“God has given you one mouth and two ears for a reason. Talk less and listen more Dulinda!”. Though quite a common phrase, for me, this phrase remains very personal as it comes from an individual that I revere beyond many.
For me, he remains a hero. A character worthy of admiration and every ounce of respect a man could afford to give.
He is none other than, Krishantha Prasad Cooray.
I first met him in October 2019, when Mr. Cooray was the Chairman of Hilton Colombo as well as LakeHouse, during the latter part of his corporate/media career. His distinctly deep voice, simple white shirt and sharp glaze ensured that even for a stranger sitting across the room, that they knew who was in charge.
My first engagement with Mr. Cooray had a political flavor to it and indeed was a span of my life that I will carry with me forever. I spent weeks sitting across from him, picking his brain, learning from him and listening to his mind at work. His attention to detail and ability to manifest the exact expectation of the team was beyond amazing.
In a world where ranks and positions determine our attitude towards another, Mr. Cooray’s world spined differently. In the world of Krishantha Cooray, everyone was equal. Though this may come in as a classic tale of praise, I witnessed this first hand. Be it the President, Ministers, Members of Parliament, elite businessmen or a young boy awed at his charisma, all of us were equal at the table of Krishantha Prasad Cooray. Many of the above who came to meet him at his residence and sat across his cozy living room would stand in testimony to my statement.
Quite similar to 1972 Francis Coppola’s movie “Godfather '', Mr. Cooray was the last resort for many who sought answers to difficult questions, the more diplomatic and professional version of a Godfather. His phone would never stop ringing and each of those calls, he would always answer and none who called him left empty handed. However, he never gave a “Politician’s Promise” to a single soul, With Mr. Cooray, what you saw was always what you got.
On a chilling November morning in 2019, my phone rang and it was him. I still recall the weariness of his voice from being sleepless for around two days. The call was brief and said “Son we fought a good fight. But we’ve lost. Our generations have failed this country but my only hope is that at least yours will put it right. We will see each other soon. Good luck!”. He was a true leader who ensured the safety and well-being of every one the team even at the cost of his own and when the times were tough, he held the fort together.
Time went by and we became quite close. I was fortunate to work with him on multiple fronts and sign up for one of the best mentorships one could have. Of course it comes with its own package of earfuls but deep down anyone who worked closely with him knew that it came from a place of love and affection. He remains, a man with a heart of gold.
As fate would have it, there came a day when I had to go to Mr. Cooray seeking his intervention as many before me have done. When all hope was lost, Mr. Cooray was truly a guardian angel. There comes a hour in every man’s life when you almost give up before you spot your lifeline. My lifeline had a name and the name was the one and only, Krishantha Cooray. Often he would say “I am here and you have nothing to worry” and that was what I believed in and he kept true to his word. He was always there.
For many and specially for me, Krishantha Cooray was and is a hero. A man with exceptional skills, a big heart and an unparalleled network. An irreplaceable combination that this world could do more with. Dear boss! Let this be a small tribute for the trailblazer you are. Wishing you a very happy birthday and good health for years to come!