APPRECIATIONS 2011
Sunday Times Dec 25 2011

His life was a glorious lamp that lit the way for many

REV. FR. MARCUS RUPESINGHE, OMI

Rev. Fr. Marcus Rupesinghe, OMI, passed away on November 18. He was 88 years and nine months. Sixty years of his life was dedicated to the service of the Lord as an ardent and devoted member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Early in life, Fr. Rupe was employed, and did a short stint in the government service, worked in the Oil Control Department. It was then that the Lord took control of the lamp of Fr. Rupe’s life – oil, wick and all. He lived up to the motto, “Ardere et Lucere” – to burn and to shine. Not only did Fr. Rupe burn and shine, he dazzled as an exemplary and holy priest. It is an irony that the more Fr. Rupe wanted to be backstage, behind the scenes, the more he came into the limelight.

Fr. Rupe served the Oblate Congregation in many capacities – as Provincial Treasurer, Superior, Formator and Chaplain. He obtained his Doctorate in Canon Law (DCL) at the Gregorian University. He was much sought after and consulted, especially by the hierarchy. Yet he was simple and unassuming. Surely and steadily, he grew in wisdom and age, and he grew old gracefully. His infrequent physical ailments did not cause him anxiety. I knew Fr. Rupe for almost 10 years. He was my constant guide, counsellor and confessor.

Fr. Rupe never categorized people as sinners. To him, a penitent sinner was a potential saint. At the time of his passing away, he was the confessor and chaplain to the Corpus Christi Carmel at Mattakkuliya. A much saddened Carmelite nun commented: “Now, we have a Saint in heaven.”
I fully endorse that.

The Oblate Province in Sri Lanka has lost a colossus. His demise creates a void that cannot be filled. We know that Fr. Rupe has given a good account of his stewardship to his Master.

Farewell, dear Fr. Rupe. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Russel Fernando

Christmas won’t be the same without Achchi

Ena Dharmaratne

It was always difficult to choose the right Christmas gift for my grandmother. Not that she was fussy. But in the last few years of her life, the usual brightly-hued saree or cloth was not the obvious choice. She loved all things sweet (except soft chocolate which got into her dentures) but how many sweets could you gift a 95-year-old?

This would be the first Christmas without her. Well not quite. There were at least two other years when she had visited her other grandchildren Down Under. But this time the lack of Achchi is final. She is not in another country. She is simply not on this earth.

Achchi is part of my earliest memories. I was her eldest grandchild and with her I have spent many a lazy afternoon under the shade of an old mango tree, watching her dry salted Billing fruit in the sun, or looking after her chickens. Her kitchen was smokey, old-world affair where village women would pound rice and we could always find some tasty morsel in a blackened cupboard.

She taught me to plant seeds and watch them grow. My love for gardening, especially growing vegetables, is mostly due to the time spent in her own garden. She would hate to see a yellowed, rotted leaf on plants, and I still feel guilty when my own potted plants sport a faded leaf. She was an ardent ‘garden sweeper’ and would be seen with the ekel broom at all hours. This was almost an obsession with her and led to a number of family puns. But in the end, her insistence of a neat lawn first thing in the dew-ridden morning affected her weak lungs, and may have contributed to her early death. Yes, she was 95 but in the pink of health in all other ways but for her lungs.

My grandmother shunned convention for herself, but insisted on it in others. She would gleefully recount how she was expelled from school (for carrying an older sibling’s love notes) but later became a teacher under the disciplinarian tutelage of Catholic nuns. She married well into her thirties and to someone many years her junior. She would recall how there was no one to give her away at the wedding (her father long dead and her brother disapproving of the union) and how my grandfather, breaking all convention,walked down the aisle to accompany his bride to the altar.

It was she who discovered that my husband (then boyfriend) and I are fourth cousins, many times removed. Achchi was my husband’s grandmother’s second cousin. This led to a number of never-completed family tree discussions and the discovery of many old photographs, documents of a once-powerful coastal clan. If not for Achchi’s keen memory of the past, the link may never have been discovered. As if to complement this bright historical memory, she was totally absent minded of recent events. She was known to lose her rosary at least once a month, and frantic family-wide search parties were deployed. One Christmas she lost her dentures, and all gifts had to be security checked before leaving premises. Fortunately she found them that evening with her own things.

Achchi had a legendary voice. She loved to sing and no family gathering was complete without her renditions of (at times bawdy) oldies. I remember a moonlit night in Dickoya, some sherry and my grandmother entertaining a group of strangers late into the night. She was tickled pink when they declared her ‘a national treasure’ because she could remember word-for-word songs that were long lost in the mists of time.

My last pleasant memory of Achchi is of her sitting on her bed at home, breathing laboriously yet trying to keep up with my three-year old daughter’s ‘Twinkle Little Star’ and then singing (albeit weakly) all seven verses of a favourite song- all the while correcting mistakes of relatives trying to sing along with her.

That was last June. She died peacefully in her sleep at home, in her bed. Life overtakes you, especially when two toddlers are included in the equation. There has been no time to mourn her loss, or reflect on how much she has influenced my life. Until Christmas time comes, you write down the gift list and realize there is no Achchi in it.

Tharuka Dissanaike

The fragrance of a well-lived life lingers on

Damayantha Wickramesinghe

I saw Damayantha last when she came to my house to give me a copy of the beautifully edited memoir of her father, H.A.J. Hulugalle. As we talked for a while, I could see that she was frail and ill, but her indomitable spirit shone through and she wasted no time in self-pity.

It had obviously given her great satisfaction to produce this book in which she brought out the essence of a great man. Her family members and friends will feel comforted that she was able to complete this labour of love before she was called to rest.

Damayantha was a little junior to me in school, but I knew her as a lively schoolgirl who did well both in her studies and in sports and who was popular with her fellow students and liked by her teachers. She was a school prefect in her senior years and when Ladies’ College moved to “Uplands”, Kandy, during the war, Damayantha was among the happy band of LC-ites who thoroughly enjoyed boarding school in the new environment.

I came to know her better after we had both left school. She served as president of the Old Girls’ Association and I admired the way in which she handled tricky situations firmly and fairly.

She took a science degree at university and continued her sports activities, winning women’s events at the university and also at other athletic meets. After graduation Damayantha taught science at Visakha Vidyalaya for a few years. She will probably be remembered more, however, as the teacher responsible for launching the Visakhians into athletics at school and then encouraging them to participate in inter-school meets.

Damayantha was a public-spirited woman who believed in giving something back to the community. She served on the central board of the Lanka Mahila Samithi and was its general secretary. She was chairperson of the finance committee of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association and was on the Committee of ECLOF.

It was at university that Damayantha had met her future husband, S.K. I thought they might have met each other much earlier, for the fathers of both were highly-esteemed figures at Lake House. Both men shared a broad humanity in their outlook on life. I’m sure Damayantha’s and S.K’s union was a marriage of true minds. She was the perfect helpmeet for him as he attained eminence in business circles and later went to London as our High Commissioner. With her keen aesthetic sense, she refurbished the HC’s residence and laid out a beautiful garden there, as she later did at their home in Claasen Place when they returned to Sri Lanka.

In London, Damayantha was patron of the Women’s Council which was established to foster friendship and co-operation between Asian women and their counterparts in Britain.She was also patron of the Sri Lanka Women’s Association in Britain and she served on the Committee of the Commonwealth Countries League in London. She was specially chosen as chairperson of the London Commonwealth Fair in 1997 which had been designated as the Year of the Commonwealth. The Patron of the League was Betty Boothroyd, the then Speaker of the British House of Commons.

Having been an enthusiastic member of the Sri Lanka Mahila Samithi and its general secretary, Damayantha was ideally suited to represent Sri Lanka at international meetings and conferences of the Associated Countrywomen of the World.

As the eldest in a family of seven (two girls and five boys), she was a strength to her parents and was much loved and looked up to by her siblings.

Damayantha seemed to have inherited her father’s genial nature and her mother’s warm friendliness and caring disposition. She did her good deeds unostentatiously, not letting her right hand know what her left hand did, but she will be sadly missed by the many beneficiaries of her kindness and generosity. Her many friends will grieve that she is no more with them.

She was sustained by her deep Christian faith and did not let her mind dwell on negatives, but was always thankful for the blessings she enjoyed.

We can but offer our heartfelt sympathies to S.K., her husband of nearly 60 years, who will suffer an irreplaceable sense of loss at her departure, and to her brothers and her beloved only sister, all of whom will also feel a deep void in their lives.

I would repeat what I wrote of her father, that the enduring fragrance of a well-lived life lingers in the memory forever.

Anne Abayasekara


Daily News Friday Dec 23 2011

Kenneth M de Lanerolle:

Irreparable loss to all

As a former student of Kenneth M de Lanerolle at Kingswood College and as an admirer of his exemplary life and work I wish to sketch these lines in appreciation of the life and activities of this educational giant, excellent teacher, prolific writer and poet, effective mimic and singer who had a whole range of talents that embellished his vibrant personality. His death a few years ago is admittedly an irreparable loss to all those who knew him and particularly to his former students at Kingswood, Wesley and Carey who came under his benign influence.

My first encounter with Kenneth de Lanerolle was at Kingswood College where he was an efficient principal when I was a senior student. Secondly I came to know his propensities in teaching English when I became a teacher of the same discipline. Later, on his retirement from service he came to live in close proximity to my residence at Peradeniya Road. In each of these changing phases of his busy and exemplary life I came to understand him from widely different perspectives.

As a principal, we students were virtually mesmerised by his dominant personality and the flawless English he spoke. The other teachers of English looked up to him as the best model of an English teacher - and he was that. In retired life I saw him as a person with more subdued emotions striving to fit into the mundane society replete with completely different values from what he cherished.

Kenneth M de Lenerolle was easily one of the best principals ever produced and like all good principals of his calibre at times he showed dictatorial attitudes to uphold discipline and order in the students and the academic institutions which he served with much love and affection. Throughout his entire life, he was a loner and showed an aloofness in life and very often this made him to be misunderstood as too stern a man to be dealt with. But the fact remained that he helped many a person with his wise guidance and rich experience specially in pedagogy and psychology. A very strong point in Kenneth de Lanerolle's character was that he was a very firm and determined disciplinarian and at times this turned out to be his weak point too.

During his stewardship of Kingswood, he did not stress only on the improvement of the academic standard of the school but he did his best to improve all other aspects of the school life including the tasteful landscaping of the school premises to improve its aesthetic appearance. At Kingswood he completely reorganized the administration of the college office and being a great lover of books and a collector of books he infused a new lease of life to the college library and inculcated the reading habit and promoted writing and debating among the senior students of the school.

Whatever he undertook he handled it with competence, commitment, honesty and responsibility and he was an indomitable fighter for the principles he believed in. Those who knew him would endorse the fact that honesty and integrity (very rare commodities these days) were stamped on his life throughout his private and official career.

Kenneth de Lanerolle belonged to a class of talented and dedicated men of the previous generation who took an equal interest in many activities outside his immediate profession and until his death he had an abiding interest in and a singular attachment to the teaching of English in which he was an expert.

With his inherited gifts and the strength of his personality, Kenneth de Lanerolle was well equipped to gain eminence in any sphere of activity but for several decades he engaged himself in the teaching of English and the writing of books and contributed readable articles to the local press. Kenneth de Lanerolle was also a much sought after poet who wrote under the pen name KENDEL formed using the syllables of his name Kenneth de Lanerolle. He wrote the Kingswood Prologue (a unique feature at Kingswood College annual Prize Givings) for several years and his prize day reports both at Wesley and Kingswood are a class by themselves.

Throughout his life, he cared little for honour or fame and he always dedicated himself for the cause of education and many students as well as adults sought his wise counsel at various stages of their lives. Whoever that went to Kenneth de Lanerolle for advice on any matter, came out with a lighter heart and a wiser mind. Numerous students and teachers who passed through his hands will continue to revere his memory and value his inspiring life. His silent service to the country, specially to Kindswood, Wesley and Carey were numerous, his achievements were remarkable and he possessed a wide knowledge about men and matters which he had acquired.

Though his physical body is no longer with us, his breathing spirit will thrust itself into the lives of all his admirers constantly reminding them the noble ideals for which Kenneth de Lanerolle stood throughout his long life. Thousands of his students and admirers who deeply respect this unique personality are scattered throughout the country and all of them owe a deep debt of gratitude to this noble son of our soil. Memories of his life, rich with experience, wisdom and foresight will continue to resonate for many more years. His death marked the end of a golden era.

Andrew Scott


Lal Wickramarachchi:

Artiste of excellence

It was one of the worst shocks in life to hear that Lal Wickramarachchi had bid adieu to us, so early - at the age of 62. Impermanent life is a permanent feature. In the midst of such impermanency, his smile, always with an enjoyable quip will be permanently carved in our memories.

Lal was my friend from early 70s. His sister and brother-in-law who were my batch mates at Peradeniya University - in the great Pera - 60 batch - brought us together. In my official visits to Colombo, I used to visit his B-I-L Nanda and Jayantha, where I met Lal, who usually did not button the two top of his shirt, symbolically exposing his clean heart. I was Lal's temporary overnight room-mate on and off, at his sister's. He visited us and three images of my daughters clicked in Polonnaruwa still adorn our family photograph collection.

This gave us an opportunity to chat till late in the night on various subjects- politics, films, life and environment. I remember he used to be more a kid when he was in the company of his eldest nephew Ravin, whom he used to annoy by heckling. He continued this relationship with his other nephews too. He was a great 'maternal uncle' figure to them.

He was a friend more than the husband to Darshinie; and, a friend more than the father to Lakshitha and Chiranjeeva. I have seen them as a wonderful couple and family, always taking things easy. They will be missing him enormously, only for that quality alone in Lal, even if all his massive stock of good and excellence is overlooked.

He was a great lover of environment as proved by his living in the village of Pallewela. I have been to his home which was an epitome of love towards environment. I remember attending the funeral of his father some years back and walking to the cemetery on a country road. Though I could not walk to the cemetery with his remains this time, as I was abroad when he passed away, I visualize the meandering road to the cemetery through the green environment which he loved.

He had an excellent chronology in film making. Of course, he started small, and made that small beautiful.

His career commenced as a trainee in 1973 under a German expert at the film unit, his contemporaries being HD Mahindapala and Chandra Dissanayake. He initially shone as a documentary cameraman by filming Mathru Prasadini and Vevai Dagebai.

Lal's first film - Manmula Vel directed by Tissa Abeysekara is believed to have been destroyed at Vijaya Studio at Hendala during the racial riots in July 1983. The leading characters in Manmula Vel - Dhamma Jagoda - my school day friend from Hikkaduwa, maestro Vijaya Kumaratunga, stage and film actor U. Ariyawimal, great director Tissa Abeysekara, the producer Munidasa Silva of Lintons fame, dancing maestro Sesha Palihakkara etc are no more. Has Lal joined them elsewhere to discuss with them the good old days of Manmula Vel

He was later the cameraman in Tissa Abeysekara's Viragaya. In my mind Viragaya was the undaunted challenge faced by Lal and even Tissa Abeysekara, respectively in filming and directing, due to the complexities in the characters in the story. He was the cameraman of films created by Dharmasena Pathiraja, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Asoka Handagama and Sanath Gunathilaka.

He won awards for cameraman-ship for Watsala Akka (Presidential Award 1985), for Viragaya (Swarnasanka award and OCIC in 1987), for Bhava Duka in 1997, for Asoka Handagama's Channa Kinnari (OCIC award in 1998). He was the cameraman in Beeshanaye Athuru Kathawak, Mathu Yam Dawasa, Sudu Kaluwara, Ekamath Eka Rataka, and Sanda Yahanata.

My sweet friend, may you attain Nibbana.

Austin Fernando



Sunday Dec 11 2011

Five years without darling Dada

Bryan paul senanayake

It is hard to believe that 1,826 days have passed since you left us. I miss you as if it were yesterday.
I miss your smile, your hugs, your kisses, and just holding your hand. I think about you every day and speak to you in my head so often.

I wish you could see your grandchildren. I regret daily that you weren’t able to hang on just another one-and-a-half months to see Buggy. You would have loved them to bits, and enjoyed them so much. Malla looks so much like you. Recently, we looked at one of your boyhood photos, in one of the many albums of yours I treasure, and combed Malla’s hair with a middle parting. He looked the picture of you.
Life has never been the same without you, Dada, and I know it won’t be complete until I see you again and am back in your arms.

Among the many life lessons I have learnt through these years is that I did not appreciate you enough when you were with me. But I hope you know how deeply grateful I am to you, and how much I love you. Thank you for all the love you gave me, the faith you instilled in me, and the blessing of having you to call my father.

I wish I will be blessed to dream of you more often. At least, then I see you alive and well. Smiling, laughing. I know you are much happier now with Jesus and Mother Mary. I also know that you are always looking over me. I will always hold you close in my heart. I need always to feel that you are with me and close to me.

Five years seems long with the pain of your loss. Every day I miss you more.

With all my love, 
Your daughter, Shima

Exemplary politician who lives on in the hearts of all who knew him

M. L. M. Aboosally

It has been six long years since my beloved husband passed away, in December 2005. Not a day goes by without his presence in our thoughts.

He was a devoted father and grandfather, involved and always there for his children and grandchildren, in every aspect of their lives. Today, our children and grandchildren reside in all parts of the world, doing well in whatever occupation or studies they have undertaken. He would have been a very proud parent and grandparent.

It is sad he did not live to meet his youngest grandson or the latest addition to our family, our great-granddaughter. The only certainty in life is death. It is the quality of the life one lives that matters.

It gives me great satisfaction, as I reflect on our life together for 55 years, to remember the care and devotion he showed towards the family and me.

As a Member of Parliament, representing Balangoda for 17 years, District Minister of Ratnapura, Deputy Minister of Mahaweli, and Cabinet Minister of Labour, he did much for the development of his constituency, district and country. He is remembered with great love, respect and reverence for the qualities he possessed and lived by.

He was a man of absolute honesty and integrity. He never sought personal glory. He was a man who believed in fair play and justice. He never held a grudge and never sought vengeance. He was an exemplary politician.

As a family we are indeed proud of his achievements, but even prouder of his impeccable name and reputation, and the high esteem in which he is held by the people he loved and served.

My husband’s legacy is not measured by his achievements in life or by material wealth but in the love and respect that lives on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.

Salma Aboosally, Balangoda

The cheerful philanthropist, with a great sense of humour

S. A. W. Wijesinghe

S. A. W. Wijesinghe departed from this world on December 11, 2010. He was born in 1920, in Bunnehepola, a hamlet in the “coconut triangle.” An only child, born with the proverbial “silver spoon in his mouth”, he lost his parents before he reached the age of 24. With an inherited fortune, teetotaller and non-smoker, the young Wilson met our late father and proposed to my eldest sister, beautiful Chandra. They were married in 1945 and settled down in Panadura.

Glancing through old books from his collection, I found works of several renowned authors, all signed and dated in the 1938-41 period. He loved books and was reading the best writers from the age of 18. He courageously bore the loss of all his wealth and material possessions over the years. He was always cheerful, and never lost his sense of humour.

The times he spent with us are memorable and joyous. He loved to talk of the old times, his childhood, the growing up years. He would sing verses from the Tower Hall theatre dramas. In my retirement, we would spend hours discussing family, religion, history, and politics.

He never got over the untimely death of his wife (our sister Chandra), 15 years ago. After the demise of their only son, he left Panadura , where he had lived for 64 years, and went back to Kurunegala, his final abode, where he spent his final years in the loving care of his only daughter and son-in-law.

A couple of years ago, weak yet with a strong will, he walked over to the next house, where I lived, carrying a tattered pillowcase. He wanted my wife to stitch it. When she offered him a new pillowcase instead, he said, “No, I have quite a few unused ones, but this is a precious item. It is from Chandra’s pillow, which I always kept next to mine.”

When I visited S. A. W. Wijesinghe in Kurunegala a month before his death, the person looking after him told me: “He talks of owning a 500-acre tea estate in the Sri Pada area. His mind occasionally wanders, otherwise he is quite normal and alert.”

S. A. W. Wijesinghe’s mind was not wandering. He was referring to Dalhousie Estate, in Maskeliya, which he owned. He donated land on either side of the estate road to religious organisations. His biggest act of philanthropy was in 1951, when the Principal of Mahanama, Panadura, asked him for a contribution to help the school buy a 96-perch block of land for the school’s expansion project: S. A. W. Wijesinghe wrote a cheque for the full value of the property. The buildings that came up on the property stand as monuments to his memory.

We visited him in hospital a few days before his demise. He appreciated our coming to see him. When I wished him good-bye, there was such a beautiful smile on his face. He held my hand and said, “Life is … it’s all uncertain. … now get back, before it gets late. … thank you. …”

During his last few years, on a beautiful evening, with the sun going down and the moon rising serenely, bathing the landscape with its radiance, he would sing his favourite song, his frail voice gradually fading away.

“Sobhana Chandra … nega enava, Chandravo oba sihi venava …”
He died a happy man, craving nothing, and with a profound understanding of life and reality.

K. K. S. Perera

Friend, confidante and most generous-hearted of teachers

Ianthe Perisi

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. – James 3:1 (NIV) Miss Ianthe, as she was known here at Logos College, was not just a teacher. Mentor, friend, confidante – she was truly a teacher, someone who went beyond imparting knowledge and gave freely, not only of her time but of herself.

She knew how to listen. She knew what to say, and when to say it. She saw every child as an individual, and believed each had something unique and wonderful to offer the world. She was in many ways the kind of teacher we all strive to be.

Today we thank God for her service and ministry here at Logos. Our memories of her vary. Some remember her as a colleague and close friend, quick to love and slow to judge. Others look back on her generosity, remembering the love and care she poured into everything.

She was the life and soul of any event at Logos, and her wide variety of dishes and treats will be missed by staff and students alike.

She was able, at the worst of times, to see the very best in those around her, and perhaps it was this that made her unconquerable, even in the face of the fiercest adversity. Although she has gone to be with Jesus, we are reminded of her all the time.

We see her daily in the growing confidence of a young adult she once expressed faith in, and in the quick wit of a little child who learnt English from her. Evidence of her love and care fall on our desks every week as students who have studied under her excel at what they do.

As we stood with our students at her funeral, and wondered how they would come to terms with her absence, we realised we could never really explain why Miss Ianthe was gone.

Then again, as we look at her life and legacy here at Logos, the why becomes less important. She was here, she loved all, and was loved by all, and God used her mightily in every sphere of school life. She was with us for a season, a season we will never forget. Although we will miss her, we know that she is at peace, resting safe in the presence of the Greatest Teacher of All.

The Staff of Logos College Colombo

Wise, just and kind

Mrs. Ianthe was our teacher – wise
Just, kind, never telling lies;
She taught us speech, she taught it well
Of river, mountain, wood and dell.

Small in stature, great in heart,
Her faith in God will never depart;
She told us of God and His ways
Taught us many poems, gave us praise.

When the poetry competition came,
She gave us poems of much fame;
Her judgment was good, just and sound
When the time came, no flaw was found.

Mrs. Ianthe is with God now
Rejoicing in heaven, ask not how;
Her love and generosity will never be forgotten
Till the whole world is old, dead and rotten.

A Loving Student



DN Tuesday Dec 6 2011

Regis Solangarachchi:

Honest teacher

Dearest Regis Sir. Today, you are no more although the golden memories of you emanate all the time. As an honest person you always fulfilled your duties at every moment, dearest Sir.

Although, an English trained teacher, you had the ability to teach social studies and environmental studies. You always practised your religion. You always welcomed and touched the hearts and minds of new teachers and young persons.

As an exemplary master at St Joseph's College, Colombo 10, you led a very simple lifestyle.

You always encouraged the newcomers of the teaching profession. Your attractive smile had numerous secrets of your life, dear Regis Sir.

Your impregnable arguments could not be disputed, dear master. You admired all the teachers embracing your kind heart and mind. All the angels are waiting for you to get you into heaven, dear Sir. You beloved wife Stella will continue in your footsteps.

Malintha Bopearatchy


Sarita Peiris:

Unforgettable personality

Sarita came into my life almost 15 years ago. She moved into the Devarajan household and soon became a part of the entire extended family. Our joys, our sorrows, our laughter and our trials were hers too. Our children and our grandchildren were her's as well. When she got sick a few years ago we carried the burden with her. We loved her very much. Her amazing life was a triumph over disaster. Because she loved life so much I know she will love death as well. We will miss her-her warm-hearted generosity of mind and spirit.. We let her move on with tears but we grieve not for her but for ourselves..

Go in peace, my friend, my daughter.

Aunty Saji



DN Monday Nov 28 2011

Shelton Ranaraja:

Personality who stood against injustice

Although my memory of my father Shelton Ranaraja commences from the early 70s, he has shared many stories of his childhood and his youth. They were narrated, most of the time, when we sat on the balcony of our home, overlooking the Kandy City, the lake and the Dalada Maligawa; a scenic view which he cherished. He also discussed matters relating to politics, law, sports, social service, great personalities and gave us unstinted advice and guidance.

My father commenced his early education at Trinity College, Kandy and thereafter moved to S Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia where he attended school from the boarding. He discussed his school days with pride and happiness, narrating the good old stories, including that of his friends and teachers. He excelled in Cricket, Athletics and Boxing. He played in the 1945 ‘Royal-Thomian’, he sprinted to victory in the 440 yards at the public schools meet, and he received college colours in the popular ‘STC AC BC CC’. Athletics, Boxing and Cricket at S Thomas. About a week before he passed away, when asked about his difficulty in walking, he smilingly recalled his achievement winning the 440 and said “my legs can’t take me 10 yards now.”

Political carrier

After successfully completing his secondary education, he entered Ceylon Law College in late 1940. He took his oaths as a proctor in December 1949. His father, P B Ranaraja, who represented the Galagedara Electorate at the State Council in 1930’s, also took his oaths as an advocate on the same day. This was the first recorded instance where father and the son had entered the legal profession on the same day.

My father was in an out of active legal practice due to his political involvement. After giving up active politics in 1989, he wanted to retire from practising law to spend more time with the family and also to enjoy his retirement. However, he was compelled to continue with the legal profession and represented his clients gratis. After completing 50 years at the bar in 1999, he completely gave up his practice.

His political carrier was much debated in many corners of the Sri Lankan society. Firstly, although his father contested from the UNP and represented the State Council, he contested from the SLFP in July 1960 and received no support from his family circle as a result of his decision to contest from the SLFP. However, he was elected to the parliament from the Senkadagala electorate, with a narrow margin of 25 votes. In December 1964, he was expelled from the SLFP, along with a few others, as they voted against the “Press Bill” which eventually led to the dissolution of the Parliament in 1965. He described walking across the well of the parliament to sit in the opposition benches and specifically mentioned that he together with some of his colleagues opposed the bill purely on principle and not for any sort of gratification.

Against injustice

Having stayed away from politics after the dissolution of the 1965 parliament, he contested the Senkadagala electorate in 1977 on the invitation of then leader of the UNP, J R Jayewardene. Having been elected, he served until 1989 as the Deputy Minister of Justice and acted as the minister on several occasions. He formed a youth brigade to support his campaign and visited each and every house in the electorate during and after elections.

Even though he contested from the SLFP and the UNP, he valued the communist ideas as well. He was never scared to speak against injustice, irrespective of their race, religion or caste. There were many articles written about his political career and courage to stand against injustice but this one remained untold. When my father had told President Jayawardene that he would oppose the motion against Amirthalingam in Parliament on the basis that it was the right of the opposition to criticize the government on policies that may be detrimental to the people, the President had asked him to stay away from Parliament and abstain from voting. My father replied that it was against his conscience to do as requested and voted against the government motion, whilst Thondaman abstained from voting. This reminds all of us of his courage to stand for justice and equality.

He never failed to intervene when human lives were endangered, their dignity was in jeopardy irrespective of race, caste, religion or political opinion. We treasure his honesty and integrity. He always lived by example and encouraged us to do the same. He opposed the conduct of many politicians and administrators when they acted unlawfully and against the will of the people and said he was only against the unlawful act, but not the person.

Social work

When my mother was engaged with her social work, my father looked after us. He gave us, his five daughters, a good education and encouraged us to serve the public and to treat everyone with respect, honesty and integrity.

He devoted much of his time for social work and free legal aid. He served in the panel of the Human Rights Commission in Kandy since 2001 without receiving any payment. To my knowledge he inquired into over 100 complaints within a period of eight months and when he discovered that recommendations made after the inquiry were not being carried out, he resigned form this panel.

During the last few weeks, all the children, sons-in-law and grand children joined him at his house.

We were beside him when he breathed his last. He spoke to all his children, sons-in-law, grandchildren and his elder brother. Finally, he called my mother, held her hand and whispered softly: “Amma, I need to go”. This was the love, care and trust he had in my mother.

I, together with my family, express our gratitude to all those who shared in the joy, happiness, laughter and sorrow with him at all times and enabled him enjoy a life that was filled with love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

-Shamila


S Pathiravitana:

Excellence was what he aimed at

S. Pathiravitana, former Editor of Daily News passed away recently after a brief illness.

“Pathi” as he was fondly called by everyone was the Editor of the Daily News in 1977 and subsequently became the Editor-in-Chief of the English Newspapers of ANCL from 1995.

Pathiravitana received his Education at Colombo Ananda College. As Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the English Newspapers he discharged his responsibilities with unsurpassed distinction and unsullied honours.

When late Fred de Silva was the Editor of the Daily News, Pathiravitana worked as Deputy Editor. Pathi was one of those great wielders of the pen who adorned the prestigious seat of Editor of the Daily News in the seventies and nineties when he was the Editor-Chief of the English Newspapers.

Pathiravitana ran a column called “Mithuna” for which Fed de Silva contributed regular feature, Fred wrote an article called “Dress sense” which appeared in the Daily News, making irreverent remarks on the Dress etiquette, the Criminal Justice Commission imposed on all who had to appear before it.

The commission found guilty of contempt of court though Pathiravitana was the author of the column. Pathi was not the kind of individual who would have crossed swords with a Court of Law. Fred had written the piece and he was sent to jail for six months and reprieved later. After Fred de Silva’s death Pathiravitana became the Editor of Daily News.

Pathiravitana was indeed an inspiration and guide to young journalists. He was a mirthful journalist and decent human being.

He was unobtrusive and understood the failings of all other journalists and forgave them. He was a robust optimist who saw good in the world than evil. He denounced falsehood and hypocrisy. He was a humanist with deep faith in humanism. He had a broad outlook, sagacious judgement and mellowed wisdom. He never harboured a grievance or grudge. His sincerity and steadfastness to friends and all other associates should serve as an object lesson for all where changing loyalties and shifting attitudes are the order of the day.

Pathiravitana viewed life as a pre-ordained opportunity to attain perfection through a blend of human and divine love and to blaze a righteous trail for others to follow and perpetuate.

He had an unshakable faith in God, charitable understanding, supreme affection towards everyone which have notched a permanent niche for him towards everyone.

“Pathi” had left an indelible impression in most of what he touched with rare dynamism and exemplary zeal. He was literally a comet who blazed momentarily across our skills, leaving in his trail a luminescence which the passing of time can hardly erase. He will be always remembered by all the junior and senior journalists for his work, worth and value. His loss is irreparable to all the journalists at Lake House. The thought of his death is poignant, but his memory is fragrant.

May I say:

“Goodnight sweet prince and May the Flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Chelvathamby Maniccavasagar


Sunday Times Dec 4 2011

Gentle, generous Poonana lived smiling and departed smiling

AS. Seyyed M.H.M. Ashroff

My father Marhoom As-Seyyed Mohammed Haneefa Mohammed Ashroff Moulana passed away on November 5 (Zul-Hajj 1432 A.H.). He was 78 years old. Many in business circles knew him as “Ashraf Doray” or “Ashraf Nana”, while some simply called him “Ashraf”.

In the family circle he was known as “Poo Machchan”, “Poonana” and “Poo” among his elders. “Poo” in Tamil means flower, gentle or nice. Verily he was a nice, gentle and kind-hearted person. He never hurt anybody, and no servant or driver was ever scolded for his blunders.

He never regarded himself as a chief, boss or head of the family. He was sincere and honest, so honest that he found it hard to keep a secret, so he was nicknamed “Oata waai” (broken mouth) in the family circle.

Frequently, he would sit and have meals with the servants and drivers at the same table, for he was a down-to-earth gentleman. Whoever met him was greeted with humility and a pleasant smile. He had a high respect, regard and love for “mashaikhs” – religious dignitaries, and ulama-e-kiraam.

He especially loved the mashaikhs of the Silsil – a – Naqshabandiah Awaisiah Thareegath, Pakistan.
Dada’s early life was a sad one. His father, who came from India, died when Dada was nine years old. His younger brothers, the late Faalir, who became a civil engineer for the Public Works Department, and the late Rishard, who worked as a senior import-and-export officer at the Habib Bank, were seven and three years old at the time.

When Dada’s father died, the relatives in India wanted to take the children back to India. They tried very hard to take my Dada, but my late grandmother (originally from Minuwangoda, who then lived in Mutuwal and later put up at Layards Broadway, in Grandpass) was determined not to let this happen. So they stayed back in Sri Lanka. My Dad took on the burden of the family at a young age, after passing the SSC at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. With his small earnings, he saw to it that his younger brothers were educated.

Dada’s generosity was immense. He never said “no” to anyone who asked for financial assistance. He felt that saying “no” would hurt the person. If he was not in a position to help, he would help by borrowing. He even gave his father’s house to his cousins free of charge. He liked the poor and moved well with them. Personally, I was not in favour of his way of life and certain of his excessive actions. But I greatly admired his qualities. I am proud to call myself Dada’s eldest son because of his tremendous trustworthiness. Pettah businessmen, especially the Memon community, bear witness to this quality of Dada’s.

There is one particular incident from Dada’s life that inspires in me immense pride and respect for him. While he was working for Ismail Aboobaker and Company, the late Haji Ismail Aboobaker wrote the title deeds of two coconut estates, in Madurankuli, Puttalam, and many vans in my Dad’s name. The estates were more than 100 acres each. When my Dad left Ismail Aboobaker and Company, he transferred all the deeds and vans back in the late Haji Ismail’s name. This undeniable act of “trust” sent shock waves among the Pettah businessmen. That was the level of trust he inspired. 
My Dad never cheated or deceived anyone, nor did he backstab anyone. He had no enemies.
Alhamdhulillah lamented, “Laa ilaha illa antha subhanaka innee kunthu minal lalimeen”, even on his deathbed. He grew his beard in accordance with Sunnah ways, regretted past follies, and was ever repentant.

Before his death, he distributed his properties among his five sons. He kept no life interest in any property; instead, he wrote everything up front for all the sons. Alhamdhulillah, his departure was peaceful. It was during one of the best days of the Islamic year – that is, within the first ten days of Zul-Hajj. All who came for his janaaza were astonished to see his smiling face, which was a sign of a dweller in paradise. Many who came commented that he lived smiling and departed smiling.

My beloved Ustaard-Mukarram (Rah) always said: “Keep friendship only with the descendants of the Khulafa-e - Raashideen viz. Hazrats Abu Baker, Umar, Usman and Ali (Ridl) as they will never betray you at any time.”

‘Seyyeds” are also descendants of Hazrat Ali (Karramallahu) and my father showed that he truly was a “Seyyed” by not betraying anyone during his life.

“Jazakallah Khair dada, May Almighty Allah expand your grave and grant you Jannathul Firdous in the Akhirath” Ameen.

“Verily we are from Allah, unto Him do we return.”

As-Seyyed M.R. Quraish Moulana

The professor was called Canada’s greatest gift to Sri Lanka

Prof. Evan alan hardy

The 48th death anniversary of Professor Evan Alan Hardy falls today. It is rare to find a man who has lived a full life. In the case of Professor Evan Alan Hardy, it was a life lived for the well-being of mankind. Born on October 18, 1890, in Sioux City, Iowa, USA, Evan A. Hardy began his life in a humble farm. Having obtained his BSc in Agricultural Engineering from the Iowa State University College in 1917, he joined the academic staff of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, soon after his marriage to Lois Hicks of Iowa.

He returned to Iowa State again in 1922 to obtain his MSc degree. In 1926, he became head of the Agricultural and Engineering Department of Saskatchewan University, Canada, where he served for more than 30 years, till his retirement.

Saskatchewan farms were among the most highly mechanised, and Prof. Hardy played the biggest role in accelerating that mechanisation, emphasizing modern methods of using farm machinery.

In 1957, he took up an UN/FAO assignment as Advisor to the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). His expertise was available to the Maha Illuppalama Agriculture Centre, and later he was called upon to organise and direct a training programme and to set up a Technical Training Institute. This institute would produce Sri Lanka’s own engineers to operate the development programme in the Gal-Oya valley. Prof. Hardy compared this programme to the Tennessee Valley Authority. It took on the tasks of irrigation, supplying electricity, improving agriculture techniques, protecting against floods, developing roads, cities and villages in the 1,200 square miles of the historic Digamadulla region. 
From January 15, 1956, till the time of his death in Ampara, on December 4, 1963, Prof. Hardy toiled in the Technical Training Institute (TTI) not only to make engineers of men who had no mechanical experience but to help them assume their responsibility “on the job.”

There are three education institutions in the world dedicated to the memory of Prof. Hardy. The engineering building of the University of Saskatchewan was named after him. The Saskatchewan Collegiate Board honoured Prof. Hardy who served the board for many years by naming the New College at Central Avenue Evan Hardy Collegiate School. We in Sri Lanka pay tribute to the great son of Canada by enshrining his name in the Hardy Senior Technical Institute, Ampara. Prof. Hardy, often referred to as Canada’s “greatest gift” to Sri Lanka, modelled this institute on the Saskatchewan University as an autonomous seat of learning serving local and South-East Asian needs.

Prof. Hardy called upon the experience and knowledge gained during his 31 years at the University of Saskatchewan, in building up the institute.

Prof. Hardy, who passed away at the age of 63, was director of the institute. He was cremated at the institute premises in the presence of a large crowd that included VIPs from several countries, including high government officials.

As a fitting tribute to the memory of this truly great man and the contributions he made to technical education in this country, the Technical Training Institute was renamed the Hardy Institute of Technical Training after his death. In 1966, when the administration was transferred to the Ministry of Education, the name was changed to the Hardy Senior Technical Institute. Prof. Evan A. Hardy has become a legend in this country.

Chandra Nanayakkara

Instructive and inspiring master-pupil relationship to the end

Kenneth M.De Lanerolle

Kenneth. M. de Lanerolle was my teacher at Wesley College, Colombo. As an ardent Buddhist, I owe him a deep debt of gratitude for all the English he taught me, and the ethical values I learnt in the awesome aura of his rich Christian life and experience.

In school, he earned the respect and admiration of his pupils by his ability to enforce discipline. “Lany” was a terror because he was a disciplinarian, but we loved and respected him all the same. We knew he was showering us with parental care and moulding us as responsible future citizens. In school, I would nervously say, “Good morning, Sir”, and now, with equal respect and humility I say, “Fare thee well, Sir, on thy onward journey.”

I lost touch with Lany after leaving school. I had heard that he had headed a Sri Lankan mission that served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

One day, when I was living in Kandy, I ran into him quite unexpectedly on Peradeniya Road. He was thrilled to recall the old school ties. He visited me the next morning, driving his Volkswagen Beetle to “Haanswyk”, in Asgiriya, where I was staying. From then on I would call on him at his home in Peradeniya Road, where he lived with his sister Hazel, of whom he was very fond.

All these visits were spiritual communications of sorts, at which master and pupil discovered each other in depth. Every visit turned into a discourse on English. We discussed at length many intricate points in English usage.

I always addressed him as “Sir”. One day, when I was visiting him, his sister Hazel called out to me and said, “Mervyn, could you please ask Uncle whether he would like to have his tea now.” My guru overheard this, and promptly shot back at his sister, saying, “No, Hazel, he cannot call me Uncle, he was my pupil.”

Later, when distance separated us again, we kept in touch by letter. His long type-written letters were quite interesting. His signature was the most curious I have ever seen; it looked like a flight of birds. Sometimes he would enclose little works, such as “The Seven Ages of Woman”, or “The English Teacher.”

He complimented me for keeping alive the lost art of letter writing. His last letter to me came when I was in England. It was written for him by someone at the Brohier Memorial Elders’ Home, where he spent his last days.

After my Kandy days, we would meet frequently at Wesley College, where he was on a special assignment while in retirement. He would stay for periods in Watapuluwa, Pitakotte, and Mt. Lavinia, before moving into the Brohier Memorial Elders’ Home. He lost his sister Hazel at the time he was living in Mt. Lavinia. His mood changed very much with her death.

Whenever I called on him at Buller’s Lane, during his visits to Colombo from Watapuluwa. Lany he would discuss with me his last pet project, “Names to Remember.” He invited me to the book launch. He was also concerned about a reprint of “Southern River.” I have with me a copy of “Names to Remember”, and other books of his, all of which strengthen my memories of a teacher of a rare kind.
It was heart-warming to see so many of his old pupils calling on him from time to time at the Brohier Memorial Home, and graciously doing things for him. If there was anything he would have called his “absolute favourite”, it was seeni-kehel bananas.

He told visitors that he wanted them to see him dressed in his pyjamas. He always had a new pair of pyjamas ready and stored under his bed. He certainly left his footprints in the sands of time. 
May we meet you again, Sir, on that distant shore.

