Remembering Political Giants : Dr SA Wicks and his Assistant Aadusena
Posted on October 18th, 2021

By Garvin Karunaratne, former G.A. Matara 

An extract from an unfinished novel- a piece of fiction, but  truly portraying Dr Wicks and Aadusena at work. Dr Wicks is no longer with us and Aadusena was murdered during the second JVP insurrection days by an unknown assassin. However they stood for the people, worked with them. That was how most Members of Parliament and their Assistants worked.

                It did not take long for Vasanta to find the office of the Member of Parliament.

It was a small office  next to the  Cooperative s Union. The door was open and he entered with great trepidation, not knowing what would happen. The manner he was treated like a criminal at the AGA’s office  bore forebodings of defeat and disaster. If not for the timely intervention by the disapathy who happened to be there, he may have been arrested by the Police..

          The door was open and he knocked. He heard the words, Do come in” and he took a few steps forward. He could actually feel his heart beat fast and a sheer uneasiness crept into his entire being. He was shivering.  What was his next experience going to be, he wondered.  Whatever it was,  he had to endure it. He stepped forward and saw a stocky well built man in his forties. Vasanta was greeted:

          Ayubovan, Do come in and sit with me” 

          It was a calm and composed voice, flowing with kindness. Ayubovan was the Sinhala word for may you live long and Vasanta was certain that the person he was meeting would be kind. The office of the Member of Parliament was a political office and Dr Wickrema belonged to the Communist Party. All that Vasanta had learned from the text books he pored over at Peradeniya was that members of political parties only supported their members, and he was not a member of any political party.  At the AGA’s office  anyone should be welcome but here there was no such rule.

          Son, what brought you here?”

          The very tone of the voice built up a chord of communication and he was certain that he would not be thrown out. He was taken aback at the kindness that flowed in the few words that were spoken. He looked at the person, a stocky, well built, with a rough face and lengthy locks of unkempt hair that looked more like the mane of a lion. He could not for a moment believe his eyes, as to how a person looking so rough could speak so kindly. His voice crept into his entire being into his blood, sinews and gave him courage.

          I like to meet the Member of Parliament”

          Son, you cannot meet him today because he is not here. But if you come on any Saturday you can be certain of meeting him.”

          What  time must I come?”

          Come in anytime. He will be here like a prayer at eight in the morning and he will not leave this place till he has met everyone.”

          I will come on Saturday”.

          I too will be here. I am Adusena.”

          Thank you sir.”

          You do not have to sir me. We are here to serve you. I am the Chairman of the Akuressa Council and also work as the Assistant to Dr Wicks, the Member of Parliament. Can I know from where you come. How is it that I have never met you earlier?”

            I live on the Hulandawa Estate.”

            How come, I never met you there.  We go that way very often to speak to the workers..”

          I was a scholarship student at Rahula, Matara and have been spending the last four years studying at Peradeniya.”

          Vasanta did not want to speak any more.  He bowed down to leave.

          Ayubowan. Please come on Saturday. I will wait for you, young lad. ” said Adusena.  Vasanta reciprocated in turn,

          Ayubowan”.

__________________________________________________________________-

_________________________________________________________________________-

          Vasanta got up early on Saturday and went to meet the Member of Parliament. By the time he reached Aadusena’s office there were around twenty five people and more were flocking in every minute. They were of all ages, young, elderly and the old. Some were supporting themselves on sticks, hardly able to walk. Some wore clean clothes, but others were in rags. It was a medly of life, a real cross section of people in want, struggling to live, a scene that he had never before imagined or seen in his life. He had studied politics as a subject for the degree, but never imagined the real face of day to day politics.

          The office of the Member of Parliament was bustling with activity. He saw a whole hoard of people surrounding  Aadusena, who could not be seen, but whose voice was clearly heard.  Vasanta felt that he should  somehow creep through and mark his presence. That proved a difficult task because people were huddled everywhere. like matchsticks in a box. He waited not knowing what to do. All of a sudden he heard Aadusena’s voice very clearly,

          Ayubovan, our lad from the Hulandawa Estate. Son, do take a seat.  The Member of  Parliament will come in any  time now.”

          Aadusena’s welcome words kept reverberating in his ears for quite a time. It was so different from how he was treated at the office of the AGA the other day. The people on hearing Adusena’s words looked hard at him and heaved  to the sides making room for him to get to Adusena.  He walked towards Adusena who held his shoulder with a firm grip, a grip that conveyed a sense of welcome that he had never sensed earlier. It was a firm bond that held them  bound.

          Thank you sir,”

          I have once told you not to sir me. Let me not have to tell you again. I belong to the Communist Party, the party of the people at large. We are all comrades, all equal. Do take a seat and wait. The Member of Parliament will be here soon, but you will have to wait a while. There are very old and disabled people and he will meet them first.”

          I can wait.”

          It was very interesting to see Adusena at work. He moved with the people greeting everyone with a kind smile on his face, bowing to them. May you live long was on his lips again and again. To the young men he would grab their shoulders and move them forcefully towards his chest. To girls and women he would greet them with clasped hands, uttering sister, mother as appropriate. Some were addressed  as brother, father.

