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Civil Affairs and Public Relatio
Merchant of Nelliady
[Updated :: 2011-01-28 16:56:28 Hours]

In the world of Shylock-type business people who tend to exploit customers for pennies, cimicjaffna.lk team this week found a kind-hearted Samaritan in a wealthy merchant at beautiful northern town of Nelliady. By the name of Agilathas, this 46 year old popular and leading textile shop owner is a good example for the success through courage. He is the owner of “Nellai Silk” textile shop of Nalliady.

“After the death of our father, an employee of Sri Lanka Navy, we suffered a lot economically. We passed many days without meals and our mother could not buy us enough clothes to wear”, Agilathas joined the conversation. He remembers that his elder brother who suddenly died many years ago due to a brief illness also served in the Navy but he does not remember his rank.

When the cimicjaffna team showed interest to know his education background, Mr. Agilathas replied, “I started my education at Thirugnanasampnathan College Trincomamlee because my father was at that time serving in Trincomalee. From Grade 6 up to Grade 10, I attended Nelliady Central College where I was the Sergeant of the junior cadet platoon”. He has taken part in Cadets’ camps at Diyathalawa Volunteer Force Training Camp in late 1970s.

“When I see our soldiers walking in the town I remember my school days as a cadet marching in the ground with my platoon”, said Agilthas collecting his past memories.

Although he is running a textile shop today, Agilathas is an expert in electrical wiring and he has worked in Colombo in the field of domestic wiring.

“In 1983 I wanted to go abroad and asked my mother for permission to go to Germany”, he unfolded a funny chapter of his life. “My mother had no knowledge of where Germany was. She thought it was another part in Sri Lanka, and let me go. I first landed in Moscow and was subjected to a thorough check. Custom officials found Vipoothy (a powder applied on the forehead by Hindus) and face powder in my possession. They questioned me what it was but all they asked were Greek to me. I knew only Tamil and Sinhalese at that time (now he speaks English and Arab too). They suspected it was a kind of narcotic and brought some dogs trained on identifying narcotics.”

He offered us a soft drink and continued, “Dogs sniffed powder and went away but the officials were still maintained suspicion. They next called about ten more dogs and went on checking. Harassed nearly for one hour suddenly a bright idea hit me. I took some powder and applied them on my face and forehead. Then only custom officers understood their blunder and laughed and dropped me at the country border.”

After one year he flew back from Germany due to mother’s illness. Since 1985 to 1990 he was in Saudi Arabia serving as a manager of Panda Super market in Riyadh.

He had brought many electrical items on his return from Saudi Arabia. “IPKF soldiers who came to Jaffna wanted them. When I refused, they stole them all and set our house on fire. I never repaired that house. I am living with my wife Kiruba and three children at her place. Many people take photographs of my burnt house, send them to foreign countries to indicate that their house is burnt, they are harassed in Jaffna and they be granted permanent residence in those countries.”

This wealthy but simple businessman is well-known for his generosity. He has donated garments worth over Rs. 500,000/= to the Army to be distributed among IDPs arriving in Jaffna via Mullaithivu sea after they escaped LTTE clutches in Mullaithivu during the last phase of the Wanni Humanitarian War.

“GA Jaffna informed me that she wanted donations to be sent to Batticaloa flood victims. I gave garments and money worth of Rs. 30000/= to the GA a few days ago”, said Mr. Agilathas.

If he feels any customer, especially children, is so poor, he never hesitates to give the dress he or she needs free. “I recall my past as a destitute boy”, he humbly says. “If I don’t open the shop at 6.30 every morning, other shopkeepers become inquisitive whether there is any problem of the town or change of the normal situation. I am the first to open shop in the town,” he told us.

Not forgetting the past and the courage could be the secret of his success. We took leave wishing this exceptional merchant GOOD LUCK !

His contact numbers is: 021 2263207.


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