Here is the truth behind the suicide of the Sri Lankan School Girl Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardene, which reflected in many lankan news papers. Dr. Mareena Reffai passes the message of the misleading information about the media and the silence of the concerned school authorities.
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.
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.
KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s child as her own.
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.
In fact, Kavindi was the pillar of strength to her mother during their family ordeal of KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father going through a kidney transplant about two years ago. Athula, her father was not the Ã¢â‚¬Å“STRICTÃ¢â‚¬Â 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“aney randu karanna epa ammey, nikam innako ammey, etcÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœOsariyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ whenever she had to visit KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s school. She never even allowed her motherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
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 isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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?
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?
Today, a majority of Sri Lankans know Kavindi as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“girl who watched porn on her mobile and committed suicide in shameÃ¢â‚¬Â, 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.
At present, my best friend is a woman who hears her only childÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 daughterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
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.
Farah Azoor Tennakoon.
Nadia Fazlulhaq, from the Sunday Times, writes about the White frock presaged girlÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s death.When 2009 dawned, 14-year-old Anuththara Kavindi Jayawardene drew up several New Year resolutions she hoped to fulfil during the year. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will donate Rs. 200 of my pocket money to the Sri Lanka Army; I will try to be friendly even with my enemies, and I will consume only five pizzas this year,Ã¢â‚¬Â she wrote in her notebook.
Sadly, she would not live to fulfil her New Year wishes. Kavindi took her life last week, leaving her friends, family and school in a state of shock and grief. Kavindi, an only child, was a Grade 9 English medium student at leading Colombo girlsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ school, Musaeus College.
According to KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mother, Sandya Kumari Jayawardene (45), just one week before the family tragedy mother and daughter went shopping for clothes, and Kavindi had wanted to buy two white frocks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I asked her why she wanted white, and whether she was thinking of going to a funeral,Ã¢â‚¬Â the mother told the Sunday Times. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We never dreamt we would be attending a funeral from our own house, or that it would be KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funeral.Ã¢â‚¬Â KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s suicide makes no sense to her parents.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She loved and respected life,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mrs. Jayawardene said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We cannot understand why she would have done this. She showed no signs of stress, fear or depression.Ã¢â‚¬Â Her parents described their dead daughter as a loving child, a hard-working student, and a devout Buddhist. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Kavindi excelled in information technology,Ã¢â‚¬Â her mother said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“She loved to be with her computer.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She would offer flowers to the Lord Buddha at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mrs Jayawardene said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“For our birthdays, she would make a beautiful gift for my husband Athula and myself. She wanted to give us something she had made herself, not bought from a shop. One year she made me a lovely red pearl bracelet.Ã¢â‚¬Â
When she was boarded at a family friendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home for three months, at the time her father was undergoing a kidney transplant, Kavindi would call daily to ask about her fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s condition.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She worried whether her father would survive the operation,Ã¢â‚¬Â her mother said. Kavindi took her life after the school authorities took her to task for bringing a mobile phone to school. The school has refused to allow the Sunday Times to talk to the teachers at Musaeus and KavindiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s classmates.
Pics by Saman Kariyawasam.