So farewell, then, Thavisha Lakindu Peiris (25). I never knew you personally, but I do know all about your hard working career mindedness. I can see from the published photographs (in your graduation photo you look old enough to be your own father) that you were a credit to your family in Sri Lanka; until you were stabbed to death on your last night as a pizza delivery driver, only hours before starting a new job as an IT consultant.
Of course you never did start that job, because your-young-life was-cut-tragically-short.
I would apologise for addressing you in this clichéd manner; except, if you will permit me to talk past what actually happened to you, I think it is the cliché rather than the actualité which I should be addressing.
I’m not convinced, you see, that the telling of your terrible story is as it purports to be: a sign of how much we value human life. I suspect that Young Life Cut Short On Last Night Of The Pizzas, is really a way of saying: his real life hadn’t even started; he was just about to emerge from that shadowy, zombie existence comprised of not-quite-human creatures who either can’t cook or who can’t get a proper job. (It could easily have been said about you until recently: still delivering at Domino’s two years after graduating in 2011? Must be something not-quite-right.)
Or, if your story is especially poignant because you weren’t really a delivery boy any more, what does that say about the boys – some of them are as old as your father – still stuck behind the wheel with the cardboard boxes in a padded bag, not going anywhere else? Supposing their lives are like a scene from The Walking Dead, it surely shouldn’t matter any less when they get stuck with a knife.
Of course the context all but confirms the clichéd account. You died at the wheel of a foreign-made car in a cul de sac on a large-scale council estate – one of the many failed projects of Britain’s 20th century, on the edge of a Northern industrial city in long-term decline.
Even the name of the street where you died is doubly inappropriate, i.e. ideal for an ‘ironic’ cliché: Southey Crescent. Ha! Because there’s nothing rising, no crescendo coming up from here; and not even the faintest echo of the eponymous Robert Southey – Lakeland poet, essayist, man of the Enlightenment.
Yet the cultural conservative which Southey, like Wordsworth, later became, might have agreed with the reactionary subdivision embedded in the stock account of your death; the subdivision between people who count versus people who don’t really count as people.
Sadly, Thavisha, you were fatally stabbed while crossing the border.