In the heart of Sri Lanka, there exists a remarkable woman named Amaravati, whose extraordinary profession sets her apart from anyone else in the country. She is the only female who fearlessly dissects lifeless bodies in a mortuary, playing a crucial role in unravelling the mysteries surrounding people’s deaths. Let us delve into the story of Jayasundara Mudalalige Amaravati.
Amaravati hails from the serene village of Girandurukotte in Mahiyanganaya. Born on January 13, 1982, she grew up in a loving household with five brothers, a sister, and her parents, who led a prosperous farming life. Despite her upbringing in a rural setting, Amaravati pursued her education at Bathalayaya Madhya Maha Vidyalaya, specializing in the art stream. Little did she know then that her path would lead her to the mortuary.
While in school, Amaravati displayed great talent in sports, excelling in volleyball and track and field events like the discus throw. Her leadership qualities were evident when she became the Head Prefect of her school in 2002.
Amaravati’s journey in the healthcare field began in 2005 when she joined the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital as a relief worker.
Having a compassionate nature and a deep understanding of others’ feelings, Amaravati felt a strong desire to help those in need. She embraced her initial assignments with enthusiasm and joy, whether it was accompanying patients to clinics or even washing blood-filled bottles in the dental hospital. She continued her work in various departments, including the ward, where she encountered the stark reality of death firsthand.
Attending to patients meant encountering new experiences each day. Amaravati vividly recalls the poignant moments when she had to prepare deceased individuals for their final journey, tying their limbs, closing their eyes, and comforting their souls. Initially, such encounters left her feeling uneasy, even carrying the weight of those experiences home. However, as time went on, death became a normal part of her life, and she accepted it as an inevitable reality.
During her career, Amaravati worked in different hospital departments, including the operating room and the outpatient department (OPD). Eventually, due to family commitments, she sought a transfer to a position with regular working hours. It was then that she discovered an opportunity at the coroner’s office, where she applied to become a health assistant.
Amaravati’s dedication and eagerness to learn caught the attention of Dr. Prabhat Senasinghe, an expert forensic doctor, who recognized her potential. With his guidance and the support of Mr. Jayawardena, the coroner, Amaravati delved into the intricacies of autopsy and post-mortem investigations. She received invaluable training from experienced workers like Mr. Sanjeeva Pushpakumara and Mr. Jagath Nishantha, who willingly shared their knowledge with her.
As Amaravati observed her mentors dissecting cadavers, an idea sparked within her. She asked if she could try her hand at the task. To her surprise, both Mr. Sanjeeva and Mr. Jagath agreed, and Amaravati embarked on her journey of dissecting her first male corpse. Despite initial doubts and apprehensions, she approached the task with determination, reminding herself that it was an inanimate body. Throughout the process, she experienced a mix of emotions, but the satisfaction she felt when commended by her mentors was undeniable.
For Amaravati, the significance of her work lies not in personal accolades but in the service she provides. Initially, she felt a profound connection with each individual she dissected, recognizing the gravity of their stories. However, as she continued her work, she learned to detach herself from the emotions tied to human existence. Instead, she focused on the professionalism required to conduct thorough examinations and the compassion necessary to console grieving families.
Amaravati’s work goes beyond dissection alone. In a country where cultural practices and traditions dictate the handling of the deceased, she adapts to each situation with grace and competence. Whether it is conducting final rites according to Sinhalese or Tamil customs or ensuring a dignified return of a dissected Muslim body, Amaravati performs her duties with utmost care and respect.
Amaravati’s journey challenges societal norms and expectations. As the only female mortuary assistant in Sri Lanka, she stands as a symbol of strength and compassion. Her story reminds us that true immortality lies not in personal achievements but in the selfless service we provide to others.