A man and his dog

I met G A Leelasiri in Yatagampitiya, at the foot of the Nagahadola landslide in Agalawatta. He was sitting on a log.

I saw him rubbing his head tiredly, shaking it to and fro. His dog sat closely at his feet, occasionally staring at its master’s face and prompting a few words of acknowledgment.

I saw Leelasiri cry. He said he lost two grandchildren when the landslide dammed the river and caused it to overflow with great force. One of them was a 14-day-old baby girl. There’s nothing standing where his sons’ homes were. They don’t know what to do or where to turn.

The graves of Leelasiri’s grandchildren were in the garden. He asked whether we could take a photo of him and his two sons, the fathers of the dead babies, near them.  The clothes of one of the children, salvaged from the water, were hanging nearby.

The dog’s name is Buddy, the old man said. He’s never far away. “He and my five-year-old grandson were always tagging behind me,” he said, making a gesture of hopelessness with his hand. That boy was the other child that died.

You see a lot of pain in this job. But you never get used to it.




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