Appreciation – Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardane My Best Friend’s Daughter
Posted on August 15th, 2009

Dr. Mareena Reffai

I am the best friend of Mrs. Sandhya Kumari Jayawardene, the mother of Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardene, the 14-year old girl who is said to have hung herself with her school tie on 22nd July 2009 . Kavindi’s mother and I are best friends since August 2000 and Kavindi was a dear friend of my daughter, who was two years younger to her. I have known Kavindi quite closely since she was in Montessori with my daughter.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Her father is a professional/graduate Accountant and her mother too was in the accountancy field before she gave up her job upon marriage. Her mother is from Kegalle, an innocent, down-to-earth, virtuous woman who was a devout Buddhist. Kavindi was an only child, extraordinarily beautiful and was very shy. She was a studious girl whose report cards received from school always described her as a “Siyalu Dena Samaga Sahayogayen Kriya Karana, Vineetha, Keekaru, Sisuwiyeki”. Anyone can take a look at her school books and report cards and see if she seems a disturbed or disobedient girl.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ KavindiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s mother was the kind of woman who even went to the extent of having a Bodhi Poojawa for my daughter who was a non-Buddhist, when she was sitting for her 5th Grade Scholarship exam, thinking of someone elseƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s child as her own.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is so saddening to hear that Kavindi’s name has been tarnished by the school making her look like a girl who was into porn, boyfriends and similar stuff whereas in actual sense she was a girl who did not even collect pictures of movie stars, cricketers or any such thing that a teenager of today would do but was always getting good grades at school and excelling in studies.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In fact, Kavindi was the pillar of strength to her mother during their family ordeal of KavindiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s father going through a kidney transplant about two years ago. Athula, her father was not the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-STRICTƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ father as depicted in the media. He in fact would return home and keep Kavindi on his lap and ask her what happened at school or joke with her about things on TV. Even after Kavindi attained age and showed all signs of a beautiful young lady, Athula petted her like a little girl.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ She was very close to her mother, and till her death Kavindi’s world and after school activities involved playing with her little cousins next door and helping her mother with housework. She even knew how to cook, something only a handful of 14-year-olds today would know.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ She encouraged her mother to do home-gardening and have plenty of vegetables grown in their 15 perch house and land, and loved seeing the produce being consumed. She was never into Facebook, computer games, hip electronic gadgets or any such thing. I was always in and out of their house as Sandhya was one of the few persons (apart from my own Mother) that I would trust to leave my daughter with whenever I had to leave my daughter with someone.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ During the past 8 years, my daughter spent most of her holidays at their home where I would drop her off in the mornings and pick her up at evening and stay on for at least 1-2 hours chatting with my best friend. Whenever I called my daughter in between, Kavindi would talk to me too, and relate what they had been playing during the day and tell of their plans for evening play and I would often find Sandhya feeding both my daughter and hers, if I happen to call during lunch time. Kavindi played hide and seek, dolls, imaginary house, Lego and similar games with her mother, my daughter and her little cousins from next door and was innocent and unspoiled and a far cry from what is being told about her now.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is sad to learn from her classmates that a Prefect from her school actually dragged her by her tie upon confronting her for having a mobile phone in her school bag (which did not even belong to her) and taken her to the Section Head’s office and also made her kneel in public and humiliated her by showing her to others. This fact would now be denied by school authorities for obvious reasons but for a child who has never been reprimanded in her entire life for indiscipline just cannot bear such humiliation, harassment and public embarrassment.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The school authorities should also appoint Counsellors in schools who are qualified enough to handle these kind of situations instead of having Teachers and mere school girls (Prefect Bullies) handling situations involving human emotions.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Even when her body was discovered hanging in the toilet, the teachers or authorities of the school had not even loosened her tie around the neck or given appropriate first aid to revive her.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The only thing this school can do now is to tarnish her good name and make her look like a “bad girl” who committed suicide, thereby deviating the attention of the public to the fact that the girl was suspected, embarrassed in public, emotionally abused and mishandled by Prefects and Teachers who were not capable of understanding emotions of a 14-year old and never thought of repercussions of misjudgement, harshness, cruelty and public humiliation. She had in fact begged that it is okay to tell about the incident to her mother but never to tell her father because he was a kidney patient whom Kavindi always feared would die if he faces sadness.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Kavindi was the type of girl who was so shy that she would even nudge me and her mother in embarrassment if we ever spoke out in public in protest for small injustices such as being over-charged at stores or such similar small incidents and tell ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-aney randu karanna epa ammey, nikam innako ammey, etcƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and blush in embarrassment. She is the type of girl who encouraged and loved the fact that her mother was among the very few mothers at her school who only wore a simple ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”OsariyaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ whenever she had to visit KavindiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s school. She never even allowed her motherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Saree blouses to have a deep-cut neckline and would protest against any body part of her mother being shown in public. It is this virtuous charactered Kavindi who today is being portrayed as the girl who would watch porn or pose nude for her boyfriend and allow to be photographed or filmed.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Since the Police have found out that Kavindi is not the owner of the mobile in question, there were no porn in the mobile, there were no nude photos or sms directed to Kavindi, then why isnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t the school issuing a statement about the true owners of the mobile phone or the actual contents of the mobile?

