Dubai: It has been a terrible day for Radha Fonseca, 34, a Sri Lankan expat living in Dubai who lost a college mate and hero both in one day.
The mother-of-two woke up on Sunday to the terrible news of a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that has left hundreds of people dead and the number is still counting.
The first thing she did, was to check on her loved ones and family.
To her utter shock and sadness, she found her college mate and friend to be one of the victims of the horrific blast.
Nilanga Mayadume, in her 30s, was having an Easter breakfast with her mother, Shantha Mayadume, a well-known chef in the country at the Shangri-La-Hotel in Colombo. Both mother and daughter died in the horrific blast on Sunday morning.
“When I heard the news, I was left numbed and shocked. I don’t know what more to say,” said Fonseca.
"Nilanga was a very popular girl in college. Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadume, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She (the mother) was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans."
"Destiny has taken away both of them. I am devastated."
Every Sri Lankan knows Shantha Mayudume, as she runs a very famous school called the Shantha Mayadunne School of Cooking Art.
“Several thousands of people go to this school,” said Fonseca who is scheduled to travel on Monday to Colombo, but is now thinking twice about it.
“There is a high-security alert in the airport. For the past years, the security scan at the entrance of Colombo airport had been removed. But now after this it seems we are back to square one.
“For long, the country has been involved in political strife. It ruined our tourism. The last ten years was so peaceful. We want to be free, we want peace and freedom of movement. Today is a sad day for Sri Lankan citizens. It will take time for us to recover.”
For long, the country has been involved in political strife. It ruined our tourism. The last ten years was so peaceful. We want to be free, we want peace and freedom of movement. Today is a sad day for Sri Lankan citizens. It will take time for us to recover.
Fonseca is scheduled to leave on Monday to Colombo with her family.
“As of now we have not cancelled our tickets as there is a family wedding. But I am worried and concerned.”
Too many memories
Another expat, Yoshita Mohammad, 49, recalled happy memories of the time she and her family spent in St. Sebestian’s Church in Katuwanpitiya and the St. Anthony’s Church in Negambo.
Yoshita, who converted to Islam after marriage, was previously a Christian.
“I have spent several Easter and Christmas prayers in these two church with family and friends. It is hard for me to digest this. When I heard about the news, I immediately called up my family and friends. Thankfully they are fine, but I am devastated, nevertheless.”
It is hard for me to digest this... to think that violence has destroyed the peace inside this church is unforgiveable. May the lives lost rest in peace.
“I remember visiting St. Sebastian Church especially before school and college exams. I would just sit there and pray. It was so peaceful and there was a sense of contentment. To think that violence has destroyed the peace inside this church is unforgiveable. May the lives lost rest in peace. That is all I can say for now.”
Mitch Perera, another Sri Lankan expat and car lover living in Dubai said he was left in a rude awakening up to several messages on Facebook and WhatsApp on the spate of bombings in Colombo.
“My parents had gone to the church to pray as it is Easter Sunday. So I quickly called them and they were thankfully fine. My heartfelt condolences to all the loved ones on this holy Sunday which is very precious to all the Catholics in the country. Sri Lankans never discriminate on the basis of religion and we love to live in peace.
"This is a barbaric act from spineless cowards with no ethics. Stop this brutal murder now."
Angry and sad
Mohammad Ramzeen, manager for a retail store in Dubai said: “I am angry and very sad. The motive maybe unclear, but I am sure it cannot be religious differences. We are a religiously tolerant nation. It could be a political motive behind. It is unfortunate what has happened and totally disgusting. Such bloody massacre has to stop.