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A fearless fighter who flew against missiles

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25th death anniversary of Wing commander Thejananda Thibbotumunuwe, RWP

By Admiral Ravindra  C Wijegunaratne

(Retired from Sri Lanka Navy) Former Chief of Defence Staff (An extract from book, ‘Read Between the Lines’)

Wing Commander T. C. B. J. Thibbotumunuwe, RWP was an Air Force transport (general duty) pilot, and we used to call him ‘Thibba’. He was a distinguished old boy of Ananda College, Colombo. Following in his elder brother’s footsteps, he joined the armed forces; his elder brother was in the Army and I have served under him in Mannar.

You will never forget Thibba’s face. He was rotund and always wore a charming smile. Thibba was a great transport pilot who usually flew AN-32 or Y8 aircraft. His main job was to carry troops and supplies from Ratmalana to the Palaly Air Base, Jaffna and transport military personnel going on leave from Palali to Ratmalana. He knew the importance of his task and always ensured that everyone waiting to go on leave, some after three months, would be taken care of. His job started at sunrise from Rathmalana, and he used to do three or four shuttles between Rathmalana and Palali until sunset.

There had been a number of incidents where brave Air Force pilots became victims of LTTE shoulder-fired Surface to Air Missile attacks at that time, but Thibba and colleagues never stopped maintaining the vital air link to the Jaffna peninsula by air.

There were no secure road links and sea transport was difficult and time-consuming. Sometimes it would take two days of sea passage from Trincomalee to KKS. So, flying even under missile threat was the only option available to transfer battle casualties from Jaffna to Colombo. Thibba was exposed to enemy missile threats at least six times a day when landing or taking off his transport aircraft at the Palaly airbase.

Hundreds of brave soldiers who were severely injured during enemy confrontations were saved, thanks to Thibba. Whether seats were available in the aircraft or not, he never left me at Palaly and even took me in the cockpit a couple of times. He was such a nice person and true friend in uniform.

When I was in the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) in 1990s and flying from one place to another, more frequently to Colombo from Jaffna and back for important meetings/briefings and debriefings at the Naval Headquarters, Thibba used to tease me by saying I, as the SBS Commanding Officer was gaining more flying hours than he, as a pilot. That was Thibba! He was a jovial fellow who never knew what fear was.

I was once taking the last flight from Palaly to attend my son’s birthday. To my surprise, an SLAF vehicle was waiting to take me home when we landed at the Ratmalana Air Base late on that evening. Thibba had arranged for my transport in consultation with the SLAF Base Commander, Ratmalana. That’s how Thibba showed that he cared for his friends. A true friend understands family values!

Thibba had three sons named Menuka, Diluka and Chamika. He was not fortunate enough to see his younger son, who was born in April 1996. They are lovely children and he was so proud of them.

One day in 1995, I flew from Palaly to Ratmalana in his aircraft. After taking off from Palali and leaving the enemy missile range, he invited me to the cockpit. We were talking of our boys all the way to Ratmalana. My son was of the same age as Thibba’s elder son, Menuka. They were four-years-old at that time. He wanted to teach them swimming as Thibba was also a good swimmer. That’s the last time I met Thibba.

On that fatal day, 18th November 1995, Thibba flew his Y-8 aircraft as usual from Ratmalana to Palaly with vital a defence cargo. He was approaching the Palaly airfield at a very low altitude from seaward to avoid enemy missile fire. Terrorists were in a boat, and they targeted Thibba and the aircraft went down into seas off KKS. His Co-Pilot (Squadron Leader Kumbalatara) explained later how Thibba had tried to land the aircraft on water. He helped his Co-Pilot to eject from the sinking aircraft and made the supreme sacrifice—a fighter to the last!

Time flew fast. One day, I accompanied my wife, Yamuna, to a swimming meet to see how my son performed. My wife was always behind my son, and she explained to me the timings of the event and the tough competition my son was going to face. There were two boys from Ananda College on the starting blocks. Yamuna said they were very good, and Thibbotumunuwe’s sons.

I silently wept for Thibba.

All three boys resemble Thibba. Thibba was not there to watch his sons perform so well in swimming—a fervent wish that he had as a loving father. He sacrificed his life for the protection all the children of our Nation.

When they grew up, Thibba’s elder sons wanted to join the military. Menuka joined the Air Force as a pilot (was in South Sudan UN Peacekeeping mission). Second son Diluka joined the Navy, did basic training in China and qualified as a Mine Clearance Diving Officer from India and competent officer in SLN Diving branch; he is currently serving in Diving Tender A 521. Both are married. Thibba’s youngest son Chamika has completed his MBA and awaiting employment. All of them are doing extremely well and if Thibba had lived he would be been 59 years old. The void created by his demise in the lives of his loving wife and three sons is unimaginable. The country has lost a patriotic son. We will never forget Thibba.

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Features

Hair Growth and Thickness

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LOOK GOOD – with Disna

 

* Oil:

Oiling is an old home remedy for hair growth and thickness. Oiling is also used for the strength, shine, and length of hair, from ancient times. The use of coconut oil, especially, is very effective when it comes to the amplification of hair health. Additionally, there are many essential oils for faster hair growth which you can use, too.

* How to Use: Generally, hair oiling works best when applied overnight. You could use this therapy every night, or after each night, then wash your hair, in the morning, before heading for studies, or work.

