Local scene
Shiromi says Goodbye for the one she loved very much in life

by Prasad Gunewardene
he name Shiromi Fernando popularly known as "Baby Shiromi" towards the end of 1960ís still linger in the minds and hearts of those who loved her songs at that time. Shiromi set the trend for young girls below twelve at that time enter the Sinhala pop singing era. She was introduced to singing by her uncles who at that time were in the forefront in Sinhala pop music groups. They were the popular "Dharmaratne Brothers" that comprised Ronald, Maxwell, Christy and Melroy. Of them it was Melroy who was instrumental in introducing his little neice to singing. Shiromi kicked off with the popular number "Konda Namagena", a song for a grandmother. It was composed by Melroy. As she reached the peak in no time, she became a household name. She once sang a song for a friend who was dying from Leukaemia. This song almost made everyone sad and people started to crowd her house at Kotahena thinking that Shiromi was suffering from that illness. This song written by Melroy and sung by Shiromi said she had never heard of anyone escaping death by the deadly desease.

Today, the "Watchout" records a sad story Shiromi experienced just three weeks ago while domiciled in Canada with her husband ,son and daughter. Shiromi who sang that song for her friend who finally succumbed to Leukaemia would have never dreamt that what she sang would be in store for her in the future. Her husband, Sunil Welikala, a classmate of this writer at S. Thomas" College, Mt. Lavinia was a fan of Shiromi as a baby singer. Sunil was mad over her talented voice from college days. He decided to trace her and finally succeeded in meeting her at her residence. He proposed a fan club for her. As times passed by Sunil proposed to Shiromi and this was backed by her uncles. Sunil was a giant sized figure while Shiromi was slim baby looking girl.. In 1980, this "Shiromi Fan Club" President married her. They were blessed with a son and daughter before they migrated to Canada with Sunil giving up a planting career to do banking in Canada.

Shiromi was never stopped from continuing her singing career by Sunil. Till they left the country songs were recorded and Shiromi confined her appearances to parties of the Planters" meetings and family get togethers. She even re-recorded her originals done for the then popular "Sooriya" "label. She was yet another star that emerged from the "Sooriya" label, at the time, the pioneer of Sinhala pop music, Clarence Wijewardene was reigning the scene. The "Dharmaratne Brothers" too was at their peak in Sinhala pop dominating with hits likeí Varsity Kollo" and "Raja Kumari". Prior to her departure to Canada she re-recorded the song done for her friend who died from Leukeamia. It looked as if this song was following her in the mind. The lyrics written by her uncle. Melroy, read a manner that Shiromi was pleading with her mother not to shed tears as her days were numbered. This raised curiosity in the minds of her fans and that was why they started to crowd her house shedding tears. But it was not Shiromi but her friend who was in that unfortunate condition.

Be that as it may, they migrated to Canada in 1987 and led a happy life with the two grown up children. Here, we record how that song took another turn in Shiromiís life. On September 20, Sunil found some watery flow in his eyes yellow in colour. Shiromi took him to hospital for a check up. After extensive checks it was diagnosed that this giant sized man was suffering from Leukaemia. Here, one could just visualise how Shiromi would have been when it was conveyed to her by the specialist doctors treating Sunil. Her mind ran back to her early days in life about the song she did for her friend. After a few days, Sunil showed some signs of improvement to be transferred to another ward.Unfortunately he contracted pneumonia.Transferred back to his previous ward,Sunil Welikala,the loving husband and fan of Shiromi ,permanently closed his eyes on September 20 leaving her widowed at 42. The illness of Sunil lasted only ten days. Shiromi and the children lost a good husband and a father and this writer lost a good classmate who sat together in College for many years.

Melroy walked to "The Island" editorial last week with these photographs of Shiromi and Sunil.I recognised my classmate Sunil in the photograph and asked whether Melroy did not know that his neice married my classmate.A sad looking Melroy replied,"Prasad,I am here to unfold that Sunil is no more as a result of Leukaemia.I was shocked and recalled that song sung by Shiromi in her early teens.This is that sad story of Shiromi who enthralled many fans as a little girl.Following is the translation of the song she sang for her friend who died of leukaemia years ago.

"Mother donít cry,mother donít cry-Its useless shedding tears

In a few days time Iíll be leaving you forever,on a journey of no return

My lovely days with you is slowly coming to an end

This bed I lie will witness sad days of my life

Mother, fate cannot be defeated any day

Name me one who survived the sickness leukaemia

Give my books, pencils and frocks and all what I have to a young girl who really needs them

But donít forget to lookafter my pet

"Raththi" whom I loved very much in life........

Goodbye mother, I love you.....