Mervyn Nanayakkara



Sunday Times Nov 27 2011

Staunch Christian and upright lawyer who made a lasting contribution to the legal profession

Emil Joseph Ajantha Coorey

The 10th death anniversary of Emil Joseph Ajantha Coorey, Senior Attorney-at-Law, falls on November 29, 2011. That very morning, 10 years ago, on November 29, 2001, he came to Hulftsdorp, and after appearing in a case, he went home. That afternoon, he passed away, calmly and serenely. His sudden death caused shock and sorrow to his family and to all who knew him.

Emil Joseph Ajantha Coorey hailed from a distinguished family of legal professionals. He was a son of the late Austin Coorey, Senior Attorney-at-Law, and Mrs. Muriel Coorey. His only brother, Dr. Sunil Coorey, is also a respected Senior Attorney-at-Law.

Mr. Coorey was a distinguished student of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He pursued his studies in law while serving in the Commercial Bank of Ceylon. After obtaining his Bachelors in Law degree as an external student, he joined the Sri Lanka Law College and passed out as an Attorney-at-Law in 1977. He was privileged to serve in the Chambers of the late G. F. Sethukavalar, President’s Counsel.

Mr. Coorey gradually built up his practice, and at the time of his demise he was enjoying an extensive practice in the original and appellate Courts. He was much sought after for his expertise in Banking and Commercial Law. He counted several reputed banks and companies among his clients.

Mr. Coorey’s services to the legal profession and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka were outstanding. For several years, he served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Bar Association, and later as an Assistant Secretary, and finally as its Secretary. He was chairman of the organising committee of the Law Asia Conference that was held in Sri Lanka in 1993. He was a member of the Council of Legal Education, and at the time of his demise he was Secretary of the Colombo Law Library.

In addition, Mr. Coorey was the author of the Consolidated Digest of New Law Reports. He was instrumental in getting published the amended versions of the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Partition Act, which immensely benefited members of the legal profession, the judiciary and law students.

He wrote a number of articles on Banking Law for prestigious journals. Mr. Coorey was a devoted Roman Catholic. In fact, his deeply rooted Christianity was the strength and vigour of his life, and permeated every aspect of his life – professional, domestic and social.

Mr. Coorey was a man of absolute honesty and integrity. He shied away from personal glory and publicity. His dedication and uncompromising loyalty to his profession was never in doubt. By nature, he was outspoken and did not hesitate to make his views known in matters relating to the legal profession and the Bar Association, how unpopular such issues were.

This he did without giving a thought to possible adverse effects of such strong views on his professional career. I am personally aware of one such incident that did have an adverse effect on his professional career. At the same time, he was open to persuasion. But once he had reached a decision, he remained very firm about it.

He was meticulous and thorough in everything he did. This was one quality that underlined his success. He left no stone unturned in his efforts to do all he could in his client’s interests. The time he spent on a case was never relevant to the payment he received for his services.

Mr. Coorey never lost his temper. He won his battles through gentle argument and firm conviction. His compassion and kindness knew no bounds. Members of the profession and the judiciary had the highest respect and regard for him.

It is said that greatness is not measured by birth, wealth or fame, nor by the worth of one’s material possessions, but those in whose hearts you live. Mr. Coorey’s greatness will be measured by the love and respect of those who knew him.

Apart from his religion, the other driving force in his life was his family. He was a loving husband to his wife Bernie and a devoted father to his children, Shivan and Shalinee. Notwithstanding his busy practice and other work, he always had time for his family.

The great sacrifices he made for his family have been amply rewarded. His son Shivan passed his Bachelor of Laws degree in the UK , and has taken to law as “a duck takes to water”; his daughter Shalinee has a doctorate in architecture and is a Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Architecture, at the University of Moratuwa. To the great joy of the parents, both are doing extremely well in their chosen professions.

Over the years, many young lawyers had the benefit of working in the Chambers of Emil Joseph Ajantha Coorey. All his juniors were enriched by their association with him.

I had the rare privilege of serving in his Chambers for more than eight years, up to the time of his demise. He was my “guru”. The training and experience I received under him has immensely benefited my career as a lawyer. I am ever grateful for the knowledge, experience and training I received while working under him.

Deep in our hearts, Mr. Coorey is loved and remembered. May his gentle soul rest in the Peace of the Lord whom he served so faithfully.

Varuna Senadhira

Larger-than-life Dharme will live on in the hearts of the people of Kohuwala

Dharmasena ("Antique Dharme”) Gomes

A well-known personality in Kohuwala, Dharmasena Gomes departed this life at the young old age of 67. He was a man of unique qualities and a dominating personality. He was famous for his valuable antiques collection, which attracted locals and tourists. Foreigners and film producers were regular visitors to his antiques gallery.

Dharme was a natural leader, with an amazing gift for success: whatever he was involved in became a success story, however great the odds. Dharme did things his way, with interesting and colourful results. At his wedding, his bride was taken to his house in a decorated bullock cart.

Dharma once initiated an almsgiving (“dhaane”) that continued for one whole year, spread over 12 consecutive full moon days. It was an open almsgiving in memory of his mother, and the clergy of all religions and the people of the area were invited. News spread and hundreds gathered every month for the famous lunch.

Dharma’s great loves were his antiques and the environment. He protected and cherished both like rare treasures. He had a magnetic personality. People would automatically gravitate to wherever Dharme was to be found. He was also a very hospitable person. Visitors to his home always received a warm welcome, whatever the time of day.

A first-time visitor to Sirigal Mawatha, Kohuwala, will be impressed by two huge majestic gates and a block of land filled with trees and foliage, something you do not often see in or around Colombo city limits. This was Dharme’s way of showing his love for the environment.

Dharme’s demise is most sorrowfully felt by his ever-loving wife Samanmali, who dedicated her life to him and nursed him so lovingly during his prolonged illness; his loved ones Ravindra, Nadeesha, and Linara, his little grand-daughter who cried so much that she nearly broke the hearts of those who came to pay their last respects; relatives, neighbours and friends.

Dharme, may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Athula Chandrasiri

You were a charming prince to all of us

Chaminda Sanjeewa Senaratne

I remember that day
31st January 2010 
The news that changed our lives
Something sank in our hearts
You, the youngest of our clan
Met with a nasty crash.

The struggle to make you survive
Was immense from all sides
We held on to our faith
Hoping against hope
The long days and dark nights
For nearly two years you fought

You were the young tender sun
That peeped, shone and in a minute was gone
Your mischievous grin and sweet smile
Lightened our moods
You had many names
Chami, Chum, Pati, and what not
Yes, you were a charming prince, no doubt

You are too good, too sweet, too gentle
Fun you would never shun
Carefree to the utmost
Fond memories of rapturous laugh
Echo in our eager hearts
You were not just the lovely cousin
A brother to all of us, dear indeed!

So goodbye Sweet Chami!
May we meet somewhere in another life!
May you be blessed with long life!
May this end all your suffering
And finally have the supreme bliss
Of Nirvana we all crave

Savithri Jayasinghe Cooray

An officer and gentleman, loved and respected by his Customs colleagues

P. Yoganathan

On this 31st day of remembrance (Anthiyeddi) of Mr. P. Yoganathan, whose sudden demise remains a shock for those who know him, I thought to write a few words about this great personality with whom I associated for more than two decades.

Mr. Yoganathan worked with the Customs Department for well over 35 years. He joined in 1976 and rose to be Director of Customs. His colleagues fondly called him “Yoga”, while high-ranking officers called him “Boss”, and the rank and file called him “Sir”. He also had a nickname, “Gig! Gig! Yoga”, which he earned because of the way he entertained his colleagues and fellow officers with jolly stories to fit any situation, regardless of whether the occasion was official or unofficial.

I am one of the fortunate persons in the Customs Department who had the opportunity to move with him and learn the ropes under his able guidance. To work in the Customs you need not only practical knowledge but also guidance from seniors at various levels.

I first met Mr. Yoganathan in 1990, when I was doing overtime at the Boat Note Passing office, inside the port of Colombo. As a fresher in Customs, I had a challenging time processing documents for export shipments. The huge pile of paperwork you have to get through includes shipping agent documents, Ports Authority documents, and Customs documents.

It was here that I observed Mr. Yoganathan at work, and noted his wealth of knowledge, experience, courage and enthusiasm. He was a great support to me, helping me get through those difficult initial months. He was a good trainer’s trainer.

I later worked with him again, from 1995 to 1998, at the Bandaranaike International Airport passenger terminal, where he was a supervising officer. Unlike import/export cargo handling duties inside the port, working in the airport passenger terminal requires extra special skills, as you are dealing with passengers. No two days are the same at the airport; different situations demand different solutions. Mr. Yoganathan’s ability to handle difficult situations was amazing. I realised how good and able he was in dealing with unforeseen and challenging situations.

His social skills were also outstanding. He was a man of many talents. He could direct theatre shows, organize Karnatic music concerts, and participate in debates. He had a collection of awards from a variety of organisations. He was president of the Customs Hindu Officers Association, working tirelessly for its betterment.Management gurus say that good leaders are good situation handlers, grievance listeners, decision-makers, and so on. Mr. Yoganathan was a natural leader who carried out his duties effectively and efficiently.

He was a teetotaler all his life, and never allowed any weakness to get the better of him. His remarkable qualities and simple lifestyle were discussed by mourners gathered for his funeral. 
Mr. Yoganathan should be held up as an example to our young officers. I have no doubt that many will make Mr. Yoganathan their role model for life.

May your soul attain Shanthi.

Godfrey Anton

The silence of the midnight hour

Elmo Benedict

The silence of the midnight hour
Unchains the spirit in me
And the power of reasoning 
Takes flight beyond 
The limits of my sight.
It may deceive me
Yet it attracts the soul
In search of my beloved;
Memories are priceless possessions
That time can never destroy –
The heart finds its greatest joy
Could you ask for a finer gift?

Lourdeslin Benedict



Daily News Tuesday Nov 22, 2011

As-Seyyed M H M Ashroff:

His generosity was immense

My Dada, As-Seyyed Mohammed Haneefa Mohammed Ashroff Moulana who passed away on November 02, 2011, (05th Zul-Hajj 1432 A.H.), was 78 years old at the time of his death. Many in the business circle knew him as “Ashraf Doray”, “Ashraf Nana” and some simply called him “Ashraf”. Verily he was a very nice, gentle and kind hearted person. He never hurt anybody, even the servants and drivers never got scolded from him for their blunders.

He never had the superiority complex to hurt others. He never regarded himself as a chief, boss or head of the family. He was so sincere that he rarely kept secrets with him, as he let it out due to honesty so he was nicknamed “Oata waai” (broken mouth) in the family circle.

Frequently, he used to sit and have meals with servants and drivers. Whoever met him was greeted with a pleasant smile.

Among his acquaintances, he was never known as a person who belonged to the family of Moulanas or Shahs, in other words, a descendant of our beloved Holy Prophet (Sallallahu-alaihi-wa-sallam). Although he knew he was a “Seyyed”, he never wanted to address himself that way because he always said that, he did not have the piety to carry that name and did not want the image of “Seyyeds” to be tarnished by his actions.

Dada’s initial part of life was a sad one. As his father, who was from India died when he was aged nine. Then his younger brothers, Faalir, who later became a civil engineer at the P W D and Rishard, who worked as a senior import and export officer at the Habeeb Bank Ltd. were just seven and three years old respectively. At his father’s demise, the relatives from India, wanted to take the children along to India and at least tried their level best to take my dada but my grandmother, adamantly did not allow this to happen, thus they stayed back in Sri Lanka. My dad took up the burden of the family at a small age, after he had passed the SSC exams at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He had educated his younger bothers with his paltry earnings.

He helped in many ways and was kind to all and treated all as human beings regardless of the social background. Thus we had at home Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese as servants and drivers.

His generosity was immense. He never said “No” to anyone who asked him directly for financial assistance as he felt that saying “No” will hurt the person. He even gave up his father’s house for his cousins free of charge. He liked the poor and moved well with them.

Personally I was against his way of life and certain actions but, I admired his qualities a lot. Those were treasures I valued from his life span.

I am proud of addressing myself as his eldest son due to his trustworthiness. Pettah businessmen especially the Memon community, knows his trust very well and they bear witness for it.

My dad never cheated or deceived any. He did not have any enemies as he was truthful and gave others’ rights. He never quarreled with any. He always became the scapegoat for his superiors due to his honesty and even languished in jail to safeguard the trust the superiors had for him.

Although, my dada was not pious in his middle age, he tried his level best to up keep with the norms of Islam according to his capacity. Only blemish in his life was the blunder he committed by a controversial marriage which was against the Islamic Shariah that astound the whole family. Indeed it was a trap by certain greedy family members of my mother, who were jealous of my father’s prosperity. Surely Allah Almighty will suffice to judge the actions of the miscreants.

Alhamdhulillah, Allah Almighty was so merciful that my dada realized the blunder during the latter part of his life and made sincere “thauba” and gave up the blunder and sin. By the Grace of Allah, I was personally instrumental to make him realize the blunder as I know the consequences in the Akhirath if he dies without thauba.

Alhamdhulillah, he became pious lastly and always lamented, “Laa ilaha illa antha subanaka innee kunthu minal lalimeen”, even on his death bed.

At the time of death, my dada was debt free, even before his death he distributed his properties among his five sons accordingly. He never kept life interest in any property but wrote everything up front for all of the sons.

Alhamdhulillah, his departure was peaceful and was during one of the best days of the Islamic year that is within the first ten days of Zul-Hajj. All who came for his janaza was astonished to see his smiling face which was a sign of a dweller in paradise. Many who came commented that he lived smiling and departed smiling.

”Jazakallah Khair dada, May Almighty Allah expand your grave and grant you Jannathul Firdous in the Akhirath” Aameen.

As-Seyyed M.R. Quraish Moulana


Sonali Kamini Fonseka nee Dassanayaka:

Irreparable loss

Sonali Kamini Fonseka was educated at Christ King College Pannipitiya. Later she was sent to St Joseph’s College Nugegoda.

She was an English trained teacher and her very first appointment was to Gilimale off Ratnapura. She married to Shantha Dassanayaka owner of Gilimale Walauwa.

Sonali was a perfect hostess who entertained lavishly and ungrudgingly. All relations liked to visit this remote area during the holidays.

Her tragic death was a great shock to everyone who was in touch with her. With her untimely demise on August 27, 2011 Sonali left a void in the Gilimale area which will take a long time to fill.

The world was so cruel to have killed her by a branch of a kumbuk tree falling on her while she was washing clothes in the river. She was a devoted teacher and a principal of the “Raththurugala Maha Vidyalaya”.

As much as she loved people, people loved her. There are virtuous women, but she surpassed of all of them.

Her pupils call her a blessed mother and those who knew her say that she was a unique person, who lived a life of caring and sharing.

The pupils of Raththurugala Maha Vidyalaya paid their last respect by keeping the dead body at school for a few hours before the burial. The amount of banners hanged and condolence messages distributed showed their gratitude towards her.

The large and distinguished crowds including students who visited their now darkened Gilimale walauwa bore ample testimony to how Sonali lived and she was loved.

It is an irreparable loss to the school and children of “Raththurugala Maha Vidyalaya”.

Jayanthi Aunty


Sidat Sri Nandalochana:

My sincere friend is no more

I was indeed very fortunate to have come in contact with Sidat after he joined the college boarding at S Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. This was the beginning of a long and sincere friendship. We had no misunderstandings or ill feelings whatsoever throughout these long years and became so close to each other. I used to spend the major portion of my school vacation at his house at Asoka Gardens. Hence I had the pleasant opportunity of associating his parents, brother Sampath, sister Sujatha and brother-in-law Stanley.

Sidat was a very sincere friend. That was his way. He was sincere to everyone. He gave the best possible advice to me and several others who sought his advice.

He was straightforward and meticulous in everything he did.

I had been out of the city for long periods and it was not possible for me to contact him regularly. However, I made it a point to contact him on his birthday each year and convey my best wishes. When I called him on November 29, 2009 he told me “P N D. Don’t you see that wishing me on my birthday does not mean anything much? We had been good friends for over 50 to 60 years and whether you wish me or not does not mean anything either. Just forget it “I did not wish him in 2010 and he passed away before his birthday this year.

With his demise I have lost a very sincere friend and a worthy adviser. In Buddhist terms he was my Kalyana Mithra and I wish we meet again sometime in Sansara.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

P N D De Silva

 

Daily News Monday Nov 21 2011

Louis Chelliah Williams:

Nineteenth century scholar

November 19th marks the centenary of the demise of Rao Bahadur Louis Chelliah Williams, the 19th century educationist.

Louis Williams was born in Jaffna on February 27 1853 to a family with ancient roots in the Peninsula. His ancestor Pandiyar Mudithodu Vellala Selvarayan Mallavan had journeyed to Madurai in search of a prince whom he then had the honour, in 1215, to crown Kulangkayar Segarajasekeran Vijaya Singai, the founder of the Nallur Arya Chakkaravathi dynasty.

When Louis was 13, he lost his father Robert Williams, and eight year old brother Samuel, due to cholera. Undaunted by this tragic loss, Louis continued with his studies at the Chundukuli Seminary, now St John’s College, where his father Robert had been Head Master.

At the age of 16 after matriculating in the first class, Williams went over to India to enter Presidency College, Madras. He came first in the First-in-Arts examination, and in 1874 graduated in Psychology, Ethics, Mathematics and English. In addition to his BA degree he also received a Licentiate in Teaching.

On completion of his studies, the Principal of Presidency College, Edmund Thompson, appointed Williams as an assistant master in Presidency’s High School Department. This was the start of a long career as teacher and lecturer; in time he was appointed Assistant Professor at Presidency College. After 13 years at Presidency, both as student and teacher, he moved to Rajahmundry College to become Professor of Philosophy and Ethics.

The next stage of Williams’ career began when he entered the education service of the Madras Presidency. He retired as Inspector of Schools.

His scholarship was acknowledged by Mudaliyar Namasivaya, the Tamil author, who invited Williams to pen the introduction to the book Tamil Dramatic Interludes. A distinguished man of letters, in 1896 Williams was inducted as a Fellow of Madras University and served on its Senate.

On his retirement, the government bestowed the title of Rao Bahadur, in recognition of Williams distinguished public service. Literally meaning ‘most honourable prince,’ Rao Bahadur was a title of honour issued in British India.

On June 23, 1879 Louis Chelliah Williams married Susan Ponnamah Rice, the daughter of his maternal uncle, Rev Benjamin Rice. They had two daughters Constance (W R Watson) and Grace (Gordon Kadirgamar), and four sons. One of them, Thurai (L P Williams) followed his father into teaching; another Ratna (S R Williams) became an engineer in Sri Lanka’s Public Works Department. The other two entered the medical profession, Raja (Rao Bahadur Dr R R Williams) assistant to the surgeon general of India, and Thambu (Dr C T Williams) who joined the WHO after long and distinguished career in the Ceylon medical service.

Louis Williams belonged to a family with a strong Christian tradition, and this faith moulded his character and conduct. At his funeral service Rev Brown remarked that: “in Williams was centred a combination of qualities which so far as I know, have not been found in any one man in the past history of Jaffna, within living memory.”

His alma mater has helped to immortalise Louis Chelliah Williams through a plaque erected in the Chapel at St John’s which reads:

His mind was bright, his heart was pure 
His life was love, his faith was sure 
In Christ his Lord, he sought no fame 
But strove to leave a spotless name.

Jayantha Somasundaram


Sugathadassa Marasinghe:

Kind, loving human being

My favourite novelist Somerst Maugham was a qualified doctor and a very learned man. In a book called The Summing Up he set forth his philosophy of life. He identifies loving-kindness (maithri in our language) as the most enduring human value. The final sentence of his book states that the beauty of human life comes from each of us acting in conformity with their own nature and business. As a distant relative of mine by marriage, Sugathadasa Marasinghe first gained my attention by the extraordinary success he achieved in the business of producing films. (It was he who launched hela nili regina Malini Fonseka into the world of film) Thereafter I gradually got to know him well. I sensed his qualities of mind and heart. His life was full of loving kindness. In the world of business, he was ‘a nobody’ who became ‘a somebody.’

Nobodies to Somebodies

Those who are familiar with Dr Kumari Jayawardana’s book titled Nobodies to Somebodies will understand what I mean when I say that Sugathadasa Marasinghe was a nobody who became a somebody.

He did not belong to a house of privilege (walawwa) favoured by the colonial masters of his time. Born into a humble family of five children in the remote feudal village of Walahapitiya in the Puttalam district, by systematically cultivating his natural talents largely by self-education in the art of management Sugathadasa Marasinghe built a formidable business empire. This empire merits study as an example of the rise of the contemporary bourgeoisie career (except for a brief foray into cricket) he became a junior clerk in a state bank from which he dropped out in a matter of months. He did so in order to set up his own business in Lunuwila. Beginning with assembling radios, he gradually expanded the range of his activities and in a couple of decades built up his business empire called Sinhagiri Ltd.

World of Sinhala cinema

But his significant contribution was to the world of Sinhala cinema. During the 1960s and 70s, he produced about 10 Sinhala films, some of which were huge box office hits. Hingana Kolla which starred Vijaya Kumaratunga and Malini Fonseka in addition to Ravindra Randeniya and Joe Abeywickrama is said to have set an unmatched record of return on investment in a film. Perhaps, more important was Punchi Baba because it introduced the actress Malini Fonseka who in due course became the most internationally acclaimed cinema star of Sri Lanka.

Among other memorable films he produced were Hara Lakshaya (directed by Titus Thotawatta who went to his permanent rest only the other day) and Hithata Hitha. The films he produced are also unforgettable for their music and songs. Sisira Senaratna’s Mageputhuta Mal is perhaps the most popular lullaby ever sung in our world of films (although my favourite is Parawuna Mal composed by Lionel Algama in Gamini Fonseka’s film Parasathu Mal).

Kind and loving

Understandably, the aspect of life in which Sugathadasa Marasinghe’s real nature - his loving kindness - strongly manifested itself was in relation to his extended family. He fell in love with and married Malini Rajapaksha (from Peliyagoda) in 1962. In 34 years of married life they nurtured three children who have six grand children.

He was devoted to his wife and was heart-broken when she predeceased him by 10 years in 1996. For all his wealth, his life-style was a model of simplicity.

He was a strict teetotaller and a practising Buddhist. On the premises where he commenced his business, he built a Buddhist statue and a shrine room which are landmarks in Lunuwila to this day. These premises have been donated to the village temple. His support for numerous Buddhist causes was available for the asking. The care with which he looked after his old parents must be something of a rarity in the modern world.

His loving kindness was spread on all his brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces and friends and neighbours. Above all, I should say that I remember this simple man for a special reason.

I began this tribute to him by referring to a quality that Somerset Maugham out of his vast experience of life identified as the ultimate attribute which has ultimate intrinsic value. That attribute is loving kindness preached by all religions. Sugathadasa Marasinghe personified in high degree this human quality.

Carlo Fonseka


A Gurusumuttu:

Multi tasked, meticulous personality

Aseerwatham Gurusumuttu was the second son in the family of four boys of Anne and Adrian Aseerwatham of Ilavalai, the oldest was my father Thiruchelvam and the others are Jesunayagam and Adrianandam. He was such an affable person, a natty dresser, a keen intellect, a soft spoken man with a fine diction cobbled with ready wit. To all of us, his nephews and nieces he was endearingly “Uncle Guru.”

He had the best of formation at St. Henry’s College, Ilavalai for his secondary education in a most disciplined environment under the awesome influence of Rev. Fr. Chas S. Mathews O.M.I. the Anglo-French, then Rector of the College, who transformed St. Henry’s to its solid foundation, which paved way to emerge later as one of the foremost “A” Grade English Schools of the North.

The year was 1939, the war broke out and Uncle Guru was recruited for clerking job with Royal Air Force when Palaly Air Base was being built by the British as RAF Kankesanthurai during World War II where B-24 Liberators were based. Demobilised after the war, he joined the clerical service in the Ministry of Health. Since then there was no looking back, with his stunning capability he rose up to higher positions quite rapidly, from there he was slotted into the Treasury, where he remained a fixture for a while under auspices of then the heavyweight Secretary of Public Administration D.B.I.P.S. Siriwardena, who decided upon opening up new vistas to professionalise the middle level executives on management imperatives.

As a public servant Guru, he commanded respect and admiration by his Bureaucrat colleagues for his duel ability: multi-tasked and meticulous, that he believed devil in detail. His mainstay was the civility in dealing with people which had the blend of both disarming and dogged. Nevertheless, his care and concern of his poor relatives, friends and the unfortunate lot knew no bounds and often unsung, quite silently he held his hand to them which always had a calming effect in time of their distress. Following his premature retirement from public service in Sri Lanka in early 80s, he took up a top notch in Oman, as the Chief Administrator of Ministry of Health, next in line to the under secretary, thus making him the highest ranking Asian Official in the Sultanate of Oman at that time.

With his wealth of experience he acquired here, he help put in place retooling structured systems and norms for the Health Ministry over there during his 10-year long tenure. From there he immigrated to the UK to rejoin his family.

Uncle Guru has had a special affinity towards me and was appreciative of my little writing skill and encouraged from my young days. In many ways he was my mentor and he always made me feel like I was his son that he never had a male sibling in the family of three girls.

The inspiring biography of Uncle Guru, though had to close at some point, the cruel fate made it close not on a note of completion into ripe old age but sadly on a note of tragedy, that he was knocked down at a pedestrian crossing by a motorist in London on July 13, 2001. Snatched away in the sands of time from out midst, the memory lives on: his enchanting signature grin emanating from the edge of his lips was such an adoring gaze, too much to let it slip away from a treasured memory of Uncle Guru for those who were dear and near to him in life.

Meno Thiruchelvam , Colombo 15


Sunday Times Nov 20 2011

Saluting a friend of absolute integrity

Captain Anthony (Tony) Edwards

As always, Shakespeare had a fitting phrase: “He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” Some of us who had the privilege of being Captain Tony’s friend for 50 years will understand how appropriate for Tony were Hamlet’s words in appreciation of the king, his father.
Tony started his career as a pilot in the UK, in the early 1950s, while in the Royal Air Force doing his national service, which in those days was compulsory.

In 1961, when Russell Bowden first met him, Tony was a captain with British Airways, which he left in 1971 when he was made redundant in one of those financial crises that airlines tend to go through. He was made a financial offer that it would have been foolish for him to have refused. Then unemployed, an advertisement by Air Lanka caught his attention. He applied successfully and resumed his career as a captain once again, in 1983.

This was not Tony’s first acquaintance with Sri Lanka. He had visited to stay with the British Council’s Librarian, Russell Bowden, in 1968, and, as with so many others, he fell in love with this entrancing island’s beauty.

So began his long sojourn of 29 years in, and commitment to, Sri Lanka. It ended on November 12, after 11 weeks of illness, from pneumonia. It was a valiantly and toughly fought struggle with death. Had he lived another 17 hours, he would have permitted us all, as we had done so many times in previous years, to celebrate with him his birthday – this his 79th. But it was not to be.

What of the man?

Tony was a person of absolute integrity – unchallengeable, honest, and principled. Allied to these virtues were strongly held views and opinions he brought to all his relationships, whoever they were with – the highest, the lowest; the most assured, the most vulnerable. They were applied without compromise or favour. He was strong in holding to them, but he was not tough and unyielding. He held your gaze or look unflinchingly. If that made him seem a rather frightening person, it was not so.

He had a superb sense of humour, and to all these attributes he brought a gentleness in his looks, and in the tenor of his voice, which was rarely raised in anger or in dispute. Photographs of Tony show the sparkle in his eyes, usually accompanied with a smile playing on his lips.

He was, in short, one of the most honest men one could ever have had the privilege of meeting – not only in money matters but, more important, with his kindnesses, his friendships, in all his actions, decisions in life, and in his relationships.

“Generosity” is a word that well describes him. He gave care and attention to all who came to him with their problems and sought his expertise and advice. In doing so, never was there a hint of patronage. He listened carefully and then judged, but never was he judgmental; instead, always reassuring and building confidence. Tolerance was at the core of the advice he so freely gave.

He enjoyed helping people. In matters to do with money, careful though he undoubtedly was, his generosity was widely known, deeply appreciated and respected by all those who were lucky enough – individuals and families – to have benefited from his bestowing of it.

It must have been these, among his other many attributes, that earned him recognition when he was made a captain with British Airways, and then with Air Lanka, and finally with SriLankan Airlines. 
In all these organisations, his sense of responsibility and his commitment to a job well done caused them to place in his trust millions of pounds’ worth of aircraft equipment, as well as the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

Despite such immense responsibilities, his humility, humour and gentleness never left him. They were among the attributes that assisted in enriching his career as a professional pilot. On meeting Tony for the first time, one might have thought him to be British through and through – and British he was, and proud of the fact, but this was tempered by the strong influence on him of his love for Lanka.

He learned to speak Sinhala, if a little carefully and haltingly, and he loved to write Sinhala, with its flowing and generous curves and regulating symbols. His love for Lanka was evident in his understanding of the culture, history and practices and customs of ordinary people, enriched as they are by lessons from a Buddhism that he so greatly respected.

Tony has now left us, having completed this journey in Sansara, to continue it again elsewhere, to be able, one day, to achieve Nibbana, or to take his place in Heaven. Neither clearly a Christian nor obviously a Buddhist, he chose to end his days in accord with Buddhist practices.

We who remain to live must continue to grieve. Nevertheless, in so doing, we must remember Tony’s life and rejoice that it was one so deeply enjoyed and so well lived.

It was a life shared with his partner, Nawaz Jayathilaka, his companion for nearly 29 years, and who was by his side never more so than in the last distressing six weeks. No partner, no companion, could have done more for Tony by remaining strong and resourceful in seeking out every means to make Tony comfortable and in trying to get him well again.

No more fitting tribute can be paid to Tony than the five simple English words: “Tony was a good man.” 
Tony – your friends salute and pay tribute to you for a life well lived.

Russell Bowden, Kirthie Boteju, Graham Merricks, Cecil Jayawardhana

A bright and bubbly person who brought colour and dynamism into our world

Evelyn Buell

The appreciations I wrote about lost friends made Evelyn say, “Why, you make me so sad – they seem such wonderful people.” One day she said, quite seriously, “When I die, I hope you will write my appreciation.” I laughed and nodded.

Evelyn, here is what I have written about you – you who were so frank, honest and absolutely without hypocrisy, as pure as when you were born. It is a cliché, but it says it all: “I can’t believe you are no more.”

Among many others, the members of the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum will miss you. As for myself, I do not know where to turn. True, we will get used to not seeing you around. It has to be thus, otherwise life cannot go on the way it should. But whom will I talk to about psychology, philosophy, spirituality? Our discussions grew out of anecdotes, stories, poems, and news and information found through the internet. Our bubbling, bustling exchanges brought colour into our lives.

My work received a lot of its dynamism from you and your comments. I used to wonder at your remarkable vocabulary and gift for words. Your creative and descriptive language was a pleasure to listen to.

You filled the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum with the essence of your existence. I will miss you in a way I cannot put into words. You were a much loved friend, a sounding board, a ghost writer who helped me out of my computer illiteracy, someone who could fence word for word and not be hurt or humiliated by jokes at your expense.

Our objective was always co-existence. We proudly worked towards a pluralistic Sri Lanka. You helped by living it. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Five years is not a long time, but what we poured into it will last forever till we meet once again somewhere some day.

May God in His Mercy guide you on that path to a place where your fragrance will be eternal.

Jezima Ismail

My Dearest Appa

Jude Muttiah

Appa loved film
he loved creativity.
he loved his work, 
he loved the publicity.

Talented and quiet, such a man
was Jude Muttiah.
He followed his dreams,
put heart and soul in his work,
directing, acting, producing.

His directing was fine,
His acting divine,
He was born to be on stage,
But he left us at an early age.
The few years of his life, 
Were full of struggle and strife,

But one day God said,
“Come home, My son” 
And so he left this world 
where his life had begun.

He left films,
He left his family.
He left it all.
For no one can ignore 
God’s humble call

Your darling daughter, Sumithra



Daily News Monday Nov 14 2011

Lorna de Fonseka:

Lady with humane, strong ethics

I was in my teens when I first met Aunty Lorna. I was struck by her petite good looks, style and charm. As the years passed, our friendship grew. She had the ability to empathies with whomever she was with - no matter, the age difference. I admired her for her calm, humane and strong ethics, which was founded on her deep commitment to her religion.

She was widely read and we had common interests in art and literature, so there was always lots to talk about. She designed her house which was much admired, which she claimed was her sole achievement.

A portrait of herself as a young girl painted by Gate Mudaliyar Tudor Rajapakse, when exhibited was much commented upon for the skill of the artist as well as the charm of the sitter. She was an artist herself and won awards at the exhibition held by the Ceylon Council of Arts.

Lorna de Fonseka came from a very wealthy and distinguished 16th century family from Gandara. Although she was proud of her lineage, she was never arrogant. Long before, her parents house, in De Fonseka place was demolished. I remember this elegant pillared house in which her father, by then widowed, lived.

We were introduced to him and were welcomed with great courtesy, to this gracious home “The Glades” with its beautiful drive way lined with Sal Mal Trees and the Powder Blue Plumbago spiling over the borders. Another memory was the stately ballroom with its Gallery of family portraits and full length mirrors, striking amongst these was her mother’s beautiful portrait by Windsor.

Despite her delicate looks she managed her extensive properties efficiently and was fair in all her dealings, especially to her tenants. All those who knew and loved her will miss her gentle presence.

Aunty Lorna passed away a few weeks from her 90th birthday celebration.

I will never forget her.

Gypsy Wade, 
(Nee Senanayake) 
Colombo 08


Major Kamal Sri Manatunga:

Gentleman with a heart of compassion

November 12th marks three months of the untimely death of Major Kamal Sri Manatunga.

Born to Akmon Manatunga and Nanda, Kamal had his early education at St. John’s College, Nugegoda and afterwards at Nalanda College, Colombo, where he excelled in studies and extra curricular activities. Later he entered the University of Jayewardenepura and graduated as a Bachelor of Commerce. He joined the Sri Lanka Army in January, 1991 as an Officer Cadet and was commissioned in the rank of second Lieutenant of the 11th Battalion of the Sri Lanka National Guard. As a young officer, Kamal served in such different capacities as Senior Officer, Officer-in-Charge of Groups, Intelligence Officer, Adjutant and Officer Commanding and was assigned for operational duties at Gomarankadawala, Nilaveli, Muttur, Kumburupitiya, Thavulwewa and Pulmoddai in the Eastern Province.

He was subsequently appointed the Publications Officer of the Regimental Headquarters of Sri Lanka National Guard and edited its monthly publication “Mura Sebala” (The Guard). His last appointment was in the capacity of the Officer-in-charge of the Technical Camp Rehabilitation Centre at Nelukkulam, Vavuniya.

In recognition of Major Kamal Sri Manatunga’s loyalty, courage and long service, he was awarded the Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, Riviresa Operation Medal, 50th Independence Anniversary Medal, 50th Army Anniversary Medal, North-East Medal, Northern Humanitarian Operation Medal and the Eastern Humanitarian Medal.

Though a robust Army officer, Kamal was a thorough gentleman with a heartfull of compassion and understanding. His endearing qualities reflected in his ever cheery smile adorning his face. He was always ready to go out of his way to help others and was a popular figure among his superiors and subordinates, alike.

Kamal was a good writer and displayed his versatility by publishing three books. “Yudabime Sita Liyu Kavi” (Poems from the Battlefront) and “Bunker Kurutu Gee” (Bunker Graffiti) two anthologies of poems embodying the agony and yearnings of young soldiers in the battlefront or manning bunkers and “Dolos Paye Sonduru Meheyuma” (The Pleasant Operation of 12 hours), a collection of short stories. His creations, whether in prose or verse portrayed his sympathetic yet deep understanding of human feelings and behaviour.

Following his confinement to the Army Hospital, he endured the agony of his illness and started compiling yet another collection of short stories for publication. He sent the manuscript of the new collection for my observations and afterwards called to thank me for what I had to say. That was in July. But death sought him out a mere month later and he was just 46 years old.

Kamal was essentially a “Family Man”, being a caring husband and a doting father. His wife, Sugandika and the two daughters, Thisuri and Sathini, who were “The apple of his eye”, will find it hard to bear the shock of the untimely loss of their beloved who showered them with so much affection, care and attention.

Kamal, may you reach the supreme bliss of Nirvana!

- Cha Munasinghe, 
Attorney-at-Law


Sunday Times Nov 13, 2011

Faith, prayer and love for all – that was my grandmother

Cecilia Goonewardene

Known to all as Dimples, my maternal grandmother was a woman of unparalleled grace. I grew up some 9,000 miles away from her, in New York. Yet, her house in Mount Lavinia -- with its red floors that left your bare feet stained, its open windows with lace curtains bringing in the smell of the ocean down De Saram Road, its many armoires brimming with rosaries and antique trinkets from generations past -- always felt like home to me.

As the only granddaughter in a clan of seven grandsons, I feel like I was in a unique position to observe my grandmother, not just as matriarch of our family but as a woman of her own. What I saw over the past 22 years has made me want to be an infinitely more loving and morally centred person. In short, I strive today to be a woman in her mould.

During the summers, when my family travelled from the U.S. to Sri Lanka, my grandmother’s only requests were that we buy and bring her a biography or two of the Pope. I have distinct memories of those days, driving with my mother to the local bookstore and bee-lining to the religion section to find a book that tackled not the politics or scandals of the Catholic Church but the unadulterated faith found within. Those titles, clearly, were hard to come by. But, summer after summer, my grandmother’s perpetual gratitude for the books made this task deeply meaningful. To her dying day, Dimples -- a former student of St. Bridget’s Convent -- was a woman of undeniable faith.

My grandfather, Eddie Goonewardene, passed away in 1995. I know him only through faded photographs and a few, clouded memories. Today, I’m in awe that my grandmother carried on the calm, family-centred lifestyle that she and my grandfather forged together for a full 16 years after his death. Even through sickness, she preferred to stay on in their house. Though her conviction to live independently was challenging to the family at times, we see now that it was an act of love and agency. My grandmother wanted to live out the last stage of her life in her own space, on her own terms, while the modern world evolved outside at a dizzying pace.

Though I cannot speak to what Dimples was like as a wife, sister, or mother, I know exactly what kind of grandmother she was. Going to her house was a pleasure for all the grandchildren, as she kept us satisfied with enough soft drinks and patties (the tastiest in the area, some say) to feed an army of men.

When my brother and I were kids, she made a habit of tearing prayers from her religious books to mail to us so that we could ask God for blessings before our school exams. She never threw out a single piece of artwork made for her by her grandkids, no matter how silly our school-age attempts at artistry must have been. In fact, her bedroom was more like a children’s art gallery, with nearly one hundred of these pages tacked to the walls. For as long as she was physically able, she went to church and asked dutifully for blessings for every human being in the world. Throughout her life -- even as old age brought her pain and took away the comforts of memory -- Dimples desired nothing but the love and proximity of family.

Not many have the fortune of living one decade short of a century and getting to see not one, but two, great-grandchildren enter the world. My grandmother was this fortunate. Today, as I mourn her passing from across the globe, I am thankful to the devoted family members in Sri Lanka who cared for her during her final years on earth. Our deepest gratitude goes also to the extended family, friends, attendants and neighbours who made the last stage of her life as serene as could be, particularly her best friend Manon Muthukumaru and the staff of Durdans Hospital.

May Dimples, deeply loved and missed by all, rest in peace.

Shanika Gunaratna, (daughter of Mithila and Shiranee Gunaratna and sister of Mahen Gunaratna)

The woman behind MDH’s successful political career

Mary Jayawardena

Mary Jayawardena from Padukka died a few years ago at the age of 85 after a brief illness. She was from a respectable family in Bentota and lived in her ancestral home “the Walauwa” before marriage. 
After marrying M.D.H. Jayawardena who was a barrister at that time, she moved to Padukka. She had one son Kalika, who was a Trinitian and two daughters who attended Ladies’ College.

My grandmother was instrumental in my grandfather’s entry into politics. Without doubt she was the force behind my grandfather’s successful political career. Even the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa remarked in Parliament that this charming and gentle lady was the main person behind MDH’s success, both in his personal and political life. MDH gave up his legal career to enter politics in 1952. He held many portfolios such as Finance, Health, Housing, Scientific Affairs and Plantations during his political career.

My grandmother’s calm and gentle ways made many people seek her advice on various matters. Most of them were from Padukka and surrounding areas and some of them were even senior parliamentarians. She was always involved in matters connected to the temple in Padukka from her younger days. She was a devout Buddhist and spent from her own funds for the construction of the “Avasage” at the temple in Padukka. Each time I visited her, she never failed to inquire about my daughter. Though I was a Christian she always encouraged me to go to church even when I was in school.

It was indeed a privilege to have had this gentle and charming lady as my grandmother. Very rarely does one encounter a remarkable person like her. I hope the wonderful memories that my grandmother left behind will help me in this journey through life. Aachchi, you deserve nothing but the best. Hoping I would get a chance to meet you one more time in a better place.

Y. Nalin de Silva

Remembering a great father

Tissa DIas

It is now five years since you left us. The memories we shared are the greatest memories and best moments I ever had.

We had a close bond, far beyond that of the usual father-son bond. We would talk about everything that mattered, life and work. You wanted me to know everything that would help me stand on my own feet and succeed in life.

You told me to do whatever I thought was best for me, and you never forced us to get into any profession. It was a great feeling to know what a good person you were, and how you helped everyone around you.

You sacrificed your time for the well-being of “Malli” and me. You gave us everything we needed. Your teaching and advice has helped me go out and face life alone without you. I know that you are watching over me.

I know you will be the happiest person in the world to see me where I am now. I have learned what life is all about, and why we must respect others and their feelings. Life is a tough journey. I often think how much easier it would be to face life’s challenges if you were here. I never thought you would leave us all so soon.

