(01 February 2022)
I have always felt deeply about the dire plight of the plantation workers and the hopelessness of their lives. I have been concerned and somewhat saddened as to how hard they have to work under the most inhospitable of external conditions for paltry earnings and a life destined to very little hope of betterment. There is little doubt that their lot has been exploited for greater profits of owners.
Contrary to the above, I am about to relate the journey of a young boy from this background that inspires hope for all those that see no hope for change and enhancement. I have been mystified over the years at this amazingly exceptional and epic journey and the various heavenly/earthly factors that made it possible. I will leave it to the reader to judge.
My father, Prof EOE Pereira, the creator of the Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya University, became “crippled” after a hip operation that went all wrong. He was confined to a wheel-chair thereafter in severe unrelenting pain from the ensuing wound that never healed, for the latter part of his life. As his eldest son, I was fully aware of his agonising predicament that was never ever conveyed to us by word or behaviour. He bore it with an uncanny stoic front.
My dear mother was unable to cope with the heavy demands of my ailing father. Urgent external help was required. My two younger brothers, Bryan and Alan, were planting in the salubrious hill country at the time. She sought their assistance in finding someone to give her a hand in looking after the daily requirements of my father.
One of them sent down this young orphan boy from the tea pluckers’ “Lines”. His name was Yoga, age unknown as no real records were kept at the time with births etc. We considered that he was no more than 18 years old.
In no time, he became my father’s confidante and right-hand man. My father relied on Yoga for almost all his needs, daily meals, medicines, sponging, putting my father to bed, conversations, etc, a complete Man Friday was Yoga. It was an unusual relationship between a highly learned and articulate Professor and this boy with no education and illiterate.
A bonding and blessing eventuated that was to be the catalyst for Yoga’s stellar future career. In the absence of his three sons who were constantly away from home, involved in sport and other extra-curricular activities, Yoga acquired the status of a defacto fourth “son”. I am convinced that my father provided Yoga with as complete a package of “skills of survival and success” for his monumental journey ahead.
After my father’s death in 1988, Yoga left our home, with little funds but with the best references and worldly skills any applicant for a job could possess.
He soon found a waiter’s job in a little boutique hotel in Bentota/Beruwela. There he met an English couple who were guests at the hotel. They must have been extremely impressed with Yoga that they sponsored him to London. I lost contact with Yoga since then and was astounded when a relative of mine recently sent me some information on Yoga and his status at present.
He owns a string of restaurants in London drives the latest Rolls Royce (see attachment) and is a multi-millionaire.
Importantly, he has never forgotten his humble beginnings and remains ever grateful to my father.
It’s a journey that should inspire young people to chase their dreams with gusto and passion.