Randiya: A symbol of courage amid adversity | Sunday Observer

Randiya: A symbol of courage amid adversity

26 March, 2023
Thurstan College Principal Pramuditha Wickremesinghe handing over his brother’s letter of admission to Thurstan College  to Randiya
Thurstan College Principal Pramuditha Wickremesinghe handing over his brother’s letter of admission to Thurstan College to Randiya

AThurstan College of Colombo student recently set a prime example of human empathy to a society that has fast become devoid of understanding and kindness. The story begins with the student of the school, 14 year-old (Grade 9) Amaratunge Arachchige Thesath Randiya, who recently passed away after suffering from a rare form of leukaemia while receiving treatment at the Apeksha Hospital in Colombo.

His demise has left a lasting impact on the Apeksha Hospital and Thursan College due to his positive take on life even as he suffered physically and fought a hard battle to stay alive with the support of his parents, principal of the school, teachers and friends.

Knowing his impending fate, Randiya’s final request of his school was to admit his younger brother who was studying in a village school to Thurstan College. Despite the difficult task, the Principal of Thurstan College obliged and granted Randiya his request. Thurstan College organised a small event for the occasion and allowed Randiya to accompany his brother on his first day of school.


Randiya, born on September 25, 2008, was the oldest son of Dilini Udani and Charith Shanika from Kesbewa, Piliyandala. “He was beautiful when he was born. He was a very independent child and even cooked for us when I fell ill,” Udani recalled. His mother said Randiya had a knack for the arts and loved dancing. Gifted academically as well, Randiya who attended the Anketha Kanishta Vidyalaya obtained 178 marks at the Grade 5 Scholarship exam to gain entry to the prestigious Thurstan College in Colombo.

Randiya, according to Udani, fell ill in February 2022. He suffered from non-stop vomiting and wheezing that no medicine could cure. The resulting tests on April 17, 2022 revealed Randiya was suffering from a rare and serious form of leukaemia. At first Udani refused to believe the diagnosis but was forced to accept it after the doctors confirmed her son was suffering from Acute myeloid leukaemia that has no cure.

The medication did not prevent the spread of the cancer and it began spreading gradually, she said, adding that Randiya was well aware of his condition and asked many questions. “He would even check his diagnosis on the internet. He would ask me to not be sad as all this was part of life,” she recalled.

Udani said despite the pain he endured, Randiya remained positive. He decorated the hospital ward with his art work and presented some of it to his teachers and others as souvenirs to remember him by. According to her, despite his condition he looked forward to his future.

Udani said as medical bills began to rise, the school’s Past Pupils Association, principal, parent, teachers and other well wishers supported them to bear the costs for his treatment.

One day while visiting Randiya, his school principal handed him a document and declared it as a present for him. It was his brother’s admission to Thurstan College. According to his mother, Randiya was overjoyed that his brother could attend his school.

Good- natured child

On February 5, Randiya’s condition worsened. On the doctors’ advice, the parents allowed those who wished to visit him and for the clergy to chant Pirith for him. “In the evening around 4.30 p.m. he said his chest hurts and asked me to hold him. He breathed his last as I held him right,” Udani recalled.

According to the nurses of the Apeksha Hospital, Randiya was a good-natured child. He would make flowers for them and even presented pens decorated with a paper dress on January 1. The doctor of the ward was presented with a bouquet of flowers made by him. “To date some children ask after him. They ask us where the boy who made flowers is. The doctors responded saying he went abroad,” one nurse said.

His Grade 9 class teacher, Navodya Perera became close to Randiya during his final days. “We did the studies online due to Covid-19 pandemic at the time and would ask the students to send the note in PDF format at the end of the day. I remembered Randiya well as he would send it within the hour,” she said.

But as Randiya continuously missed school due to his illness, the school on the request of his teacher implemented a plan to teach him online. According to her, Randiya often shared his pain and suffering with her, just as a close friend would. The school development society even facilitated a trip to Anuradhapura on Randiya’s request after he expressed a wish to visit the city. According to Perera, Randiya always cared for others and was empathetic towards them.


Randiya’s brother Sethula Damsara now attends Thurstan College following his demise. He is determined to follow in the path set out by his brother by achieving his academic goals.

According to the Thurstan College Principal Pramuditha Wickremesinghe the school did its utmost to keep Randiya happy at all times. Wickremesinghe said he presented Randiya’s request for his brother to be admitted to Thurstan College to the Ministry of Education which was accepted by the officials based on humanitarian circumstances.

Randiya loved Thurstan College and this is why he requested his brother be admitted to it. If we can be humane towards our children we can create a better country, he noted.

(This is a translation of the original article by Tania Moses that appeared in the Silumina)