You wanted us to climb to the top in the fields we chose. I promise you that I will look after Mother and Brother, the way you looked after them, and I will keep them happy as ever.

All that I am, I owe to you. I miss you a lot, but I love you more than anyone. You are the best father in the world. May you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Supun Hasantha Dias

Entrepreneur and philanthropist who gave generously to the poor

M. E. Joseph Michael De Livera

I thought of penning a few words of appreciation of our late Uncle Michael, a distinguished personality of yesteryear. He hailed from Negombo and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip de Livera.

There were three brothers – Michael; my husband’s father Gladstone, who was attached to the Survey Department, and Richard, a lawyer and batchmate of the late President J. R. Jayewardene. All three had their early education at Maris Stella College, Negombo. He was also a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Uncle Michael was an entrepreneur, and the pioneer of Titus Stores, Maradana, now a group of companies. He also owned several coconut estates.

In fact, what prompted me to write about him was his immense generosity. He made a gift of his ancestral residence, with more than five acres of land, in the heart of Negombo, to the late Cardinal Thomas Cooray, in order to give a home to the poor and homeless. This is how the St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged began. It was perhaps one of the first of its kind at the time.

The Rev. Sisters and their helpers look after more than 200 inmates at the home. They feed and clothe them, and tend to them when they are sick.

Uncle Michael also helped many churches. My husband recollects how generous he was, and how he gave him and his five brothers expensive presents at Christmas. He was a born giver.

The Home for the Aged is beautifully kept and lovingly maintained. Whenever we visit, we take great pride in the fact that it was my husband’s “Mahappa” who gifted this serene place. “May the Lord look after him. Let perpetual light shine upon him.”

Nalini de Livera

Versatile, much-decorated soldier will live on in his deeply sympathetic poetry and verse

Major Kamal Sri Manatunga

November 12 marked three months since the untimely death of Major Kamal Sri Manatunga. Born to Akmon Manatunga and Nanda, Kamal had his early education at St. John’s College, Nugegoda and afterwards at Nalanda College, Colombo, where he excelled in studies and extra-curricular activities. Later, he entered the University of Jayewardenepura and graduated as a Bachelor of Commerce.

He joined the Sri Lanka Army in January, 1991 as an Officer Cadet and was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant of the 11th Battalion of the Sri Lanka National Guard. As a young officer, Kamal served in such different capacities as Senior Officer, Officer in Charge of Groups, Intelligence Officer, Adjutant and Officer Commanding, etc. He was assigned to operational duties at Gomarankadawala, Nilaveli, Muttur, Kumburupitiya, Thavulwewa and Pulmoddai in the Eastern Province.

Kamal was subsequently appointed the Publications Officer of the Regimental Headquarters of the Sri Lanka National Guard and edited its monthly publication, “Mura Sebala” (The Guard). His last appointment was as officer in charge of the Technical Camp Rehabilitation Centre at Nelukkulam, Vavuniya.

In recognition of Major Kamal Sri Manatunga’s loyalty, courage and long service, he was awarded the Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, Riviresa Operation Medal, 50th Independence Anniversary Medal, 50th Army Anniversary Medal, North-East Medal, Northern Humanitarian Operation Medal and the Eastern Humanitarian Medal.

A robust Army officer, Kamal was also a thorough gentleman with a heart full of compassion and understanding. His endearing qualities were reflected in his ever-cheery smile. He would go out of his way to help others and he was a popular figure among superiors and subordinates alike.

Kamal was a good writer. He published three books: “Yudabime Sita Liyu Kavi” (Poems from the Battlefront) and “Bunker Kurutu Gee” (Bunker Graffiti) are poetry collections embodying the agony and yearnings of young soldiers at the battlefront or manning bunkers, while “Dolos Paye Sonduru Meheyuma” (The Pleasant Operation of 12 hours) is a collection of short stories. His prose and verse conveyed his sympathetic and deep understanding of human feeling and behaviour.

When he fell ill, he was transferred to the Army Hospital, where he endured the agony of his illness. He started compiling another collection of short stories for publication. He sent the manuscript to me, seeking my comments, and later called to thank me for what I shared with him. That was in July. Death came a month later. He was just 46 years old.

Kamal was essentially a family man – a caring husband and a doting father. His wife, Sugandika, and two daughters, Thisuri and Sathini, must bear the shock of the untimely loss of their beloved, who showered them much affection, attention, care and love.

Kamal, may you achieve the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Cha Munasinghe



Sunday Times Nov 6 2011

A gentle doctor who was loved for his kind and selfless ways

Dr. Rusie Rustomjee

Dr. Rusie Rustomjee, a Sri Lankan who migrated to Australia many years ago, passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 6, 2011. He was 98 years old, and the oldest member of the Australian Zoroastrian Association of New South Wales.

He entered Medical College on a full scholarship and went on to become the first Asian FRCS of England in ear, nose and throat diseases. During World War II, he served with the British Armed Forces at the time of the Japanese invasion. He was President of the Ceylon College of Surgeons and held many other prestigious position.

In 1975, he migrated to Australia and worked as an ENT surgeon in the Blue Mountains until retirement at age 89. His career in the medical practice spanned an impressive 75 years. He was the doyen of Sri Lankan doctors in Australia. Besides medicine, he was also involved in various community projects. He was offered the post of 1st District Governor of Lions International in Sri Lanka, but declined because of commitments with his medical practice.

His greatness lay not in the honours and accolades he received but in his kind and gentle nature. Those whose lives he touched will vouch for his kind and selfless ways. He was a man who shunned publicity and respected people regardless of their position, wealth or standing in society. He never spoke unkindly of anyone and a harsh word rarely escaped his lips. What better words to describe this great man who helped thousands with his surgical skills and was the most humble and gentle person one could find.

He will be deeply missed by his family, the Zoroastrian and Sri Lankan communities, and his many friends. He leaves behind his devoted wife – a marriage of 65 glorious and happy years –three children, Zarine, Tehmi and Jameshed, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Men of Rusie Rustomjee’s calibre are a rare gift to our community. He was a giant. one who stood tall in our eyes and minds.

Rest in Peace, Doctor Rusie Rustomjee. You are gone but will never be forgotten.

Mithi Daver

Trinity teacher who won hearts through his music and lovable ways

Ronnie Thangaia

Ronnie Thangaia was a popular teacher at Trinity College, Kandy. He made optimum use of his knowledge and skills in music, not only to teach music to students but also win their hearts. His music knowledge and skills were appreciated by students and friends. Quite apart from his music contributions, he was a very kind gentleman with a great sense of humour.

My son introduced Ronnie to me one day at Hantana, Kandy, and we became friends. Whenever he visited us, he played the piano and sang and entertained us. He could sing Sinhala, Tamil and English songs extremely well. If I ever had a friend, it was Ronnie. He won my heart and my regard and our friendship grew every time I met him.

After coming to America, I kept in touch with him, using Skype, and it was great to meet him in Florida. We went to the Orlando Wonderland of Florida to meet Ronnie and Dayani. It was great to meet them after such a long time. In Orlando too he played the piano and sang.

When Ronnie and Dayani left America to return to Sri Lanka, I felt as if I lost a friend. At the time, I never thought it would be a permanent loss. When I saw an e-mail from Bhathiya telling me the sad news, I was in a state of shock. Ronnie, my good friend and neighbour, is no more. But our friendship and memories of our great times together will remain for ever.

Dr. Siri Abeyratne

Precious little baby, how we miss you

Baby Minindu Matheesha Hewage

Darling Chuti Puthu,

Your second birthday dawned on the 28th October, but without you. Cruel destiny snatched you away from us six months ago. Precious Little Baby, how we miss you. Your innocent smile, childish prattle, reverberate in our hearts every waking moment of our lives.

At the tender age of one-and-a-half years, you touched every heart you came across with your gentle loving ways. We are still trying to come to terms with your loss. Though we understand death and the impermanence of life, still we are lost in the saddest words ever – “It might have been. …”

Dearest Chuti Puthu, on your second birthday, instead of being happy, we remembered you with heavy hearts, hiding our tears from one another, a daily occurrence in our lives. Our thoughts have never left you, even for a moment, since the day you left us. The emptiness you left in our lives can never be filled again, Dearest Love.

On the 28th, your Amma and Thaaththa made the offerings to the Sacred Tooth Relic, your favourite place of worship during your short life. We, all your loved ones, fervently wish that the blessings we pass on to you every day, from the depth of our hearts, will help you never to meet an untimely death in your sojourn in Samsara. May you come back to us and be our darling Chuti Puthu once again.

Your ever-sorrowing Grandma, Latha Perera

Two much-loved sisters who brightened up the world with their many talents

Therese Wanigaratne and Marie Adihetty

The gaping hole left in our immediate families, when both Therese and Marie, my two elder sisters, died within three months of each other, cannot be expressed in mere words. That they had lived beyond the norm of three score and ten years made the fact that they are no longer alive all the more poignant for us, who knew and loved them. They seemed always there, steadfast for everyone in the wide, extended circle of family, relatives, friends and dependants, till illness and death removed them from our midst.

In their heyday, the sisters were hailed for their wide and varied talents. Therese’s dressmaking skills were legendary, and this was at a time when there were no ready-made, off-the-peg clothes to buy. Her unsurpassed culinary skills were the envy of her friends and relatives, who used her expertise to measure their own skills. Above all, there was her sense of caring, which knew no bounds.

Even at the expense of the needs of her own family, she would cheerfully give of her precious time to help others.

Marie excelled as a teacher of piano to the family as well as generations of aspiring musicians. Many of them, now living in foreign climes, acknowledge the debt they owed her, as they make a living from the musical skills she taught them. She too was an expert cake maker. Her Christmas and love cake were legendary, as were her meringues!

Their immediate families have lost their beloved mothers and grandmothers, and I have lost two sisters within too short a space of time.

May they both Rest in Peace.

Rita Perera



Daily News Nov 4 2011

Manoharan Ganeser:

A man who acted according to his conscience

Mano, as he was affectionately known to many, passed away unexpectedly three months ago. A Trinitian, he upheld all the rich traditions of his alma mater. He was a man of upright stature and courage of conviction, never mined his words but spoke out boldly and acted according to his conscience and beliefs.

In all his dealings he was straight forward and would never tolerate deception or fraud. To his parents, he was a responsible son, a caring brother to his sisters and in-laws.

Above all, he was a devoted husband to his wife, Leela. His colleagues respected him for his work ethic. Beguiling a stern exterior, he had a soft core and helped many who sought his assistance.

Although his interest in sports and newspapers was waning, during the latter stages of his life, he evinced an increased interest spiritually. Perhaps he had a premonition which he kept to himself for he had attended to most matters not leaving room for his dear wife to go from pillar to post in case of his sudden demise. Such was his devotion and forethought. Leela lost a loving husband, his siblings and in-laws a caring brother and his friends and colleagues a sincere companion and mentor. May his soul rest in peace!

Sathy


Daily News Nov 3 2011

Dr Rusie Rustomjee:

Doyen of doctors

Dr Rusi Rustomjee, a Sri Lankan who migrated to Australia many years ago, passed away peacefully on October 6, 2011. At the time of his demise, he was 98 years old, and the oldest member of the Australian Zoroastrian Association of New South Wales.

He entered Medical College on a full scholarship and went on to become the first Asian FRCS of England in ear, nose and throat diseases. During World War II, he served with the British Armed Forces at the time of the Japanese invasion.

He was President of the Ceylon College of surgeons and held many other prestigious positions. In 1975 he emigrated to Australia and worked as an ENT surgeon in the Blue Mountains till retirement at age 89. His career in the medical practice spanned a very impressive 75 years.

He was the doyen of Sri Lankan doctors in Australia. Besides medicine, he was also involved in various community projects. He was offered the opportunity to be the fist district governor of Lions International in Sri Lanka but declined due to commitments at his medical practice.

However, his greatness lay not in the honours and accolades he received but in his kind and gentle nature. Everyone whose lives he touched, admired his kind and selfless ways - he was a man who shunned publicity and respected people regardless of their position, wealth or standing in society.

He never spoke unkindly of anyone and a harsh word rarely escaped from his lips.

What better words to describe this great man who helped thousands with his surgical skills and always remained the most humble genteel person one could find.

He will be sorely missed not only by his family and the Zoroastrian and Sri Lankan communities but also by the numerous friends and well wishers.

He left behind his devoted wife - (a marriage of 65 glorious and happy years), their three children, Zarine, Tehmi and Jamshed, four grand children and two great grand children.

Men of his calibre are a rare gift to our community, a giant not only in stature but one who stood high in our eyes and mind - Rest in Peace Doctor Rusie Rustomjee - gone but never forgotten.

Mithi Daver 
Sydney, Australia


Jude Rasanayagam Muttiah:

Person of great charm

Jude Rasanayagam Muttiah died on July 1, 2011 and was buried on July 3, 2011. Jude was a precious husband, loving father and an intimate friend of mine.

I came to know Jude through my friend, Alavi Saleem, a cine engineer who was in the panel of Cine Sound Engineers at the State Film Corporation and our friendship lasted until his demise.

It was a shock when I heard of his sudden demise. It was unbelievable as I met him a few days before as a healthy man. It is therefore with profound grief and with a deep sense of sorrow I pen this appreciation. His wife and his family members did their best to save him.

Bertolt Brecht a famous German dramatist once wrote “Do not fear death so much but rather the inadequate life.” Jude who passed away recently lived a life that was made more than adequate. He remained at all times a kindly and gentle person. His own individual way of viewing life and doing things was often amusing.

He was a person of great charm, simplicity and moved gracefully with the rich and poor alike. He was a friend indeed who extended his helping hand to anybody. Many have benefited from his guidance. Those who were in need always went to him and he never sent them empty handed. I never saw his temper disturbed and never heard him speaking one word in anger. He was a devout Catholic.

His illustrious father, Andrew Muttiah, was a prominent government building contractor and a film producer. The preset eye hospital building stands to his credit. Andrew Muttiah married Jayaseeli Muttiah nee Xavier, my class teacher at the lower kindergarten (baby class) at St. Joseph’s Convent Grandpass in the year 1951 and at their wedding, their wedding cake structure was a replica of the eye hospital building. Jude Muttiah too followed his father’s footsteps and was a film producer and owner of three film theatres.

As a Muslim I say may Allah grant him Jennathul Firdouse.

Aradhana 
Hamza Hussain


Dr Chandra Waidyasekera:

True gentleman

My beloved father was laid to rest on October 27, 2010 after a long illness. Exceptionally kind and gentle as always, he was loved by all those who knew him and truly the sweetest person one could ever meet.

Dr. Waidyasekera worked in government service in numerous areas and hospitals in the country, specialising in public health.

Dedicated to his job with passion, he worked long after his retirement to the point where he was no longer physically able to do so. He would go out of his way to check on patients that he was treating, on their progress and recovery.

There were times when he would also give his own money to buy expensive medication to those who were unable to afford them. I only learnt of this when his former colleagues and patients who came to pay their respects to him.

Knowing my father’s compassionate nature, it came to me as no surprise.

As difficult as it is to describe my emotions at the time, I remember thinking that it would do him justice if I could only be as half as good as he was.

Rest in peace my darling Thathi until we meet again.

Kishani Algama


L D C Herath:

Person of integrity

Cyril Herath, retired Inspector General of Police had joined the Sri Lanka Police in 1957 as a Probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police. Some of his colleagues were P L Munidasa, retired senior Inspector-General of Police and Earnest Perera and A Navaratnam.

I came to know Cyril Herath when I worked in the Intelligence Division of the Sri Lanka Police which was initially housed at 388 Galle Road, Colombo 3 in 1970. He took over the Intelligence Division from Lionel Senanayake, elder brother of former Inspector General of Police Stanley Senanayake. It was at this stage that Cyril Herath who had a vision and a deep sense of enthusiasm with a lot of positive thinking was able to convince the Defence Ministry at the time to purchase No 10 Cambridge Place, Colombo 7 which is now called the National Intelligence Bureau.

I recall at the time he took over the Intelligence Service Division, it was not in a state where the Government recognised its services so much. I recall the Intelligence Service was not summoned even for the security council meetings. Cyril Herath, when called to take over as the Director of Intelligence Service Division, laid down his terms and conditions to the Prime Minister at the time, Sirimavo Bandaranaike by indicating to her that he must be given a free hand to select the staff for the Intelligence Division and it should be devoid of political interference and should come directly under the prime minister’s purview ensuring that the Intelligence Division could act independently and provide intelligence and accurate information.

It was he who upgraded the Intelligence Service Division to a high standard and ensured that the Intelligence Division was of value to the Government even at the security council meetings with a very committed team.

Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the cabinet at the time had great confidence and trust in him and his Intelligence Service Division as he performed with much dedication and commitment devoid of politics. He was fearless, courageous and an officer who was held in high esteem in the Sri Lanka Police as a person who was very honest and who had a high degree of integrity.

He was firm but at the same time he had the ability to understand problems of the staff and give them opportunities to have discussions with him or reason out issues or decision which he had earlier made.

I was one of the victims of a wrong decision made by Cyril Herath on incorrect information he had received about me when he summoned me to his office and indicated to me that I had leaked out information regarding a surveillance. I informed him that my hands are clean and I have no skeletons in my cupboard and that the information he has received is incorrect and challenged the information provided to him and requested that the person who conveyed this intelligence be confronted with me in his office for which he readily agreed.

After the confrontation Cyril Herath realised that he had been misdirected an reprimanded the officer in my presence for misleading him and thanked me for explaining to him the truth. Later he did apologise to me and said in the following worlds “Nihal I am sorry about what happened. Now I realise who you are”. That gave me great satisfaction. It is very rare even in the past or in the present to find officers of his calibre who had great principles and who acted with a conscience.

He was a Buddhist but I must say his great Buddhist values mingled with the education he received at St John’s, Nugegoda.

I had the privilege of visiting him when he was ill in the Police Hospital and at his residence and spent much time talking about the Police Department and its officials and every time I visited him he would say “Nihal I am recovering and it takes time, I am OK”, that was the type of faith and endurance he possessed.

He reminds me of this saying

“Give to the world the best that you have and the best will come back to you. Give love and love to your heart will flow the strength in your utmost need, Have faith and a score of hearts will show their faith in your work and deed”

This, I believe was true of Cyril Herath

May he attain Nibbana

F N de Alwis 
Nugegoda


Alhaj Nizam Samath:

Live wire in the Kandy Malay Association

I scrambled out of bed when my mobile rang early dawn on Saturday September 25, and instantly I knew that I was in for some bad news and true, it was to be told of the passing away of Alhaj Nizam Samath.

Educated at St. Sylvesters’ College where he excelled in hockey and after completing a course in technical education, Alhaj Nizam Samath served a short period in the Police Department as a personal assistant to a gazette officer.

He later joined the Commercial Bank of Ceylon and served until retirement. He was a live wire in the, then active Kandy District Hockey Association.

We have lost a brother who inspired us with his knowledge of the history and advent of the Malays to Ceylon of our origin and Goondul, our language.

He helped those who sought his assistance in these subjects in their post graduate studies in foreign universities and shared knowledge in furtherance of our language, the Malay attire and the culture.

He was recently reappointed editor to revive the defunct “Terang” Malay News publication sponsored by the Kandy Malays, and at that time of his death, he was collecting information from me about the Sri Lankan Malays domiciled in Australia and their activities, for the first edition shortly.

He was an inspiration to the Malays and a live wire in the Kandy Malay Association. He would never miss donning the Malay Songko at a janaza or a Malay function.

He functioned as Hony General Secretary, later as President and in recognition of his banking experience served as a Hony Treasurer of the Association for a long period until he was relieved of same, at his request but appointed as the Vice President at the AGM this year.

On transfer to the Bank’s head office in Colombo, he joined with me at the DIMO from the drive back home for the weekend, and I can vividly recall the jokes we enjoyed and the hopes and plans we discussed for the welfare of the Kandy Malays and together were able to raise funds and host various programmes.

He was a family man who doted on his four sisters and two brothers and loved by all. The sentiments expressed on his wall on facebook and the crowds calling at his home since his demise is testimony to his popularity.

Inna Lillahi Wainna Ilaihi Rajioon Ameen

Feizal Dole 
Vice President, 
Kandy Malay Association

 

Sunday Observer Oct 30 2011

Engineering mathematics professor, a great mentor and lifelong inspiration

Prof .E. F. Bartholomeusz

Professor E. F. Bartholomeusz, Founder Professor of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Peradeniya, passed away on October 22 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US. He was one of the most respected academics at the University of Peradeniya, and was a great teacher, much loved by all of his students. He touched the lives of everyone he encountered all over the world. He will be deeply missed.
Everard Frederick Bartholomeusz was born on December 30 1920. After his secondary education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, he followed the London University External degree courses and obtained a BSc (mathematics special) degree with First Class Honours in 1942.

Later he obtained an MSc (mathematics) degree from the same university. In 1950, he joined the newly established Faculty of Engineering, University of Ceylon, as an Assistant Lecturer, and in 1952 he proceeded to the UK to do research at the University of Cambridge.

In Cambridge, he worked in the famous Cavendish Laboratory, associating with top researchers, such as G. I. Taylor. His research was on surface waves, dealing with reflection of long waves at a step, the reflection of plane waves at a submerged barrier, and the general motion of a fluid in a damping medium under gravity.

He obtained his PhD in 1955, and his seminal paper, “Reflection of Long Waves at a Step”, was published in 1958 in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society and referenced in the Encyclopaedia of Physics.

In 1955, he married Edith in Cambridge and returned to Sri Lanka to become a Senior Lecturer attached to the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya (then University of Ceylon) and was in-charge of teaching Engineering Mathematics.

He was appointed Professor and Head of the newly created Department of Engineering Mathematics in 1965. He held these two posts till 1974, when he left the University of Peradeniya to become Professor and Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Zambia. He spent 16 years in Zambia before moving to the US.

When the Department of Engineering Mathematics was created in 1965, it had only two cadre positions; a professorship and an assistant lectureship. So the only tenured member in the Department was Prof. Bartholomeusz, and he had to develop the new department single-handed. This he did admirably with great care, foresight and dedication.

Professor Bartholomeusz was one of the most respected and admired teachers of the faculty. He was a master in the classroom and he had the ability to retain the attention of all his students on any lecture topic, however complex or abstract. It was a pleasure to listen to his fluent and precise delivery style and the students knew what note to take down because they were carefully dictated or neatly written on the blackboard, in the form of Chapter 1, Section 1, Sub Section 1.1 etc.

He always related mathematics to engineering, and used examples from engineering practice to illustrate the application of mathematical methods. He would teach a very powerful method of analysis and say that applying it to solve a simple problem where simpler methods are available is “like using a battle axe to crack an egg”. Disturbing him in class was considered a cardinal sin. Many of his students, including myself, consider him the best teacher they ever had.

While handling a very heavy undergraduate teaching load in his department, he continuously updated the syllabi with the most current topics, and also conducted postgraduate courses for his junior staff. One of his favourite postgraduate courses, which I had the good fortune to follow, was on the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity.

In addition to his academic contribution to the Faculty, he also contributed immensely to its welfare. One of his most noteworthy contributions was the setting up of the Faculty Canteen. He was the driving force behind it and he played a pivotal role in formulating its management structure and extending its services to provide quality food as well as stationery and drawing instruments at low prices. Thanks to his efforts, the Engineering Faculty Canteen is the best run and maintained canteen in the Peradeniya University today.

Prof. Bartholomeusz had an excellent rapport with students and he considered it very important for a teacher. He had a well balanced view of the things happening in the university and in the world, and his advice was often sought by students, staff and administration, to tackle tricky situations.

In appreciation of his long, dedicated and outstanding service to the Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, the Peradeniya Engineering Faculty Alumni Association (PEFAA) felicitated him in 2007.
He leaves behind Edith, his loving wife of 56 years, and his sons Brian, Geoffrey and Michael. All three sons have PhDs and work in the US. Professor Bartholomeusz would have been 91 this year.

“Few like them for all the time
All like them for a few time.
Rarely comes the category 
All like them for all the time.”
Professor Bartholomeusz was one of the rare people who falls into the last category. May he rest in peace.

Prof. Munidasa P. Ranaweera

Unforgettable, that’s what you are

Olga Crake

“Those were the days”, Mummy/Nana we looked forward to being together to have “wonderful days and beautiful moments”.

Your loving care and patience towards everyone, be it family or outsiders is “unforgettable”. 
The “very thought of you” gives us the consolation that you have been a tower of strength to the family in “your (“my) way”.

“Every step you take, every move you make”, we know that you are there with us. Last but not least we can say “we thank our God each time we think of you and when we pray for you we pray with joy”.

Remembered with fondest memories and love by your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and in-laws

You left a lasting impression on all of us

Mervyn Mendis

To my Mallie- with love. To live in the hearts of those you love; is surely not to die!

A happy carefree childhood at ‘Fern Hurst’ and then ‘Shalimar’ followed by your marriage to Ranji- a perfect union which lasted 50 golden years and blessed with caring children and grandchildren-- these are some of the beautiful memories we will cherish in our hearts forever.

Mallie you were one of a kind, a simple unassuming person with a keen sense of humour who left a lasting impression on all who came in contact with you. With your gentle smile, patient ‘listening ear’ and sound advice you brought much relief to many a desperate soul. God’s gift to you you used freely in love and service. I recall the singsongs when the family met, your voice would sing out deep loud and clear bringing life into the songs. Remember “Mage as deka dilisena bonikka?”

Life moves on and as the inevitable call comes we must go- there’s no holding back. God knew what was best for you, when He released your weary body from pain and suffering to be with Him.
Ranji and the children, your pride and joy will miss you no doubt when they see your vacant chair and yearn for a voice that is still.

So long dearest mallie, it’s not goodbye. May your soul find peace and comfort in God’s inner presence.
Fondest Love

Rene Akka

He lived by his truism: “Life is short, you must pack many things into it”

Sidat Sri Nandalochana

Sidat was a legendary figure of our times. An old world gentleman, a dying breed has lost one more of their members. A few anecdotes, some personal would suffice to illustrate the life of this multi-faceted personality, and great human being.

I first met Sidat at a cricket match when I was a law student. At that time Sidat was playing for “E.R.S.R. Coomarasamy’s” cricket team which had an annual encounter with the Law College. An LBW decision off my bowling had Sidat out. There was a party for the teams in Mr. Coomarasamy’s house after the event. Sidat invited me to join his cricket team “casuals” and play in the Daily News Trophy matches. We went all over the country for this trophy as members of the “casuals" and we became close friends. He always said, “life is a short thing, you must pack in many things into this life". Indeed, he kept his word and did many things in his life.

As a sportsman, he was a member of the Thomian cricket team under Conrad Barrow that defeated Royal in the big match at the Oval. He excelled as an athlete and his pet event was the hurdles. He was also a boxer and a tennis player. He played in the Law-Medical-Cricket match. He was one of the few Sri Lankans to see Ray Lindwall bowl in a test match. He used to recommend the book written by Ray Lindwall on “How to be a fast bowler” to young cricketers. At Law College he won the Hector Jayawardene Gold medal for oratory.

He had an abiding interest in the theatre. He was trained by Jubal, the great producer and took part in the famous “Insect Play.” He played the role of the Baron in Ibsen’s Wild Duck. He wanted to produce a play himself and he produced Eva Ranaweera’s “Attaka Mal Paravegiya,” which ran to packed houses at the YMBA. As a member of the YMBA he organized the drama contest for schools based on Jathaka Stories from the previous lives of the Buddha. This event gave a big impetus to rural schools that produced plays. He once said, “unless you do “Hamlet” you cannot be a great actor/producer.” He mentioned the names of Lawrence Olivier, Peter O’ Toole, Richard Burton and Richard Harris as those who have done Hamlet during their time. He himself staged Hamlet in parts, in Sinhala to prove his point.

He had an interest in horse racing and was an avid punter. He knew much about horses, their breeding and form. He wanted to see the Darby and went to UK for this event. He had a desire to own a race horse. He owned one and his horse won an event. He said“a horse can make you a fool. “ He had a good knowledge of stocks and shares. He knew what to buy, when to buy and when to sell.

In his political life he was involved in left wing politics with his friend, the late Sarath Muttetuwegama. He joined the SLFP and was the president of the SLFP Lawyers’ Association for quite some time, during President Premadasa’s regime. During this period he organized the party’s legal affairs, appearing all over the island for partymen harassed by that regime. He was a member of the team that handled the election petition against President Premadasa for almost four years. He could have been a President’s Counsel had he applied for it but he preferred not to.

As a lawyer he appeared in many criminal cases at an early stage and won praise for his role in the Dodampe Mudalali’s case. He produced in court a wanted communist activist, without the police being able to capture him. He gradually left the criminal bar and appeared mainly in the Labour Tribunals and Industrial courts and was retained by many legal firms to appear for their clients.

He travelled widely to countries that he was interested in. In India, the country that he loved very much he visited the Buddhist holy places and the Sai Baba Ashram. On another occasion we travelled together in a train for five days from Tashkent to Sofia in Bulgaria to be present at the Youth Festival. 
He was keenly interested in meditation and came under the supervision of Goenka, the Indian meditation Guru. He served on the Help-Age Board and gave much time and energy to charities.

He led a simple life. He did not want big cars, luxury houses or high office. He moved freely with those at the top but was always accessible to everybody, who wished to meet him. He did not miss a sea bath at the Kinross, tennis at the Otters and loved to dine at the Capri. He had a good knowledge of astrology and read much about Ayurveda. He kept himself fit and in perfect health. He helped people in distress and comforted those in difficult times.

He loved his nephews and nieces and was proud when they were achievers. His extended family were his close friends and their families. To the children “uncle Sidat” was an advisor and friend. He had them in fits of laughter with his wit.

His journey in Sansara is not over. A new chapter has begun after his demise. He used to say, “In a play the curtain call comes at a given time, but in life it can come at any time.” A life full of fulfilment has ended leaving pleasant memories to those who shared it.

S.S. Sahabandu



Daily News Thursday Oct 20 2011

Gamini Fonseka:

Master story teller

When you had a friend who was larger than life, as Gamini Fonseka, the words of appreciation fall short and can never do justice to the person. Such is the situation I now find myself – in trying to describe my friendship with Gamini.

Many years ago, an association in Los Angeles organized a tribute dinner and film festival to honour the film career of Gamini. He organized a holiday to include the event and enriched my life immensely by staying in my home in Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks, California.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to him “holding court” - as only Gamini could – with a continuous stream of visitors – every morning after an early breakfirst and all throughout the day. He basically took up residence – claiming a favorite spot in the backyard patio by the pool. He said he liked the cool breeze and listening to birds singing.

Gamini, as most of you may remember, had a marvelous voice – which always enchanted the wonderful stories he would share. He was a master story teller, with an unending source of a variety of stories. I was never tired of listening to him and missed him terribly when his holiday was over.

Gamini helped me to think things through, we somehow seemed to see the most important things the same way and – he had that rare ability of making me comfortable, whenever we were together – no matter what and no matter how infrequent. When you have such a friend, you know that, whatever life may bring you’ve got a friend forever.

I will never forget the good times we shared, the wonderful sound of his voice and the special sound of his laughter. His friendship meant the world to me. I shall treasure those special times forever and shall never forget the force of nature that was Gamini Fonseka.

Judith Rutnam


DUNCAN PERERA:

Relentless fighter

The demise of Duncan Perera came as an unexpected shock at a time when he looked physically fit before hospitalization. He was the nicest person to meet at any time and when we did meet unexpectedly I often teased him with the remark that ‘any time is Duncan’s time’!

Duncan, came to Levers after serving the Royal Air Force in England for three years. Later he returned to Sri Lanka and served the Sri Lanka Air Force for five years. He learnt his disciplines as a young man in the Air Force and that obviously stood him in good stead when he was picked to deal with a large workforce in a multi-national company.

Duncan, had the rare distinction of being a gentleman and an efficient administrator enforcing rules and regulations at Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Limited where he excelled as the Human Resources Manager in the factory. During the most difficult of times when the company went through a strike he was still able to maintain cordial relations with the Union, proving beyond doubt that he had earned the reputation of being a trusted manager.

He had the good fortune of working with Gilbert Jayasuriya, Personnel Director and Acting Chairman and later with Stanley Jayawardena who was Personnel Director and later Chairman. No business could have had a better combination than two such honourable gentlemen, working closely with Duncan, dealing with labour issues and taking the right decisions. In that respect, Levers towered in the business sector, acknowledged as a company that was fair and just in its dealings with employees. It is not wrong to say that Duncan, did much of the ground work and sought a satisfactory solution before any matter went up to the Directorate.

Duncan, played an active role in building lasting relationships with all the employees, playing a pivoting role in organizing the Annual Long Service Awards Ceremony, the Inter-Department Good House-Keeping Contest, the Sports Meet, the Sports Club Nite and the Christmas Party all of which were geared to foster good relations with the workforce. He had a way about him where he was able to get the cooperation and support of other colleagues to make every event live up to his expectations. He reached for nothing short of the best and accomplished his tasks with overwhelming success!

His simple, unassuming and amiable ways made even the most difficult task, easy to achieve. With his demise there is a vacuum that cannot be filled and we who were so close to him cannot condition ourselves to believe that Duncan will not be around anymore.

Sri Sangabo Corea


Antoinette Pulle

At a comparatively young age 
She left the world’s stage 
To a heavenly mansion of the creator 
By following in the footsteps of Jesus 
her Lord and Saviour

An imitator of Mother Nature 
With coloured pencil on paper 
The pride of any advertiser 
Causing businesses to flourish and prosper

Her inimitable smile 
Sans cynicism and guile 
Was like a flower in bloom 
That could dispel any gloom

When Death - from whom no mortal 
could escape-was drawing nigh 
Undaunted - assisted by high-tech 
she bid her friends and relations good-bye 
From her death bed 
Causing tears to be shed

Though one - third of her life 
was spent Down Under 
Ties with her land of birth 
she did not sunder 
Cause she had willed her remains 
to be interned in Sri Lanka 
After the funeral rites in Brisbane, 
Australia

Good-bye once again dear relation 
and friend 
Though your life on Earth has come 
to an end 
While in heaven you enjoy eternal bliss. 
Your family, Kith and kin will forever 
you miss.

A Pulle Dehiwala


Daily News Friday Oct 14 2011

Cyril Herath:

Officer with high competence

Cyril had left Peradeniya University a year prior to my admission to Peradeniya, hence, I did not have the opportunity of knowing him as a University colleague. Although I had met him briefly, I was really able to make his acquaintance only in the mid 1980s when I was attached to the Ministry of Defence and Cyril was functioning as IGP.

Cyril led an exemplary family life and was able to bring up the family of three sons and one daughter, with the maternal care and support extended by his wife Ranee.

Cyril, had in his long and eventful career in the Police Service, served in many outstations including Jaffna, with commendable distinction. In whatever capacity he functioned in the Police Service, (viz. ASP, SP, DIG and IG) he is remembered by his subordinates and colleagues as a highly principled officer who displayed high competence and rare dedication to the duties assigned to him. His exceptional organisational ability was shown in the security arrangements he made with meticulous care and precision, for the important Non Aligned Summit held in Sri Lanka in the mid 1970s, when he functioned as DG/NIB.

He was highly commended for an excellent job done, by the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

After retirement, Cyril was requested by some private organisations to assist them in consultancy work in the security field. He engaged in this activity, more to keep himself occupied than out of any abiding pleasure he derived from such work. Yet, in keeping with his character and personality, he performed the tasks entrusted to him, with due diligence and competence.

Cyril was appointed Chairman/National Savings Bank by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge in 1994. He was able to transform this institution, which had been run like a Government Dept., into a vibrant commercial organisation with a definitive private sector orientation, underscoring a necessary commercial banking ethos, enabling it thereby, to draw on level and engage in commercial operations competitively, with the other state and commercial banks.

Cyril had a wide repertoire of interests which ranged from tennis, reading, music to ballroom dancing. He also enjoyed singing at parties and family gatherings. He had a keen sense of humour.

I, along with his many close friends, would see and feel in Cyril’s demise, a sad loss of a sincere friend. I would also see his life as a celebration of the high levels of excellence achieved by him during his eventful and distinguished career in the public service.

May Cyril attain the Ultimate Bliss that all Buddhists seek.

Chandra Wickramasinghe


Former DIG Gamini Jayasinghe:

Best amongst equals

It is with profound sadness that we learnt of the demise of yet another gentleman police officer of yesteryear. He lived up to 92 years of age. Gamini Jayasinghe was a legend in the Police service. His reputation as a honest and a fearless police officer was respected by his superiors, peers, subordinates and the general public.

Jayasinghe joined the Police Department as a sub inspector of police and held the rank of deputy inspector general of Police at the time he retired from service.

The call of duty saw Jayasinghe serving in many parts of Sri Lanka in various ranks of the hierarchy of the Police Department.

The trust and confidence he was held in, by his superiors was such, that Jayasinghe was always entrusted to diffuse instances, which otherwise could have become ugly. He solved such problems with diplomacy and finesse, without compromising the dignity of the laws of the land and the great traditions of the Police Department. Indeed, he led from the front.

Overseas training in transport and communication added value to the professional abilities of Jayasinghe.

For many years Jayasinghe was SP Police in Transport and Communication Division as well as in the Mounted Division. He loved horse riding. I was a young Inspector in the same division and still carry wonderful memories of “the Great Master”. He taught us by example - to present a case with all the facts and be honest at all times.

In 1974 Jayasinghe was promoted to the position of DIG. The relationship he had with us was not confined exclusively to work. The trials and tribulations of his men were his concerns as well. Jayasinghe was of tremendous assistance to me when I had to seek medical treatment for my wife, overseas. Behind the stern exterior was a heart that drove him to the limit to help his fellowmen. Such was the calibre of our beloved leader.

He received many accolades for the quality of his work, from the highest of the land.

He was an inspiration to his family and friends.

He engaged in God’s work and enjoyed time in prayer and reading the scriptures. He spent the evening of his life in calm and tranquil. We together with the members of his family, grieve the loss of our beloved boss.

May God grant his soul eternal rest.

Graetian Gunawardhana

Ex Police Officer


Nanda Ellawala:

A Birthday tribute

Your memory remains beautiful on your 
Birthday you believed 
To dream the

impossible dream 
To fight the 
unbeatable foe 
To bear with 
unbearable sorrow 
To run where the 
brave don’t do

To right the unrightable wrong 
To love pure and chaste from a far 
To try when your arms are weary 
To reach the unreachable star

Remembering you dearly 
Surangani.


Imtiaz Hamid:

Brilliant imaginative artist

After a brief battle with cancer, Imtiaz Hamid passed away on August 4.

Mohamed Imtiaz Hamid was born in Colombo, on December 4, 1949. He attended Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy, Royal Primary School (1955) and Royal College, Colombo.

Imtiaz was a soft-spoken, passive, an avid listener. He surprised us on occasions with witty and humorous remarks. He was caring and generous and never complained on anything. He was a classic graphics designer and calligraphist. He worked in many places. He was the CEO at Serendib Data Corporation, Director/John Springfield Knitting Fabric and Garment Industry, consultant art director to Masters Advertising Ltd, Holmes Pollard & Stott and Copyline Ltd and director/Intergraphics, proprietor/Public Affairs Analysts. Tourism, travel and airline ticketing were his other interests.

Imtiaz was a brilliant imaginative artist, a profound loss to the corporate world in general and to us former classmates. He designed some superb international logos which included Mark A Cuttin - Stunt Coordinator (Starsky & Hutch), Neo Synthesis Research Center - New York, and Japan Grain - film production. The local ones included Gabo Travels, ODEL, Millers Ltd, Eric Rajapaksa Opticians, NDB Housing, Aqua Ceylan, Fashion Optique, Dakini and Agasti. He was also a master on designing annual reports for the Aitken Spence Group, the Ceylon Theatres Group, Cargills (Ceylon) Ltd, Millers Ltd, and producing The Conqueror Guide to Annual Report Production for Hayleys Photoprint.

Imtiaz a bachelor, loved music and good musicians from all over the world. He performed as a musician/vocalist at concerts in night restaurants in Milano, Italy, the Navarangahala, Lionel Wendt, John De Silva Art Gallery, Saxophone Night Club, Viharamahadevi Open Air Stadium, Queen’s Hotel, Kandy, and at the Peradeniya Campus Halls. He was a frequent weekend visitor at the jazz sessions at the CR&FC.

Towards the evening of his life, he was deep into studying the spiritual journey of the Mihrƒj. May Allah grant him Jennathul Firdous (Eternal Bliss).

Firoze Sameer 
Colombo


Chanaka Harindra Fernando:

Affable and charming personality

My friend Chanaka turned 50 on September 28 last year, and the event was celebrated with a function organised by his employer and attended by his family and many friends. A month later he passed away after suffering from a heart attack in China. Chanaka’s passions were his family, friends, work and sport. His all too brief life was lived to the fullest, with enthusiasm and a sense of urgency.

After his schooling at Royal College, Colombo, Chanaka qualified as an engineer in the USA. He returned and worked in prestigious organisations in Sri Lanka. His life’s work was achieved when he was sent by his employer to Indonesia and China to project manage the construction of new plant and oversee their operations thereafter. Never daunted by such challenges and with typical aplomb he got on with the job and delivered the requisite results invariably ahead of time and under budget.

He travelled extensively throughout South East Asia, the Middle East and Europe developing business opportunities for his employers. His employees loved him for his sincerity and big-heartedness, while his employers held him in high esteem for his enormous integrity, remarkable business instincts and his indefatigable energy. He was never at a loss irrespective of the circumstances and had justifiable confidence in his own abilities.

