured the noble principle of ‘Living and let living’ to which he added a second concept: ‘Loving and let Loving’. Thus the amateurs were privileged to foster and further their talents and widen their horizons in the relevant field and many such are ever ready to express their gratitude of their brilliancy. Thus, he frankly realised the nobility of extending his arm to the ‘gifted – buds’.
He was a friend in need too. The rare quality may be acknowledged even at this moment by thousand associates.
In Guli’s earlier collection of biographical sketches ‘Kav the me?’ (Who is this?), autobiography and in many of his writings he never missed to extend his regard to his ‘disa-pa-mok’ – Mr. D.B. Dhanapala, the first and foremost Tutor in Journalism.
Guli was an awakened Buddhist and no lethargic priest. The Noble concept of courtesy which the Buddha expressed immediately after His Enlightment was re-materialised thus by him.
Guli was a peculiar extremist too.
He was neither a person to crave for ‘note and coins’ nor a slave at the feet of another or any institution sacrificing his identity, individuality and the dignity as a media person as against the heartily accepted principles and values.
Guli was a self taught scholar and an all-rounder in his trade. His achievements and greatness were no legacy by birth; neither were those thrust upon him, but the perseverance with self confidence, sweating and struggle.
The self confidence and discipline thus created made him a triumphant hero to stand on his own. He was ever free to quit any office or designation.
Guli was an optimist and a good hearted revolutionist too. He served in Lankadeepa, Gal Oya News, Davsa, Kalpana, Vishvakala and Radio Ceylon etc. where he left an indelible impression in all such institutions. He, I think is the pioneer to change the format of many issues and the news broadcast with sounds recorded outside the studio.
even his last-will was of special significance which marks his independent individuality.
The interviews on the TV looked more a friendly chat than a dry questionnaire. The secret was that he has known more about the interview. The bilingual fluency in writing and speech and the witty combined with a bit of humour paved way for his success. He was confident of what to be conveyed and what to be deleted and the technique, relevant.
These valuable characteristics are to be studied and followed by the amateurs. He had no institution or tuition as found today but the intuition which was more effective and fruitful.
If the loss of an individual is genuinely felt by the family members, associates and the country at large, it signifies that he has genuinely lived a fruitful life. Thus they feel! May Guli realise Nibbana