It was all a scene from real life, a scene which touched him to the extreme, a scene which he had never expected to see, a scene that was really close to his heart.

          To add to the medley, a monk walked in . Adusena rushed to his table and brought out a white cloth which he draped on a chair and greeted the monk prostrating at his feet.

          What has brought you to us. You should have sent me a message and we would come to the temple to see you.”

           I know you are busy and I want to see the Member of Parliament”.

           He should be here any minute.”

           These are two lads who have just graduated from the University and I want to get them into jobs. Their parents are my dayakayas- benefactors and I can vouch for their character. They are well brought up children and can be trusted..”

Vasanta thought all was lost. He had no connections to the Member of Parliament other than Aadusena.

          All of a sudden a car screeched to a halt. There was a split second silence and everyone  stood up. It looked as if  the world of human life, with all its misery had got off to a sudden start. Aadusena rushed out and greeted an old gentleman, who walked with measured steps.  He greeted the monk, bending down on all fours. The monk spoke.

          I have brought you two graduates of our Univcrsity at Ruhuna. They passed out this year and they come from very good families, who are my dayaka- benefactors.”

          My Government is approving the Divisional Development Councils Programme these days and we will be recruiting graduates soon..”

Then addressing Aadusena he said:

          Make a note of their names and addresses and when applications are called get them application forms to fill.”

          Thank You” said the monk. I will tell the lads to be in touch with Adusena.”

          I will look after that task.”said Aadusena.

          The monk stood up and Dr Wickrema bowed down and worshipped him.. Aadusena called for the driver of the car of the Member of Parliament and asked him to drop the monk at his temple.

          Vasanta stood aside. He thought the Member of Parliament would perhaps be  giving him that same answer. For a moment he wondered. That monk personally knew the Member of Parliament. However in the manner that Aadusena spoke he seemed to have  a better chord of oneness though he had actually met him only once earlier. He stood aside and strained his ears to see people speaking to Dr Wickrema and getting replies. Dr Wickrema greeted all of them, made them sit and listened to them carefully, allowing them to pour out their hearts content. Then he would call Adusena and ask him to contact someone and take necessary action. At times he telephoned an officer and sorted the problem out. Some of the old people had no one to support them and the Dr Wickrema arranged for them to get admission to an Old Folks Home run by the State. Adusena was ready with a pad of paper to write out letters which were immediately signed by Dr Wickrema.  Some even cried that they had no money for sustenance. Out came a letter by Aadusena recommending them for a Public Assistance grant, Once in a way, to a very few that had a touching story, Dr Wickrema would put his hand into his pocket and find a five rupee note and hand it over.

          Take this any buy yourself some milk today” he would say and see them off.

          Vasanta could not imagine the human suffering that was unfolding before his eyes. To Aadusena and Dr Wickrema it was something they were very familiar, but to Vasanta it was like- the life to which he belonged. If his mother did not slave day in and day out tapping rubber trees the three of them would be destitute. 

.

          It was late in the evening when Vasanta was introduced to Dr Wickrema by Aadusena. All the people had left and it was a talk between him, Aadusena and Dr Wickrema. Dr Wickrema had  not taken any lunch. He had been drinking tea. Vasanta had not had  anything but he was used to it because generally there was no food at home. Aadusena poured some tea into three cups and Dr Wickrema offered him the cup with both hands. Vasanta felt honoured.

          This is a lad from the Hulandawa Estate, a Rahula scholar who has just returned from Peradeniya. He came and met me last Tuesday and wants to find a job”

          Be in touch with the GA’s office and be certain to give him an application for the post of Development Assistant.”

          Yes. I have made a note of it.”

           Then Dr Wickrema addressed Vasanta.

           I come often to Hulandawa. I know the entire staff there and none of them have any children at any university. The Superintendent has no children.  How have I missed you all these years?”

           Sir,”

           Stop calling me sir, We are together all equal as comrades” quipped Dr Wickrema very sharply.

           Vasanta was stunned.

          I am sorry sir.”

          Go ahead and tell me. Who is your father and what is he doing on the Hulandawa Estate?”

            My father died long ago and my mother is Menike and she is a rubber tapper and we live in Cooly Line No 61. That is where I was born.” Tears poured down his eyes.

            Do not cry lad, That is enough. I can figure out that you are telling the truth. I am due to meet the disapathy soon when I will ask him to select you as the Development Assistant for my area. You can take it from me. I will get that done.”

           Dr Wickrema stood up to leave and both Aadusena and Vasanta got up. As Aadusena got hold of Dr Wickrema’s bag, Dr Wickrema took two steps towards Vasanta, gripped his shoulders and hugged him. That conveyed to Vasanta the very fact that Dr Wickrema would support him. He felt something coming out of Dr Wickrema to him, pervading his entire body. He had never felt that way earlier. Communication links were not reduced to words and written on paper. A kind glance, a grab on a shoulder, a shaking up and all looked  well.

          Dr Wickrema left.

          I’ll see you soon. We will soon work together.” Dr Wickrema told Vasanta as he left.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2021 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress