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Tamils and Sinhalese mourn the same

Two young men from different religions lived and died together like brothers of the same family.

16.10.2018  |  

Two corpses lay next to each other at Embilipitiya hospital mortuary. One body is, 32-year-old Tamil Deniyaya Neluwa Kadingala, and the other, 19-year-old Angunakolapalasse Nalaka Ireshan, a Sinhala.

“For six years they lived like they were born to one mother,” said the father of Nalaka, the Sinhala boy. “Sinhala and Tamil blood are the same.”

The father went to collect his son’s remains after a fatal motorcycle accident that killed the two. When he learned that his son’s friend came from a family too poor to conduct a proper funeral, he felt he had no other choice.

“There is no use for racism,” said Ireshan.  “I will conduct their funeral together.” The bereaved father then took both bodies back to his home in Angunakolapalassa.

The two young men met at a hotel in Angunakolapalassa. Nalaka was a mason and Shivakumar was an employee at a hotel. Shivamukar, who was living in Deniyaya Neluwa Kadingala estate at the time of his death,  was the eldest of five children. His mother Threswamy Saraswathie plucked tea leaves, his father did odd jobs. They lived in a rented house with minimum facilities.  A few years ago Shivakumar went to Angunakolapalassa with the hope of lessening the burden on his parents. That was when Shivakumar met Nalaka.


Like my own child

 “After they came to know each other, Shivakumar son stayed at our home most of the time,” said Nalaka’s father. “He was like my own child. They started to work together since about 2015. Our son was a mason and Shivakumar went to help him. They went to a building construction place in Colombo.

They shared their meals and traveled together on journeys. Shivakumar’s parents were relieved that there was a Sinhala friend to protect their son where suspicion arises for being Tamil in a strange city.

Shivakumar’s mother, Thereswamy Saraswathie said:

“Last month he came with Nalaka to our home. This child or his parents did not show any difference towards us because we are poor or Tamil.”


Final journey

 The two friends decided on the 25  of August to travel to Nalaka’s house in Angunakolapalassa to visit his parents as it was a full moon Poya day. They had an accident in the Embilipitiya Godakawela area.

“When my son died there was no way to take his body to my house, because we live in a small rented house,” Shivakumar’s father said. “That is why we requested to conduct his funeral at the hospital. But Nalaka’s father would not allow it. Both bodies were taken to their home in Angunakolapalassa and they took care of everything.”

Shivakumar, a Tamil and Nalaka, a Sinhala, were buried at the Angunakolapalassa cemetery in the same grave on the 29th of August.