 

* Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera has long been used as a home remedy for hair growth, thickness, and treating hair loss problems It contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins are known to contribute to cell turnover, supporting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Plus, vitamin B-12 and folic acid are also included in aloe vera gel. Both of these elements can keep your hair from falling out. Aloe vera plants can be easily grown indoors. A leaf can be plucked, occasionally, and cut open to reveal its gel. This gel needs to be applied on the scalp, basically, to provide nourishment to the roots.

*  How to Use:

Rub this gel on your head properly, leaving no area dry; wash after half an hour or so. Keeping this massage as a part of your weekly routine will eventually make your hair thick and long.

 

*  Green Tea:

Green tea is often consumed as a home remedy for weight loss. Surprisingly, it has many other benefits, including hair-related benefits.

* How to Use:

Consuming green tea once every day can add to the strength and length of your hair. If your body is extremely comfortable with green tea, then you may even consume it twice every day.

 

* Onion Juice:

A bi-weekly application of onion juice can relieve you of your tension, regarding hair health. The smell can really torture you, but divert your attention in doing something else for a while, like making a puzzle or washing the dishes. From an early age, onion juice has been used as a home remedy to control hair fall. Research has shown that onion juice has been successful in treating patchy alopecia areata (non-scarring hair loss condition) by promoting hair growth .

* How to Use:

Take half onion and blend it. Apply the mixture on every nook and corner of your scalp and let it sit for some 60 minutes, or so. Shampoo it off when it’s time for the hair-wash.

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Features

Fun-loving, but… sensitive

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This week, my chat is with Nilu Vithanage. She is quite active, as a teledrama actress – having done four, already; her first was ‘Pavela Will Come In The Cloud, Mom’ (playing the role of a nurse). Then Came ‘Heavenly Palaces’ (student), ‘Black Town’ (a village character Kenkaiya), and ‘Wings Of Fire,’ currently being shown, with Nilu as a policewoman. You could checkout ‘Wings Of Fire,’ weekdays, on Swarnavahini, at 7.30 pm. Nilu is also active as a stage drama artiste, dancer…and has also been featured in musical videos.

And, this is how our chit-chat went…

1. How would you describe yourself?

Let’s say, I’m a bit on the playful side, and I like to have a lot of fun. But, I do find the time to relax, and, at home, it’s dancing to music! Yeah, I love dancing. Oh, I need to add that I’m a bit sensitive.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I get angry quickly. Fortunately, that anger doesn’t last long – just five to 10 minutes. But I wish I could get rid of anger, totally from my system!

3. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Nope, can’t think of anything, in particular. Everything is fine with us, and I’m proud of my only brother, and I feel safe when he is around. Or, come to think of it, if I did have another brother, I would feel doubly safe…when going out, in particular!

4. School?

I did my studies at two schools – C.W.W. Kannangara Central College, and Panadura Sumangala Girls’ School for my higher studies. Representing my school, I won first place in a speech competition and dance competition, as well.

5. Happiest moment?

When my husband comes home, or talks to me on the phone. He is stationed in Hatton and those calls and home visits are my happiest moments

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I really find a lot of happiness feeding the fish, in ponds. I love to see them rush to pick up the tidbits I throw into the pond. That’s my kind of happiness – being close to nature.

7. Are you religious?

I would say ‘yes’ to that question. I like to go to the temple, listen to sermons, participate in meditation programmes, and I do not miss out on observing sil, whenever possible. I also find solace in visiting churches.

8. Are you superstitious?

A big ‘no.’ Not bothered about all those superstitious things that generally affect a lot of people.

9. Your ideal guy?

My husband, of course, and that’s the reason I’m married to him! He has been a great support to me, in my acting career, as well in all other activities. He understands me and he loves me. And, I love him, too.

10. Which living person do you most admire?

I would say my Dad. I truly appreciate the mentorship he gave me, from a young age, and the things we received from him

11. Which is your most treasured possession?

My family.

12. If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like as your companion?

A camel would be ideal as that would make it easier for me to find a way out from a desert island!

13. Your most embarrassing moment?

One day, recently, with the greatest of difficulty, I managed to join a one meter distance queue, to withdraw money from an ATM. And, then I realised I didn’t bring the card along!

14. Done anything daring?

I would say…yes, when I ventured out to get involved in teledramas. It was a kind of a daring decision and I’m glad it’s now working out for me – beautifully.

15. Your ideal vacation?

I would say Thailand, after reading your articles, and talking to you about Amazing Thailand – the shopping, things to see and do, etc. When the scene improves, it will be…Thailand here I come!

16. What kind of music are you into?

The fast, rhythmic stuff because I have a kind of rhythm in my body, and I love to dance…to music.

17. Favourite radio station:

I don’t fancy any particular station. It all depends on the music they play. If it’s my kind of music, then I’m locked-on to that particular station.

18. Favourtie TV station:

Whenever I have some free time, I search the TV channels for a good programme. So it’s the programme that attracts me.

19. What would you like to be born as in your next life?

Maybe a bird so that I would be free to fly anywhere I want to.

20. Any major plans for the future?

I’m currently giving lessons to schoolchildren, in dancing, and I plan to have my own dancing institute in the future.

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Features

Snail-napping sets the stage for CGI road trip

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The SpongeBob Movie:Sponge on the Run

By Tharishi hewaviThanagamage

Based on the famous and one of the longest-running American animated series that made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999, created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg, ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ is the latest addition to the SpongeBob movie franchise, coming in as the third installment after ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ (2004) and ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’ (2015).

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