DN Sat July 9 2005:
MELROSE St. Benedict Daryll de Silva, a journalist par excellence and writer of humorous satire met a wholly unexpected and tragic death on 6th April 2005 at Beligala, in the Kegalle District of the Sabaragamuwa Province.
This was 62 years, one month and one day after the day he was born 5th March 1943 in Colombo.
Daryll was a Thomian of Thomians having attended the Kollupitiya Prep, the Bandarawela Prep, Mount Lavinia and Gurutalawa all of which gave him an excellent education.
He completed it at Aquinas and joined Car Mart, Ltd., as a Stores Assistant. Within two years his fluency in English and Sinhala secured him a good job in the Commercial Section of the American Embassy in Colombo.
Sponsored by the U.S. State Department he has travelled widely throughout the United States. He had also visited India, Canada and the United Kingdom during the seven years he was employed there.
Writing was in his blood and he soon became tired of the dull, grinding routine of dealing with trade inquiries and he left to freelance for 13 years. He then joined the staff of the "Sun" where he worked from 1987 through 1990 when he left to join the "Daily News".
He worked here with high acceptance from 1990 to 1995. He then migrated to join the new English daily launched by Express Newspapers. When that folded, he joined the short lived "Independent" a Sunday newspaper. He ended his career in mainstream journalism on the "Daily Mirror" where he worked from 1998 to 2001.
During this time he wrote a series of extremely readable short stories - humorous satire - about current affairs. Reading through one can't repress what begins as a chuckle and ends in a raucous belly laugh.
He was married twice but he wasn't the average domesticated type of house husband wives and children need and want around.
A restless spirit, an extremely skeptical outlook, an immensely inquisitive mind, and a very matter-of-fact approach meant that he cut through a great deal of verbiage rather rapidly, even brusquely, to get to the point about anything.
That made him a taciturn person whom one had to 'learn' to get on with. That also meant that his romantic side was seldom to be seen, only the cactus-like exterior.
As a colleague and friend he was an utterly refreshing companion any hour, any day, and conversation on any subject you'd care to name literally sparkled. He was an admirable 'sounding board' for various ideas and he always pointed out the problems and pitfalls.
Bouncing ideas off him like a ping-pong ball was always a useful exercise because it invariably refined the idea to the nth degree before it was tapped out on the keyboard and the outcome was always quite satisfying because what eventually came out in print was eminently readable.
Over the years he had developed a serious drinking problem. His closest friends rallied and put him in for therapy, not once, but thrice and he came out of that completely free of the deadly addiction.
He smoked heavily but was working on kicking that addiction, too, and had he lived, would have overcome that as well. He had the will and his friends gave him the power to overcome.
He recently volunteered to go to Kalmunai, one of the worst affected places by the horrendous tsunami and came back a thoroughly shaken man by what he had witnessed of the devastation.
He was writing about the absolute chaos and confusion over relief and rehabilitation measures when he died - suddenly.
He was living with a friend who owned elephants - the ones who work and participate in peraheras at mahagalkotuva, Kumbalgama, near Beligala in the Dadigama Police area.
On Wednesday evening, after nightfall, he had stepped out of the house and walked blindly into a very tired and irritated elephant that had been chained shortly before for the night.
The infuriated beast had picked him and dashing him to the ground had stepped on him crushing his rib cage, extinguishing all life in a few terrifying moments.
All of us who knew him are shocked beyond words at the way he died and mourn this loss of a great friend. Indeed, no words could express the immense depth of our sorrow.