| by Sunalie Ratnayake

( October 7, 2013,Los Angeles, Sri Lanka Guardian) Time has flown by in the blink of an eye. Over the decades that passed by, the world has emerged in many an entity, some; for the best, others; for the worst, yet in life, there are people, occurrences and impressions left behind, that could never be erased by the tenacious, ephemeral and constantly varying passage of time. Today, I am blessed to unveil a ‘time capsule’ that had been concealed for over five and a half long decades, since its initial revelation to the public eye, and its life and times of glory.

Today, with the same gracious smile, confident voice and warm attitude, she spends her time mostly amongst her children and grandchildren, and involves in religious activities. Yet, there is another side to her, she had never exposed thus far, which I too happened to grasp via many of our prolonged phone conversations over the years.
The delightful person whom I have always had the blessing to cogitate as my own mother in my life; the unveiling of my ‘time capsule’ is none other than Pilapitiya Karunathilleke Wasala Mudiyansa Ralahamelage Daisy Eleen Mallika Pilapitiya, better known as “Mallika Pilapitiya”. She is the enchanting duchess with glorified looks, who portrayed the leading role of Premawathie in Dr. Lester James Peries’s noteworthy Sinhala movie, the first to be captured outdoors in the island, namely; 'Rekhawa' in the year 1956.

On Friday October 4th, this charismatic Kandyan beauty with a divine spirit happened to celebrate Seventy Seven remarkable years on planet earth. Hence, this humble annotation is desired to wish her many more years of health and happiness, while bringing her back to the minds of her fans from yesteryear, though undoubtedly she may remain in their hearts forever.

Nearly six decades ago, the young and striking Mallika Pilapitiya ran to greet the unanticipated visitor behind the door, as the doorbell rang in her brother’s house. The visitor opposite the ingress happened to be none other than the soul who later became Sri Lanka’s most distinguished filmmaker of all time, Dr. Lester James Peries, who was a friend of Mallika’s brother, the late Harold Pilapitiya. Mallika was the only girl, the precious and spoilt child, who grew up amongst three brothers, who are now deceased. As soon as Lester set eyes on the dazzling beauty, who greeted him at the door, he did not waste any time to get her consent to portray the leading role in the movie, against actor Ananda Weerakoon. That was how Mallika Pilapitiya attained fame during her youth.

Kandy Convent being her alma mater, today Mallika is a proud mother of four, and a fulfilled grandmother of six, namely; Nuwan, Anuradha, Eroshani, Chethya, Suren and Isuru. While Chatura and Kapila are her elder sons, Thrishara, is her only daughter, domiciled in San Francisco, with her family.

Mallika’s youngest child needs no introduction, as he is the one who carried-forward her repute and lingered in Sri Lanka’s Art arena, winning many hearts, roles, awards, as well as admiration. Starting his life as a musician in a band in the hill capital, and later being indulged in the acting arena for nearly three decades, and still going strong, Chetiya Roshan Bandara Abhayasinghe Pilapitiya, better known as Roshan Pilapitiya is that unpretentious being with good looks and persistence, who followed his beloved mother’s footsteps, keeping an enduring track-record in the field of Art, where his aptitude, heart and soul remains. Currently in over a month long tour in USA and Canada, with the popular stage play by Ravindra Ariyarathna titled; “Balloth Ekka Bae”, Roshan sends his love to his mom, on her birthday, as the demanding actor is not there to wish her in person this year.

Harischandra Ariya Bandara Abhayasinghe hailing from Hanguranketha, now, a retired tea planter, holding direct and deep-roots in the Ayurvedic Medical field, did not fail in setting his gaze at the right time on the fascinating and famed Mallika. The old boy from St. Sylvester’s College in Kandy married her on April 14th, 1959, and they settled-down in their ancestral home in front of the sacred Pothgul Raja-Maha Viharaya in Hanguranketha. By then, Mallika had also established her aptitude as a ‘Beauty Queen’, having won the Miss Personality title, and also becoming a Runner-Up in a Miss Sri Lanka contest of that golden era.

In the passing-by of nearly six decades from earning fame, and Seventy-Seven years of life filled with assorted moments, the self-effacing Mallika Pilapitiya endorses the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s quote; "I have been through a lot and I have suffered a great deal. But I have had lots of happy moments, as well. Every moment one lives is different from the other. The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love, and happiness are all interwoven into one single, indescribable whole that is called life. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps there is no need to do so, either."

Today, with the same gracious smile, confident voice and warm attitude, she spends her time mostly amongst her children and grandchildren, and involves in religious activities. Yet, there is another side to her, she had never exposed thus far, which I too happened to grasp via many of our prolonged phone conversations over the years. She indulges in not only reading vehemently, but also she writes short-stories, which she hesitates to publish. Now, I’m determined to dig into her writings, and perhaps have some of them published, with or without her consent.

“I read a lot of books on Buddhism. Especially, the ones that Roshan Putha eternally gives me, by Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera are enthralling. Yet, my all-time favourites remain Agatha Christie mysteries and other detective stories,” concluded Aunty Mallika, as I wished her a happy birthday from two oceans apart.

Sunalie Ratnayake is a Sri Lankan Journalist based in Los Angeles, California. She could be reached at; sunalie.secretandbeyond@yahoo.com

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