Why isn’t the school ascertaining the fact that the mobile did not belong to Kavindi but to the other three students of the same school/class who had pooled and bought the mobile then slipped it into innocent and shy Kavindi’s school bag when the Prefects came along, checking for mobiles in their classroom?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Why isn’t the school talking about the two girls who subsequent to Kavindi’s hanging body being found tried to commit suicide, one by stabbing herself with a bottle and the other by consuming some toilet detergent, when they realized what they had done to their classmate Kavindi and their guilty consciousness took the better of them?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Today, a majority of Sri Lankans know Kavindi as the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-girl who watched porn on her mobile and committed suicide in shameƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, or “the girl who had her nude pictures in her mobile”, or “the girl who was mentally ill or depressed”, or “the girl whose parents were too strict” and such ghastly impressions.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ At present, my best friend is a woman who hears her only childƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s voice echoing around the house, sees her face every where, a broken woman with no hope for the future and a woman who wishes she died with Kavindi. She is a well-read but simple housewife whose world was woven around her only child. She is still that devout Buddhist who forgives the media for tarnishing her precious daughterƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s name, forgives the people who did not provide timely first aid to her daughter when they found her hanging, forgives the prefects who manhandled her daughter, forgives the three girls who slipped the phone in Kavindi’s school bag and pushed her to death in shame, but the fact remains, Sandhya’s soul died along with her only child.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ My only appeal to you is, despite misleading information by the media and complete silence maintained by the relevant school, to think logically about Kavindi’s name unduly tarnished along with her parents reputation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Please also pass this on to everyone you know.
Thank you,

6 Responses to “Appreciation – Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardane My Best Friend’s Daughter”

  1. mahesh.desilva Says:

    Ohh my godd. I felt realy sorry about his little angle and her mom.We were totally mislead by local media.School principal must be brought into the justice.What’s our education ministers do?? This is really sad story.But still I feel this little angel is still lukcy to go away from this bad society and surely she will attain nibbana soon.

  2. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear Dr. Mareena Reffai

    I admire you for bringing into the light the sad story of this fourteen year old girl. She must have gone through a lot of heartache before deciding to end her life.

    This story rekindled an incident that happened about forty years ago at De Soysa Maternity Home where I was a trainee doctor doing the internship. One Sunday evening a young unmarried girl was transferred from Panadura District Hospital by an ambulance with a provisional diagnosis of ‘ Ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy’, an emergency surgical condition where the pregnancy happens in the uterine tubes and then rupture of the tubes cause massive bleeding. She was transferred to Colombo as there were no emergency surgical facilities available at Panadura at the time.

    The girl was accompanied by her mother and on admission to the ward in De Soysa Maternity Home, the ward sister in front of the mother asked the girl with contempt if she is pregnant . The girl vehemently denied this with tears in her eyes. The Gynaecology registrar who saw her next and examined her asked the same question in front of the mother which again she denied quite distressed. The patient was prepared for emergency surgery immediately with the diagnoses of ruptured ectopic pregnancy but unfortunately she collapsed and died before being taken to the theatre. The consultant Gynaecologist who came for the ward round the next day was briefed on this case and he commented, ‘ sounds like a ruptured ectopic’.

    The following week the post-mortem result of the patient arrived which said, ‘ twisted ovarian cyst’, a condition with very similar symptoms to ruptured ectopic pregnancy. After forty years I still have not forgotten this incident, an innocent girl ,with her character mistakenly tarnished causing her undue distress at the time of her death. What still bothers me is not the wrong diagnosis, but the insensitivity with which it was handled.

    We have to be extremely careful in judging and blaming people without sufficient evidence. You are innocent unless proven guilty.

    If Kavindi’s incident happened in the UK where I work at present, it would have caused a major public outcry. Even if found guilty, a fourteen year old child should have been referred for counseling rather than humiliating her publicly.

    Let this be a lesson for everybody concerned and may the little girl attain supreme Nibbana.