Wherever he lived, Chanaka surrounded himself with friends and his hospitality took legendary proportions. Affable and charming, his charisma was such that even those who met him briefly would remember him with affection. He had many lifelong friends whom he valued immensely, who were devastated by his death. His unconditional loyalty, generosity of spirit, sincerity, warmth, personal courage and complete lack of pettiness or envy were the hallmarks of his life.

He was a unique individual who lived his life the way he chose, without compromise.

Chandana 
Panditharatne


Sidat Sri Nandalochana:

Consummate, versatile lawyer

Sidat Sri Nandalochana, Sidat to his friends passed away a few days ago. As a friend and colleague for over half a century I was aware that he was greatly inspired and motivated by the teachings of the Buddha.

He fashioned his life in keeping with these teachings and anchored himself firmly on the doctrine of impermanence, which gave him a sense of detachment from all that was illusory and evanescent.

Sidat was a deeply religious and devout man. He gave lavishly and liberally to many deserving causes without any partisan considerations.

He in his law student days displayed his virtuosity in oratory and searched the success when he was awarded the Hector Jayawardene Gold Medal for oratory.

A consummate and versatile lawyer, cross–examination was his forte. As Professor Wigmore wrote, “Cross examination is beyond doubt the greatest engine ever invented for the discovery of truth”. This aspect Sidat mastered to perfection and used it with telling effect.

A man of kind and amiable character, always with a ready smile, he was never offensive in his dealings with friends, always calm and unruffled with them. He was a delightful companion who would gladly bear the infirmities of others without condemnation.

I have derived the greatest joy and happiness in my regular chats with him at the Kinross Club, his residence and whenever we met.

Birth, life and death remain the three great mysteries of sentient existence. Death is our constant companion, our never failing shadow.

Like the floating cloud, like the bird in flight, like the dew on the mountain tops, Sidat is gone and gone forever. I grieve his loss and my grief is more at the thought, when will I see his face again.

S. Jayanayagam


Ranjani Rajawasan:

Devoted mother

Ranjani Rajawasan nee Gunawardena from Fort, Galle initially studied at Southlands College, Fort, Galle and went for higher studies to Sangamitta College.

Later she married Ranjan Rajawasan, my classmate and was blessed with a son by the name of Ishan. Ranjani was one of the few girls from Galle whom I knew moved to Colombo with her husband assisting him in every possible way in his business.

She was a very faithful and loyal wife to Ranjan and a devoted mother to son Ishan.

She always stood by her husband and the son. Her dedication and commitment to the family was of a high degree. She was very much concerned about the grandchildren and always nurtured and looked after them with love and care.

She was a very caring mother and a very caring grandmother.

It is one year since she passed away and we still remember the great devotion she had as a wife, mother, grandmother and a friend who was always there at time of need.

May she attain Nibbana 
FN De Alwis.


Daily News Wednesday Oct 12, 2011

S B Wijeratne:

Brilliant lawyer

Suberatna Banda Wijeratne (Attorney-at-Law) JPUM passed away on July 1996, after a brief illness. S B had his early education at St Agnes' Convent, Matale and his secondary education at S Thomas' College, Matale, where he excelled as a brilliant orator both in English and Sinhala. Before he joined the Law College he was an English teacher for a short spell.

He was an outstanding student leader at the Law College, with Sarath Muththetuwegama. They joined the communist party through the student movement. He passed out as a lawyer in 1959 and started his practice in Matale. He was the district secretary of the communist party, Matale. In 1960 March he contested Matale electorate as a communist, with a political giant, Bernard Aluwihare. Although he lost the battle he continued to serve the public specially the poor workers and peasants charging no fee to appear in courts. He was fondly called 'SB Sahodaraya'.

He contested the Matale Urban Council as a communist and won the Malwatta Ward defeating the strong UNP candidate. SB joined the SLFP in 1970. He served as the chairman of the Rent Control Board and the Agricultural Tribunal, Matale from 1970 to 1977. He was involved in promoting peace and understanding with socialist countries and was the president of Sri Lanka-Soviet Friendship League, Matale for over 25 years. To honour him 'The Soviet Friendship House', Moscow, conferred a special honour on him in 1985 for his services.

When Soviet Astronaut Yuri Gagarin came to Matale in 1961, SB was the first person to receive him. He was also the president of Sri Lanka-GDR (German Democratic Republic) Friendship League, Matale, for many years. He visited GDR as the guest of honour in 1973, on an invitation extended to him by the president of GDR. SB has travelled widely in almost all the socialist countries in eastern Europe.

Apart from being a brilliant lawyer, he took great interest in promoting sports in Matale district. He was the president of the Matale Hockey Association for over 20 years. He was involved in promoting welfare activities and was a member of Lions Club Matale and was the Charter president at the time of his death. He took keen interest in religious activities too, and was the Chief Dayake of Dharmaraja Pirivena Maha Viharaya, and was the president of Matale Buddhist Association. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!

Richard Basnayake


Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra:

Rare luminous star

Prof Ediriweera Sarachchandra was an artist who had rendered a distinctive service to enrich the fields of Sinhala drama and literature. He was born at Gammeddegoda a remote village in Ratgama on June 03, 1914. He first name was Reginold Silva. But later, he changed his name as Ediriweera Sarachchandra. His inborn talent versatility and dedication helped him to be a rare luminous star within a short period of time. In 1933, Sarachchandra entered the Colombo University College. He won the degree with a second lower division.

In 1939, Sarachchandra entered the Santhi Niketana in India, and studied music and philosophy. In 1944, Sarachchandra became a Pali lecturer in the university of Colombo. Later in 1949, he went to the London university for higher education. He was able to obtain postgraduate degrees such as MA and PHD. Sarachchandra was recruited, as a Pali and Sanskrit lecturer in Peradeniya University.

He became popular among university lecturers and students in a short period of time. When he was in the university, he did a huge role to the field of Sinhala drama. He staged dramas such as Maname, Sinhabahu, Wellawehum and Mahaasaara. Having identified the colours of Professor Sarachchandra, Head of the Sinhala department Professor D E Hettiarachchi and Professor M B Ariyapala awarded him a professorship in Sinhala department.

Sarachchandra was an intuitive short story writer, a skilfull novelist; a drama lyricist; a stage dramatist and a radio dramatist; a translator, a literary critic; a huge writer who had written many researches and scholastic books; an efficient lecturer. This creator wrote several short story books such as Maayaa Roopaya, Roopa Sundari, Gruhaniya, and Kaalayage Evemen. Professor Sarachchandra was fond of writing fictions. Therefore, he composed several novels.

This erudite pandit wrote many scholastic books. Some of them were Saahiththiya Widyaawa, Sinhala Nawakataa Itihaasaya haa Wichaaraya, Kalpanaa Lokaya Wesmuhunada sabe Muhunada, Sinhala Gemi Naatakaya and Darmista Samaajaya. In 1983, Professor Sarachchandra was conferred Kumaaran Ashaan universe award from India. In addition, Megsaase award from Philippines was conferred to him. This reputed scholar suddenly became ill and passed away on August 16 1996. The name of Sarachchandra cannot be erased from Sinhala drama and literature.

Rohana Wansatilaka


Therese Siyambalapitiya:

My grandmother Loku

"Therese was a mighty beautiful woman", her old buddies used to say. Tall and graceful, her sharp features and fair complexion would certainly have made her stand out. But instead of vanity, she displayed a quiet humbleness. "I never liked wearing hats to Sunday mass when I was small" she once remarked. "Why Loku?" "Because it was only me and my sister who could afford one, and all my friends from the village school had none, which made me feel all guilty." Such was the beauty of her soul.

A teacher by profession, she taught Home Science and English for more than 40 years at my own school (Ave Maria Convent, Negombo), molding generations of young women and gearing them up for life. The school was her second home, and she stood by its foundation, when they were threatened by earthquakes of various sorts. She encouraged creativity and passion, and her pupils would remember her as being both strict and sweet.

Being truly a woman of the arts, she adored its every form, from dancing to knitting, literature to cooking and made sure those around certainly got a taste of it! She educated and supported numerous children and young adults in and around our village. I've heard that she used to have a gang of young boys of 10 to 12 years school dropouts, called "lokuamma's batagoi hamudaawa" all being handed the rifles of knowledge and wisdom, taught painstakingly to read and write by her, who in return were our gardeners and playmates. She taught for many years at the church's Sunday school. Her children (my father and my three aunts) were gifted most preciously, among many other things, the incredible ability to forgive and tolerate each other, which has been the firm foundation of love in our family.

My mother on the other hand is one lucky woman, having found a mother-in-law, of such warmth and care, who gave her equal footing in her new household. She never had a word to say about my mother's late evenings at the office, or her professional commitments, but always encouraged her to take a step further on.

To us she was the perfect grandmother. She was lucky enough to see nine of the grand children, I was the fifth and took special interest in all of us, worrying about our weaknesses and rejoicing in our achievements. We were raised in her care, singing, dancing, sewing, knitting, cooking and doing all other fancy things a child could dream of. Her room was our paradise of fun, and she never complained about the many times she had to tidy up.

In fact she enjoyed watching us play on her carefully made bed, all tangled up in a ball of little arms and legs. She joined in our imaginary wars, playhouses and made "sellam bath" with us, sometimes with even more vigour than any of us. I see her smiling, yes, she was truly smiling, sitting on that hospital bed, saying one final "God Bless You!" both of our eyes met one last time, both knowing that it was that final moment, our goodbye on earth. She will always have a special place in every heart she touched.

May we meet again in God's own kingdom, I know you are already there.

Nipuni Siyambalapitiya Kattuwa, Negombo


Wijaya W Dahanayaka:

Loved by all

It was a great moment of shock to all the relatives and friends here and abroad when the news reached that Wijaya Weerasinghe Dahanayaka passed away after a very brief illness on September 13, 2009.

Wijaya was the youngest in a family of four children. His parents hailed from the South as in the case of most Dahanayakas. Wijaya studied at Thurstan College, Colombo having joined as a fifth standard student. He excelled in atheletics and rugby and received the Public School colours in 1959 for the 4x400 metres relay. He was the house captain and also captain of the athletics team. He was also the head prefect from 1961 to 1962.

Wijaya's career at the Bank of Ceylon started in 1962. He retired in 2000 as senior area manager, Kalutara division.

His prowess and love for sports was displayed at the Bank of Ceylon too. He was the general secretary and later the vice president of the Bank of Ceylon sports club. He took part in athletics and as secretary of the sports club arranged the BOC cricket team to tour India and accompanied the team as the assistant manager.

At the bank he met his life partner Nalini Kulatunga. Wijaya and Nalini were gifted with a son and two daughters. Wijaya was very fond of his two grandsons Viren and Devan. He used to narrate interesting stories and also helped them on their home work. At Wattegedera Road, Maharagama where Wijaya resided he was a very popular figure loved by all the neighbours.

He used to go for regular walks with a few friends in the neighbourhood and they claim that Wijaya always finish the walk by two to three laps ahead of the younger ones showing his athletic prowess.His loved ones bade him farewell on September 13, 2009, but his influence will be remembered by many for years to come. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Ranjith Kulatunga


Gamini Samarasinghe:

Rendered yeoman service

Fourteen sorrowful years have passed, but Gamini Samarasinghe's memories are still fresh in our minds. Many are the tales his family members have heard after his demise, the acts of kindness and assistance, granted to many who seek his benevolence. Neither, Asoka nor the daughter appeared to know these humanitarian acts.

Born to a well-known Samarasinghe family at Yatiyantota, second son of Charles Samarasinghe, Gamini educated at St Gebbriel's College, Yatiyantota, Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya and graduated at Sri Jayawardhanapura University. Selecting Banking as the profession, prior to the appointment of the Economic and Research unit branch, Bank of Ceylon, Maharagama, he served as the Bank of Ceylon Panadura Bazzar Manager.

Gamini was a devoted Buddhist, associated Maha Sanga in his Home Town as well as at Maharagama. He was a kind hearted and faithful husband and also caring, and loving father. Although he visualized more contributions towards the community at large, to his loved ones, and also to journalism, which he loved so much, came to an end with a shock and grief.

His goodwill shall ever live in the hearts of those who loved him.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana

A H W Peiris - Homagama.


Hashan Vaz:

Brave and courageous personality

I will lend you for a little while,

A child of mine, He said,

For you to love him while he lives,

And mourn for when he is dead.(- Edgar Guest)

Hashan lived in Mutwal and was a pleasant child, well-behaved and he used to come to my flat to play with the son of a friend of mine.

He schooled at De La Salle College, Mutwal and took part in all activities in school. Unlike other children of his age he did not want to continue studies after O/Ls. Much against my advice he preferred to give up schooling and start working in a prestigious company at Mutwal.

In October 2010, Hashan, 21 years old, grown up to be a fine young man and his parents left Mutwal and came to live with his grandparents. Hashan was suspected of having a malignant tumour. From that time till August 2011 he underwent not only a number of tests, ECG, x-ray, scan but also serious operations.

During this time Hashan bore his illness bravely and courageously showing neither his immediate family members nor the visitors the pain and suffering.

He tried hard together with the medical teams to fight the malignant tumour and defeat it. But on August 21, 2011 in the intensive care unit of the Maharagama Cancer Hospital with a large number of supports attached to his body, Hashan breathed his last.

Goodbye Hashan and may the turf lie softly on you.

F N de Silva


Remembering Daphne Lord :

A legend

Of the Shepherdian fold 
Much loved, much respected. 
Her kindly ways 
Endearing her to the hearts 
Of all who came her way. 
Superior, staff member, student, guide 
Lily, Rose, Violet or Marguerite. 
A radiant smile 
A passing look 
A nodding head this way and that 
Acknowledging. 
As years rolled on 
In any chance encounter 
She always recognized the Shepherdian 
Long-standing or otherwise. 
To her the Shepherdian was 
Once a Shepherdian 
Always a Shepherdian.

In later years 
Our children flocked to her. 
"Aunty Daphne" they would lisp 
Their faces lit. 
As hers did 
Perhaps it was infectious 
Her radiance.

And so 
She's gone to her eternal reward 
And our prayers go with her. 
"Many daughters have done virtuously 
But you excel them all"

Jeannette Cabraal



Daily News, Monday Oct 10, 2011

Harendra Asoka Perusinghe:

Brave hero in the battlefield

The ugly face of death clutched the beauty of a national hero Harendra Perusinghe by rendering all of us into a gloomy fate.

By birth Harendra has humble traits; he was one of the courageous and fearless members of the family and that emerged during his period of service in the battlefield.

As a smart student at the Ananda College he passed the GCE A/L with good results which opened up the avenues to the university.

He was more concerned about the family and he really wanted to share his mothers burden.

Therefore, he took up a post in the Sri Lanka Air Force as an cadet officer in 1984.

Due to his skills and devotions to duty he was promoted to as a flying officer in the year 1987 and further promoted as squadron leader in 1988. In the year 2002 Harendra was further promoted to the post of wing commander and in the year of 2007 was elevated as a group captain.

At the time of his death he rendered his services at the Air Force Base.

When we asked him the reason for not getting married his reply was that he did not want his wife and children to be vulnerable to his sad episode due to the ferocious war that was prevailing at that time. That could not be a surprise to him as he has been witnessing many such incidents.

After the conclusion of the war he indicated that he was ready to get married and we were hurrying to find a suitable partner for him.

But he found the most suitable partner for the rest of his life by himself, Kumudini.

As he spent a major part of his youthful life at the battlefield he must have dreamt of a peaceful family life at his latter part of his career.

When he was proceeding at the wedding, dressed in the smart official uniform on May 11, 2011 all of us followed him with full of joy and happiness.

Although he escaped from a number of terrorist attacks yet, soon after one month and 20 days of his marriage he succumbed to death due to a heart attack which really shocked all of us.

Harendra has been the “Pet” of his mother. Even during his busy official life Harendra visited his mother at Kaikawala. He must have had a profound love for his village.

Due to the fact that his elder brother was very busy and had to stuck in his workload in Colombo, Harendra took upon himself the responsibility of looking after his mother.

At the time of his mother’s illness despite of his busy schedule he attended himself full time on her and provided best medical attention by giving special care.

During his service in Sri Lanka Air Force, specially when he was the commanding officer of Ampara SLAF base, he not only developed the entire camp but also made sure that he improved the relationship with the villagers and government authorities of the area.

He started many projects with the help of his subordinates and the villagers, like cultivating paddy lands which was neglected by terrorist activities, cultivating vegetable farms, starting a brick project and metal quarrey.

This kind of self-employments gave those villagers a fixed income which no doubt increased their standards of living. His involvement was seen even towards the renovation of Buddhist temples and providing security for the Buddhist monuments of the area.

He was awarded with the Purna Bhumi, Rivirasa, Long Service, 50th Independence, Air Force 50th Anniversary, North and East Operation, USP, North and East Humanitarian medals in his career in the Air Force.

He also followed the junior commanders course in India, intelligence course at the Sri Lanka Army and Management of Aviation Security in Singapore during his career.

He was a brave, loyal, humble officer, who served his dear motherland.

He was a dear son, husband, brother and a dear cousin.

He was indeed a good friend. Even though he was a brave hero in the battlefield, he could not fight against his death.

May Harendra attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Pushpamala Iriyagolla Dharmasena


Ian Dias Abeysinghe:

Personality who achieved international distinction

The Founder President of Japan Sri Lanka Technical and Cultural Association (JASTECA) passed away at the age of 71 years most unexpectedly three months ago.

Our dear friend Ian’s demise was a great loss to all of us.

He took a unique stand and great leadership in establishing JASTECA in February 1984 at the request of the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) Japan which was headed by the former president Nagaaki Yamamoto who was a great friend of Sri Lanka.

At the time of establishment of JASTECA we did not even have an office to conduct our meetings, so much so that the initial executive committee meetings were conducted at his Campbell Place residence.

I joined the JASTECA Ex-Co as Asst Secretary, but shortly afterwards I was compelled by my dear friend Ian to take over the position of general secretary which was indeed a challenging task.

At hat time we had several Ex-Co members who were very committed carrying out voluntary work in the fields of human resource development and transference of technology linked up with AOTS Japan.

Nagaaki Yamamoto who was then president visited Sri Lanka several times and met up with past Presidents and prime ministers to get their blessings to contribute very much towards the development of Sri Lanka.

Ian at that time was in the directorate of Browns battery division and while working very hard and efficiently at Brown and Co., he used his spare time specially in the evenings to ensure a quick growth of JASTECA with a clear forward vision.

According to the annual calendar of JASTECA he had carried out several training programmes annually in Sri Lanka in improving the industries like the apparel industry and several others by getting down experts from Japan with the strong support of AOTS Japan.

At the formative days of JASTECA, he also took the initiative to visit several large companies in promoting membership for JASTECA to achieve what it is today.

Subsequently with a large donation from Ryoichi Sasakawa, the chairman of the Nippon Foundation a Cultural Centre was established in Colombo 3 with the formation of the Sasakawa Trust with three constituent organisations namely Lanka Japan Friendship Society, JASTECA and JICA Alumni Association which was headed by Dr P R Anthonis. Ian was a founder trustee of this board who made a notable impact in its growth.

I can recall Ian informing me that he first went for a training in Japan when employed at Associated Motorways under Sir Cyril de Zoysa in the battery division and subsequently became a member of the Asia Cultural Association.

Ever since then he contributed immensely towards the growth of JASTECA to what it is today.

Out of 70 a alumni societies in 43 countries, on an evaluation made by AOTS Japan, JASTECA has been rated as the best alumni society of AOTS in the world.

This achievement was made at the beginning itself under the able leadership of Ian as the president of JASTECA, which to our delight still continues to maintain the top position of the alumni societies of AOTS globally.

The Japanese government in recognition of establishing such excellent and close friendly relationship between Sri Lanka and Japan conferred on him this unique decoration of the ‘Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.’

Indeed there are only a handful of Sri Lankans who have achieved this distinction from Japan.

This itself shows the tremendous dedication and hard work Ian put in for the promotion of friendly relations between Sri Lanka and Japan.

Thanks to his effort we have many success stories in Sri Lanka that due to the implementation of Japanese style of management a large number of Sri Lankan organisations have benefited from such training and achieved excellence in management of those organisations which obviously contributes adequately towards the growth of GDP of our country and of course human resource development which are many to mention.

We are indeed very sad of the untimely and unexpected demise of our great friend Ian but needless to say that he will be always remembered for his dedication and commitment as mentioned above.

May his soul rest in peace!

Lal de Alwis



Sunday Times Oct 9 2011

He instilled in us the 3Ms of life-music, mathematics and ministry

Fr. Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin

Fr. Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin arrived at S.Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia on December 26, 1946, to act temporarily as the chaplain but remained till December 1962. During those 16 years Fr. Yin had a major impact on our lives due to his clear and incisive mind reflected in his neat handwriting and sign ‘Rhby’. It was clearly so in his 3Ms of life-Music, Mathematics and Ministry.

He was born in Singapore on October 7, 1910 to a Chinese surgeon father Dr. Yin Suat Chwan and an English mother Lydia Florence Bowyer. In 1919 his mother took him and his elder brother Leslie back to England. Roy entered Kings College Cambridge (KCC) and graduated in 1932. Whilst at KCC he had the divine call to be a priest.

He had a year’s training at Cuddlestone Theological College, Oxford and was made a Deacon at the minimum age, one day after his 23rd birthday. It was the first ordination at the ancient Kings College Cambridge Chapel, and he became its Chaplain from 1933-1937 under its Dean, Eric Milner White, creator of the now famous Christmas Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols Service.

This service was first done as a thanksgiving for peace in 1918 soon after World War I. Significantly Fr. Yin too first had this same KCC service at S. Thomas College on December 7, 1947 after the end of World War II.

Fr. Yin’s brother, changed his name to Leslie Charteris and became a crime fiction novelist, the creator of the famous ‘Saint’ books. Fr. Yin donated the entire series to the STC Library. The yearning to teach made him move to Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex as Chaplain, and Maths and Choir Master from 1937-1946. He brought in a young student as the organist, Meridith Davies (just as later he did the same at STC in Lucien Netthasinghe, Lucien Fernando and Russel Bartholemeusz), and both of them wrote a new melody for the Eton College Headmaster C.A.Alington’s hymn ‘Lord Thou hast brought us to our journey’s end’, and named the tune ‘Hurstpierpoint’. This later became the end of term hymn at Mount Lavinia. At age 96, Fr. Yin played it on the piano by memory with a deft touch when A.G. Nihal De Silva and F.V. Chris Mendis visited him in Singapore.

This was sung at Fr. Yin’s funeral with the two famous Thomian singers, the Lanerolle Brothers Rohan and Ishan, leading the choir at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and also played as a postlude (-see U-Tube), commented as the best music of the event.

Fr. Roy Bowyer-Yin was different things to different boys at ‘the school by the sea’ – another song composed by him. He was an excellent mathematics master and taught around the subject which held his students in good stead later in life. “The syllabus is only a scrap of paper,” he would say, “You learn maths not because it’s useful but because it is beautiful.”

His prowess in teaching music as the choir master was even better, and emphasized the importance of sight singing musical scores. The high standard of choral music at the Chapel he set from his first year continues as a Thomian tradition-because he infused a love for choral and classical music and the fine arts to his students and they to theirs and theirs to the present. Again as a Divinity Master and in his Confirmation classes he always encouraged a spirit of enquiry and questioning conventional ideas, always instilling values.

It was in his ministry that he really excelled, touched the hearts of many and became a trail blazer. He was in the side chapel every morning at 6 a.m. to start Matins (-structured Morning Prayer) joined by the Warden and Fr. Barnabas and later Fr. Baldwin Daniel and a few others, followed by the Daily Eucharist – a discipline now forgotten at STC for many years.

His sermons so well prepared were models of lucidity, brevity and completeness. He would say with mathematical clarity, “For every minute above 12 minutes you knock off 1 minute of value to your sermon, and if you go upto 24 minutes, you might as well not have started.”

The hymns he chose were sound in theology, language and music and always thoroughly rehearsed. Then there was the drama of reverent movement by the servers and readers and finally the full participation of all with all their senses, making a 4 square offering of beauty and elegance in all his meticulously planned services/liturgy (originally in Greek meaning public works) that it added to the holiness of the ambience of the Chapel he loved so well, second only to God.

He brought a welcome change in the funeral and memorial services to make them triumphant proclamations of Christian belief and yet comforting the mourners.

He changed the Christmas tableau and carols to the now famous King’s Festival of 9 lessons and carols. He introduced the Liturgical Choral 3 Hours Service on Good Friday, then new in England but now much developed, but the STC service remains a museum piece. For him tradition is dynamic. 
He even conceived the idea of a mural/icon of the Transfiguration at the blank east wall of the Chapel that had so existed since the beginning.

Fr. Yin wanted us to “build upon and improve what under God I endeavoured to begin”. Even the current tradition of writing the name of the College without a ‘t’ in ‘St’ is what he instituted.

His last sermon to the boys on December 8, 1962 was memorable. “S. Thomas’ is you. It depends on our maintaining Christian standards of honesty and integrity and commitment to God,” he said. 
Fr. Yin was a stickler for punctuality and discipline, done with biting and yet humorous remarks that cut us down to size without hurt but to be always remembered.

He shared with Warden De Saram the view that as Euclid’s Geometry defines a point as a position with neither length nor breadth and thus is unstretchable , there is no ‘stretching a point’ when it came to rules, standards and discipline. End of story!

Clerus Anglicanus stupor mundi – An Anglican clergyperson is a wonder of the world. At STC, Rev. Roy Henry Bowyer – Yin was just that.

The switch to Swabasha compelled Fr. Yin to return in 1963 to the country of his birth, Singapore where he continued to teach maths well into his eighties, continued his love for music as the Precentor and Canon of the Cathedral, and continue his Ministry as a Vicar and then as a counsellor and social worker well into his 90s.

He was cared for by his adopted grandson Attorney Andrew Ang and his wife Valerie. It was fitting that Warden Puddefoot was present at his 100th birthday in October 2010. He died on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. A good innings – ‘He had done what he could’(as the Bible says).

He is at peace and in Christ ‘memory eternal’ to rise in glory on the Last Day.

Dr. Narme F. Wickremesinghe

Her music and cheery nature spread joy

Elieen Prins

The late Eileen Prins – musician and music teacher – passed away on June 20, 2011, and was remembered recently when her family observed the local tradition of an almsgiving in memory of the departed person, three months on.

At the Eileen Prins Memorial Service, at St. Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya, on July 28, there were tributes and there was music, especially fitting for someone who gave her life to music, and celebrated and enriched so many lives through music.

Mother will be remembered not only for her contribution to the world of music, but also for her wonderfully cheery, engaging and encouraging qualities as a parent, teacher, and friend. These qualities she projected with the same radiance and joy she brought to her music-making.

Having the memorial service at St. Mary’s Church was significant. It was Mother’s church – the place where she was baptised, in May 1917, and the venue where she was married, in 1946, shortly after she and Father, Jocelyn Frederick (Deryk) Richard Prins, returned from England, where they had spent the war years as students, one at Oxford, the other at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

St. Mary’s was very dear to Mother. She never missed Sunday Mass, from the time she was taken there as a child by her parents, and through the years that she took her three sons to Mass, and then in later years, when she would go to church on her own, until she was too old or unwell to carry out her public Sunday religious obligations.

Not long ago, as a semi-invalid, she visited St. Mary's. We did a tour of the Church and strolled in the church garden, and Mother said she would often see herself in dreams visiting the church and walking through those same grounds.

When people talk of Eileen Prins, they immediately visualise Mother with her beloved violin. Her students would talk of “Aunty Eileen with her Violeen!” As a teacher, Mother groomed hundreds of students and gave thousands of hours of dedicated, quality teaching in a career that spanned more than 60 years.

As a performer, the distinctive voice of Mother’s violin was heard in churches, concert halls, recital halls, embassies, churches, school halls, hotel ballrooms, grand homes, and of course her own humble, music-filled home.

The sound of the violin – solo or in concert – was central to the world of Eileen Prins. Mother was in equal parts a romantic and a realist. She had an amazing ability to balance her music with the practical demands of being a mother, housewife, teacher, good neighbour and citizen.

The moment she picked up her violin, she was a transformed being, singing her heart out through her beloved instrument, and moving people to tears with her artistry. And when she was done with her ethereal music making, she was back in the everyday business of being a level-headed housewife, mother, and teacher.

One thing Mother never lost sight of was the beauty that surrounded her life and filled her world. She never failed to comment on beauty wherever she encountered it: a job well or beautifully done; the colour of a flower or a sunset, someone’s beautiful speaking voice, a muezzin splendidly singing the morning prayer from a neighbourhood mosque; a beautiful child; the beauty in the face of an elderly person who would have been a beautiful person in earlier years. Through her, we learnt to see beauty, listen for beauty, look out for beauty.

To judge by photographs in the family album, Mother was a beautiful person herself, and this beauty showed to the end in a face that was ever smiling. And beautiful things had a wonderful way of happening to her.

Two beautiful things happened to her, shortly before her death, and shortly after. She had to spend her 94th birthday in a hospital bed (she had been in and out of hospital over the past six months). On May 27, her birthday, a rose bloomed in the garden of her home, at No. 35 School Lane, Colombo 3. This somewhat neglected plant had not produced roses in a while, but that day it turned out a beautiful bloom. We took it to hospital as one of Mother’s birthday gifts. We told her it was from the garden. She smiled.

And then, at her funeral, on June 22, as the priest read out the prayers at her graveside, he spoke the words, “And may the sun smile upon your face.” Just then, with split-second timing, the late afternoon sun came out from behind a cloud and irradiated the cemetery – and the city. It was a little miracle of synchronicity.

One striking quality about Mother was her faith that somehow she would not be let down if she believed strongly enough. Her great faith was her great strength. She knew that in lean times somehow she would pull through, and the family with her. That faith never failed her. She loved to quote from St. Matthew:

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

And again, from further on in the sermon:
"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' . . . For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."

Music was at the heart of everything Mother did, and she lived her religion through her music. She led the orchestras and chamber music groups of Colombo through umpteen religious services and concerts of religious music. In the ’50s and ’60s, there were the concerts with the Catholic Choral Society in the beautiful chapel of St. Joseph’s College, concerts led by the late Father Ignatius Perera and which included works by Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Purcell, and Rossini, including at least two versions of the Stabat Mater; performances in the ’60s of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion and Handel’s Messiah under Gerald Cooray; the Mozart Requiem, under Paul Jayarajan; concerts in the ’70s with Father Claver Perera, which included annual Christmas events at St. Peter’s College and St. Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya; and memorable concerts with Raymond Adlam, of the British Council – performances of the Fauré Requiem, the Verdi Requiem, and Benjamin Britten’s St. Nicholas Cantata, at St. Andrew’s Church, Kollupitiya. It was an interesting endorsement of Mother’s musicianship to hear the formidable music critic, music teacher and musician, the late Elmer de Haan, comment on Eileen Prins, the violinist.

Mr. de Haan was an old family friend who had heard Mother as a schoolgirl performing at school prize-givings, back in the ’30s. On one occasion, in the late ’60s, he told one son, “I never heard your Mother ever play an out-of-tune note. She was incapable of playing off key.”

He added that “she excelled in quiet, soulful playing, as in the slow movements, where she could display her unique tone to full advantage. She was not one to impress with virtuosity. Hers was meditative playing.”

Mr. de Haan went on to say, flatteringly comparing an element of her artistry to that of a concert artist great, that “she had a very special tone, plaintive, melancholy almost, that recalled the great Fritz Kreisler. There was a distant, wailing element in the sound she produced, a sound you’d hear in Kreisler.”

It was fitting that star students of Mother's performed at her memorial service. The music included her beloved Johann Sebastian Bach.

Indeed, it was an unusual private service for a Roman Catholic Church – intimate, conversational, and part eulogy, part religious service, part private concert.

It was a service Eileen Prins would have enjoyed.

Jan (Hawaii), Stephen, and Paul

A leader to all he empathized with and served the poor

Mohamed Haleem Ishak

September 24 marked the eighth death anniversary of a respected leader of the Muslim community who served his people and the country for over half a century.

He was a gentleman in politics loved by all, serving mainly the poor and the oppressed, a respected municipal councillor and parliamentarian. The kind of politics he was engaged in should be a lesson to politicians of today.

Like the respected Sir Razik Fareed he worked without racial, religious and communal differences promoting his famous slogan, “Sinhala-Yonaka Ekamuthukama” , the Sinhala – Moor Unity in Sri Lanka.

He was the grand-son of the philanthropist the late A.M. Nagoor Meera whose sons were the late N.M. M. Ishak ( 1901 – 1965 ) and late N.M.M. Haniffa ( 1893 – 1949 ), the father of M.H.Mohamed.

He was born on December 9, 1929 at N.M.M.Ishak Mawatha, named after his father for his services. The Ketawalamulla Lane, the road adjoining this was named recently after him as “M. Haleem Ishak Mawatha” for his services to the community.

Haleem Ishak joined the SLFP in 1955 and became its vice president. He successfully contested the Maradana Municipal Ward in the CMC and represented the Kuppiawatta- East Ward. He was not only popular among the Muslims of Sri Lanka but also the Buddhists.

Kuppiawatta - East Ward consists of a population of 80 % Buddhists and the largest number of temples in the City of Colombo is found in this Ward.

His honesty, and simplicity were well known and his gentleman politics was emulated by others. In July 1977 the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was routed badly but Haleem Ishak was elected to Parliament to the Colombo Central Constituency as the third member. He was a parliamentarian for nearly two decades.

The SLFP government that was in power before his death offered him a diplomatic post which he declined, saying he wanted to remain in the country and serve the poor until his death.

A.H.G. Ameen

Till we meet again

Malinda and Malini Ranatunga

Whatever we do, wherever we go, there is one thing which is never forgotten. That is our love for both of you.

No one can fill your place in our hearts. We loved both of you then, and we love you still. Although our eyes might not be able to look upon your gentle loving faces, if we look with our hearts we still see your love.

We love both of you and miss you even more. We pray to meet again as our loving parents in our future lives.

Badrika, Ishani & Chamila (A bana preaching and almsgiving in their memory will be held on October 10 and 11.)

When I pass you

Michael Caderamanpulle

When I pass you, the sky will turn around and look at you
When I pass you, the salaniya will call in other languages
When I pass you, the Koi fish will swirl around and around in the pond
When I pass you, the orchids will nod gently in the breeze 
When I pass you, the guava will fall from the trees into your hands 
When I pass you 
I will take nothing, not even your fingerprints.

Charmanie Candappa


Sunday Times Oct 2 2011

It was an honour to have served you sir

Cyril Herath

Soon after the recent demise of Cyril Herath, (one of the finest officers ever to adorn the coveted office of IGP,) the print media afforded the widest publicity to the deluge of moving tributes and eulogies extolling the virtues of a unique human endowed with compassion and justice.

I waited till the dust settled before recording thoughts of my own of the officer I knew since 1958 on my first assignment to Kurunegala as a rookie sub inspector and he a probationary ASP. Unlike in those days when officers in and above the rank of ASP were not blessed with the luxury of government vehicles with police drivers on call on a 24/7 tour of duty, Mr. Herath made do in a Peugeot 203, EN 4378. Even as the IGP, several years on, he coped with just one official car in contrast to a fleet as seen recently of one of his successors. His simplicity was his forte.

It was on the occasion of the book launch of Dr. Frank de Silva, (former IGP), that I had the occasion of meeting him and spending time in light banter when we reminisced our days in Kurunegala. He looked in fine fettle health-wise. It never occurred to me though, that it was the last time I would ever meet with him as fate decreed otherwise when he succumbed to an illness which he had battled bravely.

I knew him as a professional and a committed officer who did not know the meaning of fear or favour, a trait which cut short an otherwise illustrious term of office as the IGP, when he defied the President of the time.

An epitome of class and finesse, ever unassuming and unpretentious, Cyril Herath strode the halls of power stamping a rare breed of class and finesse. He attained the pinnacle of his career through sheer dint of hard work and commitment and was never known to crave the indulgence of political patronage, a trait which contrasts sharply today. His style was unique in that he was never known to condescend in exchange for professional advancement but rather he donned the mantle of the coveted office of IGP with dignity decorum and elegance. Indeed, he symbolized incorruptibility.

In recognition of his professionalism and vast contribution to the Police Service he was appointed after his retirement by the Kumaratunga Government, firstly, as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence which was at the peak of the embattled ethnic crisis and the armed conflict that ravaged our country and thereafter as the Chairman of the National Savings Bank in which disciplines he acquitted himself with credit and excellence.

His decision to retire pre-maturely was a culmination of a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. It would have been easy for Cyril Herath to become bitter, hardened and to surrender to self pity or regret but rather he chose to retire from public life and live out his years in the peace and quiet of his own family which really was his private world and no one would have blamed him for that. 
Cyril Herath brought vision and meaning to the Police Service, especially in the face of a ruthless war and other maladies that plagued the Police Service. The delight and spirit he derived from his profession was his driving force in his quest to make the Force a practical outfit and restore some lost pride and prestige.

In large part he reminds us of stalwarts of similar calibre who adorned the high office of IGP. They were Messrs E.L.Abeygunawardene, John Attygalle, Stanley Senanayake and Rudra Rajasingham. Because of them; we could grieve and then go on. In more recent times there were officers of the likes of Ana Seneviratne, Frank de Silva. These great people lifted us, and in doubt and darkness gave the rank and file their pride, true identity as policemen, a true sense of belonging and of being different.

In all the years of his life, his genuineness and depth of character continued to shine through his jealously guarded affection and loyalty to the police and the country. He made a splendid and a noble contribution to the Police Service. To his family he was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and to others who he knew, a true and a loyal friend.

He graced our history. For those of us who knew and loved him - he graced our lives. I pray that God gives his family the strength and fortitude to let go and move on.

Goodbye and farewell Sir, it was great to have known and served you.

Carlyle de Silva

Didi Akka, you were a caring big sister to all of us

Kusuma De Silva

Kusuma, my beloved sister was popularly known as "Kusa" among her contemporaries as well as pioneers of Mahamaya Girls' College Kandy. She was an English Trained Teacher. As a child I remember watching her draping the "osariya" in seconds and then rushing to catch the early bus, as she served in remote schools off Teldeniya, Udu Dumbara and Kondadeniya.

Among our relatives and family members she was known as "Didi akka". Unlike today there were no three wheelers or school vans to get to schools in distant places, so she had to walk miles and miles to reach the school from the nearest bus halt.

However, she enjoyed her career especially teaching rural children and they too liked her very much. 
Once she was overjoyed and showed me a letter written to her in English by one of her O/ Level students. She told me how difficult it was to bring them up to that standard. In spite of the poor salary she helped needy students.

During the JVP uprising in the 1980s Didi akka came home sobbing as she had seen some of her students' bodies by the roadside of Kondadeniya. As she was the second in a large family , she bore almost all the responsibilities of looking after the younger siblings.

She plaited my long hair and fed all of us in the morning before she left for school. Readymade dresses were rare and costly in the 1950s so she tailored the uniforms and casual wear for the younger ones.

Didi akka acted as a big sister for my friends too. Generally she called them "putha". They miss her equally. She always made it a point to see that everyone had had their meals even if there was a large crowd at home, she being the last to eat.

Darling Didi akka may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana

Nalini De Silva Wijayanayaka (Chuty nangi)

A more humane human resources person you would not find

Duncan Perera

We have lost a true friend, a man of sterling qualities. The demise of Duncan Perera came as a shock. He looked fit and seemed free of any ailment, before he entered hospital. No one looking at him would have thought his kidneys were failing and dialysis was the only option left. Duncan fought to the very end.

He was always cheerful and warm-hearted and delightful company. In fact, Duncan, was the nicest person to meet at any time, and if we met accidentally I would tease him, saying “any time is Duncan time.”

Duncan, whose career extended from the Royal Air Force to the Sri Lanka Air Force, was a man of steel who never lost the will to survive. He was a relentless fighter, never giving up but firmly believing he had to be a winner.

Duncan served the Royal Air Force in England for three years and then the Sri Lanka Air Force for five years. The disciplines he learnt as a young man in the Air Force stood him in good stead when he was picked to deal with a large workforce in a multinational company.

Duncan was an efficient administrator at Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Limited, where he excelled as Human Resources Manager. Dealing with a large labour force and a powerful union was no easy task. He took the humane angle in solving problems. The union leaders had faith in Duncan’s sincerity of purpose. Even in the most difficult of times, when the company went through a strike, he maintained cordial relations with the union, proof that he was a trusted manager.

He had the good fortune to work with the late Gilbert Jayasuriya, Personnel Director and Acting Chairman, and later with Stanley Jayawardena, who was Personnel Director and later Chairman. No business had a better combination, with these two honourable gentlemen working closely with Duncan in dealing with labour issues.

Thanks to them, Levers towered in the business world, acknowledged as a company that was fair and just in its dealings with employees. It is not wrong to say that Duncan did much of the ground work and sought a satisfactory solution before any matter went up to the directors.

Duncan built lasting relationships with all the employees. He played a central role in organising the Annual Long Service Awards Ceremony, the Inter-Department Good House-Keeping Contest, the Sports Meet, the Sports Club Nite and the Christmas Party, all of which fostered good relations with the workforce.

He had a knack for getting the support of those with special skills. He had a way about him. He had the support of colleagues to make every event live up to his expectations. He wanted nothing short of the best.

When the late Gilbert Jayasuriya asked me to organise a get-together of ex-Leverites, my first choice for the committee was Duncan. When I told him I wanted his support, his eyes lit up, as if to say “Yes, We Can.”

His simple, unassuming and amiable ways made even the most difficult task easy to achieve! With his demise there is a vacuum that cannot be filled. We who were so close to him cannot believe that Duncan will not be around any more. If we feel it this way, I can imagine how it must be with the family he has left behind.

To Nimal, who has completed 49 years of happily wedded life, his daughters, Shalini, Varuni and Ishani, sons-in-law Nilmin, Ravi and Chaminda. and grand-children, Mandrinee, Charith, Uvindri, Devruk, Janendra, Ranruk and Dinaya – all of whom have loved him and enjoyed being with him will doubtless feel his absence,we are consoled that we have known Duncan and learned from the exemplary life he lived.

Sri Sangabo Corea

The neighbour who stood strong during times of panic

Sidath Sri Nandalochana

A generation has passed away….

The three children of D.N.W. de Silva, the auctioneer and his active wife who took over the profession of her husband, to pioneer as one of the island’s first in this field, lived in “Fellowsleigh”, No. 9, Asoka Gardens. Of the children there were Sujata who married Stanley Jayawardene, Sampat and Sidat. All are now gone “in their season”, as Thoreau couched so eloquently:-

“Every blade in the forest
Every leaf in the forest
Lays down its life in its season as beautifully as it was taken up”.

It was 1951 when my parents moved to Asoka Gardens and the families came to know each other. The Auction House was half-way up the road, a beautiful, old colonial residence, sprawling with wide verandahs, back and front and set in a spacious garden.I knew Sujatha and Stanley in University – we were in the same “batch”. Matilda their mother became a close friend, later in my life as co-members of a Business and Professional Women’s Association, the Zonta Club of Colombo.

Sidat had quietly built himself up as a successful lawyer. He continued to live in the annexe of “Fellowsleigh” which had a separate entrance and he was scrupulous in maintaining the over 100-year-old house having it painted and colour washed. Often I would see him interviewing a client in the tiny annexe verandah, as I passed by as also invariably I would see him taking a sedate walk, up and down the road, as a discipline – late of an evening as I drove down.

Sidat was a private person, a man precise in his words but with a touch of humour: a man of regular habits and a quiet style of living. As a bachelor he had a select circle of friends, enjoying a drink at his Club, tennis of an evening and a Sunday swim at the Kinross beach.

Two memories I have of Sidat which are vivid – and I here recall… one was of that momentous morning, Sunday December 26, when the tsunami hit our shores. I recall how I just walked out from my home leaving all the doors opened and with difficulty kept my balance through the swirling eddies of water, which thankfully filled only my garden. As I walked up the road towards the higher elevation of the Galle Road, there was Sidat standing by his gate surveying the panic-stricken crowds.

When he saw me, he called out firmly, “Be calm, don’t panic, the water will ebb out fast”, and soon I returned home.

An earlier occasion, I recall was on the day the race riots broke in 1983. I stood side by side with Sidat on the kerb of the Galle Road watching the agitated office workers flowing down the road like a torrential stream. Suddenly we both noted a man who had been victimized, his head and face battered, it looked like a ripe strawberry. Sidat, a firm hand on my shoulder, said “Don’t look; I think you had better go home.”These two memories epitomize Sidat’s style and character.

Sidat faded fast towards the end – still trying to keep his privacy and independence. It was at this time that a family he had living in the rear of his spacious home, gave him the care and loyalty he needed – just as once long ago I remember the head of that young family, as houseboy and valet, had looked after my aging father. I would like to end on this, acknowledging the services of that young man as I am sure Sidat would have wanted me to.

Sidat is now at peace.

Deloraine Brohier

Daily News, Wednesday, Sep 28 2011

Lakshman Perera:

Compassionate human being with diverse interests

I read the Editorial in the 'Daily News' of September 20, a few minutes before sitting down to write this appreciation of Lakshman Perera, Surveyor/Land Management Consultant of the Colombo Municipality. Lakshman passed away, after a brief illness, at a relatively young age of 65. He had the best medical care at the hands of cancer specialist Dr Balawardene and the doctors at the Maharagama Cancer Hospital during short spells in hospital in the past few months.

In between, at home, his wife, Pushpa rarely left his side, except for a few hours each morning to teach at the Asoka Vidyalaya, Colombo. She was supported by his son Chandima, who immediately on hearing of his father's illness, transferred the writing of his MA thesis on Networking and Internet Systems to Colombo, from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, to the SAPNA Centre, where he had been an intern prior to leaving for the UK.

I have known Lakshman and his family for nearly two decades. We not only shared the same fundamental values, which came from our respective religions and common culture, but also from our common mission to ensure that the benefits of development and use of resources were enjoyed by all the people, not merely by a few.

Lakshman was not only a compassionate human being, but one who had diverse interests. Despite the low profile he always maintained, I found he had a sharp intellect and nerves of steel. He never gave unsubstantiated opinions and never deviated from his advice. He was a rare public servant.

Before the obituary notice appeared, his family was visited personally by the Special Commissioner of the Colombo Municipality, representatives of nearly all political parties, as well as, by his close friends, representing all communities. The present and past principal and staff of Asoka Vidyalaya provided a constant source of support to Pushpa.

Lakshman Perera had a passion for maintaining and enhancing the Colombo Municipality's physical and financial assets. It was this memory and passion that also led to the Colombo Municipal Commissioners to unanimously extend his services by appointing him as a consultant, after retirement at age 60.

He knew every file in the municipal archives. For instance, it was because of this passion that he knew how the underground drainage system built over a 100 years ago functioned to ensure essential flows of water to avoid health hazards, such as the dengue menace.

Let me end this brief appreciation by calling for the creation of a Trust Fund to be called the Lakshman Perera Trust Fund, where two deserving students from Asoka Vidyalaya, will be given a scholarship each year to make a transition from high school to a sustainable livelihood. The Fund will be announced at a suitable occasion after consultation with close friends of Lakshman.

Desamanya Dr Ponna Wignaraja


Camillus Weerasinghe:

Devout Catholic

The news of the sudden demise of my good friend Camillus Weerasinghe on August 26, 2011, (Cami) came as a shock and caused immense grief to his family members and friends.

Cami was the epitome of a devout Catholic who lived his life according to the true spirit of his religion. He used to begin the day by attending daily mass at St Mary's Church, Dehiwala. He believed that this practice gave him the strength and courage to face the daily challenges of life. Cami's simple, quiet and friendly disposition endeared him to his relations and friends alike.

I used to meet Cami almost daily at Pala's kade where we purchased our newspapers and other provisions.

May the turf lie gently over your mortal remains and may your soul rest in peace.

Sunday Times Sep 18 2011

Grandma, you will always be a treasured part of the family

Constance (Connie) Wickremesinghe

It has been a long time since you left us, but your presence is with us every day. I am so blessed to have had a grandmother like you, who loved me so much. I cannot think of you without tears in my eyes. Thank you for the love you gave us.

You hailed from a large family of four brothers and seven sisters, the children of Mudaliyar Josiah James Gunewardena and Lilian. You had a great love for “family.” You were a beacon of light to us all. You never turned away anyone who came to you in need. You brought into your close-knit family a niece, displaying your loving, giving heart.

Your life was by no means a bed of roses. Your loving husband David Wickremesinghe passed away young, leaving you a widow at a very early age. Single-handed, you brought up your two daughters Manel and Yvonne to be the loving people they are. We are who you made us to be, Aachchi. You were always there for us, our Rock, and we still feel your presence.

When Papa returned after his work stint overseas, he and mama went to Kurunegala, his home town, to settle down. You took me under your wing, as I had to be in Colombo to continue my English medium schooling. I must have been one of the most spoilt grandchildren in town !

You loved sewing, gardening, painting and cooking, and we have learnt those skills from you in various degrees. You waited until I got my university results, and how happy you were to hear I had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Sadly, you did not live to attend my graduation.

I gave up a university scholarship to the US in order to be with you, as your health was failing, and I never regretted that decision, because you had done so much for me. You were with me when I got my first salary as an English teacher. I know, Aachchi, that you will be proud of what I have now achieved.
You will always be a treasured part of our family

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we will always love and remember you.

Granddaughter Tammy

Memories of a long, warm friendship

Dr. Michael Satchie

To put pen to paper to write an appreciation of a close friend is a sorrowful task. Satchie (Satchitananthan) and I entered the portals of our hallowed school Royal College, Colombo way back in 1954. He was admitted to the Tamil stream while my admission was to the English Stream. Fate had it that a long lasting bond between Satchie and me covering three score years was to begin in 1956 when we were absorbed into the same class.

Our not-so-vociferous natures may have helped cement this friendship. Satchie was a genius in many ways but never asserted this characteristic. While most of us chose to do Geography he chose Greek as his subject, the only one in our batch to do so. His versatility was proved that in spite of doing Classics, he ended up being a Doctor.

Satchie was an excellent swimmer. I reminisce with a touch of nostalgia about the days when Satchie and I used to go to St Joseph’s College pool (as Royal did not have a pool then) for swimming. Satchie would cycle from his home in Wellawatte to my home in Colpetty, pick me up, and then I would do the riding while Satchie travelled on the bar. After a good swim he would drop me back at home and pedal all the way back to Wellawatte.

Satchie had extraordinary literary talents as were exemplified in his poetry and anecdotes. His calligraphic hand writing was quite exquisite. I have a treasured possession of a beautiful poem he composed in 1991 when my daughter got married. He was an excellent chess player and versatile cook.

Satchie opted to do Paediatrics. He proceeded to the US. In my long association with him I observed he had a habit of coming up with intriguing and problematic questions which often dumbfounded us. Since I was an eye surgeon, he once asked me what type of dreams do people born blind have. I couldn’t give a suitable answer and threw this question to the audience during my Presidential address at the College of Ophthalmologists. I still do not to this day have the correct answer. Satchie appreciated music ranging from the Classics to contemporary. He used to advise me on what type of hi fi equipment I should invest in.

I last spoke to my close buddy about a month ago and I was sad to hear of his decision not to fight his illness which had plagued him for sometime. His family life also had many pitfalls losing his father in the dark days of the 1983 riots.

His brother Dr. Harin too pre-deceased him having passed away a few years ago after making a name in New York as a leading Paediatrician. Satchie spent his retirement glued to the computer and he used to call his room the Ashram. Many a time we had long conversations on the phone on the subject of religion where we had diametrically opposite views. I sorely miss those long discussions and friendly discourses that kept us glued to the phone for hours. Goodbye dear friend I will surely miss your warm friendship.

I conclude this tribute to Satchie with a befitting couplet from Gray’s Elegy which our great teacher and Icon at Royal the late Viji Weerasinghe taught us in his English Literature class.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bare
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness in the desert air

Dr. Sirry Cassim

Tall and stately she stood out in any crowd

Haseena Nooruliyne Aroos

Noori Aroos to her friends and Gangy Mami to the family was the daughter of the late Proctor Buhari and the late Khadija Buhari of Matara. She was married to the late I.H.M.Aroos of Matara.

She had her early education at St. Thomas’s Girls School Matara, Southlands College Galle and was later boarded at C.M.S. Ladies’College Colombo. Here, she made her lifelong friends and would look forward to all Old Girls’ Association events held throughout the year. In her youth, Noori was a ravishing beauty with a fair complexion: tall and stately, she stood out in a crowd.

She was always well dressed and carried herself with aplomb. She had a wonderful sense of humour, which enabled her to face the challenges of life with fortitude. Her marriage to Aroos was filled with love and respect and she was devoted to her only son Muaiyyad, around whom her world revolved.

She was the Manager of the Bookshop at the Lanka Oberoi and later on the Cinnamon Grand for over 25 years. She loved being in the hotel environment, listening to the music in the Lobby area and also meeting the distinguished guests who may by chance walk into the Bookshop. She was well read and knowledgeable about a wide range of literature and was always happy to recommend visitors to the bookstore and help them find what they were looking for.

Her annual birthday celebration was something everyone in the family looked forward to. When we dropped by, her flat would be full of her nieces and nephews, all there to celebrate with one of their favourite Aunts. The table would be beautifully laid out with a delicious cake and a variety of short eats; in her heyday, she was quite the connoisseur of fine desserts and cakes. She was always at the centre of the party, cracking jokes and having quiet chats with people.

She will be sadly missed by all her friends and family for the wise words, fun and laughter she shared with us. She will remain in our hearts and memories as one of those people taken from us too soon – but who lived her life on this earth with grace, wisdom and a warm and loving heart.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments; but what is woven into the lives of others”

By the grace of Allah, may she attain “Jennathul Firdous.”

F. Aziz

He chose the path where he would ‘stop and meet many people’

Gamini Gunasekera

Gamini Gunasekera, son of Mr. and Mrs. D.L. Gunasekera, hailed from a family well known for their traditions and adventures.

He was educated at Ananda College, Colombo. The precious quality of not giving up personal, family and national worth and value was characteristic of the Gunasekeras and of Gamini too. This quality is sometimes misunderstood by those who prefer to give up their family and their national identity – even though having an ID card.

Gamini’s support for the present president was outspoken, also due to this pristine quality of love. 
He qualified in engineering and business in Britain. When he returned to Sri Lanka he studied the machines he worked with by himself. Therefore some called him a “self-made man”. By the age of 27 he was a fully qualified motor engineer. He then decided to drive to Sri Lanka overland from Europe. He was interviewed by the Standard newspaper in England before setting out in his Ford Cortina on the long journey.

To the news reporter Gamini said, “I hope to stop and meet people in many places on the way”. He passed through France, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia (at the time), Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. One of the many he met included the Shah of Iran. The Shah had asked him to stay on in his palace. However Gamini continued on his way.

When he returned to Sri Lanka he attempted to start a career in Engineering. Gamini may not have realized the full significance of saying, “I hope to stop and meet people in many places on the way,” when he set out from England. Gamini had a much higher calling than to follow a selfish career. He had a vision for development. He had to indeed “stop and meet many people.”

His work started when he found a wife from Galle. She gave him support and strength. He was a loving father to three daughters.

He started his work from Meeriyakanda estate which he developed into a thriving tea production envied by many. On his own he learnt about machinery and at one point had the most modern equipment. Gamini chose to install these in a remote area called Hiyare in the Galle District. The people will still remember him for the development and employment he brought to that area.

He was the founder and chairman of Cambridge College of Higher Education that was started in 1998. Many students have gone overseas and developed in their careers through this institution. He could have gone back to UK as he was a qualified engineer.

Sri Lanka has lost a man who did much for the education system of the country.

Ushan Gunasekera

Tribute to a lady of courage

Sarasvati Rockwood

Saras, as she was always known, and I were classmates at St Bridget's from the Kindergarten to the London Matriculation. Every year, we both tied for the English prize and the English Literature prize. Even after we left school, we stayed in touch. I last visited her in June 2010, but since then, our phone calls were more frequent.

When the dreaded disease struck her, she took it all so bravely. She was a woman of indomitable courage. When I rang her a week before she died and asked her "How are you?", she said "don’t talk to me about my illness. I want you to talk to me of other matters." Some months ago, when I told her that I had had a fall in the bathroom, but escaped with no bruises, and that I attributed it to the fact that I read Psalm 91 every day, she asked me to post her a copy, but she said it must be enlarged and also laminated. I duly got it done and posted it. That was about a month before she died.

She belonged to a Club called the Crochet Club. There were about 10 or 12 members and they used to meet at one another's homes once a month. She once invited me when the lunch that followed the meeting was at her residence. She was immensely proud of my ancestry and used to often refer to it in our conversations. One day we went to visit two schoolmates of ours . Going back to her house, she said "Let's stop for an iced coffee". Little did I know then that that was the last time I would see her. I am aware that before she fell ill, she visited school mates of ours who were bedridden and unable to leave their home.

She had immense faith in God. Every time I rang her, she used to say "Pray for me, Therese". I will always remember her as a very caring person.

The tributes that were paid to her by her grand children at the beautifully organised service held in her memory on August 21 were indeed proof of her caring nature. May the turf lie lightly on her. To her grieving family, I say "My prayers are with you all".

Therese Motha

Daily News Thu Sep 15 2011

Cyril Herath:

Upright and fearless officer

Cyril Herath, a former Inspector General of Police, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Chairman of the National Savings Bank, passed away in the Police Hospital on September 8.

Herath was educated at the Royal College, Colombo and graduated from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya with a BA. Thereafter he joined the Police service as a probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police and served as the Inspector General of Police from December 1985 to August 1988.

He served in many parts of the country, and his qualities of independence, forthrightness and brilliance in intelligence gathering, shone during the period he was the Head of the Intelligence Service, sometimes known as the Special Branch and National Intelligence Bureau.

Especially during the period as the Head of the Intelligence Service, he maintained a high standard of professionalism in intelligence gathering through his team of officers working under him. He trained and directed the officers to be professional intelligence gathering operatives. He was honest and instilled honesty in all his subordinates. He refused to be part of any political, system which under normal circumstances made use of the Intelligence Division as one of their political tools.

He was the Head of security during which time the Non-Aligned Conference was held in 1976. He was given the task of being overall in charge of providing security at the BMICH, of the visiting Heads of States and of the Hotels where the VVIP's were housed. He led a team of dedicated officers under him to ensure that no untoward incidents of security concern took place during the Conference.

I recollect at one meeting, where the late Lakshman Jayakody and the late Dr. Mackie Ratwatte were conducting, a proposal was made by them to invite a City Father at that time along with the Councillors for the opening day of the Conference.

Since the decision as to who should be the invitees for the opening ceremony had already been taken and decided upon, Herath objected to this proposal. In spite of the convenor of the meeting conveying that the Prime Minister had agreed to invite the City Father and his Councillors, Herath wanted his objection recorded. Thereafter, he communicated with the PM who denied having given approval, for the City Father and his Councillors to be invited to the opening ceremony, and the proposal was never implemented.

Another instance where his forthrightness was displayed, was when promotion to senior Officers who were not recommended by him as the Head of the Department, were promoted, depriving the suitable officers recommended by the Department of their promotions, Herath went up to the then President J.R. Jayewardene and objected to the promotion of those Officers not recommended by him. In spite of his objection to the promotion, officers selected by the government were promoted.

Herath tendered his resignation over this issue though he had more years to continue as the IGP, and left the service honourably with his head held high. To my recollection he is the only IGP to resign from his post having disagreed with a head of State. I have the privilege of having served under him in the Intelligence Bureau and at Police Headquarters, and cherish the standard he maintained and instilled in us to be professional Police Officers with integrity.

He has also been sought after by many heads of governments thereafter, to be the advisor on intelligence matters. He was the first Police Officer to be appointed as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. He conducted himself in an honourable manner without succumbing to any political pressure. He was a devoted husband and caring father. He leaves his wife, two sons and daughter.

It is a great loss to the people of this country to have lost an upright and fearless Officer who could have shared his valuable knowledge in matters affecting the majority of the citizens of our country who are law abiding.

"May he attain Nibbana"

B. Anton Jeyanathan, Rtd. DIG, Sri Lanka Police


D G F Walter:

Humble lawyer of Kalutara Bar

The fifteenth death anniversary of D G F Walter fell on September 1. He was born on December 6, 1901. His father and mother both were teachers. He was a leading lawyer, social worker and writer. He passed away peacefully on September 1, 1996 at his residence 'Lucil-Lena', Kuda Paiyagala at the age of 95.

Walter had his early education at the Roman Catholic School, Paiyagala and later at Holy Cross College, Kalutara. For his higher education he attended St Joseph's College, Colombo, where he passed Cambridge Senior and London Matriculation. In 1919 Rev Fr M J Leqoc, Rector of St Joseph's was instrumental in his appointment as a Botany teacher at Holy Cross College, Kalutara. Subsequently in 1921 he was encouraged by Philip Cooray to join the Law College where he passed out as a Proctor and Notary in 1925.

Walter was honest, humble and fearless. He was always kind and considerable to his clients. He did not pester the poor and did not bargain for legal fees from his clients. He told his clients to settle their problem without going to courts. He was of the opinion that let law be the last resort. He was always conscious of his duty towards the court.

He was methodical and punctual. He took an active interest in social and religious affairs in missionary zeal. He was president of the Catholic Young Men's Association and simultaneously served in the executive committee of the Catholic Union of Sri Lanka.

For many decades he contributed aspiring articles to the Catholic and other papers. He was a devout Catholic. His most popular articles were the Real Presence and Transubstantiation, and the Catholic and the Poor. He was the pioneer of suwabasha in the church.

On Rector's Day, November 23, 1929 he organised the joint past student association representing both girls and boys of the Holy Cross College, Kalutara. He was the first hony secretary of the Old Boys Association.

He was the president of Paiyagala Samithiya and Paiyagala Gramawardane Samithiya. In 1930 Walter functioned as an executive committee member of the Ceylon National Congress where they decided to wear white suits.

He took a great interest on revival of national industries (liquor and fishing) and against diverting the river through the village. He was a pioneer of the co-operative movement in the Kalutara district. He was the founder president of the Co-operative Credit Society in Paiyagala inaugurated in 1931, which is still functioning.

He was also the president of the Co-operative Stores Society. In 1987 he was awarded the Co-operative medal and a certificate for his services rendered to the Co-operative movement for over 50 years.

He was exalted to the position of president of the Kalutara Bar Association. In 1955 he was honoured as a Justice of Peace and Unofficial Magistrate. He acted as a District Judge of Kalutara in the absence of a permanent judge. His portrait too was unveiled at Kalutara Court library.

Walter gave up his practice in courts in 1986 and continued notarial work at his residence at Paiyagala. As a proctor and notary he had a record in Kalutara district as having attested 41 deeds on the same day.

May he Rest in Peace.

Candiid de Silva


K Michael de Silva:

Deeply religious man

Listening to the eulogy of Michael de Silva delivered by the officiating priest at St. Judes Church Indigolla, Gampaha my mind went back to the first day I met de Silva. It was at an Annual General meeting of St. Servatius College Matara Old Boy Associations Colombo branch. It was the first meeting I attended as a member, and the elderly gentleman who introduced himself as the founder Secretary of St. Servatius College Matara. OBA. He was friendly and loquacious.

After his education Michael de Silva joined the Charles P. Hayley Co. in Galle and later moved to Hayley's Ltd in Colombo. He worked there till he retired from the Mercantile Service.

After some years when I was elected as the President of the Old Boys Association I came to know de Silva closely as a Patron of the OBA. I was much impressed by his sterling qualities and I have never seen him raising his voice at any time. He never spoke ill of others and when gossip was spread about colleagues he displayed a nonchalant smile. He continued to be active in the OBA and I was pleasantly surprised when he attended a ceremony organized by the OBA to commemorate a former principal Rev. Father Joseph Rajapaksa. He was 94 years at that time.

De Silva wrote newspaper articles and poems to various newspapers and had a collection of all news items published by newspapers about the School. He collected news published about the legendary cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya and wanted to present them to him when he became a MP. However ill health prevented him from doing so.

Michael de Silva rarely missed a church service, and accompanied his wife, daughter and son-in-law every year to the annual church festival in Matara.

He was laid to rest, amongst distinguished gatherings at St. Judes Church, Indigolla, Gampaha.

May he enjoy the heavenly bliss in the realm beyond.

Padmasiri de Silva


Chandra Wijenaike:

Philanthropist who helped many people

It was with profound sorrow and a deep sense of personal loss, that I came to know of the passing away of Chandra Wijenaike on July 27, 2011.

I first came in contact with Chandra in 1951, when I made an application to join the prestigious Kandy Garden Club. He was then its Secretary and Treasurer.

He continued to be secretary and he was later elected President, which post he held with honour and distinction for a number of years. He was a god father to the Club and took a fatherly interest in its day to day affairs, inspite of his very busy schedules. It is appropriate mentioning here that Chandra was the first Sri Lankan (then Ceylonese) to be admitted to this Club of all whites.

Chandra is credited to have been the driving force in coming into being the now prestigious Central Finance Company. He was its Chairman an Managing Director over the years, an today it is one of the leading financial institutions in the country. He was also in the Director Boards of many companies where his vast knowledge in the sphere of finance and his business acumen were greatly in demand. Inspite of his moving with the high and mighty in the world of big finance. Chandra was and unostentatious person. It can truly be said of him that he could move with kings without losing the common touch.

He was well-known as a philanthropist who helped many people and causes in their hour of need. He was however very modest of all his achievements and position, an was known to be a self-effacing person who shunned publicity and cheap popularity. He however stood up to his own and others' rights, and called a spade a spade and did not mince his words when it came to matters where principles were involved.

His innate good nature and simplicity endeared him to his fellow men with whom he had a good rapport.

Ill health dogged him in the later part of his life, and this prevented him from taking an active part in the affairs of the Company he contributed to create.

Chandra was a devout Buddhist who practised his faith with great devotion.

He was a regular an keen tennis player and was a member of the Club's team that participated at the All Island Inter-Club Tennis Tournaments conducted by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association, annually.

I convey my condolences and deep sympathy to all members of the family, relations, friends and associates.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

F C B Marapane

Sunday Times Sep 11 2011

Favourite Kurunegala citizen went out of his way to help those in need

Namal Gamage

Not only did Kurunegala lose a man of stature, the whole of Sri Lanka lost a friend, a man you could count on to step in whenever you needed him. Who would do what he had to do and move away, never to remind you of what was done, and not too happy if the subject was brought up either.

Namal was born and bred in Kandy – boarded at Trinity College from the tender age of five. He played rugby for the College First Fifteen, winning his rugby colours before he left to follow in his father’s footsteps.

When he first moved to Kurunegala as an understudy to his father, Mr. P. H. Gamage, also a well-known businessman, he was a handsome 20-something. He took Kurunegala by storm; at least, all the young girls were interested. The people around town did not know what to think of this dazzling young man/boy being groomed to take over from his father.

He had just got married to Niromi when his father passed away quite suddenly. The common sentiment around town was that the family business was doomed. But Namal proved them all wrong – he took over from where his father left off and built an empire of his own style and vision. He took everything to another level and went on to become one of the most respected and loved citizens of Kurunegala.

His reputation preceded him wherever he went, but he was humble. I wonder whether he was aware of the difference he made to others around him. He had no political affiliations – at least none that I knew of, and I knew him quite well. He was a friend to every politician in Kurunegala as well as elsewhere. If they asked for assistance, he would help them, but never asked for a favour in return –at least, not for himself.

When his daughter returned from Australia after completing her studies, he did not ask any friends to give her a job, even though he knew the right people in the right places. She would have to learn to fend for herself, he said.

He was known as an employer, a parent, husband, brother, uncle, cousin or relative. He was there for everybody. Whether they were young or old, rich or poor, influential or otherwise, did not matter to him. If they needed his help, he gave it. I know of instances when he even risked his life to help others in need.

After he had passed away, everyone I spoke to had a story to tell about Namal, and the stories had one thing in common, that Namal had gone out of his way to do something special for them.

A Friend

His sudden death proves that the good do die young

Namal Gamage’s tragic death in a car crash three months ago in Kurunegala, is yet another demise that gives weight to the saying that it’s the good that die young. The outpouring of grief witnessed at the news of his death is testament to what a warm-hearted and affectionate human being he was and the hearts he had touched of so many.

He was the perfect husband to Ungi, a doting father to Indiwari and Pulasthi and was the beloved brother to his sister Premika. Athletic and good-looking, the six-foot Namal was a former ruggerite of Trinity College, Kandy. His eternal impish smile endeared him to one and all. The non-smoking, teetotaler had no enemies because by nature he could not harm any person.

A car-fanatic throughout his life, his only vice was fast-driving. Whether it was his speeding or because sleep overwhelmed him during his drive-back from a school mate’s party, it was ironical that he had to die at the wheel of his beloved car.As a toddler, Namal could not be separated from his “dinky cars.” I, as a cousin, saw his love for cars developing over time into an intense passion, a passion that no amount of remonstration could stall. There were many near-collisions which he however avoided with his driving skills.

The only son of Sena and Gerty Gamage (both deceased) of Paramount-fame of Kurunegala, Namal, who inherited the popular Hotel, displayed great business acumen and turned it around making it into a multifaceted business concern.

He was just getting involved in social service activities in Kurunegala being elected for the second term as the President of the Kurunegala Lions Club. His pet project was the Vocational Centre which he had set up and was taking personal interest in. Namal was also an active member of the Kandy Four-Wheel Driving Club.

Being a keen wildlife enthusiast and nature-lover Namal was in the process of completing the construction of his house which he was building in the shadow of the Kurunegala rock where the rock and its undisturbed environs were blended into the architectural design.

Many were the projects he had envisioned and the best tribute that his family can pay him is to see them through to fruition. The death of this simple and lovable man is a great loss and he will be missed by his family and all those who were fortunate to have known him.

May he attain Nirvana.

Rajitha Weerakoon

Long queues of expectant mothers would wait to meet the kind doctor

Prof. Dayananda Wijeyratne

Professor Dayananda Wijeyratne, Visiting Surgeon at the Sri Jayawardanepura General Hospital, passed away after a brief illness. He was 70 years. He hailed from a distinguished family in Ahungalla. His father was a magistrate, and he had two sisters.

After completing his secondary education at St. Joseph’s College, Maradana, he went to London to study to become an obstetrician gynaecologist. He was a pioneer surgeon at the Jayawardanepura General Hospital, and became the hospital’s visiting surgeon.

His bungalow on Pagoda Road, Nugegoda, was also his clinic. My house is opposite Professor Wijeyratne’s bungalow. We became family friends. His son is a medical research doctor living in Australia.

He was very popular with his patients, and hundreds of expectant mothers would come to see him every day, except on Poya days. Often, in the middle of the night, I would hear him take his car out to go and see his patients. Every day, there were long queues of patients along Dharmadutha Lane waiting to see him.

He is greatly missed. May he attain Nibbana.

A.G. D. S. Rajapakse

An upright and fearless Officer

Cyril Herath

Cyril Herath, a former Inspector General of Police, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, and Chairman of the National Savings Bank, passed away in the Police Hospital on September 8. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and graduated from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya with a B.A. Thereafter he joined the Police service as a probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police and went on to serve as the Inspector General of Police from December 1985 to August 1988.

During the years in the Police, he served in many parts of the country and his qualities of independence, forthrightness and brilliance in intelligence gathering, shone during the period he was the Head of the Intelligence Service, sometimes known as the Special Branch, National Intelligence Bureau etc.

Especially during his period as the Head of the Intelligence Service, he maintained a high standard of professionalism in intelligence gathering through his team of officers working under him. He trained and directed the officers to be professional intelligence gathering operatives. He was honest and instilled honesty in all his subordinates. He refused to be part of any political system which under normal circumstances made use of the Intelligence Division as one of their political tools.

He was the Head of Security when the Non-Aligned Conference was held in 1976. He was given the task of being overall in charge of providing security at the BMICH, of the visiting Heads of State, and of the Hotels where the VVIP's were housed. He led a team of dedicated officers under him to ensure that no untoward incidents of security concern took place during the entire period of the Conference.

I recollect one meeting, which the late Lakshman Jayakody and the late Mackie Ratwatte were conducting, where a proposal was made by them to invite a City Father at that time along with the Councillors for the opening day of the Conference. Since the decision as to who should be the invitees for the opening ceremony had already been taken and decided upon, Mr. Herath objected to this proposal. In spite of the convener of the meeting conveying that the Prime Minister had agreed to invite the City Father and his Councilors, Mr. Herath wanted his objection recorded. Thereafter, he communicated with the PM who denied having given approval, for the City Father and his councillors to be invited to the opening ceremony, and the proposal was never implemented.

Another instance where his forthrightness was displayed, was senior officers who were not recommended by him as the Head of the Department, were promoted, depriving the suitable officers recommended by the Department of their promotions, Mr. Herath went up to the then President J.R. Jayewardene and objected to the promotion of those officers not recommended by him. In spite of his objection to the promotion, officers selected by the government were promoted.

Mr. Herath tendered his resignation over this issue though he had more years to continue as the IGP, and left the service honourably with his head held high. To my recollection he is the only IGP to resign from his post having disagreed with a head of State. I have the privilege of having served under him in the Intelligence Bureau and at Police Headquarters, and cherish the standard he maintained and instilled in us to be professional Police Officers with honesty and integrity.

He has also been sought after by many heads of government thereafter, to be the advisor on intelligence matters. He was the first Police Officer to be appointed as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. He conducted himself in an honourable manner without succumbing to any political pressure. He was a devoted husband and caring father. He leaves behind his wife, three sons and daughter.

It is a great loss to the people of this country of an upright and fearless officer who could have shared his valuable knowledge in matters affecting the majority of our country who are law abiding citizens .

"May he attain Nibbana".

B.Anton Jeyanathan, Rtd. DIG, Sri Lanka Police

A friend to many he weathered many a storm

Shelley Wickramasinghe

The death of Shelley Wickramasinghe has taken away from our midst a person of rare calibre. To those who knew him personally, to his wide circle of friends, colleagues, relatives and associates, his death is an irreparable loss. A great personality in the sports field, affable person, distinguished character of many facets and a gentleman par excellence, has been lost forever. An Engineer by profession, he was a consultant to British Leyland Motors, and worked as Chief Engineer, at the then Ceylon Transport Board.

He had an open mind, generous and was always willing to give of his time and energy to whoever reached out to him for help, no matter what the regular donations and monthly allowances doled out to those in need. He would write out cheques to them on the exact day of every month, and get his driver to post them. He did this till his very last days. Never would he return from Kataragama, a place he went to often, without bringing back a load of vegetables to be distributed to the Homes and Orphanages he helped.

He bore no malice or ill-will, had many friends, here and abroad, with whom he kept in touch. He enjoyed friendship, loved meeting people, be they old school mates, acquaintances or even the old domestic aides from the villages, whom he helped immensely. Shelley Wickramasinghe was deeply religious, well versed in the Buddha Dhamma. In the latter stages of his life, when he could not move about freely, he would sit on his sofa and read Dhamma books, and encourage others to do so.

He would discuss facts in Buddhism with my husband, whenever we went to see him. He gave freely and generously to temples, was a Trustee of the Kalutara Bodhi, President of the Y.M.B.A. and participated in innumerable religious activities. He respected all religions, and was happy when he was appointed the first Buddhist President of the Old Boys’ Association of his predominantly Catholic alma-mater,-St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya.

It is sad he had to undergo several personal crises in his life-- losing his beloved wife, thereafter, his only son unexpectedly, and his younger daughter at an early age. I believe, his deep knowledge of Buddhism, helped him to walk through the storm, even though his dreams may have been tossed and blown away. He was blessed in having Shyama, his only surviving child, who was a pillar of strength to him, in his sad moments and up to the end of his life’s journey. She was his constant companion. She sacrificed much of her time and energy, most willingly, to care for him, and to continue unbroken, the set-up of the warm and comfortable home he was used to, and where he lived as he wished to, till the end. His blessings to her were a hundred fold. She was able to care for her precious father so well, because of the support and encouragement she got from Ranjan, her husband.

Shelley’s achievements, some of which I got to know only after his death, are too many to be written here. But I must say, I’m proud he was my brother-in-law, my late sister Ranee’s husband. May he attain the Bliss of Nibbana.

Rupa


Sunday Times Aug 28 2011

Sri Lanka has lost a dutiful son and I a loyal friend

Romesh Jayasinghe

I was saddened to hear of the premature passing of Romesh Jayasinghe. This is a true loss to the Sri Lankan foreign service and great loss to those who knew him.

I met Romesh for the first time when he was stationed in Brussels as Sri Lanka's ambassador, about 10 years ago. I was immediately struck by his devotion to representing his motherland honourably, his knowledge of history and politics, and his graciousness and humbleness. We got close over the past decade, meeting in Colombo off and on, and exchanging periodic emails and phone calls.

He was an optimistic individual who thought the best of everyone and never dwelled on failures and weaknesses of others. He had integrity like no other public servant I had met. He worked hard defending Sri Lanka's image during some of the trying times the country has had in the recent past.

My family was fortunate to have Romesh, Shalini and Sumudhu visit us last summer in the US. Sumudhu had received admission to one of the premier colleges in the US and Romesh was proud to come and get her settled in her new digs. He was also sad to let go of his daughter to enter college and have her move on in life as an adult. But, he knew she was on the right track and would make him proud. The time we spent during their visit was special to my family. We spent a lot of time sightseeing, having long chats in the evenings and cooking dinner together. I was looking forward to many more visits from him when he came to see Sumudhu, but that was not meant to be.

I met Romesh for the last time this past December during Christmas. I never thought that would be our last meeting. Even though he wasn't much of a connoisseur of heavy drinks, someone had given him a bottle of expensive Scotch Whiskey. He had saved it until I visited and insisted on opening it that day. I asked him to save it for a special occasion, and his response was, that was a special occasion.

The discovery and the rapid progression of Romesh's terminal illness was a shock to all his friends and I'm sure to most people who knew him. He handled the pain and suffering with dignity, and at the end passed away with grace and no complaints. He appreciated the support he got from his loving family, sister and other loved ones.

I'm sure he must have had some regrets leaving Suhith and Sumudhu too early in their young lives, and not being able to be spend his future retirement with Shalini, in Sri Lanka after being away from home for so long. In his passing, Sri Lanka has lost a dutiful son and we his friends a loyal friend. May he rest in peace.

Dr. Niranjan Nugara

He gave hope to many with his magical touch and caring ways

Prof. James Randunna Corea

“A band of angels coming after me. Coming for to carry me home.”

A band of angels came down from heaven on April 15, 2008 and carried him home when so many were hopefully and anxiously awaiting his next visit. He was a surgeon with a magical touch, a golden heart and warm smile. His incredible touch and caring ways gave hope to the hopeless and brought them out of difficult situations to live normal lives again. He had the ability to straighten up curves in the lives of many people. He was able to make people stand and walk.

I first met Professor Randunna Corea on January 26, 2004 as a teenager suffering from Thoraco Lumbar Scoliosis. After wearing a heavy, restrictive leather brace and going through painful sessions of physiotherapy which proved no positive results, I walked into the consultation room to meet this skilled orthopaedic surgeon. From that very first day I consulted Professor Randunna, I had so much confidence in him. I was easily convinced to undergo the painful surgery when he said, “This can be easily corrected, only thing is you will be stuck in hospital for 10 days.”

There were times when I was discouraged to undergo surgery and my mind was confused. At such moments I sought only his advice because I had so much faith in him and firmly believed that he would help me. On June 21, 2004, a 10-hour surgery was performed to straighten my “C” spine.

When I was in pain and awaiting his visit to the Intensive Care Unit he appeared with a broad smile and said that the surgery was a success and that as a result I was 1.5 inches taller, “just like magic”.
I forgot about the fact that I was waiting to complain about the pain. Each time he visited me he used his unique painkillers—a smile, kind words and jokes. He made me realize how a smile and kind words could ease one’s pain and make one feel better.

At his funeral I got to know that his childhood dream was to become a doctor. He selected Orthopaedics as his specialty apparently on being impressed by the skills of an orthopaedic surgeon who had treated him for a fracture in the hand.

When I heard about his sudden demise I couldn’t believe it. Even after three years it still seems hard to come to terms. Words cannot convey the admiration and gratitude I have for you, Professor Randunna. You straightened up the curve in my life and there is not a single day that I don’t think about you. Each time I stand in front of the mirror I thank God for the magical touch He gifted you with.

Devika Priyadharshini Fernando

Memories of you bring a smile amidst our tears

Fazreen Zamani

It’s been 10 years of sorrow and remembrance. Ten years ago on August 19, 2001, the cruel waves of the Kirinda seas swallowed up our little angel Fazreen at a young age of 14. The trauma and sorrow we as parents and her elder sister Fazeela underwent is unimaginable.

Fazreen was everything to us, a bundle of joy, happiness, a luminous light where ever she went. As much as she had beauty, her heart was full of charity and love to all her friends in need. The examples are too many to state.

She was our second daughter blessed after a lapse of 10 years. It was after much prayer that she came into our lives and she brought joy to us all. As the saying goes, we are only lent to this world by our Creator and we have to go when the call comes.

For our darling little Fazreen, the call came very early in life and at a time she was blossoming into a pretty and playful teenager. We had lots of plans for her future, but her fate took a different course, a flight to our Creator’s domain. We know she entered a better place, from the time she breathed her last; we are consoled by the saying" the good die young".

Her grandmothers and her aunts and uncles still speak of the lovely things she said and did to bring a smile to our faces. Her pictures we treasure.

We will always love you darling Fazreen, and we remember you at all our family gatherings, though the memories bring tears to our eyes. We are certain you have attained Jainathul Firdhous by the grace of Almighty Allah.

Lilanganie and Fazal

Those river baths, buggy and boat rides

Ian Dias Abeysinghe

In one’s lifetime so much water flows under the bridge, taking with it memories we sometimes remember for as long as we live, and often regrettably forget. Today is Ian’s birthday. The fourth in a family of five children, he lived the promised “three score years and 10”.

As young children 4 and 5 years, Ian and I lived apart -- he in Colombo with Aunty and Uncle and I with Mummy and Daddy enjoying the freedom of our ancestral Walauwa in Kotugoda. My heart didn’t like Ian coming to invade my world. The cows were mine, the goats, the dogs, the fat pig, the fowls and even the bees in their hives. I made sure Ian knew they belonged exclusively to me.

Then there was the beautiful bathing well that we were forbidden to go anywhere near because Daddy had made a small one for me to play in. I recall luring Ian there telling him there were fish in my well and when he squatted to see for himself I pushed him in. You bet I got what I deserved for it.

Then there was the time we were playing on our tennis court and we had a competition to see who could throw a stone higher and my stone decided to land on his head and he bled profusely. Our parents decided I was to blame. The cattle tied to the coconut trees were a real temptation and when they were released I made sure Ian was to blame; but the adults knew better.

