G. G. SAIMON — in Memoriam

July 5, 2014

March 3, 1939 – April 24, 2014

Koslanda is a small hill country town surrounded by scatterings of villages.  Getting to any of our beneficiaries frequently requires either a climb up a small hill or a hike down below road level.  Small mercies like enlarged gnarly roots are welcomed protrusions for they serve as steady footholds for the inexperienced hiker.  But handicapped individuals like Prematilaka and elderly father  G.G.Saimon (Simon) clamber up and down these challenging terrains  daily seemingly unfazed.   But all of the hill country is simply greener and cooler.

In September 2012,  then project manager Mr. Moorthy and i visited Prematilaka’s family.   Moorthy scrambled down the narrow, arduous, below road level footpath like a veteran, while i followed gingerly, hanging on to every branch or trunk.  For the path was slippery, worn red earth with occasional above-ground root or rugged rock which one used as a foothold.  At the end of this half hour trek, passing just one lowish sprawling house,  i arrived at a very small shack.

There lived G.G.Saimon with his wife Somawathy and son Prematilaka.   Saimon (Simon) is first a very quiet man.  His weather- beaten gaunt  face tells a thousand stories.  His wrinkled hands are hard-toiled hands.  But his eyes are the most striking.  They are gentle and kind.  And this is how his son Prematilaka exactly is.  Gentle and kind like his father.

Sometime in February of this year, Saimon cut himself on one of his tools.  Unfortunately, the wound did not receive the care it required.  As told by wife Somawathy, the wound caused blood poisoning which eventually took his life.   The outcome being so preventable makes it all the more tragic.

In 2013, Prematilaka with his father’s encouragement  traveled to Kataragama on pilgrimage.   This entails a whole day’s journey on several buses.   I was not very surprised when i was told of this extraordinary accomplishment because having met Saimon i learned that he never saw any of life’s challenges as obstacles for his physically handicapped and mentally challenged son.  They worked together, father and son making wooden spoons and other such kitchen crafts to take and sell at the village market.   Often, Prematilaka took the wares himself to the market!  Everyone in the village knew him!

Perhaps that was Saimon’s amazing legacy to his son: fortitude and cheerfulness in the face of adversity,  and the knowledge that the simple life is full & rewarding.   We shall miss Saimon but we are also sure his sweet spirit shall live on in his son Prematilaka.