August 12, 2015 marks the tenth death anniversary of Sri Lanka’s statesman foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. To commemorate the occasion, his daughter Ajita Kadirgamar, a former media personality, will formally launch her biography of her father titled ‘The Cake that was Baked at Home’ at a ceremony at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies. This is the venue at which he attended his last official function before falling victim to a sniper’s bullets.
The title of the book refers to the speech he made at the unveiling of his portrait at the Oxford Union on March 18, 2005 where he said: “I would like, if I may, to assume that I could share the honour with the people of my country, Sri Lanka. I had my schooling there, my first university was there, I went to Law College there and by the time I came to Oxford as a postgraduate student, I was relatively a matured person. Oxford was the icing on the cake … but the cake was baked at home.”
‘The Cake that was Baked at Home’ attempts to unveil lesser known aspects Kadirgamar’s life. Told through Ajita’s memories, stories and recollections by those who knew him, extracts of published media and tributes composed specifically for the book, she endeavours to shed light on facets of a brilliant and complex man. Kadirgamar spent the last ten years of his life in the harsh and sometimes unforgiving public spotlight, adored by some, declared a traitor by others, all the while knowing he was constantly being targeted by the LTTE.
The 440 page book is also the author’s personal journey of healing and discovery where she poses the question, ‘Do we ever really know a person, even one’s own parent?’ Ajita admits in the concluding chapter, ‘People will certainly ask what kind of a daughter I am, that I can be so critical and judgmental about this much loved and respected man. They will see me as tarnishing a hero’s image. Well, I’m the kind of daughter who tells it like it is, and more so with advancing age. The fact remains that his greatness came at a price. We paid the price. We paid the price for his single minded ambition, drive and brilliance that led him to the highest echelons of public office. We stood in the wings helplessly as, first a woman and then a whole nation hijacked him as their own.’
The book published by Vijtha Yapa is now on sale.