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 "I don't care a damn even if I am called 'Thambiya!"

"I don't care a damn even if I am called 'Thambiya!

Published below is a marvellous comment made by a Muslim national in service for the 'Fight Cancer' Fund who had studied at a Buddhist school in Sri Lanka, recalling his past memories. We decided to publish these ideas because of disputes that have surfaced these days in relation to the Buddhist - Muslim issue
in the social media.

"When someone addresses me, who is a Muslim ... as 'Thambiya' , I am neither offended nor causes me any anger as such. That's because it's a familiar word to me. I had my education (from Year 5 - Year 13) at Kalutara Gnanodaya Maha Vidyalaya. There were only a handful of something like 5 - 10 Muslim students. I was the only Muslim student in our class. Every student in my class used to address me as 'Thambiya'. Though my name is 'Muhommed', they have addressed me lakhs of times as 'Thambiya'. In Tamil, 'Thambi' means 'younger brother' and 'Thambiya' means 'mallimaya'. Those who are conversant with Sri Lankan Muslim History are well informed about this. The meaning of 'Marakkala' has several interpretations such as 'Mawa rekapu le' (the blood that protected me'. Therefore, nobody who addresses as 'Thambiya' need not get upset. That form of address I reflect back on my schooldays.

At the time I was studying at Gnanodaya, my younger brother was studying in a Muslim school. Since our school was a Buddhist school, there was no subject called Islam. As such I too studied Buddhism as a subject. I secured over 85 marks from term tests. I memorised all stanzas. At the O/L I managed to get a distinction. In the initial stages though my mother was not very much pleased with this, later on it was a great pride to the whole family. Sinhala Literature too was the same. Ummaggaya, Guttilaya, Selalihiniya and Lo Veda Sangarawa still rotates in my head.

One day the moment when principal made a special statement in bestowing 'honour' to me ... comes to my mind involuntarily. I who held positions such as leader of the group, monitor of the class and prefect ... can write thousands of pages about Sinhala traditions, culture and the 'fragrance' of Buddhism. It is superfluous to write about the pulsation of a Sinhala Buddhist heartbeat. It's because Muslims who attended Buddhist schools like I did are well aware of it. There are a countless number of interesting incidents done during schooldays. Some of them are .... from the Rs. 10 I bring from my father's kiosk I used to buy food from the canteen and share it with friends. Another interesting thing was taking meals from the canteen on credit.

I didn't forget to visit homes of friends on Sinhala New Year days. It was with a religious frame of mind that I visited danselas and made Wesak lanterns on Wesak days. It was in the same way that friends visited me at home for the 'Id' festival and the 'daana pinkama' which falls on Lord Muhammad's birthday. Even at present it's so. There was a cordial get together among all our friends recently. All of us enjoyed it. Some of them like doctors, engineers and civil servants ... all serve the country today. All of got together and gave a dansela last Wesak day. I was able to get an opportunity to make the influence of Mother Gnanodaya and the character moulded into me for the entire 7 years become a reality ... and it was as the chief guest at the annual general meeting of Gnanodaya Maha Vidyalaya Development Society ... from the speech I delivered for about 45 minutes. I understood that from the manner in which the group of teachers, students and parents felt it in their hearts not only from the fact that they kept looking at me with great eagerness, but with a mother standing up and the way she praised me.

Finally I wish to make this note. It was possible for the Kadeeja Foundation to bring the 'PET Scanner machine to Maharagama Cancer Hospital with my leadership for the fund simply because I possess a heart which could address all Sri Lankans irrespective of any racial discrimination.

Whatever all our ethnicity or religion is ... we all are proud Sri Lankans.

MSH Mohommed
Leader of group
Fight Cancer Team
Sri Lanka

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