A Father’s tears

“I am not your eldest son, your eldest son is D.S. Senanayake College.”

While a political game is being played out over the arrest of Tiran Alles, behind the man who irked the administration is a family dealing with their grief over this unfair treatment meted out to him.

The name Tiran Alles may only be well-known in political and media circles, but his father, R.I.T. Alles is the renowned founding principal of D.S. Senanayake College and counts amongst the tens of thousands of children he has taught in his lifetime, some of this country’s brightest and best in all spheres of influence. He claims he is a man who studied under lampposts, because after his father’s death, his mother could not afford to buy kerosene. From those humble beginnings to becoming one of the most well-remembered educationists of our time – R.I.T Alles came a long way over the course of his life.

[R.I.T. Alles, father of Tiran Alles – accompanied by ousted minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi rushing to the Nawaloka hospital as TID detectives grilled Mr. Alles.]

But Principal Alles is today, a broken man. He is able to smile and conceal his tears, but only briefly. One might say that these are the dividends of playing politics, but one can also only imagine the trauma of a father who watches his son being arrested and harassed by the same administration he campaigned so hard to bring into office. The former Principal is appalled by the fact that the harassment of Tiran has been going on for so long.

“For three months this has been going on. It’s torture. My gosh, If you want to punish a man, do it, finish him off. This is going on and on and it’s just too much for anybody,” he told The Nation in an emotional interview.

For Tiran Alles’ father, the whole episode of arrest and the harassment that went before, reeks of ungratefulness. “People should think of what he has done for the airport – everyone who goes there says it is of international standards. The powers that be, why don’t they speak about this? Why did they give him such a position for three years? Is this the return people who make sacrifices for this country get?” he said.

But there are worse nightmares for Alles Senior. As he came back down from the third floor of Nawaloka Hospital on Wednesday, both he and his wife in tears, Mr. Alles speaks of how the cameras focused on them, giving them a gruesome reminder of another family tragedy that has haunted them for many years.

“My wife couldn’t control her tears. Unfortunately as we got off the lifts, the cameras were waiting there. I couldn’t help but turn to my wife and tell her that for me, it was like a premonition of another death in the family.”

So many years ago, Mr. Alles’ 17 year old son, Malik died from a shot to his eye with a leather cricket ball, during a school match. “When I walked out of the accident service that day, Malik had just been pronounced dead. There were cameras there that day too. Now I wonder, does this second experience mean that I will lose my other son too?” recalls a grieving Alles.

Mr. Alles paints a picture of a son who has lived by the mottos he preached to his countless students – country before self. “This son has my blood. And I sacrificed most of my blood for the country. There have been times when Tiran has said to me, “I am not your eldest son, your eldest son is D.S. Senanayake College.”

According to Alles, his greatest fear is that his son believes this fate has befallen him for following the example he was set by his father. “I taught him to be capable of sacrifice and to serve country above all, so he must feel now that all his suffering was because of that teaching. Maybe he blames me. He was arrested on his sick bed. He sacrificed his own business and put all his energies into building that airport – for the country. Today the country has replied him,” Alles can barely speak for his tears.

And yet, the greatest need of the hour, the former Principal feels, is spiritual healing. He tells his wife, who has been engaging in bodhi poojas every day since the arrest, that her prayers for her son, must be accompanied by prayers for the powers that be as well.

“I told her, while praying for your son, who is in distress, pray also for the President. Because this country needs spiritual healing. R.I.T. Alles is one individual. Tiran Alles is another. Tiran and I might go, but this country deserves more hope than this.

My fear is that all those other students who have taken this message of mine will not abandon their mission to put the country first. I am so disillusioned.” [Courtesy: nation.lk]

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