We came to live in Colombo after the World War was over and attended Ladies’ College. Daisy Akki, Ian and I travelled to school in a beautiful buggy drawn by a handsome red bull. This bull would decide to ease himself just as we stopped under the college porch to alight. Daisy Akki left school and Ian and I had the joy of the buggy ride. We had a Fiat and a Rover at home, I can’t fathom why we had to go in a buggy! Mummy gave each of us roast beef sandwiches for lunch. I had a bright idea to get rid of my leftovers. We put the seat cushions on the floor boards and had a picnic (or some such thing) and I made Ian eat all the leftovers.

Once his books ‘accidentally’ fell out of the back of the buggy and Benjamin, warning us not to touch the reins, tied it to the lamp and got down to collect the books. We untied the reins and just as Benjamin did, we touched the bull’s rear end. He was a young bull and he ran all the way home with Benjamin running behind us making a fool of himself shouting and telling us how we should rein the bull in, as if we didn’t know. The thrill was worth the consequences.

As we grew older we spent holidays in Kotugoda or in Madampe at our grandmother’s or at Daisy Akki’s up in Peradeniya. Ian loved exploring wherever we went. In Kotugoda he found a river where people were bathing and secretly took me there. After a fun filled, cool time in the water we used to come back as though nothing exciting had happened.

In Madampe, the sand is pure white and the shallow stream that ran through our land was the colour of strong clear tea. This is why it is called the, “Kalu Diya Ala”. We spent a lot of time fishing there for tiny fish. There was one kind called “Thiththaya” with shiny gold sides and the one with a white spot on his head was called a “Handaya”.

The one we were afraid of was called a “Hoonga” because of its painful sting. This fellow had whiskers like the catfish. We found a huge scorpion to keep us amused and hid it in an Ovaltine tin to keep it till we came back for the next holidays and it was still alive. Ian put it in formalin finally. We found many star tortoises that we used to bring back with us to Colombo. There was a plant they called a “Kahambiliya” that granny’s Ayah used to keep us in check with. It had a fuzzy leaf and was worse than a caterpillar rubbing off on us. Ian used it to threaten and control me. The tables had turned, Ian was now the boss.

He discovered a river faraway from the estate at Madampe where he found a boat tethered to a tree. He took me there and telling me not to be afraid, he put me in the boat and we rowed a little away from the bank when he accidentally dropped the oar and I must confess I was afraid. He retrieved it somehow and we came ashore and our grandmother was none the wiser.

Up in Peradeniya we were joined by Marie, the daughter of Prof. McGauhey and the three of us used to go exploring together. One day we found this waterfall and a beautiful pool where we went daily for fun. It was so faraway from Daisy Akki’s and it was our special secret. By the time we came back our clothes were dry.

Effervescent Ian used to be the life of a party with his ability to remember jokes, sometimes multi-coloured; but always making people roar with laughter. Circumstances made us go our separate ways but memories stayed and became precious all the more because they could not ever be repeated. I treasured Sunday evenings where he and his son Arjuna used to be very regular members of the congregation at the People’s Church Assembly Of God and I used to meet them sometimes only for a brief chat or only a kiss and “God bless you.”

Ian had touched the heart and lives of many people and I was amazed at the number of sympathy cards and letters I received from such people who wanted to talk about him. Someone even wrote about his hobby of keeping snakes in fish tanks in his office at Browns. The attention he had paid to customers coming to purchase batteries, making them feel they were special was something they talked about. One man told me that Ian had lifted him up to where he now is, and told him one should not be content to be poor. That was Ian!

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments; but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Manel Bibile

Disciplined, generous Army officer was loved and respected by all

Major-General Patrick Fernando

My beloved brother, Major General Patrick Fernando, the eldest in the family, passed away a year ago, on August 21, 2010. His funeral was meticulously arranged by the Sri Lanka Army, with full military honours, and his remains were cremated at the Borella Cemetery, Kanatte, on August 23, 2010, in the presence of a large and distinguished gathering.

My brother dedicated a major part of his 66 years to the Gemunu Watch and the Sri Lanka Army. He served his country with dedication and character. It was officers like Patrick who made the Army strong. He shared his wealth of knowledge with the younger officers, who later went on to achieve great things for the country. He always listened to his seniors, and followed their advice and guidance. After holding many key positions, and serving with dedication, Patrick retired from the Sri Lanka Army as the Army’s Chief of Staff.

Throughout his illustrious career, Patrick commanded the respect of all who came in touch with him. Simplicity was his great quality, something he kept to the very end. He was a disciplined officer, and this inspired others. He was disciplined in every aspect of his life. This made him unique.

I know he never harboured grudges. I know there were many situations in his professional life where he felt unhappy. His training, coupled with his own way of dealing with difficult situations, made him a remarkable individual.

It is a year since he passed away, but I still feel his presence around us. But the truth is he is no more. 
I know that Indra Akka, the children, the in-laws, the grandchildren, our family members, his colleagues and all who loved him, keenly feel his loss.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Parakrama Fernando (Malli)

Sunday Times Sep 4 2011

He was a true son of Sri Lanka, loved by one and all

M. A. Bakeer Markar

It is seldom that people commemorate the characters of men, after their demise. Those, who are remembered by most in that capacity in all times, are certainly considered as “martyrs” in some esteemd portals. I will not hesitate to rank the late Deshamanya Al-Haj M.A. Bakeer Markar of Beruwela, as one of the most noble characters, who deserves to be commemorated by all, irrespective of ethnic differences.

He was born in 1917, received his primary education at St. Sebastian’s School, Hulftsdorp and had his higher education at Zahira College, Colombo. He was from a respectable family of Beruwela, where his father was a successful Ayurvedic physician, who instilled the importance of education in the mind of his son and his nephews.

At Zahira College, he came under the guidance of late Dr. T.B. Jayah, who was the Principal of Zahira and held a number of responsible positions, such as Editor of the College Magazine, President of the College Majlis and the Literary Association, all with excellence.He acquired the art of public speaking and was eloquent in all three languages.

Hence, he was selected to “second the vote” of thanks to the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Andrew Caldecott, at the College Prize giving. He also proved his patriotism to the motherland, by joining the Civil Defence Force during 2nd World War days.

He entered Law College in 1940, and passed out as a proctor of the Supreme Court. He was a respected lawyer in Kalutara Courts and established a reputation for his sincerity for the cause of his clients. He enjoyed a successful legal practice in the courts of the Southern Province.

When he entered politics, he was able to come into contact with two eminent and veteran Muslim politicians of high calibre, who influenced and strengthened him.

He began his political life as a member of the Beruwela Urban Council in 1950. In 1960 he was elected as MP Beruwela. Again in 1965, he was re-elected to the same constituency. In 1977, he was elected as MP for Beruwela, with an overwhelming majority. In 1978, he was elected as the Speaker of the House. He remained in this position until 1983. In 1983 he was appointed as a Cabinet Minister without portfolio. Thereafter, in 1988, he was made the first Governor of the Southern Province and continued in this post till 1993. His name is immortalized in the Parliamentary history of Sri Lanka, being the last Speaker of the old Parliament and, the first Speaker of the new Parliament.

He was an accomplished parliamentarian and truly, a dedicated representative of his people. He was impartial and strived to promote harmony among all ethnic groups. He served the people, who trusted him. He also notably supported the move to make Sinhala the Official Language of Sri Lanka in 1955.
One of his striking qualities was his loyalty to his party. He was sincere in his commitment, his courage to defend righteousness, and his simplicity, in his dealings with all men, irrespective of race, religion or party affiliations.

“Honesty and integrity” were the hallmark qualities of late Bakeer Markar. Youth development and fostering the youth for community development and service, was another aspect, which he actively promoted. He founded the All Ceylon Muslim Youth Front, which is now being successfully continued by his son Mr. Imtiaz Bakeer Markar.His services in the field of education, towards the Muslim Community were unique. He dedicated himself to enhance the standard of education amongst all the youth of Southern Province. His great contribution was more felt by the Sinhala community and that is why, he was elected to Beruwela constituency, where a majority of Sinhala people live.

He had a “taste for elegant sartorial perfection”, and loved to dress well. Everyone, irrespective of race or religion considered him, as a true son of Sri Lanka.

May he attain Jennath-ul-Firdouse.

Deshabandu M. Macky Hashim

He built bridges between all communities in the whole country

Dr. Abdul Cader Shahul Hameed’s 11th Death Anniversary was on September 3

In 1956, Dr Hameed actively got involved in politics and joined the United National Party (UNP). He contested Akurana (Multimember Constituency) in 1960 and since then he was consecutively re-elected in eight elections, counting 39 years in Parliament without a break-a rare distinction for a Parliamentarian in Sri Lanka.

When the UNP won the General Election in 1977 under the leadership of the late J. R. Jayewardene, Dr. Hameed was appointed as the Foreign Minister, a portfolio held by the Head of state from 1948 – 1977.
In 1977, Akurana constituency was changed to Harispattuwa (multimember constituency), reducing about 3,500 Muslim votes and attaching them to the Yatinuwara electorate.

He was loved by all in Harispattuwa which had a majority of 86% Sinhalese community votes and only 14% Muslim votes. Dr. Hameed was a true believer in democracy and served the people who voted for him, all communities alike. In 1970, only eight members of the UNP were elected in the country and he was one of them and went on to become the first MP in 1977 by winning with a majority of 25,000 votes.

He worked from his heart without any bias for the benefit of Harispattuwa. Roads were constructed connecting all the villages, new double storied schools were built in the electorate, water and electricity facilities were also provided.In addition jobs were given to many whether in teaching, the railway, harbour, foreign employment and other government departments.

He also built a ‘Seema Malaka’ on the Mahaweli Banks at Haloluwa and two ‘Bauddha Mandala’, one in Katugastota and another in Alawathugoda. He made special donations to the Buddhist temples, mosques, Hindu temples and churches in Harispattuwa, building a bridge between all communities in the country and in Harispattuwa.

Before 1977, our country had a closed economy policy. In 1977 when it became an open economy under President Jayewardene, Dr. Hameed met most heads of state around the world to bring in investment to the country. This resulted in the setting up of hundreds of factories by foreign companies, creating thousands of jobs for all Sri Lankans. Even today, most of those factories still function in Sri Lanka.

Before 1977, we had one or two embassies in the West Asia and Dr. Hameed realized the job potential there. At that time there was also a restriction in issuing of passports in Sri Lanka and he made this easier so that anyone who submitted their Birth Certificate and National Identity Card could apply for a passport.

During Dr. Hameed’s period as Foreign Minister, he opened up Embassies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Libya, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea etc. With the help of these Embassies especially in West Asian countries, thousands of Sri Lankans were able to get jobs and even today it is one of the highest modes of foreign exchange, bringing millions of dollars to Sri Lanka.

Dr. Hameed was an educationist at heart. In 1956, he formed an association “Central Ceylon Muslim Assembly’’ comprising educated and business people, to look into the needs of the Muslim community in the Central Province. A deputation of this assembly led by Dr. Hameed met the then Minister of Education, Dr. W. Dahanayake under S.W.R.D Bandaranaike’s government and put forward 39 requests for the Central Ceylon Muslims and out of those, 19 requests were granted.

Two of the main requests worth mentioning are that any school which had 50% Muslim students should be named Muslim Vidyalaya, which was earlier named as Tamil Vidyalaya. The second request was to set up a Muslim Training College in Kandy. This too became a reality with the training college coming up in Heerassagala. Until then Muslim teachers from the Central Province had to go to teacher training colleges in the south or north east.

The Government of 1970 also restricted Muslims from registering their deeds, as they had to prove that they were citizens of Sri Lanka. Dr. Hameed made an appeal to President Jayewardene and he made an order that the Muslims too could register their deeds by submitting their Birth Certificate.

Dr. Hameed was the Chairman of the Ministerial Conference of the Non Aligned Movement (1977 – 1979). He visited many countries in Asia as an envoy of the United Nations to solicit support for the UN Conference on new renewable sources of energy. He also served on the UN Advisory Board on Disarmament Studies for 10 years.

He was a proponent of greater understanding among South Asian nations for the resolution of common problems facing the people of the South Asia Association of Regional Co-operation (SAARC). In 1981, he inaugurated the first meeting of Foreign Secretaries of South Asian Countries held in Colombo to explore prospects for SAARC.

Apart from serving as Foreign Minister for 12 years, he also served as Minister of Justice and Minister of Higher Education. During his term as Minister of Higher Education, two Vice Chancellors were gunned down and a tense situation prevailed in the Universities. However, he succeeded in calming down what could have been a volatile situation.

From 1994 – 1997, he served as the Chairman for the UNP. In 1978, the South Korean Hanuk University conferred an honorary Doctorate in Political Science on Dr. Hameed. In 1990, the Sri Jayawardenapura University also conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Dr. Hameed. He always found time to write, a hobby since childhood. He authored and published four books after taking up active politics.

They are, Foreign policy perspective of Sri Lanka, Selected speeches 1977 – 1987; In pursuit of peace on non align movement and regional cooperation; The Owl and the Lotus - in English/French and The spring of love and mercy – a spiritual book of poem. He was also actively involved in trying to find a solution to the decade-old ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. He earned the trust of both parties, the Sinhalese leaders and the Tamil Tigers, as they knew he was sincere in his efforts to bring about a solution.

It is interesting to note some of the thoughts expressed by some of the leaders of our country after his demise including that of Adele Balasinghe. An article, titled “Skills of negotioations”, by Prof. G.L.Peiris that appeared in th Daily News in 2006 stated, “the Late Shahul Hameed was above all a man of great gentleness and compassion. He was a true friend. He talked and walked with characteristic gentleness which pervaded the entirety of his personality. His word was his bond.

These are qualities which he upheld in all aspects of his life and politics was no exception. There was also one other guiding principle which illuminated the whole of Dr. Hameed’s political career. He believed from the very fibre of his being that political power if it is to be justified must be applied towards purposes which are beneficial to the community at large. He had no use whatsoever for the trappings of political power. ’’

Bradman Weerakoon in his article to the Sunday Times, dated September 2, 2001, described A.C.S Hameed as a courageous man of peace. He will always be remembered for the sustained effort he made towards negotiating a political settlement to the ethnic conflict. He was centrally involved in at least three major attempts made during the 15 years to resolve Sri Lanka’s intractable armed conflict through negotiation namely the Indo – Sri Lanka agreement of 1987, the Premadasa talks of 1989 -1990 and the all party conference of 1990 – 1992 of which he was Vice Chairman.

Dr. Rajitha Senarathne, in an article in the Sunday Times said, ‘’more than 35 years ago, when I was graduating from Student activism to mainstream politics, there was one person whom I loved to listen in Parliament. I admired his wit, lucid language and style in putting across the hardest argument with ease , catching his opponent off the mark with cunning and diplomacy.

That was A.C.S. Hameed, the rotund politician from Akurana with a small physique and a large intellect. Hameed had been a master at conflict resolution throughout his political career. In fact, his diplomacy made him the only political leader from the South to meet the LTTE leader Prabhakaran to date. Hameed was not only an International Diplomat competent in handling foreign delegations and conflicting issues, but also a very local homegrown politician”.

Adele Balasingham in her book, ‘’The will to freedom’’ , described Dr Hameed , “although small in physique, Mr. Hameed in my view was a man of great stature, whether it was his patience that contributed to his skilled diplomacy or his years as a Foreign Minister that had fostered his infinite patience. My knowledge of him was insufficient to decide, but certainly patience was an admirable characteristic of Mr Hameed, it made him a wise man. Also his intellect was as sharp as a razor. When Mr Hameed sat down at the negotiating table, he came well armed with specific objectives and a well thought out strategy to achieve them. Indeed, he planned his argument as if playing a game of chess”. 
May the Almighty Allah grant my Brother ‘’Jannatul Firdous’’.

A.C.A. Ghafoor

Beloved cousin who always put his extended family first

Piyalal Premakumara Thammanagoda

We will forever cherish the memory of Piyalal Premakumara Thammanagoda of Kadugannawa. He passed away in June 2011, aged 87. The passing away of Welegedera Appachchi (or Mâma), my father’s oldest cousin, marks the end of a special era in our family.

He embodied the ideals of loyalty, hospitality, and constancy – a particular moral way of being that few emulate in an age where the urgency of the present tends to undermine our ability to be constant, especially in our relationships.

My late grandparents and my great-grandparents, according to my father, appreciated Welegedera Appachchi’s sense of loyalty to his family. He used to often remind my father that his mother died when he was just three years old. My great-grandfather brought him to our ancestral home in Kadugannawa, where he grew up to be an indispensable member of the family.

He had the opportunity to join his younger brothers in Colombo and follow his father by joining the Ceylon Government Railways. But my great-grandfather wanted him to remain in Kadugannawa to manage the family estate and oversee the bringing up of the younger cousins.

My father and his sisters remember that it was Welegedera Appachchi (Aiyâ to them) who would drop them off at boarding school, and faithfully pick them up for the holidays and accompany them to the tea estate where my grandfather worked.

My grandparents would have drawn found great comfort from having Welçgedera Appachchi by their side. Quiet and unpretentious, Welegedera Appachchi never talked about the personal sacrifices he must have made for the sake of the family. He married at the late age of 37. His sense of loyalty had made him ensure that his younger cousins were able to take care of themselves before he moved on to start his own family.

Welegedera Appachchi’s home was an open house, where a delicious meal was available any time of day. There was no such thing as “an inconvenient time” to visit him. Although somewhat reserved, he conveyed warmth and affection in his smile.

He would often rise as early as 3 a.m. to help his wife with the cooking. He took great pride in his culinary achievements, especially his stuffed chilies and caramel pudding.

When my parents moved to Kadugannawa, following my father’s retirement, Welegedera Appachchi would often drop by with food. It was his way of welcoming my father back to his ancestral home and making sure he did not feel lonely.

Over the years, Welçgedera Appachchi did his duty by his immediate and extended family. He was a constant presence at any family occasion – accepting recognition in his unassuming way, and showing no dismay if overlooked. His constancy marked Welegedera Appachchi as a man of distinction. 
We will miss you, Welegedera Appachchi, as will your beloved wife Lalitha and your children Kumari, Amila, Samudra, Lakmali, Kanchana, and Chandana. May you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Asha, Bishan and Sanjeeva

Sunday Times Aug 28, 2011

Sri Lanka has lost a dutiful son and I a loyal friend

Romesh Jayasinghe

I was saddened to hear of the premature passing of Romesh Jayasinghe. This is a true loss to the Sri Lankan foreign service and great loss to those who knew him.

I met Romesh for the first time when he was stationed in Brussels as Sri Lanka's ambassador, about 10 years ago. I was immediately struck by his devotion to representing his motherland honourably, his knowledge of history and politics, and his graciousness and humbleness. We got close over the past decade, meeting in Colombo off and on, and exchanging periodic emails and phone calls.

He was an optimistic individual who thought the best of everyone and never dwelled on failures and weaknesses of others. He had integrity like no other public servant I had met. He worked hard defending Sri Lanka's image during some of the trying times the country has had in the recent past.

My family was fortunate to have Romesh, Shalini and Sumudhu visit us last summer in the US. Sumudhu had received admission to one of the premier colleges in the US and Romesh was proud to come and get her settled in her new digs. He was also sad to let go of his daughter to enter college and have her move on in life as an adult. But, he knew she was on the right track and would make him proud. The time we spent during their visit was special to my family. We spent a lot of time sightseeing, having long chats in the evenings and cooking dinner together. I was looking forward to many more visits from him when he came to see Sumudhu, but that was not meant to be.

I met Romesh for the last time this past December during Christmas. I never thought that would be our last meeting. Even though he wasn't much of a connoisseur of heavy drinks, someone had given him a bottle of expensive Scotch Whiskey. He had saved it until I visited and insisted on opening it that day. I asked him to save it for a special occasion, and his response was, that was a special occasion.

The discovery and the rapid progression of Romesh's terminal illness was a shock to all his friends and I'm sure to most people who knew him. He handled the pain and suffering with dignity, and at the end passed away with grace and no complaints. He appreciated the support he got from his loving family, sister and other loved ones.

I'm sure he must have had some regrets leaving Suhith and Sumudhu too early in their young lives, and not being able to be spend his future retirement with Shalini, in Sri Lanka after being away from home for so long. In his passing, Sri Lanka has lost a dutiful son and we his friends a loyal friend. May he rest in peace.

Dr. Niranjan Nugara

He gave hope to many with his magical touch and caring ways

Prof. James Randunna Corea

“A band of angels coming after me. Coming for to carry me home.”

A band of angels came down from heaven on April 15, 2008 and carried him home when so many were hopefully and anxiously awaiting his next visit. He was a surgeon with a magical touch, a golden heart and warm smile. His incredible touch and caring ways gave hope to the hopeless and brought them out of difficult situations to live normal lives again. He had the ability to straighten up curves in the lives of many people. He was able to make people stand and walk.

I first met Professor Randunna Corea on January 26, 2004 as a teenager suffering from Thoraco Lumbar Scoliosis. After wearing a heavy, restrictive leather brace and going through painful sessions of physiotherapy which proved no positive results, I walked into the consultation room to meet this skilled orthopaedic surgeon. From that very first day I consulted Professor Randunna, I had so much confidence in him. I was easily convinced to undergo the painful surgery when he said, “This can be easily corrected, only thing is you will be stuck in hospital for 10 days.”

There were times when I was discouraged to undergo surgery and my mind was confused. At such moments I sought only his advice because I had so much faith in him and firmly believed that he would help me. On June 21, 2004, a 10-hour surgery was performed to straighten my “C” spine.

When I was in pain and awaiting his visit to the Intensive Care Unit he appeared with a broad smile and said that the surgery was a success and that as a result I was 1.5 inches taller, “just like magic”.
I forgot about the fact that I was waiting to complain about the pain. Each time he visited me he used his unique painkillers—a smile, kind words and jokes. He made me realize how a smile and kind words could ease one’s pain and make one feel better.

At his funeral I got to know that his childhood dream was to become a doctor. He selected Orthopaedics as his specialty apparently on being impressed by the skills of an orthopaedic surgeon who had treated him for a fracture in the hand.

When I heard about his sudden demise I couldn’t believe it. Even after three years it still seems hard to come to terms. Words cannot convey the admiration and gratitude I have for you, Professor Randunna. You straightened up the curve in my life and there is not a single day that I don’t think about you. Each time I stand in front of the mirror I thank God for the magical touch He gifted you with.

Devika Priyadharshini Fernando

Memories of you bring a smile amidst our tears

Fazreen Zamani

It’s been 10 years of sorrow and remembrance. Ten years ago on August 19, 2001, the cruel waves of the Kirinda seas swallowed up our little angel Fazreen at a young age of 14. The trauma and sorrow we as parents and her elder sister Fazeela underwent is unimaginable.

Fazreen was everything to us, a bundle of joy, happiness, a luminous light where ever she went. As much as she had beauty, her heart was full of charity and love to all her friends in need. The examples are too many to state.

She was our second daughter blessed after a lapse of 10 years. It was after much prayer that she came into our lives and she brought joy to us all. As the saying goes, we are only lent to this world by our Creator and we have to go when the call comes.

For our darling little Fazreen, the call came very early in life and at a time she was blossoming into a pretty and playful teenager. We had lots of plans for her future, but her fate took a different course, a flight to our Creator’s domain. We know she entered a better place, from the time she breathed her last; we are consoled by the saying" the good die young".

Her grandmothers and her aunts and uncles still speak of the lovely things she said and did to bring a smile to our faces. Her pictures we treasure.

We will always love you darling Fazreen, and we remember you at all our family gatherings, though the memories bring tears to our eyes. We are certain you have attained Jainathul Firdhous by the grace of Almighty Allah.

Lilanganie and Fazal

Those river baths, buggy and boat rides

Ian Dias Abeysinghe

In one’s lifetime so much water flows under the bridge, taking with it memories we sometimes remember for as long as we live, and often regrettably forget. Today is Ian’s birthday. The fourth in a family of five children, he lived the promised “three score years and 10”.

As young children 4 and 5 years, Ian and I lived apart -- he in Colombo with Aunty and Uncle and I with Mummy and Daddy enjoying the freedom of our ancestral Walauwa in Kotugoda. My heart didn’t like Ian coming to invade my world. The cows were mine, the goats, the dogs, the fat pig, the fowls and even the bees in their hives. I made sure Ian knew they belonged exclusively to me.

Then there was the beautiful bathing well that we were forbidden to go anywhere near because Daddy had made a small one for me to play in. I recall luring Ian there telling him there were fish in my well and when he squatted to see for himself I pushed him in. You bet I got what I deserved for it.

Then there was the time we were playing on our tennis court and we had a competition to see who could throw a stone higher and my stone decided to land on his head and he bled profusely. Our parents decided I was to blame. The cattle tied to the coconut trees were a real temptation and when they were released I made sure Ian was to blame; but the adults knew better.

We came to live in Colombo after the World War was over and attended Ladies’ College. Daisy Akki, Ian and I travelled to school in a beautiful buggy drawn by a handsome red bull. This bull would decide to ease himself just as we stopped under the college porch to alight. Daisy Akki left school and Ian and I had the joy of the buggy ride. We had a Fiat and a Rover at home, I can’t fathom why we had to go in a buggy! Mummy gave each of us roast beef sandwiches for lunch. I had a bright idea to get rid of my leftovers. We put the seat cushions on the floor boards and had a picnic (or some such thing) and I made Ian eat all the leftovers.

Once his books ‘accidentally’ fell out of the back of the buggy and Benjamin, warning us not to touch the reins, tied it to the lamp and got down to collect the books. We untied the reins and just as Benjamin did, we touched the bull’s rear end. He was a young bull and he ran all the way home with Benjamin running behind us making a fool of himself shouting and telling us how we should rein the bull in, as if we didn’t know. The thrill was worth the consequences.

As we grew older we spent holidays in Kotugoda or in Madampe at our grandmother’s or at Daisy Akki’s up in Peradeniya. Ian loved exploring wherever we went. In Kotugoda he found a river where people were bathing and secretly took me there. After a fun filled, cool time in the water we used to come back as though nothing exciting had happened.

In Madampe, the sand is pure white and the shallow stream that ran through our land was the colour of strong clear tea. This is why it is called the, “Kalu Diya Ala”. We spent a lot of time fishing there for tiny fish. There was one kind called “Thiththaya” with shiny gold sides and the one with a white spot on his head was called a “Handaya”.

The one we were afraid of was called a “Hoonga” because of its painful sting. This fellow had whiskers like the catfish. We found a huge scorpion to keep us amused and hid it in an Ovaltine tin to keep it till we came back for the next holidays and it was still alive. Ian put it in formalin finally. We found many star tortoises that we used to bring back with us to Colombo. There was a plant they called a “Kahambiliya” that granny’s Ayah used to keep us in check with. It had a fuzzy leaf and was worse than a caterpillar rubbing off on us. Ian used it to threaten and control me. The tables had turned, Ian was now the boss.

He discovered a river faraway from the estate at Madampe where he found a boat tethered to a tree. He took me there and telling me not to be afraid, he put me in the boat and we rowed a little away from the bank when he accidentally dropped the oar and I must confess I was afraid. He retrieved it somehow and we came ashore and our grandmother was none the wiser.

Up in Peradeniya we were joined by Marie, the daughter of Prof. McGauhey and the three of us used to go exploring together. One day we found this waterfall and a beautiful pool where we went daily for fun. It was so faraway from Daisy Akki’s and it was our special secret. By the time we came back our clothes were dry.

Effervescent Ian used to be the life of a party with his ability to remember jokes, sometimes multi-coloured; but always making people roar with laughter. Circumstances made us go our separate ways but memories stayed and became precious all the more because they could not ever be repeated. I treasured Sunday evenings where he and his son Arjuna used to be very regular members of the congregation at the People’s Church Assembly Of God and I used to meet them sometimes only for a brief chat or only a kiss and “God bless you.”

Ian had touched the heart and lives of many people and I was amazed at the number of sympathy cards and letters I received from such people who wanted to talk about him. Someone even wrote about his hobby of keeping snakes in fish tanks in his office at Browns. The attention he had paid to customers coming to purchase batteries, making them feel they were special was something they talked about. One man told me that Ian had lifted him up to where he now is, and told him one should not be content to be poor. That was Ian!

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments; but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Manel Bibile

Disciplined, generous Army officer was loved and respected by all

Major-General Patrick Fernando

My beloved brother, Major General Patrick Fernando, the eldest in the family, passed away a year ago, on August 21, 2010. His funeral was meticulously arranged by the Sri Lanka Army, with full military honours, and his remains were cremated at the Borella Cemetery, Kanatte, on August 23, 2010, in the presence of a large and distinguished gathering.

My brother dedicated a major part of his 66 years to the Gemunu Watch and the Sri Lanka Army. He served his country with dedication and character. It was officers like Patrick who made the Army strong. He shared his wealth of knowledge with the younger officers, who later went on to achieve great things for the country. He always listened to his seniors, and followed their advice and guidance. After holding many key positions, and serving with dedication, Patrick retired from the Sri Lanka Army as the Army’s Chief of Staff.

Throughout his illustrious career, Patrick commanded the respect of all who came in touch with him. Simplicity was his great quality, something he kept to the very end. He was a disciplined officer, and this inspired others. He was disciplined in every aspect of his life. This made him unique.

I know he never harboured grudges. I know there were many situations in his professional life where he felt unhappy. His training, coupled with his own way of dealing with difficult situations, made him a remarkable individual.

It is a year since he passed away, but I still feel his presence around us. But the truth is he is no more. 
I know that Indra Akka, the children, the in-laws, the grandchildren, our family members, his colleagues and all who loved him, keenly feel his loss.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Parakrama Fernando (Malli)

Sunday Times Aug 21 2011

He belonged to an endangered species of honest politicians

Shelton Ranaraja

The corrupt syndrome of stacking ill-gotten money in foreign banks is a common phenomenon in most Asian countries. The Gandhis and Bhuttos have stacked tons of money in other countries claims Kuldip Nayar. In Indonesia, a super-rich model is feasting on a new breed of millionaire and the biggest international banks are at the root of money laundering by using her to lure customers with black money.

Corruption and filthy lucre open the gate to heaven for those seeking political power with black money. There is no point in complaining about the rotten cement or water mixed with petrol or kerosene as this is part of the gambit. The protestors would be checkmated.

Thus, the demise of Shelton Ranaraja may see the end of an era of politicians who took pride in upholding their principles at the cost of displeasing the kings of the time. Mr. Ranaraja’s refusal to follow the party line and vote for the removal of Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s civic rights and thereafter his refusal to tender an application for nominations on the basis that the party should not degrade a sitting Member of Parliament by wanting him to apply for nominations, as he opined that the party ought to evaluate the performance of a sitting Member of Parliament without asking him to be present before a nomination board, will always be etched in our memories.

He was not nominated but he had no regrets as his conscience would not berate him for violating the principles enunciated by his soul. This reminds me of Forester Obeysekera, who refused to give a character certificate to his chauffeur’s son on the principle that he knew the chauffeur and would gladly recommend him but had no association with the son and therefore could not truthfully put pen on paper as to the character of the son. But this attitude did not make him lose his seat in the Legislative Council or State Council and he was elevated to the role of the Speaker. The voters knew of his honesty and respected him.

Gamani Jayasuriya resigned from his position as a powerful Minister of the J.R. Jayewardene Cabinet on the principle that he did not support the Indo-Lanka Accord. He may have been the only person to do so and like many others, who followed, did not feign resignation with the hope of gaining a better position. Very few speak of his noble gesture and the principled stand he took.

We know of M. D. Banda of Mathurata and U. B. Wanninayaka, Minister of Finance and the much forgotten Denzil Fernando of Negombo, Minister of Industries who refused to recommend or give a certificate to his son when he presented himself at an interview for a post in his own Ministry. He refrained from sitting on the interview board nor did he mention that his son who was qualified for the post was an applicant. The son was not selected and never understood the nature of his father who came from the so-called old school where principles and honesty were more important than filial affection and devotion to his family.

I believe Shelton Ranaraja may have been the last of his generation of politicians who valued his principles. His driving force was his honesty. I had the good fortune of meeting the late Mr. Ranaraja in Rome when he visited his daughter Aruni, who was my Head of Chancery in Italy. When I mentioned that I was from Tangalle, I observed a glow in his eyes. He said the only other politician other than himself, who did not sell his car permit was Ranjith Attapattu, MP for Tangalle. He spoke of his friendship with the great P. Saravanamuttu and other Tamil leaders who studied with him at S. Thomas’ College. He mentioned to me about the Sri Lankan community in Rome - he had observed they were hard working blue collar workers.

He advised his daughter and son-in-law that they were not professionals but mainly caregivers and chauffeurs and wanted us to look after their interests when they came to the Embassy and to be kind and nice to them. He was moved by their patriotism.

Mr. Ranaraja’s commitment to democracy must be lauded as he voted against the Press Bill brought by Mrs. Bandaranaike and against the removal of her civic rights on spurious allegations. His commitment to justice and honesty made him an endangered species of honest politician.

Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

Humane and gentle he enjoyed his morning badminton

Deshamanya H.K Dharmadasa

With the demise of Deshamanya H.K. Dharmadasa, an illustrious and legendary businessman, who started life from humble beginnings, a chapter on Sri Lankan entrepreneurs closes. To me he was simply Nawaloka Uncle, for he was a close friend of my father and I was aware of his overwhelming generosity since I was a child. On my 12th b’day, his gift to me was an antique gold coin minted in 1864 and weighing two and a half sovereigns. This was long before he became a multi- billionaire. From the very beginning his generosity was overpowering - he gave just as much as he earned - a phenomenon rarely witnessed today.

This is the quality in him which endeared him to millions of people, rich and poor. This is the side I was familiar with, the humane side. Soft spoken and gentle, he hardly looked the business tycoon that he was at the simple family get togethers we enjoyed so much. During the Rambuttan season the families would drive down to Malwana, sit on mats under the Rambuttan trees and enjoy the freshly plucked luscious fruits, as well as the boat rides along the Kelani river

For me, he was a humanist, a great giver, who has touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans throughout the country.

Another aspect I would like to highlight is his passion for badminton. Not many would know that he was an ardent badminton player and that he excelled at it. Till he reached his late seventies he would start the day with a few games at the SSC with his core group of friends. They called themselves the “Good Morning Badminton Club” and were quite serious players.

They were a mixed group of all ages, some quite young comparatively. But Uncle would take them on with ease and beat them. This was not only to keep fit but also to let his hair down, as the saying goes. They would not only play, but crack jokes thus starting the day on a relaxed note.

The badminton players bade farewell to him with a floral tribute made in the shape of a badminton racquet - quite fitting as the game gave him so much joy and happiness.As long as he was actively engaged in his business empire, he donated wooden blocks to the Colombo Friend-in-Need Society, to be used to make the Jaipur foot limbs which are given free of charge to the disabled poor from all parts of the country. Thus Nawaloka Uncle made a direct contribution towards the welfare of the disabled throughout the country.

Likewise, many organizations, societies, schools, temples and individuals have been recipients of his generous and philanthropic heart in many different ways. Although he is gone he will continue to live in the hearts of all the beneficiaries of these societies and other institutions. His name will live forever.
Finally, as a Buddhist, all what he takes with him is the merit he gained from giving to the poor and needy, temples, schools, hospitals and families, not the multi billion rupee business empire that he built. I have no doubt that his children would endeavour to carry on in the footsteps of their illustrious father upholding his virtues and emulating them.

May the Devas sing thee to thy sleep and may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

Kalyani Ranasinghe, President, Jaipur Foot Programme, Colombo Friend-in-need Society

He started with a rupee and ended with an empire

Deshamanya H.K. Dharmadasa passed away at the ripe age of 92 and was cremated on Esala full moon day at the General Cemetery, Borella before a sea of clergy and white clad mourners. It was a fitting tribute to a legend in the business world. He started life with nothing – coming with only one rupee to Colombo and made that slippery climb with total commitment, ending up with a vast empire. 
Dharmadasa Mudalali led by example.

Even when he was financially poor, he was rich in character and that combined with his professionalism was the cornerstone of his success. He started with a small hotel in Peliyagoda. The dusky Mudalali with only Grade 5 education with frugal means made a righteous living and never indulged in sinful business at the expense of the downtrodden within the precincts of Peliyagoda. Nor did he take kappan from traders, like most do in some quarters down by the Kelani riverside, but helped them to flourish and grow. He made a living with what he got and made a life with what he got. Service to humanity was his code word sans caste, race or religion.

He loved his country, race and religion, but never discriminated against anyone. Hailing from Ruhuna, he was never shy of talking of his humble beginnings. He believed in the saying - “Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success”. His life could have been compared to the proverbial log cabin to the White House story.

He followed the principles of the greatest religious missionary in modern times- the Anagarika Dharmapala in service to humanity, preserving religious and cultural values to the end. Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thera, intellectual par excellence paid a glowing tribute to Deshamanya Dharmadasa. First he asked the huge gathering to switch off their mobiles. He said, Dharmadasa’s contributions to humanity from whatever corner were immense. No appeal from a temple or place of worship had gone unheard. He did everything for nothing.

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said he came to know Mr. Dharmadasa from 1956 and since then he has been a close friend. His humble beginnings were worthy of emulation. Nothing was impossible to him and he considered all his friends. He would never say ‘no’ to anyone in distress.

Today Nawaloka has gained international recognition said the Prime Minister. President Mahinda Rajapaksa cut short his tour abroad hearing of his death and made a beeline from the airport to pay his last respects to this hero from the South.

Mr. Dharmadasa has crossed the great divide but has left an indelible mark. He lived a life of honour.

Bernie Wijesekera

He always strove to do new and exciting things

Ray Wijewardene

At seven to nine years of age Ray was blonde with blue eyes, as his mother Corrine was a lovely English woman. Even then, he was full of imagination, telling us that their Airedale dog Trixie was a fox! We, that is my twin and I used to play at their house “Rayville” in Gregory’s Road quite often.

Being the same age we were all in the same class at Ladies’ College. Ever ready to talk, he would tap me on the shoulder with his ruler and we would talk when we should have been listening. As a punishment he was moved and put next to the quietest girl and that was my twin Seela! About 15 years later Ray married her.

Since Ray and I played the violin we were co-opted into the junior orchestra which was conducted by Oscar Wagn. Rupert, Oscar and Hugo were three Danish brothers who were then living in Ceylon, and teaching violin and piano to many. Rupert Wagn conducted the Senior Symphony Orchestra.

When he turned 12 or 13 Ray was mad about planes, building models and flying them with a one stroke machine on the race course in Colombo. Hours were spent finding it in the long grass. With like-minded friends he formed a Model Aeronautical Club which met during weekends. What fun we had.
Therefore it was only natural that he took to gliding when he was at Cambridge and also flying at the Marshall’s Aerodrome. My sister and I went up in a plane that towed the glider and released it and Ray performed aerobatics for an event one morning.

Earlier, at S. Thomas’ College Ray won the Breast Stroke prize while Tony Fairweather won the Back Stroke race. Rifle shooting was another accomplishment of his. Playing golf at N’Eliya in the pouring rain and losing golf balls, dancing at the Grand Hotel and roller skating in the big hall were other pastimes then. In Colombo I remember him sculling on the Beira Lake where he won a prize and much later sailing at Bolgoda, where I fell into the water during a race which made him really mad!
Riding in London’s Rotten Row Hyde Park where we raced each other when we were only supposed to trot was fun, till an old gentleman came and warned us and we apologized dutifully.

Ray could also paint and did a good portrait of our mother, Marjorie de Mel. Of course his love of cameras and videoing his various projects kept him busy. His love of building ultra-light aircraft and flying them, crashing into paddy fields and landing on top of a roof while going for lunch are well known. He even converted his garage with aircon to assemble a helicopter. He had a crash in this too but survived with a fracture and it fell to his good wife to nurse him whenever these accidents took place. But that was Ray, never idle, always striving and attempting to do new things.

It is now one year since he passed away and we have all missed him but are very happy, grateful and thankful to have had him in our midst. We thank God for his life.

Rohini De Mel

The love we shared lives on

Victoreen M. Hassan

It will be three years on August 25 when God called Victoreen to rest. We married on October 8, 1968 at All Saints Church Borella and spent a happy and peaceful wedded life for almost 40 years, filled with fun, laughter and joy.

I still remember what Victoreen told me when we decided to get married. “Kamil marriages are made in heaven and if God wants our marriage to take place, no one can stop our marriage and that will be the day God will unite us and we will be one.” With God’s blessings we got married. Victoreen placed the gold on my finger and brought love like I’ve never known. She gave life to our children and when I needed hope and inspiration she was always strong.

We prayed together from the first day we got married until her untimely death on in 2008. It broke my heart to lose her. Victoreen was loving, caring and my only consolation and the greatest blessing in my life.

I remember the happy years we spent together and now memories are all I have left . No more will I see the love light in her eyes. Victoreen, you’re gone so far away and I am all alone. My days and nights are lonely from the day God called you to rest.

The only consolation is that you are now in God’s hands. Vicky, in life I loved you so dearly, in death I love you still. Through the years we were always there for each other. Hand in hand we faced each day with no tears, side by side we walked the roads together and each step we took drew us closer to each other.

Sadly missed by your loving husband

M. Kamil A. Hassan

Daily News July 13 2011

Arasaratnam and Yogaranee nee Mils:

Sincere and selfless couple

I wish to pen a few words in celebration of the life of educationist Arasaratnam and his beloved wife. Their life exemplified brilliance, a life that inspired emulation, a life that burned, so that others’ hearts were lit.

Arasaratnam, Principal emeritus of the Nallur Teachers’ Training College, Jaffna, began his life as an assistant teacher at Royal College, Colombo and ended up as the Principal of the Nallur Teachers’ Training College, Jaffna. He walked the corridors of power in several capacities.