    Dr. (Mrs) Padma Wijesekara

  3. Priyantha Abeywickrama Says:

    This is a sad story that carries a lot of lessons for all parents. Death is not necessarily a bad thing, but embracing it may even be a good thing under certain circumstances. Given the nature of this girl, current world is not the one she deserved though we should now endeavour to build that world, and most likely she understood by her own actions. This is the same for many Sinhala children facing the horrible society that we have to put up with today. She is in a way a messenger to all other parents, their children and the society at large. Extremist primitive religious concepts that go against the humanity imported from abroad and alien education system that uses the failed scum to teach the young have created an anti-human society that goes against the native virtues. All parents should learn a lesson from this to understand that all these self-adored virtues are nothing compared to the necessity to survive under trying conditions. Some of these so-called virtues are in fact beautifully dressed death traps taking a heavy toll on our society and children forced into such values by their parents will not have what it takes to handle the real life experiences prevailing in the country. When you have the worst as your leaders, prefects, cops, public servants and even some parents, we must help our children to cope with such scenarios with determination and courage to come out as winners. Those who become devout believers of alien religions, especially from Sinhala speaking background, should understand that they are not told by the kind of people you are aware of or live in your hearts who have enriched your lives by giving knowledge to fulfill your desire to live longer. We live in a confused world where we do things to kill ourselves and adopt them as our virtues without knowing that they are designed to destroy our humanity. I strongly suggest to those concerned people to believe in the right to do whatever necessary to live and protect life, whether good, bad or evil, as long as it is part of your natural behaviour. What matters, is living and not virtues that take your life away. Instead of becoming prisoners of someone else’s virtues, parents should tell their children to have their own virtues developed to ensure their own survival at any cost. If you do a bit of thinking you will find that those who tell you virtues are the worst of your enemies who could not even be human in that sense. We have a long history of being living like animals and a very short period of living outside the wild. Considering this fact, as parents, we must let our children to behave naturally and should only guide them where necessary to ensure their survival. The best thing is to ignore the so-called virtues preached by those antihuman barbarians in political and religious costumes because they have no love for you or you children but only catering for their self-interests and lust for power and wealth. All parents and other concerned people should understand that there is no value that should not be compromised if it threatens or takes away your lives. At the end of my comment, I must tell that I am bemused by the mayhem caused by a mobile phone though not surprised, as at one time, there was a dean of an engineering faculty who banned electronic calculator use.

  4. himan Says:

    There are two things we can learn from this unfortunate incedent for which the people involved have to be punished severely.
    One is to train children to absorb criticism (at times unnecessarily) and to be calm. That’s the responsibility of the parents and all the elders in the society. Some times you have to face undue criticism for something that you have not committed and you have to know how to face such situations. Also, as a person, one has to be able to accept humiliation. So, raising children on a bed of roses actually harms them in the long run. Train children to face the world head on.
    The other is to work within ones limit. In this case, teachers haven’t done their job properly. They haven’t had the right information before taking action against an innocent child. School authorities have to make correct decidions when appointing prefects. After all prefects are also a cross section of school chilren. They can’t take law to their hands.
    Parents have to take the lead in ensuring a better future for their children. It’s time to take drastic action before things get out of hand. That’s what happened to the Western society. They have money and luxuries, but no social values.

  5. Tetris Says:

    Dear Dr. Reffai,

    Thank you for writing about this. My heart goes out to Kavindi and her family.

    I like to keep my comment short and bring up a couple of points that I think is crucial to our country’s future generations. I think you brought up a very good point about counsellors being appointed in school. I left home (Srilanka) and school a few year back but I am sure things have not change much since then and we do not have counsellors in every school like we really should. Counsellors, to not only help students in making their educational and career based decisions but to help deal with everyday situations as such. Children may face issues that they cannot speak to their parents (regardless of how close they maybe), friends or relatives. From your article I understand that Kavindi’s parents are educated and hold somewhat influential jobs, that I consider can reinforce the necessary change. Especially since you stated that her mother is left with no hope, I only want to say that there is hope, sadly not for Kavindi, but for innocent children like her. It takes one person to start and we shall all stand by to support to see this become a reality. I believe in action, than conveying condolences.
    Finally about prefect bullies, I was once a prefect myself and thinking back I am not proud of the things I have done. I consider the power I had to the famous Stanford prison Psychology study (this is an exaggeration but I hope it drives the point home – In other words, it is power given to students under no or minimal guidance/supervision. A good administration should know how to make leaders not only by giving them the education, but also by supporting them through hard times.
    Im ready to help with anything you need Dr. Reffai, let it just be one Kavindi and lets make sure this never happens again.

  6. ramona therese fernando Says:

    The story of this young girl broke my heart. It is shocking that certain schools in Sri Lanka still uphold the values of 18 century England and Europe – a time of great rigidness in social propriety, and religious hypocrisy and cruelty which surrounded times where the wealth and position ruled, and which rarely relented to those of lesser means. – read the beginning chapter of the tale

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