When fate opens one door, it does so after closing another. This fact of our world was true with regard to the courageous lass of this story, Thanushi Thathsara Diwyanjali/Diwyanjalee Mallikkarachchi, as it is to everyone else on earth. Yet, Thanushi is a special child. Thanushi was so courageous as to be able to open the door closed by fate through the dint of sheer hard work. She saw the world through the power of the mind. This is that story.
When Thanushi came into this world, she was blind in both eyes. Following a cornea transplant operation performed on her when Thanushi was four years old, where a donor had provided healthy tissue, she was able to slightly gain the sight in one eye.
Thanushi’s life was completed by the fact that she had a face as beautiful as a flower and a well developed intelligence. Having battled with the immense sadness that comes from being blind, Thanushi achieved the greatest result of her fight against the affliction on a day which fell during last week. That is that she became the first in the Galle District in the arts stream at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level (A/L) examination in 2016. Her island ranking is at the 18th place.
She sat for the A/L exam last year, not however as a child with special needs. Thanushi as usual challenged all those normal candidates who sat for the exam. Her result was four As in English language, French language, political science and General English and her Z score was 2.37.
This is the story of how she with all her innocence emerged from a world of darkness into light and became victorious.
“What I actually wanted say is that I spend my life in the same manner as others who can see well with both eyes do. See, I cannot see at all in one eye. With regard to the other eye, what the doctors said was that I could see only 15% of what others who could see normally. With what little I could see, I somehow did my work. I did not feel sad about the amount I could see. From my days of childhood, I learned how to see the unseen world. I transformed the inability into ability. I wanted to take this towards a triumph. I won. I would like to tell others in the society who can see that this is the secret to my success. I constantly think that I am a normal person. I don’t like myself being identified as a child with special needs.”
She hails from Heenpendala, Kalegana, Galle, and is a truly a courageous lass. Proving to the world that nothing is impossible, she has today excelled in her life, which the hands of fate had previous attempted to defeat.
Even though she now possessed 15% of sight in one eye, this still did not mean that Thanushi’s sight had developed to a point where she could like a person with normal sight, write notes in an exercise book with a pen. Therefore, from Grade One onwards, she wrote her notes only after pressing her head down close to the book. Like other normal children, she sat for the GCE Ordinary Level examination and passed.
“I felt the strenuous efforts my parents took on behalf of me. Because of this, I somehow did my work well. Because I cannot see, it is difficult for me to write my answers quickly. When I first came to do A/Ls, in the early days, I had missed answering one entire part of the political science paper of my teacher, Kalpa Nanayakkara Sir,” she said.
“Most often this happened because I could not see that side. Later, I rectified this. When I came to do A/Ls, another obstacle was building up the speed. Since I bend way back down when writing, after a little while, my back would start to ache. Yet, with time, I was able to write fast even while being pressed down to the level of the book. The index finger on my right hand doesn’t work. Therefore, my mother constantly told me to become used to writing with the left hand. Yet, I somehow learned how to write with my right hand.”
She pauses for a moment, pensive. Her eyes tear up, becoming wet.
She awakens her voice again.
“I learned. I won the challenge. Now, this is not difficult for me. I thank the principal of my school, Southlands College, Galle, all the teachers who taught me from Grade/Year One to 13, my grandmother, my sister, my punchi and friends. Further, I have to remember seven special friends who stayed by me. And I thank everyone including my teachers at school during A/Ls, and my private tuition teachers who include Kalpa Nanayakkara Sir, Champa Miss, Dilhara Miss, Sarath Sir, Indunil Sir and Liyanage Sir.”
Thanushi is a girl with many talents. She can speak five languages fluently including English, Tamil, French, Spanish and Sinhala.
“In 2016, it was I who won the first place in the all island English creative writing competition. These days, I am writing a poetry book in English.”
She proudly says that she hopes to have it printed in the near future.
“My aim is to join the Sri Lankan diplomatic service and serve as an ambassador. I want to become the United Nations (UN) Secretary General. This is my dream. Yet, I think that I have the ability to achieve this.”
“What everyone told me is to not become dependent on anyone. I became used to this.”
Thanushi’s father is Anuruddha Jagath Mallikkarachchi. He works at a private institution. Her mother is Aroni Chandrasekera. She left her job and has dedicated her time to Thanushi.
Aroni Chandrasekera remembers her daughter thus:
“I am extremely happy. I told her that she is not in debt. Every day, for the last 13 years I took her to school. I brought her back from school. I took her to classes. When crossing the road, she uses only her voice. She cannot see distances or much of anything. Therefore, someone must always be behind her. The cornea transplant cost a lot. Everyone helped in whatever the way they could. Those at Thanushi’s father’s office helped us on many occasions. We even looked at transplanting an eye. Yet, the advice of the doctors was that if such was done and if by any chance the body rejected it, she would not be able to see even the 15% she does now. Therefore, we let that go. Yet, doctors told us not to lose hope. The world develops. Medical science develops. For this matter too, a system will come. Therefore, we live in hope.”
Principal of Southlands College, Galle, S.L. Pathirawasam had this to say, “At no time did she like to show that she had any weakness. Furthermore, even her friends did not treat her as if she was a child with a weakness.”
Thanushi’s Political Science teacher, Kalpa Nanayakkara said she had the talent to address an audience well. “She has the ability to summarize anything and speak instantly. Initially, the issue was that she could not write fast,” he said.
“Yet, she later corrected this. Now she has become a child who can read the society even though she cannot see the society completely and in its entirety. Even though she cannot see well with her eyes, she has challenged those who can see and has proven to the world that she is a normal child,” he added.