Sunday, July 09, 2006

To An Athlete Dying Young

29 June 2006
To an Athlete Dying Young
When someone dies, other than from ‘natural causes,’ I often reflect on the nature of life, death and dying. When one has close ties with Sri Lanka, the opportunity comes more often than one would like. Last September, readers will remember, witnessed the death of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. He was felled by a sniper’s bullets, late one warm Colombo evening, as he walked from his swimming pool towards his house. Three days ago, General Parami Kuletunge, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Chief of Staff and several bodyguards were blown to bits along with his assailant, a motorcycle-riding suicide bomber. A pedestrian suicide bomber threw himself against the rear door of civil rights lawyer Neelan Tiruchelvam’s car, about 100 metres from where I work in Colombo, and both , along with Neelan’s driver and bodyguard perished.

This Blog’s title is from a poem by A.E. Houseman. It begins, “on the day you won the race, they cheered you through the market place…’ Some readers may remember it from a concluding scene in the film, Out of Africa – the funeral of protagonist Robert Redford, recently killed in a plane crash. Houseman’s point, that there may be worse things than to die at the height of one’s powers, especially in a noble pursuit, merits reflection.


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