07 December 2014


Phil Hughes.  Mahinda vs Chandrika.  Feguson, Missouri.  Eric Garner. Akai Gurley. US hypocrisy.  Yes-we-can Obama to We-are-blind Obama.  These are all possible headlines for an editorial comment this week.  We go with something else.  Someone else, to be precise. Rukshan Abeywansha.

Our readers will note in this edition of ‘The Nation’ that the cover pages of several supplements, namely FREE, JEANS and LENS are in somber colors; black and white except for the name of the section.  They will notice that the cover story of the section FINE is dedicated to an individual whose name you will not find in Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC, AFP, AP or any such ‘well-known’ news peddling outfits.  Certain people are not newsworthy.  They are not known. 

We dedicate this space to Rukshan Abeywansha for many reasons.  First and foremost because he was our colleague and clearly the most loved too.  Rukshan struggled for five months after an accident which left him paralyzed neck downwards.  He fought.  He smiled through the fight.  He left us lost and utterly broken.

We dedicate this space to Rukshan because his courage is an example.  So too the way he conducted himself as a professional, colleague, friend and family man.  He had his share of woes and at times it seemed he had more than a fair slice of it all.  It never showed up on his face.  It never intruded on his work. 

We dedicate this space to Rukshan because tragedy should never be measured in the volume of death, the amount of blood, the height of the flame or how unrecognizable landscapes subject to disaster, human-made and otherwise, are.  Grief is personal.  Every death diminishes the near and dear much more than the collective. 

This newspaper does not belong to Rukshan.  It does not belong to his friends, family and colleagues.  This newspaper has a mandate that is larger than grieving about a personal loss.  But this newspaper concerns itself with the human condition.  And the human condition, as the Buddha said, is made of profit-loss, joy-sorrow, praise and blame, fame and discarding.  These, we are told, are best treated with equanimity.  Rukshan demonstrated that he was abundantly endowed with this quality.

We dedicate this space to Rukshan because in the mad rush to find that which is newsworthy, in the excavation of events and processes to find a story, in the scanning of the world for quote and power configuration that can impact many as opposed to few, we often forget or ‘peripheralize’ the ‘little story’, the easily forgotten and eminently forgettable name. 

We dedicate this space to Rukshan Abeywansha because this world is made of Rukshan Abeywanshas in whose names people seek power, wars are declared, countries invaded, foundation stones for buildings laid and reckless, racist police officers shoot or strangle to death black people in the USA. 

We dedicate this space to Rukshan, also, to thank the good human beings who helped Rukshan’s family during his lengthy suffering to secure the treatment required, to pay for it, to be there for the family through it all and in their final hour of anguish. 

We dedicate this space to Rukshan because he, more than anyone else, was acutely aware that the world moves on as it should, forgetting event and personality, tragedy and grief, moving from one bad day to the next, one joy to another. We dedicate this space to Rukshan because he taught us that some small something being added to humanity while all this happens cannot hurt.   

We dedicate this space to Rukshan because in his life and living, in accident and struggle, and even in death, he was able to gift companionship, forge community and educate.   

*The 'Editorial' of 'The Nation', December 7, 2014