Kavindya Thennakoon | Pics by Ravindra Dharmathilake

We owned a bookshop in Nugegoda, opposite post office. There was a section in our shop for the people who would like to read books free-of-charge. One could buy the book if they want to and if not they can just read and leave it. Once, an adorable, little girl came to our shop with her mother. The little one was just four years old and was studying in Pre-Grade at Lyceum International School, Nugegoda.
“Mr. Inimankada, we live in Railway Avenue. My daughter says if she is to walk home she wants to go to Vidharshana and read a book. “Is it okay if she comes here to read a book and go?” the mother asked. Since then this mother and daughter was a common sight at our book store. Sometimes the little girl would cuddle with her mother and listen while she recited the story to her or she would lie down and listen to her mother. But with time we faced a lot of hardship and therefore had to move the store from place to place. Still this mother and daughter did not forget to drop by when they could.

The little girl grew up to be the brightest student at Lyceum International School and she was the best when it came to education, sports or extracurricular activities. Last May, I unexpectedly met her near a restaurant in Nugegoda. She is now studying at Harvard University.

While talking to her I said that my daughter is sitting for the O/L exam and I asked her whether she knows of anyone who could teach Economics to my daughter. “No need to find anyone, I will teach her,” was her response and she taught my daughter economics eight hours per day for two days.

My eyes watered when I saw the photograph of her being awarded the inaugural Queen’s Young Leader Award for a community service project and thought isn’t she the small girl who used to visit our bookshop back then and the one who taught my daughter few weeks back? I am still amazed by her humbleness. She is Kavindya Thennakoon.

Translated by Kishani Samaraweera