He lived a full, exemplary life. He was a role model to many, His keen intellect, wise counsel, and gentle humour is missed.

He never craved for luxuries. He was a silent, good observer, rather than a vociferous talker, a person who could fit into any occasion. Puncutality was legendary. He was more than punctual for any occasion.

He earned his bread and butter with honesty and sincerity. Every step he took in his career was with utmost patience.

Social service became part and parcel of his life. Pride was alien to his noble nature.

He was the key figure at the St Peter’s Methodist Church, Jaffna, scouting in Jaffna, Jaffna Cricket Umpires’ Association and the Christian Drama Society of the Northern Province.

He was awarded a scholarship by the United Christian Churches to the Princeton University, USA, where he did his Master’s Degree.

There he had the rarest privilege of being the immediate neighbour of the great scientist Einstein and soon became his close associate.

Circumstances forced him to go on premature retirement from his chief stewardship at the Nallur Teachers’ Training College. He left gracefully as that was ‘Arasu’ who never bowed to injustice and never stooped to low levels with the intention of reaching greater heights. He was always a part of any solution and not part of any problem.

That was ‘Arasu’.

He was always available, always approachable, and always willing to hear you out.

He performed his duties meritoriously as a dedicated teacher, Principal, Lay Leader, Social worker, a good husband, loving father, sincere friend and a worthy citizen of Sri Lanka.

He loved wife Yogaranee nee Mils, who breathed her last on March 3, 2011, at the age of 91.

A radiant smile adorned her kindly face, her life was fruitful and blessed to the end.

She remained a ‘beauty queen’ till her end, at Manipay and Point Pedro where she taught, she was Miss Manipay and Miss Point Pedro.

She was no ordinary person. She was just one of a kind. She was a woman with a constant and complete faith and trust on God who walked with her all her life. Prayer was something she cherished.

She kept herself mentally alert even to the very end and often derived pleasure in reciting poems, or famous lines from Shakespeare, which she had memorized during her school days at Uduvil Girls’ College, Jaffna.

Her kind and friendly ways were very much appreciated by all who knew her.

The best way to remember both of them is by emulating their life of humility, simplicity, sincerity and selfless service.

May they find peace and tranquility which they richly deserve.

D R Arumanayagam


N A Vaithialingam:

Chief engineer who revamped the Railway

The seventh death anniversary of Namasivayam Arumugam Vaithialingam, the 12th Chief Engineer of the Ceylon Government Railways fell on July 7. Ceylon Railways history commences with laying rail tracks to the hill country to meet the requirements of the British planters. Thomas Drane, Capt W S Moorsom, W T Doyne, G L Molesworth and contractor W T Faviel were the pioneers involved. The name of N A Vaithialingam as the Chief Engineer who was the main partner in the “Technical leap forward in the Rampala period” will be recorded in golden letters along with these names by a writer of Railways history on a future date.

Vaithialingam was recruited by the crown agents when he was in England after his studies. Within a short time after his assuming duties the technical officers and staff in the subordinate grades observed that he was more benevolent, marking a difference from his predecessors who were mere imitators of the colonial masters. He got into stride when he assumed duties as District Engineer Nanuoya in 1949. His first task was to ameliorate the conditions of the labour grade, most of them were descendants of the Indian labour that were brought down by the Britishers for the construction of the Railways, who were living in line rooms with their families. He made them more spacious, pipe borne water by daming streams that were flowing down from the hills. Toilets and other facilities were provided.

The day he moved out on transfer from Nanuoya, the grateful workers were so moved, they gathered at every station from Nanuoya to Peradeniya with their families with bouquets of flowers and tears in their eyes, clasping their hands worshipping him and shouting ‘Sami.Sami’.

His ability to work was shown when Rampala appointed him as the Engineer in charge of Reconstruction and Rehabilitation after the disastrous floods in December 1957.740 miles (1184km) of the total network of 900 miles (1440km) were damaged and made unsafe for traffic. After making some aerial surveys he planned out his work. Transport Minister Maithripala Senanayake was skeptical about the restoration within six months. With the fullest co-operation of the staff Vaithialingam handled the work and the last link from Ella to Badulla was completed in February 1958. For the first time in Railway history he arranged to provide dry rations at the worksites to prepare their meals.

After the complete restoration, he prepared a comprehensive five year programme. Cottage type quarters for the workmen, quarters for officers, restrooms for staff who had to stay overnight were built. Stations buildings with limited facilities were rebuilt with better facilities for commuters. New station buildings with retiring rooms and canteens at Anuradhapura, Jaffna (now damaged), Kandy, Nawalapitiya, Galle and Trincomallee came up under this programme. It was his concept that architecture of Station Buildings should keep with the historical architecture of the place.

The relaying of the Bangadeniya, Puttalam track with the extension to Periyanagavillu to meet the requirement of the Cement Factory was another achievement. Even the construction Engineers at the initial stages to avoid extra problems of cutting and filling have laid rail tracks even in Northern and Batticaloa area with curves entailing speed restrictions. Under his development programme many of these curves were made straight or flatter curves.

The love and affection the staff had for him were displayed when farewell parties were held for a full month spread in the Railway. The most spectacular party was held in Jaffna organised by the Nothern District employees. The venue was the quadrangular in front of Jaffna Station, built under his directions.

A massive stage gaily decorated and illuminated. Tamil and Sinhala dances with interludes of recitals. Heenbaba Dharmasiri’s troupe a bevy of Sinhalese girls on the stage won rounds of applause from the crowd. A replica of Jaffna Station made out of 30 gold sovereigns was presented to him. He was 92 years when he passed away.

BB perera


Littleson Cabraal:

Successful businessman

When I heard the passing away of my brother-in-law Littleson Cabraal after a brief illness I was bitterly disappointed and grieved as I have not been able to pay him back many turns of assistance I received from him during various stages of my life. He comes from a highly distinguished family at Piliyandala and received his education at Central College, Piliyandala. Many thought that he too would end up his career as a military officer like his elder brother, but decided instead to take up the family business venture and leading it to success.

There are many individuals like me who have received assistance from him in various forms at various stages of their lives in and around Piliyandala area.

At a time when the United National Party was unable to get a foothold in the Kesbewa electorate better known then as the red fortress and received severe set-backs at every general election, a few enterprising youth stood against this trend and took up the challenge boldly. Cabraal better known among his friends as Cabraal malli played a vital role in boosting the sagging morale of the party membership and led it to victory.

It is difficult if not impossible to detail here in this limited space his many acts of munificence but suffice to state his small acts of generous assistance could transform the lives of many among us.

May those acts of generosity towards his fellow beings help him in his journey through Sansara and be of immense value to attain the ultimate glory of Nibbana.

K D Jayatissa Piliyandala


Derrick L E De Zoysa:

Charming, affable personality

The more I reflect on the untimely death of my brother-in-law, Derrick de Zoysa the famous words of George Sanayana - “Life is not a spectacle or feast, it is a predicament and a mystery” seems to be truism.

It is hard to believe that Derrick is no longer with us. Active, full of life, he was such a lovable and friendly person. What was most characteristic in him was his charming and affable personality always ready to help anyone in need.

He was the third son of a family of five of Christopher and Ruby de Zoysa. As always in the case of large families sharing caring love and affection comes naturally. Derrick was the “Live-Wire” of the family and was always concerned in strengthening the family bonds. He was also concerned about other family ties and enthusiastically pursued the concept of family associations.

Derrick received his entire education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He was proud of his “Alma Mater” and loved his school dearly. Serving in various capacities, as the president of the Old Boys Union and St. Joseph’s Sports Club he made a significant contribution for the effective pursuance of its activities. Nurtured in a conservative Catholic environment under the Oblate priests and devout Catholic family environment, this had a great impact on his life. Consequent to the death of his father in a very early stage in his life, he was compelled to interrupt his studies. Leaving school he initially joined “Cable Callendars” and was later employed at Delmege Forsythe.

Up to the time of his illness he was serving “Colombo Packaging Co.” During the last couple of years Derrick was not keeping well. Even when tormented by illness, he did not sulk, he leaned towards the sun and maintained his “Happy go lucky” disposition. He never lost courage and hope.

He loved and nurtured his own family while extending his thoughtful kindness to his brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and in-laws. Derrick was a wonderful person, with a ready and radiant smile. He was a jovial person with a rare sense of humour, he was the life and soul of any social or informal gathering.

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred in their bones”. Words of The Bard, himself, the inference is obvious, and I have taken the liberty of taking it a step further. We are each one of us, a composite of good and evil. The values that we acquire along life’s way will shape our final personalities. In remembering Derrick, like to think that his decency and kindness, vastly outweighed the human frailties that he must undoubtedly, have had. He was an institution in himself, a pillar of rectitude and watchful custodian of his family and his alma mater.

Rex Fernando


M R M Facy

Thee a candle,

dedicated thy life for

the community.

Decorated thy vision

with simplicity.

To advance knowledge,

encouraged others.

Comfort, convenience,

thee did not bother

Chased not position,

privileges & prestige

Facy, the community

worker is no more

Facy, people’s friend

is no more

M M Liyaff




A caring friend is no more

Kamani Priya Abeysundara Jayawardena

It is three months and it is hard to believe that Kamani is gone forever. A truly caring friend always willing to offer a helping hand to anyone who needed it, she had a passion for organizing events.

Her door was always open for friends while birthdays, anniversaries and other special events of friends were never forgotten by her. A religious person who observed sil and offered dana to the Maha Sangha regularly, she also taught at the Daham Pasala amidst her busy schedule.

As I go down memory lane I remember how we met the first time. Air Lanka, the national carrier had recruited employees before it began its operations and we were among the hundreds of young recruits. That was three decades ago. We soon got to know each other and became friends.

If my life were a book, many pages would be written by Kamani. She was my bridesmaid and stood by me through the ups and downs in my life, especially when my husband passed away suddenly. She would call, visit me and my children and spend time with us.

I experienced the difficulties of losing a loved one and then a true friend. The emptiness created in my life after her death will never be filled. A caring wife to her husband Panduka and loving mother to her only daughter Piyumi, Kamani always did her best for them.

They were her priorities. Though death has prevented her seeing her daughter passing out as a law graduate, I am sure she is looking down at her from wherever she is now. Kamani was lucky to have four wonderful sisters, who affectionately called her “Chooty” and looked after her like a baby when she fell ill.

Now that Kamani is gone I miss her very much, especially her voice over the telephone almost every morning. I treasure in my mind the image of her and in my heart the memories I have of her. 
May she rest in peace!

Thilina Nimalashantha

A small lady with a big heart, loved by thousands of children

Deshabandu Joyce Goonesekera

(Her birth centenary fell on June 19)

A hundred years ago, a very special baby girl was born. I wonder whether her parents and seven siblings had any inkling that Selina Joyce Goonesekera would become a household name in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), and whose contribution to primary education would earn her the title Deshabandu, conferred by the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1989. She also received an award from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for her success in the field of pre-school education at the International Women’s Day celebrations in 1999.

Joyce Goonesekera’s love for children and her interest in pre-school instruction led her to take a step most young girls of her day would not have dreamed of: she left the shores of Ceylon and sailed to Adayar, India in the early 1940s to attend a training course conducted by the famous Dr. Maria Montessori. She spent several years with this great lady, whom she admired and revered and with whom she had a very close association.

Dr. Montessori and her son accompanied Joyce when she returned to Ceylon and set up an institution for the training of Montessori teachers at the Good Shepherd Convent, in Kotahena. This was subsequently relocated at St. Bridget’s Convent. Today hundreds of “Houses of Children” have opened all around Sri Lanka, ably run by qualified teachers, trained in the AMI methods of teaching, which have proved the best foundation any child can receive in preparation for a primary and secondary education – all thanks to the initial steps taken by Deshabandu Joyce Goonesekera.

Ms. Goonesekera herself started AMI Houses of Children in Galle and Colombo, which have been operating for about six decades. This tiny lady with a heart of gold was loved by the thousands of pupils (and first, second and even third generations), who have passed through her portals of education. 
I am personally indebted to Aunty Joyce. I first met this wonderful lady in 1989, through a mutual friend, when I took my daughter Amanda (Mandy), just under three years at the time, to be admitted to her school at Charles Circus, adjoining her home. I was working and there was no one to look after my little girl until I finished work. Aunty Joyce invited Mandy to stay with her after school until I finished work. She would not accept payment for this service.

Mandy received a lot of love and attention under the watchful eye and caring wing of Aunty Joyce. Aunty Joyce was another grandmother to Mandy, and her own son Sisira was the “big Aiya” Mandy would look out for.

When it was time for Mandy to leave the Montessori and attend “big school” – Methodist College – Aunty Joyce insisted Mandy continue coming to No. 7, Charles Circus after school and staying till evening. This practice continued right through Mandy’s schooling at Methodist College, up to her A/Levels. Aunty Joyce’s home became her second home.

Aunty Joyce took great pride in her achievements, her association with Dr. Maria Montessori, her education at Southland’s College, Galle and Methodist College, Colombo 3, her religion, and most of all her son, Sisira, and his young family.

She was a small lady with a big heart and one could not help but love her. She passed away peacefully at her home in Kollupitiya on Monday, November 3, 2003 at the age of 92.

Aunty Joyce’s advice to all parents and teachers were the words of her mentor, Dr. Montessori: “Give to the child freedom of expression, help him to reveal himself. Be humble with the little ones; there is a whole world in their souls which they cannot express, but it is a world that can help you understand the movements of their spirit and that can also help you, adults, to understand each other.”

Sandra Cadiramen

Never will we forget the happy days

Pearl Navaratnam

P art of your life was spent for us, Ammah,
E ach night and day you prayed for us;
A lthough you are not with us, your love remains.
R anji, Ranjan, Nayanthie, Jayanthie and Kanthie – 
L ast but not least, Mama's golden boy, Niran.
N ever will we forget the happy days in our little home.
A lways think of the good done, was your golden rule.
V ery hard-working – stitching, teaching and cooking.
A year has passed, but I cannot forget your sweet face, Ammah.
R unning around, giving a helping hand
A nd taking care of Appah and us; 
T enderly and patiently you corrected us. 
N ever did you hurt us, your love kept us happy.
A lways on your knees: “The Lord shall guide thee continually” –
M any will miss you, but you are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Daughter Jayanthi David

His sheer personality dominated any situation

M. Rajendra

(Former Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, the Treasury and Head of the Public Service 1968 - 1971. Born July 4, 1911- Died March 10,1991)

He strode the Public Service like a colossus with value led dedication and purpose. His passing away was more than the death of a retired Civil Servant. It symbolises the closing period of an important post Independence government institution and ushered in the sunset of a great tradition. Rajendra was all three in one – civil servant, an institution and the symbol of that great tradition.
- Neville Jayaweera, March 24, 1991

In the current global context and today’s reality it is difficult to write an appreciation which will adequately describe a man whose life and interests on earth, were so full and diverse. It can be said of him that there was nothing that he touched which he did not adorn.

Rajendra and Neela at their daughter’s wedding, 1967

He was educated at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and University College, Colombo where he received an honours degree in History. He joined the Ceylon Civil Service as a cadet on December 12, 1934, in a career that spanned nearly 43 years.He served in Hambantota, Matara, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya as an Assistant Government Agent and in 1949 became a Government Agent to the Eastern Province and in 1951, the Government Agent of the North Central Province.

As Government Agent in the districts, his main interest was to identify and foster sustainable development activities which would benefit the people and help to alleviate poverty. When he was appointed Land Commissioner in 1954 he saw in the Land Development Ordinance an excellent piece of legislation to reinforce social justice through creating, a self-supporting contented peasantry and community organizations. In this he was fortunate to be supported by four times Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, his close friend from S. Thomas' College days.

As Permanent Secretary Finance, Secretary to the Treasury and Member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank he had the opportunity to give full rein to his talents for helping to further the process of an orderly transfer of political power to the people. Whether engaged in policy issues or procedures for effective implementation, his strategy and objectives were quite clear. He had no hesitation in stating his views frankly even to a Minister or Prime Minister if he thought the course of action contemplated may not be in the national interest.

Rajendra had a comprehensive mind, which was able to respond to the complexities and nuances of a situation and acute sensitivity of fundamental values. He wrote and spoke with a great sense of authority and power, yet without causing hurt. He carried himself with a quiet dignity which, inspired awe. He was never belligerent, but by the sheer force of his personality dominated every situation in which he found himself.

He never demanded respect, but through that indefinable something in his personality that is generally referred to as charisma, always commanded it by his very presence. In a service where hierarchy and seniority were important, he was never too busy to find time for imparting his value orientation to his colleagues. Fortunately a few junior colleagues like Neville Jayaweera, Sam Wijesinha, Shelton Wanasinghe, C. Mylvaganam, Bradman Weerakoon, Godfrey Goonetilake and M.D.D. Pieris are still around to articulate his philosophy of administration — Discipline, Integrity, Efficiency and Loyalty to the government in power.

When M.D.D. Pieris, as Assistant Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office under Bradman Weerakoon, went to see Rajendra, he advised him, “Civil Servants should never ever compromise their intellectual integrity whatever the consequences. Whatever the government in power, after giving them what you think is correct advice, whatever decision they make, you must carry out with total commitment, as long as it does not compromise your values and integrity. An administrator’s role was to advise the political bosses according to the truth, and never give advice merely to please them, however costly it might prove to do otherwise... There was a fundamental difference between an administrator and a manager. Most Civil Servants were excellent administrators. Not all of them were good managers”.
Pieris then goes on to say “Rajendra was an Icon to all of us young Civil Servants”.

Rajendra was more than a first class administrator. He was a deeply compassionate human being. Although he showed an austere exterior, he was actually a deeply humane person to whom one could go with problems, even of a very personal nature. He had stature, moral stature. He had a sufficient sense of inner worth not to have to claim rank or position to enforce his will. He could apologise to his juniors and subordinates, and do so with grace and without loss of respect.

Rajendra’s family were from Vaddukottai, Jaffna. But the parents migrated to Malaysia. Rajendra, his brother Queens Counsel and former Minister of Justice M. Thiruchelvam and sister returned for their education to Colombo. Rajendra married Neela Wignaraja, daughter of Dr. G. Wignaraja and sister of Deshamanya Dr. Ponna Wignaraja and Sathi Wignaraja.

Their three children Malathi, Jayantha and Ajita with their families are now settled in the United States.

An old friend

The studious sister who was full of fun

Rahila Izzadeen

This is in fond memory of my beloved sister Rahila Izzadeen, who passed away in Canada on July 13 last year, at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.

We were three sisters, born in the Eastern Province in Sainthamaruthu, Kalmunai. Our childhood was a happy one, with carefree days and daily outings in the evenings to the beach. Our father was a busy person, being a doctor, and his relaxation was time spent with his children. We were enrolled at St. Agnes Carmel Convent in Kalmunai, and we went to and from school by buggy cart.

After Grade V, we were boarded at the prestigious St. Vincent Girls’ High School. The Principal was Gladys Croft, from England, and the Vice-Principal Miss Padman from India. Sports were under Miss Canagaratnam.

I was the oldest of the three sisters, then came Rahila and Razeena. Rahilla was the most studious of the three. Even during the holidays she would be with her books, reading all the time. Razeena was full of fun and on holidays she would cycle all around. In the good old days, even in the village, there were no restrictions. I was interested in gardening, writing and reading. My sisters and I have had happy marriages, our spouses from outside our district, something that was unheard of those days.

I married M. L. M. Aboosally, who managed his family’s tea estate in Balangoda; Rahila married O. L. Izzadeen, from Balantota Estate, Nawalapitiya, and Razeena married lawyer A. L. M. Junaideen, from Balangoda.

Although we sisters married partners from outside our district and moved to far-off places, we kept in close touch, spending weekends at each other’s homes during our children’s school holidays.

Education played an important part in our lives. All our children were educated and are doing well in the fields and professions of their choice. Most of our children have moved to other parts of the world.

Rahila lived in Toronto with her daughters, with occasional visits to Sri Lanka to see us. Our happiness at seeing each other and being together is gone, but the memories of those happy times will always remain.

My beloved sister will always be with us, her sisters, and our older brother Saleem, the ones left behind.

May Allah grant my sister eternal peace.

Salma Aboosally

Daily News Monday June 4 2011

M RAJENDRA:

Compassionate human being

In the current global context and today’s reality it is difficult to write an appreciation which will adequately describe a man whose life and interests on earth, were so full and diverse. It can be said of him that there was nothing that he touched which he did not adorn.

M. Rajendra was educated at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and University College, Colombo where he received an honours degree in history. He joined the Ceylon Civil Service as a cadet on December 12, 1934, in a career that spanned nearly 43 years.

He served in Hambantota, Matara, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya as an assistant government agent and in 1949 became a Government Agent to the Eastern Province and in 1951, the Government Agent of the North Central Province.

As government agent in the districts, his main interest was to identify and foster sustainable development activities which would benefit the people and help to alleviate poverty. When he was appointed Land Commissioner in 1954 he saw in the Land Development ordinance an excellent piece of legislation to reinforce social justice through creating, a self-supporting contented peasantry and community organizations. In this he was fortunate to be supported by four time Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, his close friend from S. Thomas’ College days.

As Permanent Secretary Finance, Secretary to the Treasury and Member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank he had the opportunity to give full rein to his talents for helping to further the process of an orderly transfer of political power to the people. Whether engaged in policy issues or procedures for effective implementation, his strategy and objectives were quite clear. He had no hesitation in stating his views frankly even to a Minister or Prime Minister if he thought the course of action contemplated may not be in the national interest.

Rajendra had a comprehensive mind which was able to respond to the complexities and nuances of a situation with an acute sensitivity of fundamental values. He wrote and spoke with at great sense of authority and power, yet without causing hurt. He carried himself with a quite dignity which, inspired awe. He was never belligerent, but by the sheer force of his personality dominated every situation in which he found himself.

He never demanded respect, but through that indefinable something in his personality that is generally referred to as charisma, always commanded it by his very presence. In a service where hierarchy and seniority were very important, he was never too busy to find time for imparting his value orientation to his colleagues.

Rajendra was more than a first class administrator. He was a deeply compassionate human being. Although he showed an austere exterior, he was actually a deeply humane person to whom one could go with problems, even of a very personal nature. He had stature, moral stature. He had a sufficient sense of inner worth not to have to claim rank or position to enforce his will. He could apologise to his juniors and subordinates, and do so with grace and without loss of respect.

His closest friends from S. Thomas’ College and University days were persons like C E P Jayasuriya, Shirley Amarasinghe, Walwin de Silva, K Kanagasundaram, W T Jayasinghe to name a few. There were others like Minister Anil Moonesinghe and Dr. N M Perera under whom he worked. None of them are around any more to elaborate on their common intellectual quest and association.

Rajendra’s family were from Vaddukottai, Jaffna. But the parents migrated to Malaysia. Rajendra, his brother Queens Counsel and former Minister of Justice M Thiruchelvam and sister returned for their education to Colombo. Rajendra married Neela Wignaraja, daughter of Dr. G Wignaraja and sister of Deshamanya Dr. Ponna Wignaraja and Sathi Wignaraja. Their three children Malathi, Jayantha and Ajitha with their families are now settled in the United States.


Hemamali Abeysiriwardena:

Energetic, dynamic secretary

It is with a heavy heart that I decided to write these few lines, after the death of Hemamali on May 7 2011, the energetic and dynamic Secretary of the Nepal Friendship Society for 20 years. She rendered a remarkable and dedicated service to the Society during her tenure of office.

Hemamali was the livewire of the Society. Her ability, efficiency and untiring effort helped us in achieving good results in all projects launched.

She was gentle in every sense of the word, understanding, endowed with wisdom and great vision which she demonstrated on many occasions. She hated to be idle and always looked for new ventures in life. She had a great personality, a lady par excellence.

The unique aspect of her life and career was that she took an interest in religious, social and cultural activities, based on the principle that faith without work was dead. She was always prepared to give generously not only material possessions but also her advice, encouragement and her companionship.

She had a cheerful countenance and was very hospitable. She lived a simple, modest and unassuming life, stretching out her helping hands to many a worthy cause. She was an embodiment of kindness and simplicity. She had many friends from all communities and walks of life.

Hemamali’s pleasant demeanour and sense of humour helped her a great deal in her social activities. She had a charming personality which pleased everyone with whom she came in contact and had a radiant and winsome smile which reflected a calm, composed and tranquil mind. Though that eloquent and clam voice has been stilled it will continue to reverberate in the ears of most of her loving friends. She will live in the hearts of the poor people, whom she quietly helped.

The cruel hands of death snatched away a most lovable, cheerful and understanding, friendly mortal. Her untimely death is an irreparable loss to her husband – Hector, relations, friends associates and acquaintances.

She lived a full life with kindness to all and malice to none.

May she attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Ratna Goonetilleka

Sunday Times June 3 2011

Wonderful memories of a great and genial violinist-cum-teacher

Eileen Prins

The passing away of Mrs. Eileen Prins last week, at the age of 94, brought back myriad memories of violin lessons under her in the mid-Seventies. Showing some early promise on the piano, and a second instrument being deemed necessary to pursue a professional musical career, I was carted off for violin lessons at the fairly late age of 11 years.

My father, who also learnt the violin under the same teacher as Mrs. Prins – Rupert Wagn – was simply amazed at her patience and tolerance. If you play a wrong note on the piano, it is still an in-tune note; with the violin, if you place your finger a fraction of a millimetre off the correct spot on the string, you can create a very painful sound on the ear. My violin playing was liberally sprinkled with such sounds, but Mrs. Prins would only smile and say, “Ah ha ha, let’s try again to place your finger on the correct spot”! This is my most vivid recollection of her.

Mrs. Prins was the first recipient of a Government Scholarship in Music to the Royal Academy of Music, in London, in 1939. It is said that she arrived in London two weeks before the start of World War II, and that she would practise on her violin while German bombs fell close by.

Although we did not hear her as a soloist, senior members of the orchestra remember what a fine and sensitive violinist she was. She was the founder Leader of the Symphony Orchestra of Colombo, and held that position for 27 years.

Being the foremost violin teacher of her era, she had a galaxy of students who regularly either won prizes at the prize winners’ concerts of the Royal College of Music, London examinations, or performed with the Symphony Orchestra of Colombo as young soloists. The most outstanding of them all was Michael Siva Prakasam, now a doctor residing in the USA. After one of his exams, the examiner himself came out and spoke to Mrs. Prins and his parents about his playing and future career. Michael’s sister Naomi too learnt the violin under Mrs. Prins, and played in the Symphony Orchestra until marriage and migration. Dr. Hans Wijesuriya, head of Dialog, was another prodigy, who started violin lessons at the age of four. Mrs. Prins would fondly recall how little Hans would come for his violin lessons armed with his teddy bear, which was kept on top of the piano, and how Hans, during brief breaks in the lesson, would conduct a “dialog” with his teddy!

And there was Suparni Gunasekera, who had a simply outstanding tone on her violin, and was a regular prize winner on the violin, clarinet and piano; the Halpe siblings – Guy, Hasini and little Aparna, who used to eagerly bring along her 1/8th size violin in the hope of being able to start lessons like her older siblings; Ramesh Rambukwelle, who developed such a passion for the violin that he pursued it further in the States; Ruchira and Jayantha Fernando; John and Julie Aloysius; Anusha and Druvi Attygalle; Sharmila Nikapota; Sulochana Premaratne; Thiru and Mohana Vanniasinkam; Lishanthi Wijewardhena; Dilini Fonseka, who moved from the violin to play the trumpet in the orchestra; and Sashi Nadana Siva, who from the viola moved to play the bassoon in the Symphony Orchestra. 
As the Leader of the Symphony Orchestra, Mrs. Prins felt a responsibility to ensure the required quota of instrumentalists. All of the aforementioned students played in the orchestra, many beginning on the violin and later switching to other instruments.

Playing occasionally with the Symphony Orchestra in various capacities gave me an opportunity to watch Mrs. Prins in action there, under the baton of Dr. Earle de Fonseka.

Mrs. Prins was a very social being, and at orchestra practice she was relaxed, and revelled in sharing a joke with her co-chair, good friend and fellow teacher, Mary Billimoria, while making music together. Firmly entrenched in their roles as Conductor and Leader of the Orchestra, there was much banter, as well as tense moments, between Uncle Earle and Aunty Eileen. It is said that on one particularly feisty occasion, Aunty Eileen so goaded Uncle Earle that he stepped down from the podium and walked out of the practice! We youngsters thrived on all this counterpoint and contrapuntal interplay and eagerly awaited each Sunday morning practice for the developing sequels!

Examination time was a hive of activity, with all these busy multi-talented youngsters having to fit in to the schedules of teacher and accompanist; we began with Mrs. Lynn Senanayake for the lower grades, progressed to Michael Siva Prakasam (depending on his medical faculty schedule), and did the higher grades with Mrs. Bridget Halpe, who also helped out with the viva section of the examination, and in analysing the movements of the pieces. I am grateful to Mrs. Halpe for her value addition as accompanist. I got a distinction on the violin whenever she accompanied me!

The verandah adjoining Mrs. Prins’ music room in her School Lane, Kollupitiya residence would be filled with fond mothers and violin cases. There would be the feverish application of rosin on bows, while chairs would be brought in from the dining room to seat the students awaiting their turn with the accompanist. A devout Roman Catholic, Mrs. Prins would bring a sacred medal to the examination centre, which she would pin on each candidate in turn before they went in for their exam.

In order to give her students confidence in playing before an audience, Mrs. Prins would hold house concerts at the end of the year. I remember playing at three such concerts: once at the Old Bullers Road home of Anton Wickremasinghe; once in the hall of the Good Shepherd Church, Thimbirigasyaya, and once at the Elibank Road home of Uncle Earle.

Mrs. Prins was very house proud and kept a tidy home. She began her lessons at 2.30 p.m. each day. Five minutes before your lesson, you would hear her pottering around in the adjoining bedroom before she came into the music room. On the piano was a framed autographed photograph of her Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, in London.

She spoke with equal pride of her three sons – Jan, with his doctorate in sports medicine in Hawaii, Stephen the journalist and Paul the mathematician. When her first granddaughter was born, we heard regular reports of her progress. I understand that she has two granddaughters, one now in medical school.

I am grateful for the wonderful memories I have of learning the violin under Mrs. Prins, with no pressure to excel, but only to give of one’s best, musically.

“Her music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.”

Shanthi Dias (née Thambar)

St. Philip Neri’s beloved priest is nearer to the heart of God

Fr. Alfred Alexander

The remains of a distinguished son of Jaffna, affectionately known as Fr. Alex to many, will be sent back to Sri Lanka from Australia, where he passed away. It is significant and providential that his remains will be brought to St. Philip Neri’s Church, where Fr. Alex spent the greater part of his life, proclaiming God’s love for humanity. We heard that the Church of St. Francis, in Melbourne, where his remains were, was packed to capacity with priests and other clergy, and there was not a dry eye during the sermon and the oration.

In Sri Lanka, too, people and clergy from all religious denominations and all walks of life will celebrate this gentleman priest’s life, rather than mourn his death. As a Christian, he would have died many a time to live for Christ in serving those who crossed his path, at the same time internalising the spirituality of the Cross: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). Fr. Alex often spoke those words, and he lived them.

God bestowed an abundance of gifts on Fr. Alex. If you went to St. Philip Neri’s for Mass after his death, invariably the young celebrant would say, “I am standing before you today because of Fr. Alex.” I, myself, was blessed to be associated with the Blessed Sacrament Congregation and can, therefore, say with conviction that Fr. Alex nurtured and shepherded the young men who were under his tutelage. And how proud he was of every one of them.

I have a vivid memory of Fr. Alex breaking down at the ordination of some young priests – his joy knew no bounds! He effortlessly moved on from being the Regional Superior (twice or thrice) to the President of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors. Various other responsibilities were showered on him. The mantle of power sat lightly on this Man of God as he humbly viewed every opportunity as an additional instrument to serve God.

Fr. Alex was always happy in his community, but more so when he was walking that extra mile doing something beautiful for God. There was radiance in his smile. In this ocean of suffering on earth, Fr. Alex was indeed a drop of mercy. He never let “self” intrude, and went out of his way to be close to anyone who needed him. Those who knew him well knew he was a solid rock, with his loving reassuring presence, sadly now gone.

Fr. Alex was in this world, but he was not of this world. The news of his death was a shock to all. Reading “Our Daily Bread’, as I do every morning, I was struck by the strange coincidence that last Sunday was the feast of ‘The Body and Blood of Christ’ -- the feast of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation and the reading contained the most beautiful verse I have read in a long time. The devotional for the day was by Anne Cetas and in it she has given us the words of a hymn by Cleland B. McAfee – “Near To The Heart Of God”. I cannot think of anything more beautifully appropriate with which to end this tribute:

There is a place of quiet rest
Near to the Heart of God
A place where sin cannot molest
Near to the Heart of God
O Jesus blest Redeemer
Sent from the Heart of God
Hold Father Alex who waits before Thee now
Near to the Heart of God

Rest now dear Fr. near to the Heart of the God you loved so much.

Karen

Like bubbles and butterflies she has flitted away

Shafraza Muzammil

There are friends who enter our lives and as distance, responsibilities and life catch up, drift away. While that has been the case with many of my friends, Shafraza Muzammil, remained my best friend even though we were oceans apart and our friendship was tested by China’s discommoding need to block email providers and social networks from time to time. But we stayed in touch. She had to go through the hassle of frequently changing her email address but she would never fail to keep her close friends updated with her latest account. Her last email-handle was ‘bubblesandbutterflies’.

‘Bubbles and butterflies’ is an ideal description of her. She had a bubbly and affable personality, and that’s largely why she was loved by everyone who was blessed to have met her. But in stark contradiction to her delicate nature, she was one of the most determined and independent people I’ve known. While we were from the same alma mater, I truly got to know her when we studied journalism together at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism. Fluency in spoken Sinhala is something we both lacked, but Shafraza wouldn’t let that faze her desire to become a journalist. She learnt the language and joined the Sunday Times after obtaining a diploma in print journalism.

About a year later, she married Rimzan Ameen and joined him in China. She was still passionate about writing, so her loving husband organised the starting up of a monthly magazine of which she would be the editor. He encouraged her to learn Mandarin. She was highly excited about it and would consult me regarding a name for the magazine, finding writers and what sort of content would be best. Everything was in full swing, Shafraza was delighted, but her time had come to return to Allah (swt).

On June 5, just a month before she turned 24 years, Shafraza took her leave of this world. Though she is no longer a physical part of our world, her close group of friends, Aamina Nizar, Heba Husain, Nazeeha Muhammad Ali, Shazna Refai, Humaira Thalayan, Manal Haque and I will keep her alive in our thoughts. She inspired all of us in some way. For me, it was her encouragement not to deviate from Islam; to seek Allah (swt)’s guidance and strive to be a better Muslim.

May Allah (swt) grant her Jennathul Firdouse.

Megara Tegal

A life cheerfully dedicated to helping others

Hemamali Abeysiriwardena

It is with a heavy heart that I write these few lines on Hemamali Abeysiriwardena, the energetic and dynamic Secretary of the Nepal Friendship Society for 20 years. She passed away on May 7. She rendered a remarkable service to the society during her tenure of office.

Hemamali was the livewire of the society. Her ability, efficiency and untiring efforts helped us to achieve good results in all the projects launched.

She was gentle in every sense of the word, understanding, endowed with wisdom and great vision which she demonstrated on many occasions. She hated to be idle and always looked for new ventures in life. She had a great personality. The unique aspect of her life and career was that she took an interest in religious, social and cultural activities, based on the principle that faith without work was dead.

She was always prepared to give generously, not only material possessions but also her advice, encouragement and companionship. She had a cheerful countenance and was very hospitable. She lived a simple, modest and unassuming life, extending a helping hand to many a worthy cause. She was the embodiment of kindness and simplicity. She had many friends from all communities and walks of life.

Her pleasant demeanour and sense of humour helped her in her social activities. She had a charming personality which pleased everyone with whom she came in contact and a radiant and winsome smile that reflected a calm, composed and tranquil mind. Though that eloquent and calm voice has been stilled, it will continue to reverberate in the ears of most of her friends. She will live in the hearts of the poor people, whom she helped quietly.

The cruel hand of death snatched away a lovable, cheerful and understanding person. Her untimely death is an irreparable loss to her beloved and devoted husband, Hector, relations, friends, associates and acquaintances.

Our friendship dates back to our student days at Musaeus. I admired her noble qualities, which brought her close to me. The friendship developed steadily, blossoming to a bond lasting until her demise. I have lost a dear and precious friend.

She lived a full life with kindness to all and malice to none.
May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Memories are treasures
No one can steal
Death leaves deep heartaches 
No one can ever heal
Time may heal the edge of grief 
But golden memories turn back every leaf.

Ratna Goonetilleka. Past Vice-President, Nepal Friendship Society

‘Still loved, still missed, and very dear’

Kanisha Dissanayake

I met Kanisha for the first time on Vesak day 1975. She was lighting lanterns with her father. She was 12 years old and I was 13. Little did I know at the time that she would become my best friend and sister-in-law and that our friendship would last through thick and thin.

As little girls and teenagers the two of us got up to all sorts of mischief. As young women we shared the experience of becoming mothers for the first time, when our girls were born a few weeks apart. So many memories of all the things we used to do always keep coming back to my mind.

A year has gone by since you left us but the pain in my heart still lingers as I did not get to tell you how much I loved you or how much I cherished our friendship or thank you for all the times you were there for me when I needed a friend. I miss all the things we shared, the quiet times, the smiles, the laughter. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of you.

“Those we love don’t go away
They walk beside us everyday
Unseen, unheard but always near
Still loved, still missed, and very dear.”
I will always love you Kani. You will always be in my heart.

Sadly missed and fondly remembered by your brother Ravi, sister-in-law Mano and nieces Avanthi & Anisha Senaratne

DN June 29 2011

Nalini Wickremesinghe:

Devoted mother

It seems as if a grey cloud of depression is over me; not only because of the demise of Nalini Wickremesinghe. But, because her death in a way, is the end of an era. I cannot think of anyone of my generation, or the ones that follow; with her exceptional qualities. Beauty, grace, dignity, gentility, intellect, culture and a great sense of history I am proud that we share the same Alma Mater; although she had left school, before I entered its hallowed portals.

As the eldest daughter of D R Wijewardene, she had the privilege of witnessing at first hand, many stages of our country’s history, before and after Independence. She would often talk to me about those days, when politicians of yore, of the calibre of D S Senanayake, D B Jayetilleke, E W Perera, V F and L M de Silva were frequent visitors to their home.

Another vivid memory she often talked about, was the visit of the Soulbury Commission; who had stayed with her father, at Arcadia in Diyatalawa. This was a truly historic visit as they spent hours and days sitting in the garden there, drafting the constitution of Independent Ceylon. These memories and those of her father beginning the newspaper were always vivid in her mind, and she once told me that this was when her interest in politics was first nurtured.

Conversations at her home revolved round politics, the newspapers and her father’s role in the struggle for Independence. There are few who are aware that Nalini had obtained the London Inter Arts degree, for which she had studied privately. Her father had planned to send her to University, but Cupid intervened as he often does; when she met her future husband Esmond.

She was a devoted mother, grandmother and sister. She adored her children, was very proud of them all and equally adored her younger brother. She told me that she was just 17 when he was born, and the duty of looking after him was handed over to her.

Her interest in reviving Sinhala culture, led her to playing an active role in The Lanka Mahila Samithi and in the Sinhala Institute of Culture. Her work in the Mahila Samithi began with encouraging women to have home gardens, and develop their talent in other crafts which they could do at home; to empower them and to have their own income.

Together with Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Siva Obeysekera, she was one of the pioneers in promoting handicrafts and handloom weaving. I have seen many of her own designs woven into sarees, which were truly exquisite works of art. At the Sinhala Institute of culture, she was one of those responsible for reviving Kandyan and low country dancing, drama and other aspects of traditional culture and art, She played a prominent role in promoting and sponsoring Sinhala writers and artistes, by helping playwrights and producers to stage their plays.

Although born with a silver spoon; Nalini, in addition to her work for the uplift of Sinhala culture and arts and crafts, also worked as an active director of Lake House till it was taken over by the then government. She has often spoken to me about this heartbreaking moment; when her father’s brainchild was snatched away; his dreams no longer in the hands of his children; for which he had worked so hard all his life. Lesser mortals at this stage, may have sat back at home, licking their wounds or given in to depression. But not Nalini; instead, she worked at The Lake House Bookshop for many years. Her interest in English literature, stood her in good stead in this role. Her children surprised her a few years ago, on her birthday, by publishing some poems written by her, which she presented to her friends.

During these past few years with her failing health, it was good to see the devotion with which her children, including her daughters in law, looked after her. She was showered with tender, loving care by them; through each moment of each day.

Ranil and Kshanika have both inherited her sense of history and her love of classical music. I was always touched that every time Ranil bought music for himself, he bought the identical tape for his mother. He would sit for hours at her bedside, despite his busy schedule, discussing music of the great Masters, musicians and politics with her. Two people who knew her better than most outsiders were Maya Wikrantha and Dr Anandaraja. Both speak of her innate kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity to them.

She was a devout Buddhist who married a Christian and practised her religion as a true Buddhist should. She was never a fanatic, never forced her beliefs on others, but practised it as an inspiring example to those who knew her.

She felt that each and every person must have the freedom to practise the faith of their choice. I shall always treasure in my heart and mind, a compliment that she once paid me; which was that loyalty such as mine, can never be bought.

I will always think of Nalini Wickremesinghe as one of those wonders of God.

Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne


Rienzie Gunaratne:

Person with an astonishing English knowledge

A person of great calibre, as a teacher of English Language and Literature, the founder of the Full Moon Institute of English (which implies that he wanted to bring students from darkness to light in English) at Maharagama, Rienzie Gunaratne passed away recently, creating a huge void in the sphere of teaching English. He was suffering from his fatal illness for several years, despite which he continued his services towards the student population of the area on a busy schedule, even while taking treatments at the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore at regular intervals.

He was a person with an astonishing knowledge of English poetry and drama, and all the other fields of English Literature. He joined the tutorial staff of the then Government Teachers’ Training College Practising School (now known as Maharagama Central College) and started teaching History in mid 1960s. I was fortunate enough to have him as my class master in 1966, when I was in Grade eight.

Our Principal at that time was T G S Gunawardhana, an eminent scholar and an English educated gentleman. When Rienzie Gunaratne started teaching English Language, Gunawardhana placed a challenge before him to obtain positive results. He was successful within a short time. From then, the number of English passes grew annually. His ability of teaching English was not a secret to anybody.

In early 1970s he was appointed as a Lecturer in English at the Maharagama Teachers’ Training College. But, as a result of requests made by many parents and students, he was compelled to prolong his former career in the way of private tuition in weekends. As a result, we too were able to prolong our studies and become well versed in English Language and Literature. He has worked as a Lecturer at the Open University of Sri Lanka and as a Radio Script Writer, presenting Western Classics in Sinhala Language.

He emerged the most bright scholar at the Manchester University in UK in 1983 and was offered a Post of Lecturer there, but he was loved by the students here in Sri Lanka and he too concerned them so much that he returned to the island as he valued not money but his service to his students.

What mattered the most in all his endeavours was punctuality. When we were his private students after our schooling age, he was present sharp at 8.00 am and started the class. He maintained this paramount quality of him until his demise. I think, many of his students including myself studied that lesson. I am humbly saying that I have been one of his pupils until his death, and he was a regular admirer of any of my literary works and his demise is an irreparable loss to me too personally, as it has been to his wife and daughters.

Atula A Dodangoda Pannipitiya


A Wilton de Zoysa :

Thaththa was my role model

Thaththa it has been 10 years since you left us and I miss you more than ever. It is true what they say, you do not realize what you truly have till it is gone. I must confess that I am at a loss of words when it comes to pen my appreciation of you since my thoughts are far too many and crowded with emotion. Thaththa, even after 10 years of absence of physical presence, I miss you more deeply than words can say.

However, I have brought myself to write a few words of what he meant to me since his death anniversary falls on July 3, 2011.

I am certain that the sentiments I felt are that which are felt by any child or adult who has ever lost a parent. As such this is my humble attempt in capturing the essence of a man whose presence I could never limit to words on a page.

Over the past, I have not felt his absence because I realized that everyday I continue life as his daughter being true to all that he thought me in life he continues to live.

You appreciated us for what we were and trusted us to the extent that unknowingly you built a moral binding in us to be always uncompromisingly truthful to ourselves and thereby never to break the trust of others. Your love, appreciation, trust among many things molded us to be the children we are.

Thaththa you said learning was the foundation which no one can take away.

We are what we are because of you and Amma. You always told me to do my duty with dedication, commitment and integrity. This was just but one lesson that we repeatedly say. We grew up with your values and we are glad we did as it has proved beyond doubt what life can give. We note with gratitude to you, the positive comments of others of our ability to go through life with zest, responsibility and honesty. You were the biggest champion in all over endeavours.

He was my friend and a pillar of strength to me. I could open my heart to him with his advice and guidance he put us on the correct path on life’s journey. The deeply rooted values in my life all came from my father. You gave us love, support and a sound education, but most of all you taught us to be fair, have a strong sense of right and wrong and taught us good moral values. Whenever we needed you were always there for us and you made us believe that self-confidence, honesty and courage will help us lead a good life. I so wish you hang on for a little longer, so you could have been there for me as my role model to direct and guide me when I needed.

My sincere hope is that may this simple man realize early the supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Damitha de Zoysa

Sunday Times June 19 2011

Party loyalty and integrity were his outstanding qualities

Tribute to Dudley Senanayake on his hundreth birth anniversary

The hundredth birth anniversary of this great statesman falls today. We should look beyond politics to honour him as a national figure of significance. It is indeed a pity, that in our country, political barriers prevent honour being given to those who deserve it.

A respected political writer, during Dudley's lifetime wrote 'how many know the qualities he possessed of head and heart which were rarer than one in a million'. The late Dudley Senanayake, as a statesman and as a man, was not made of common stuff.

We live today in a land of paradox--- dirt of one sort or another, dust and crystal clarity. Noise, tumult, violence side by side; with the Buddha's message of peace and tranquillity. As one watches from the sidelines, one sometimes feels as if it is part of an ancient ritual, of which one has no knowledge and can never comprehend.

As we look back in retrospect at the life of Dudley Senanayake, those of us who were privileged to know him are aware that the things which mattered most to him, as a statesman were ethnic amity, his unwavering belief in an agricultural economy and law and order. He strove hard and long through the curves and junctions of his life on all three counts. He believed in telling people the truth rather than in false promises which are inevitably, a surefire passport to popularity. I'm glad that the present UNP leader is following Dudley in this and in his high standards of integrity.

The word 'politics' is derived from the Latin 'politicus' and the Greek 'politikos'; both of which mean belonging to the people. Dudley Senanayake was a man who truly belonged to the people. Although a reluctant politician, he sensed the true gait of politics, and never strayed from the straight path. Although the ordeal of war is long over, the experience of suffering to millions, death and loss of loved ones to others, are like the aftershock of an earthquake. Reconciliation and unity are still a dream; celebrations go on with unprecedented grandeur, but the root of the problem lies unsolved.

Dudley Senanayake did not believe in grandeur in any form whatsoever. He enjoyed the finer things of life but lived a simple life. Even as Prime Minister, he would be seen driving his little Triumph Herald around. Politicians of all hues, in much less important positions travel in luxurious vehicles today, causing chaos on the roads with their security vehicles. Photography, music and reading were his hobbies and he was happy with them and his little dog, Pixie.

Although educated at Cambridge and a reluctant politician, he was able to travel the rough road of politics with distinction. If we had continued with his agricultural economy, we would have been self-sufficient in rice by now. He wanted to free people from poverty, which is a kind of enclosure; and lead them to unity, economic independence and freedom. He did not indulge in revenge, imprisoning opponents behind bars and restrictions. He didn't believe in inflicting pain on the innocent, or even on those who create wrong; and was totally against bloodshed and mayhem.

His gentle, amiable manner and sharp inquisitive mind, shied away from the endless charades of politics, practised by those jockeying for power and positions before their time. To him, the taking of a human life, under any circumstances whatsoever, was an act of murder which he would not condone.
Law and order were a priority to Dudley Senanayake. He thought of it as the cement that held everything together; and the only thing we could cling to when we reach the final line. He would hate to see the lack of law and order prevalent today, in every nook and corner, of the country, that he loved so much.

He was an excellent speaker in Parliament, on political and other platforms; and could hold his own among the shining array of stars that were his peers in Parliament at that time. That was undoubtedly the creme a la crème of Sri Lankan Parliaments. Dr. N.M. Perera, Dr. Colvin.R. de Silva, Philip and Robert Goonewardene, Dr. S.A. Wickremesinghe, Pieter Keuneman, all educated at British Universities. Deeply instilled in them were qualities of justice and fairplay. Arguments, there were in abundance; but all in good spirit and they were the best of friends both in and out of Parliament. Dudley's hearty laugh, wit, humour and powerful voice are legendary in Sri Lanka's parliamentary history. He would be devastated to see the low standards of behaviour, in this most august assembly; sunk to the lowest levels ever, now.

A beacon of light, throughout his political life was his loyalty to his party. Even when he resigned, caused by enemy orchestration resulting in circumstances beyond his control, he refused to join or support another party. This was in spite of being offered any office that he chose. Whether in or out of the party, or as a backbencher, he never hurled abuse or attacked those who had succeeded him as leaders of the UNP. These are good lessons for those who do so today, causing disunity and chaos.
This and his integrity are to me his outstanding qualities; which I think any leader should possess. In today's context of people crossing the floor, and accepting office for perks and privileges; his is an example that any aspiring young politician should attempt to follow. This is the only way one can command respect in life and after it. Just before his death, he was heartbroken by sections being formed within the party which caused discord and strife.

My father, who was at S. Thomas's at the same time, my paternal uncle Harry, who was his classmate, my maternal uncle, the late Bishop Lakdasa de Mel and my late husband, to whom he was a role model and political mentor, all admired and respected the late Dudley, like they did no other. He was to them an exemplary statesman; perhaps too fine a gentleman for politics and one who commanded great respect, nationally and internationally. I got to know him well, after my marriage, but I count it as the greatest privilege of my life to have had this opportunity as any conversation with him was an education.

There were absolutely no allegations of dishonesty thrown at him; be it commissions, missing state treasures or any hint of fraud or amassing wealth. He was never self-seeking and power-obsessed, always full of innate kindness and a love for humanity. His funeral was a testament to these qualities.
Never in the nation's history, had such a vast mass of humanity, gathered together on a single day, for a single purpose.

They came from all over the country, irrespective of political affiliations, weeping openly. No crackers were lit at his death. The people seemed aware that they had lost a rare national treasure; there would never be another quite like him. This is why he still remains a political icon today, unsurpassed in honour and integrity; words which have unfortunately, lost their meaning today. Our country is now a Paradise lost through greed, limitless ambition and false pride. Will we ever regain it? That is the question; it appears to me, to be a conundrum without a solution.

Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne

A picture of elegance she imbibed what was best of both east and west

Nalini Wickremesinghe

Just after midnight on Sunday, June 5, my cousin, Kshanika, called to say that Aunty Nalini had passed away. It did not come as a shock, as she had been getting steadily weaker since her 90th birthday last August. Yet, my sense of sadness was profound as I lay in bed reflecting on her remarkable personality, her life and the memorable moments I was privileged to share with her over nearly 60 years.

Nalini Wickremesinghe, nee Wijewardene, was my “Loku Nanda”, my mother Mukta’s eldest brother Esmond’s wife. In many ways she epitomised the model woman – tall and stately, beautiful and elegant, she had impeccable taste combined with a superb sense of style. She was independent, intelligent and articulate, with strong opinions on global events and local politics. About the latter she may have been somewhat biased, as her immediate family was so involved in it! She also loved books, music and theatre, and worked tirelessly to encourage the performing and visual arts and traditional crafts in Sri Lanka throughout her active life. She was a devout Buddhist, yet respectful and understanding of others’ beliefs and customs. She loved and nurtured her own family, while extending her thoughtful kindness to her wider family circle of brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, in-laws and later, grand nephews and nieces, including my own family.

My earliest recollections of her go back to my childhood, when, every Sunday, my grandmother, Esme, would have a family lunch at our home, Lakmahal, comprising Esmond, Nalini and their 5 children, my parents, Mukta and Sam, and their 3 children, and other extended family members or friends who may have been staying at Lakmahal at that time. Much as we loved her, Aunty Nalini would always be late, and we would patiently wait with stomachs rumbling till nearly 2 p.m., when Loku Nanda would sail in, as regal and elegant as always, to sit down to enthusiastic conversation and the delectable traditional yellow rice, chicken curry, and batu pahi spread. The Lakmahal theory was that her day was just as busy and long as everyone else’s - it just began 2 hours later! Despite being served late, lunch was always great fun, usually ending with treats bought from the chocolate fudge vendor on his bicycle and the “hakuru bola” vendor with the large tin box of goodies strapped in front of his tricycle who came to Lakmahal those afternoons, followed by cricket matches in the front garden or the cousins dressing up and performing on the balcony.

Esme, Nalini, and Mukta were three very independent and diverse personalities, each greatly respected among peers and subordinates in their own fields of interest and influence. Yet, in all the years I knew them, I never once heard a harsh word or criticism among those three, such was the affection and esteem they had for one another. It was only as I grew older that I was able to appreciate how unusually strong those bonds were, between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the two very different sisters-in-law.

Another aspect of the harmony in which we lived was the mutual respect for, and interest in, each other’s traditions and customs. My mother and grandmother raised us three in an anglicised Christian environment that celebrated Christmas and Easter, while Aunty Nalini raised her five children in a typically traditional Sinhala Buddhist environment where Sinhala New Year and Vesak were celebrated. What a rich culture we grew up in! Each New Year, Aunty Nalini would ensure that her children came over to worship their grandmother with the traditional sheaf of betel leaves, and that we kids at Lakmahal received Avurudhu gifts, while at Vesak, we would visit their home in Fifth Lane to stand entranced under the trees admiring the Vesak kudu that their household had beautifully crafted hanging from the upper branches and later, light the candles in the colourful bucket lanterns which hung on the lower branches. Similarly, each Good Friday, the Fifth Lane kids would be sent their share of Hot Cross Buns, while Christmas lunch at Lakmahal was a major annual event, when they, in turn, would enjoy our enthusiastically decorated Christmas tree and my mother’s Christmas cake and plum pudding. Since she married my uncle in 1944, Aunty Nalini had an unbroken record of sharing 66 Christmas lunches with us at Lakmahal, until ill health prevented her from doing so just last year.

In a culturally Western-dominated Colombo society of that time, Aunty Nalini was a determined promoter of all forms of Sinhala culture and crafts. While she had an abiding love of Western music and literature, she was as enamoured of Sri Lanka’s traditional music, theatre and dance forms. She wrote beautiful English poetry as a school-girl at Bishops’ College, loved to play western classical music on the piano and was an authority on opera - an interest she shared with her son, Ranil. She was also an unobtrusive benefactress to many struggling artistes, and a founder member of, and instrumental in building, Sudarshi, the Sinhala Institute of Culture on Bauddhaloka Mawatha (now opposite the BMICH), home to aspiring dramatists and dancers and handloom weavers. I have memories of stunning sarees woven on the hand looms at Sudarshi and watching dance and drama practices in Sudarshi’s main hall, as well as performances in the open-air theatre at the back. She encouraged those interests in us - classics such as Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s Maname, which she helped to put on gramophone record for the first time; watching the all-time favourite “Nari Bana” at Sudarshi’s open-air theatre; and more recently, meeting the explosive author of “The God of Small Things”, Arundhati Roy, at a dinner in Aunty Nalini’s home, to which she was kind enough to include her nephews and nieces, rather than more important literary guests she could easily have invited.

Aunty Nalini was a true nationalist who lived by her principles. She led by example and by deeds, not mere words. In a post-independence era when most Colombo-based parents of her generation and social standing sent their children to the excellent Church-run private schools of that time, Aunty Nalini sent her children to state-run schools - her sons to Royal College and her only daughter to Visakha Vidyalaya. She made this choice, even though she had been a star pupil and Head Prefect at Bishop’s College in her time and was a very active member of its Past Pupils’ Association, as were her two sisters, Rani Gomes and Kusuma Goonaratne, while her two brothers, Sivali and Ranjit Wijewardene, had been sent to S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia in their time. She also nurtured her children to be truly proficient in their mother tongue as well as in English, a global language, and to appreciate the best of Eastern and Western culture, even though in that era in Colombo, the emphasis was on the latter. Her thoughtfully selected gifts of books by Sri Lankan authors and about Sri Lanka to us and my children over several decades will not be forgotten.

Another aspect of Aunty Nalini’s personality was her artistic appreciation of the beauty of Sri Lanka. She always preferred the indigenous jasmines, ehela, araliya, lotuses and water lilies of the tropics to dahlias, roses and chrysanthemums. She kept an elegant home and took a personal interest in her luxuriant garden with its majestic trees. Over the years, with some architectural help, she single-handedly designed and built beautiful homes for all her children, for which some of those trees had to be sacrificed! She encouraged appreciation of our traditions and culture in us as well. She obliged readily when I requested her to arrange for one of her family retainers, Mudiyanse, to come to my school, Ladies’ College, to give weekly lunch-interval classes to our seniors to make “Gokkola” decorations. That year, Gokkola bedecked the stage at our annual “Kala Ulela” festival of music and dance.

Aunty Nalini was a professional working woman as well, wielding her influence as a Director in the family newspaper business at Lake House, and later, after the family business was nationalised, at Lake House Book Shop. She supported young authors and helped them to get their works published, and also re-printed new editions of valuable Sri Lankan books that had gone out of print over the years. To this day, the Wijewardene family continues to encourage young writers with national awards for literature and journalism. In particular, the D.R. Wijewardene Award for the best Sinhala novel in unpublished manuscript form was her brainchild. She was an avid reader of the newspapers and took a great interest in politics, an interest she shared with her husband Esmond, and later, her son Ranil. Her family interest in the news media also influenced the careers of two sons, Shan and Niraj, who run the TNL television and radio stations, respectively, while Kshanika and Channa inherited her interest in business. A respected professional in her own right, she was offered a directorship on the Board of Air Lanka Ltd., the national carrier under the Jayawardene government of the late 1970s. Her son Ranil, who was a Junior Minister in the same government, quietly told her that he would resign if she took up the position, as it could be perceived as a form of nepotism. She accepted his criticism and honourably declined the position-a far cry from the political nepotism we see today.

She was a warm and gracious hostess. Time spent in her company was always interesting. I remember day trips as a child to her coconut estate in Udubaddawa, a memorable beach holiday on the East coast in Mankerny and, as a young adult, invigorating spout baths and learning from her about the hair-cleansing properties of “Veralu” leaves on week-ends at her home on the edge of the Bolgoda Lake. In later years, with her eyesight and knees getting weaker, she was less mobile and I loved visiting her to spend a happy morning or evening discussing all sorts of topics with her. She was a very family-oriented person, a truly wise and kindly matriarch, not only to her own siblings, children and grandchildren, but also to her relatives by marriage. Her birthdays were an annual event we looked forward to, where we would meet the entire extended family of 3, and later 4 generations – her own children, grand and great-grand children, her own and her husband’s siblings and their children and grandchildren. Such was her magnanimity that several years ago, she gently, but firmly announced that her worldly needs were well met and requested us to support a needy orphanage in Ratmalana in whatever way we could, in lieu of birthday presents to her. So we would turn up at those elegant birthday parties her children and daughters-in-law organised for her, carrying in cardboard boxes of soap and toothpaste and milk powder! The love and attention showered on her by her entire extended family, especially her own daughters-in-law, are a testament to the high esteem and affection in which she was held.

I remember, with gratitude, her warm affection and thoughtfulness towards my grandmother, my mother and father, my siblings, my own family and myself, her regal beauty and stately elegance, her impeccable taste and sense of style, her independent intellect and artistic acumen, her deep appreciation and active support of books, music, art and traditional crafts, her dignity and discretion, her wise counsel and her principled life. Her loving presence will be missed by all of us who knew and loved her. May she rest in peace.

Anila Dias Bandaranaike (nee Wijesinha)

DN June 16 2011

Unforgettable personalities: Comrade Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe

W Annesley Sumith Fernando

Election held in 1931 markedly differed from those which are conducted now. in that election the candidates competed under colours as against party symbols or preference numbers.

Dr S A Wickremasinghe, fondly called ‘Doctor Comrade’ contested the election from Morawaka electorate. The electorate covered a vast land mass extending from Morawaka to Yatiyana and Hakmana. Dr S A was a very popular figure in the Southern province.


Dr S A Wickremasinghe

EVD Abeygunawardena who wielded much power in the area opposed Dr S A at the election. The capitalists of the time joined hands with EVD to defeat the young and popular Dr SA. They were determined in their pursuit and left no stone unturned in plotting the downfall of Dr S A. The main reason for their antagonism against Dr S A was his deep involvement in the Sooriya Mal campaign which was floated against the Poppy Mal campaign aimed at collecting funds for military purposes.

”Dr SA is a poison; he has come forward to spread a disease in the country. If you love Dr, reject him at the election. If you love the country defeat him at the election. Then the country will be safe and Dr SA would be able to continue his practice and live peacefully.” A speaker thundered in this manner at the election rallies in Morawaka.

But the people of Morawaka expressed their love towards Dr SA by sending him to the State Council with a comfortable majority of 3421 votes.

Dr SA opposed colonialism to the hilt and dedicated himself to the policies and principles of scientific socialism. He became the only member of the opposition at the First State Council. As a lone warrior he campaigned for the welfare of the common masses. But occasionally he received active support from Susantha Fonseka (Panadura), Abeyrathna Ratnayake (Dummbara) and DD Athulathmudali (Mathugama).

Dr SA was born on April 13, 1901 in to wealthy family at the village of Athuraliya in the Matara district. He was named Sugeeswara Abeywardena Wickremasinghe.

He commenced his studies at the village school; then climbed the steps of Mahinda College, Galle and from there he proceeded to Ananda College, Colombo.

Having excelled at Ananda College he entered the Medical College. From the Medical College, he took wings to England to earn his Medical Degree. He kept abreast with his avowed intention of becoming a qualified doctor, but never deviated from his ambition of acquiring knowledge and understanding on progressive, people friendly movements and campaigns. He got himself actively involved in the activities of such movements and he had the opportunity of meeting likeminded Philip, NM and Leslie.

He became an avowed, ardent anti-colonist and he was often followed by the hunting hounds of white colonists and imperialists. The CID never failed to pay him regular visits even during his medical college days.

Dr SA came back to Sri Lanka but the CID continued with its surveillance overtly and covertly. Dr SA was looked down upon as a dangerous man and no employer wished to hire him.

He was also treated as an anathema to religion and social norms; even his relations feared to allow him enter their homes.

Amidst those adversities Dr SA managed to find a job as a doctor at the Colombo General Hospital. As per routine a doctor was expected to treat around more than 100 patients within an hour. But there were exceptions.

The patients at the paid wards in the hospital were given special treatments. Dr SA could not come to terms with those routines. The revolutionary in him did not allow him comply with the routine. He chose to do the right things; he opted to spend much time with the poor and helpless patients. Dr SA’s stance did not find favour with his superiors; before long he was expelled and became jobless. He returned to his hamlet in Matara and started his private medical practice. He also diverted his attention to politics.

Dr SA was a doctor by profession, but continued his other interests with devotion and dedication. He was an MP; a proponent of the Sooriya Mal campaign and a member of socialist society, Dr SA was a kind and compassionate doctor. He took a genuine interest in the welfare of his patients and he did not charge a fee from the patients who were poor. Soon he became the most popular doctor in the area. He was blessed with the healing touch and he was very often compared to a divine healer. Even today, elders in the villages where Dr SA served vouch for his accomplishments as a healer. They would recall how Dr SA saved the life of a poor estate worker by carrying out an urgent surgery in a poor hut. He had neither the required equipment or nor the standard solvents and spirits. All what he had, was hot water and a rubber cutting knife. He became a legend during his lifetime.

Once, Dr SA was examining his patients at his dispensary. All of a sudden there arose a big commotion. With a thundering brake a fast moving police jeep stopped in front of the dispensary. A battalion of police officers, numbering over 200, in battle gear complete with riffles, batons and helmets jumped out and surrounded the dispensary. ‘Halt; no one moves’, shouted the uniformed man in charge of the battalion. The patients were perplexed; they were eager to what was going on, but had no way of knowing it.

The police entered the doctor’s room. Dr SA emerged out, hand-cuffed. He had been arrested for rebelling against the imperialist policies of the government and endangering peace in the country. “Why a battalion of police personnel have descended down to arrest our gentle and genial doctor. Had he been asked, he would have presented himself willingly”, exclaimed a concerned, elderly woman who witnessed that episode.

In 1936 four LSSP presented four candidates for the 2nd State Council elections. They were Dr SA, Philip, NM and Leslie Goonewardena for Morawara, Avissawella, Ruwanwella and Panadura electorates respectively. At Morawaka Dr SA had RC Kannangara as his opponent. Kannangara enjoyed the full backing of the king capitalist Sir D B Jayathilake and his clan. It was Sir DB who launched a spirted campaign to dethrone Dr SA at the first State Council elections in 1931. Dr SA lost Morawaka by vote difference of 2910.

In terms of the new constitution, a person who had been jailed for over three months for an offence punishable by a jail term of over six months was debarred for seven years from contesting in any state election. Dr SA had all the above credentials against him and he became a ‘person a non grata’ as far as elections were concerned.

The parliamentary elections in 1952, saw both Dr SA and his wife Ms Doreen entering the fray. Doreen led the campaign at Akuressa and Dr SA took the fight at Hakmana. Defeat was Dr SA’s lot. He stood humiliated and suffering, but the fighter in him waited for an opportune time. The epoch making election in 1956 turned tables and pave the opportunity for Dr SA to savour sweet success. Dr SA, the leader of the Communist Party won the Akuressa electorate by beating DC Wanigasekera of the UNP with comfortable majority of 6828 votes. Thus, Dr SA entered the high walled portals of the parliamentary complex for the first time. Dr SA continued his winning streaks at the parliamentary election held in March and July 1960. The majority votes he received at the parliamentary elections in 1970 stood at 5541. Dr SA, the leader of the Communist Party was humble enough to offer the ministerial post offered to his party to his deputy Peter Kenumun.

Dr SA loved ‘hydropower generation systems’ above his calling as a communist, a doctor and a MP. He loved this subject passionately and it took hold of him as an obsession. An inseparable bond seemed to have developed between Dr SA and hydropower generation. Whenever a topic relating hydropower generation was either debated or discussed at the chamber Dr SA was there to make a noteworthy a contribution. He was a western doctor extending the healing touch to a marginalized lot of people; he was a divine physician treating the malady of poverty by giving the medicine of socialism.

Dr SA the western doctor who kept abreast with his Sinhala origins breathed his last on Theosophical. Dr SA will continue to reign supreme in the hearts of minds of the heroic people of Ruhuna, which he served with true devotion and total dedication.



Daily News June 16 2011

A Kandasamy:

Self-made personality and disciplinarian

A Kandasamy, known as 'AKyer' or 'AK Master' in school was the youngest son of Kokuvil Village Headman Periya Mugrugesar. At the age of two and a half years, he lost his father and he was brought up by his mother. He had his earlier education at Kilner College, Jaffna and thereafter, at the Jaffna Central College.

AKyer after completing studies at J/Central College with the advice of his guru 'Kalaipulavar' Navaratnam, he selected Commerce stream for his higher studies and passed the Inter.Com. (Lond) examination.

He started his career as a Botany Teacher and Boarding Master at Victoria College, Chulipuram and from there he went to St.Mary's College, Veyangoda and Kokvil Hindu College (KHC). He was assigned with the commerce subjects- Commerce, Book-keeping, Commercial Arithmetic and Typewriting. He took Geography and good in Cartography as well. It is better to state here that he was one of the pioneer teachers in Commercial Education field in the Northern Province Schools.

AK Master was a remarkable examiner and invigilator. Nobody can detect where he is looking.

We know teaching is not a smooth sailing profession. AK Master introduced us to "learn to learn" techniques which paved ways for success. How to pass an examination? His advice was to prepare well in advance, keep the mind fit, keep confident and do well in the examination, take all necessary things like admission card, pen, pencils, box of instruments etc, go early to the examination hall, enter the examination hall without discussing anything about the subjects with the colleagues, sit calmly in the seat. When question paper is given not to hurry to write answers but read all questions carefully, allocate time based on the marks for each question, select the questions that are thorough for answering first.

Since time factor is important, not to worry for unattempted ones. Go through all what have been written and edit carefully, tie all the answer papers in order with one blank paper at the end for the balance work, check whether Index No., folio number etc. are written in the answer paper, if there is any unanswered questions, which can be partly answered, try to answer it or recheck all your answers.

After handing over the answer papers leave out without discussing anything about the paper, prepare for the next paper, till the whole examination is over not to discuss anything about the subjects offered and also refer to any books or notes in relation to questions that are answered. The reality of his advice is evident in succeeding the examinations.

During the teaching career at Victoria College AK Master married Ponnammah alias Poornam, an educated lady, youngest daughter of Ambalavanar Vyramuthu and Thankammah from J/Sandiruppye. The couple has blessed with ten children - seven boys and three girls. Out of these, one girl in childhood and one boy (one of the twins) in adult age passed away. AK Master had greater expectation from their children but he was anguished by his eldest son who dropped his schooling.

This confined AK Master to sick room. He passed away on May 18, 1964 at the age of 53 while in teaching service. The K.H.C staff and students paid their last respect to their veteran commerce teacher and carried him in paadai (bier) in violet decoration which was the colour of the House in which he was the House Master. It is apt to mention here that AK Master was the house master of Nagalingam house and during his tenure only it won the Champion Challenge Cup for two years in succession.

We did not see him worshipping in temples but we are sure that he was not an atheist. He actively took part in celebrating Thai Pongal and Adippirappu, which are the two Tamil (not Hindu) Cultural festivals celebrated by the Tamils. These are the days in which Sun enters Capricorn and Cancer respectively.

AK Master was a self made personality, disciplinarian and he was the ladder in which many of us came up in life. He is known for punishing students by knocking their heads. In Tamil, there is a proverb saying that if you get a knock in head it should be from a hand which wears golden ring (kuddu venndinaalum mothira kaiyaal kuddupadavenndum). We are happy and proud for his kuddu along with advice gave us awareness, courage, interest in studies etc. All the students, studied under AK Master, are all now senior citizens; some are demised and a few of us remain. He made our past; a memorable past. He taught us many! Stood by us for many! Trained us to stand and laugh at all calamities.

It is not just a homage to our AK Master, but a warmth tribute, stream from the bottom of our hearts to the Guru of our soil, on his Centenary B'Day which fell on May 5, 2011. We all salute our great teacher.

Old Students of KHC


Felix Bhareti:

Interesting conversationalist

Felix Bhareti was a popular newspaper journalist who contributed interesting letters to the editor of reputed newspapers in Sri Lanka.

They were interesting snippets from his notebook titled 'Second Thoughts' made at times of his leisure. Most of them have found publication in newspapers whose editors have always received him with unfailing courtesy.

He had a brilliant school career having being a past pupil at Royal College, Colombo and was a contemporary of J R Jayewardene.

He was a leading lawyer in the Bar and practised mostly in Panadura. He was an interesting conversationalist.

A committed church worker having being a warden at St John's Church, Panadura and was a representative at Diocesan Council and also served in the standing committee making a valuable contribution. He was called to rest at a prime age of 56 in 1967. His family comprised his wife Nita two sons Nihal and Anil and daughter Sharmini who are professionals in their own fields.

Dr C W Amos Bishop of England had this to say about Felix Bhareti.

"I have been associated with Bhareti for several years and submit that felicitations ease and the readable way in which he writes will have felicitation for a wide reading public if these were to be published in book form.

Bhareti's scholarship is well above the average. His classical education no doubt has given him the necessary background and incentive for making pictures of words.

As one time Assistant Editor of the Ceylon Independent and its political correspondent, later as School Master at Uva College, Badulla and at S Thomas' College, Mt Lavinia, and then as a member of the Ceylon Bar, he has brought to bear upon his contributions, his valuable experience, understanding and knoweldge. They are marked by a pleasant literary flavour.

Sharmini Tennekoon


Nanda Pieris:

Talented artist, dancer

She was always smiling. Even one year after her demise, that never ending smile still lives in our hearts. That memory will never end. That was our loving Nanda Aunty, Nanda Pieris Adasinghe Bandara Nanda (nee Jayamaha) Pieris.

She was a great lady everyone who knew her. She never talked ill or bad about anyone. And she never allowed anyone to do so nor did she listen to anyone talking such things. If she heard anyone saying such a thing, she would promptly say "No, Don't say like that, she / he is a nice person" and that's it. Her heart was full of love and kindness.

She had a ready hand to help for those who were in need.

She was a talented artist, a dancer and a teacher. Her paintings, together with her student nephew's paintings were exhibited at Sarasavi Uyana railway station for many years. Which also helped to win the first prize for the well kept railway station for consecutive years.

She was the Chief Designer at Ceysilks and was promoted to the director board later. Her saree and textile designs were very famous and popular among the generation in that period.

She had to sail the boat through the troubled waters in 1970 when her beloved husband M T Pieris, an English Lecturer died of a lung cancer. This drastic illness was a thunder blow for the family, but she had the courage to bear up everything.

She attended to her husband, nursing him carefully, going to work regularly, and looking after the children, all with a heavy heart. She worked restlessly, day and night to save her husband.

While doing so, she never neglected to visit sick relatives, friends in the hospital or at home, or a funeral.

She brought up her three children with courage never losing her heart.

She also helped other relatives, but never complained about anything.

She was the youngest in the family with two sisters and a brother.

They all left her very much earlier. Sometimes she inquires about a friend or a relative of her age and if she learns that if that person is no more, she feels sorry and says that next is her turn.

She was a active committee member of the Old Girls Association of Newstead Convent, Negombo. She participated in almost all events organized by the association.

She was one of the chief devotees at the Sri Paramadhamma Viharaya, Pannipitiya, and a silent social worker. She lived 91 long and happy years with the love of her children, grand-children and relatives.

She was so lucky that, she had the love and care of her loved ones, especially in her late age.

She welcomed all those who visited her, enjoyed their teasing and jokes; she would remember some similar incident and relate to us in very perfect details.

She was in her perfect senses until her last moment, which was a very rare blessing for a person of that age. This was the merit she gained through her love, care and kindness throughout her life.

May she attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Lucky


IFB Wickramanayake:

Bribery Commissioner with a difference

Ian Wickramanayake is closely connected to my family through my maternal grandmother who was a Wickramanayake.

I came to know him very closely when I joined the Police and had to seek the advice and assistance of the Crown Counsel in Galle Assizes in pursuing prosecutions having assisted the Crown Counsel in all our non-summary cases as I had about six of them when I served as an Officer-in-Charge of Hungama in 1964. His colleague and good friend was Daya Perera and he used to refer to Ian as 'Yakadaya'. The calibre of Crown Counsels at that time were of a high order and they earned the respect of the Judges from the Bar and the Police. At that time, Ian could remember the regimental numbers of the Police Constable and Sergent better than us.

Ian had many good qualities. As a father he was very close to his son and daughter but due to his involvement in his work he had the tendency to neglect the family and that he regretted later in life.

Ian's life whilst as a Senior Solicitor General and Bribery Commissioner reached the peak of his career.

He loved music, singing and dancing. He loved to play the guitar and sing and there were many moments he entertained us in his home at Mt Lavinia.

He also played a very important role with the Special Squad formed along with Director of Intelligence at the time L D C Herath (later I G P) under the command of the Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike and a team consisting of Upali Seneviratne, Zernie Wijesuriya, B A Jeyanathan, G Ariyawanasa and Gaya Pattikirikorale, Pat Suaris etc.

Ian played an important role in the rounding up of many insurgents of 1971. He had excellent leadership qualities and had the intellectual capacity to plan, execute and prosecute. He had his plans for rehabilitation of those who required change in their attitude to life.

He was a very flamboyant character and was always proud of his revolver which he carried and displayed whenever necessary. He was dedicated, committed and displayed a high degree of honesty and integrity with courage and boldness in his decisions acting without any fear or favour. The Prime Minister Bandaranaike too had great confidence in him. He could never be swayed with political influence and stood firm against any interference.

May you rest in Peace with God's Blessings with you.

Nihal de Alwis


Kumari Abeygoonesekera:

Forthright lady

Kumari Abeygoonesekera was born to PM and bm Talawatte.

She schooled at Mahamaya in Kandy where she introduced netball, played in lama sari. She passed out as a teacher from the Maharagama Training College and her final stint was at Royal College - where she taught Maths, Music, Science and English for more than 10 years. Whilst at Royal she was instrumental in starting the Percussion Band, which is today a feature during the interval of the "Bradby". As a teacher her students remember her distinctly for her special teaching methods that were laced with kindness and firmness: a difficult combination to successfully juggle in a classroom full of boisterous teenage boys.

She was a tower of strength to her husband Justin during his career through the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs to the FAO in Rome and Bangkok and finally as the Parliamentary Ombudsman. She helped him to take important decisions that chartered their lives and stood by him during difficult times.

Kumari was a forthright lady who called a spade appropriately and who fought injustice whenever she encountered it. She had a penchant for offering her love and kindness to the weak, oppressed, unfortunate and differently- abled. She did her best to bring some light, colour and hope into their lives. I remember her somehow making it to Sahanaya once a week to play the piano for the inmates there. But the most significant project she undertook (together with her nephew in the Army) was to build 12 houses in Panama for those displaced by the tsunami. She made it a family project and got all her sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces involved. She loved her nephew in the Army so dearly and when he died tragically she did not stop grieving. And so began a slow decline in her health which brought sadness to all who truly loved and cared for her.

By the time she passed away she had given away everything she owned and has left behind a legacy of love and selflessness which we will find difficult to hold on to, nurture and spread around. But we will surely try.

Jomo Uduman

 
Sunday Times June 11 2011

She promoted culture and craft in her own way

Nalini Wickremesinghe

Nalini Wickremesinghe was an elegant personality. Simplicity was part of her charm. Her funeral ceremony without the usual fanfare was a reflection of her lifestyle.

She was Director/Editorial at Lake House in the early 1970s when Lake House was still at its peak. Carol Aloysius and I, having passed out from the University of Ceylon, were among the applicants for a Women’s Page Assistant’s post in the Observer. Following a three-hour written test, an interview followed when I nervously sat before a dignified lady whom I later learnt was the eldest daughter of the legendary founder of Lake House -- D.R. Wijewardene.

The other was the formidable Denzil Peiris. This two-member interview board’s decision to recruit us was the start of my career in journalism. A random survey held by this time had given high ratings to the Women’s Pages in the Sunday Observer.

The early 1970s marked the revival of the arts, crafts, batik and handlooms. With the economy sliding at this time and imports curtailed there was also a tremendous search for innovations, inventions and substitutes for foods, fabrics, sarees etc. The restrictions on the import of flour brought manioc and kurakkan flour to the market and chefs turned out chocolate cake with kurakkan flour.

“Bathala” was used in the making of pastries substituting for potatoes. In Mattakkuliya, two sisters opened a meat processing factory and turned out sausages, salami and other cold meats for the first time in Sri Lanka. New fashion-trends set the pace with the use of batik, tie and dye and handloom material.Under the supervision of the editor, the attempt then was to encompass this new scenario. The pioneers of the new ventures needed publicity and encouragement. Knowing what the country needed at this time, Mrs. Wickremesinghe too, graciously entered the scene directing us with care and diligence.

There was no TV at the time. Only the state-run radio channels functioned. The former Times Group and Davasa Newspapers were our competitors. But, Lake House publications almost monopolized the readership recording the highest circulation figures.

Therefore, the responsibility to cover and promote events was far greater than now. A devout Buddhist and a lover of history, Mrs. Wickremesinghe was also a keen enthusiast of Sinhala drama. Perhaps her greatest contribution to the theatre was towards the construction of the Navarangahala at Royal College for the performance of dramas, a project which unfortunately fell through.

And I got into the habit of frequenting the Museum Library and the Anthropology Section due to her love for antiquities – a love which she infected me with. As a result, our readers got a glimpse of how our ancestors used their kitchens, drawing-rooms, bed rooms, wore their jewellery and played games.

With the takeover of Lake House in 1973 by the then government, Mrs. Wickremesinghe left Lake House. We missed her guidance and direction. However, with her appointment as director to the Laksala Board in 1977 -- she took to her new post like a duck to water -- she got into direct contact with the craftsmen. Once again, we renewed our contacts with her.

Mrs. Wickremesinghe, whenever she extended her patronage, stoutly stuck to the principle of the Wijewardene family of never making an appearance in any of the newspapers owned by them. But with the passing away of such personalities, will any such principles be left?

Rajitha Weerakoon

You’ll always be beautiful and good

Lankika de Livera

You shall not grow old 
As we that are left grow old. 
For in our mind’s eye you’ll always be 
Slim, young, beautiful and good, 
For you were kind and generous 
Yes, generous to a fault you were. 
You were a marvel at giving gifts, 
You could put Santa in the shade. 
So sincere was the mind that gave. 
You did not want to take revenge 
On those who hurt you, 
You did not want to litigate 
Even though your grief was great. 
You suffered and you bore it, 
That is why you went and left us all.

Gertrude de Livera

A Bribery Commissioner who was different

I. F. B. Wickramanayake

Ian Wickramanayake was closely connected to my family through my maternal grandmother, who was a Wickremanayake. To our family he was known as “Bardo.” He was very fond of my father, and my father of him. As a teacher, he spent his vacations in our home at Kalahe, Galle. My Dad spotted his debating talents and persuaded him to take up Law.

I came to know Ian closely when I joined the Police. I sought his advice and assistance of the Crown Counsel at the Galle Assizes in pursuing prosecutions, having assisted the Crown Counsel in all our non-summary cases, when I was Officer-in-Charge of Hungama in 1964.

His good friend was Daya Perera, and he referred to Ian as Yakadaya. Crown Counsels at the time were of a high calibre, respected by the judges from the Bar and the Police. Ian, who had an excellent memory, could remember the regimental numbers of the Police constables and sergeants better than we did.

Ian had many good qualities, but he could sometimes be very emotional, and his emotions sometimes got the better of him. He never failed to help anyone in difficulty. I recall with gratitude how he helped me when I was charged for attempted murder after using excessive force in arresting a drunkard.

My brother Vere, also in the Police, took me along to see Ian, whose immediate reaction was, “Don’t worry, Nihal I will help you.” He called his good friend, the eminent lawyer Eardley Perera (later President’s Counsel). Ian introduced me to Mr. Perera at his residence, saying I was his cousin. He said, “If he is your cousin, I will appear free for him.”

Eardley appeared on 18 dates of trial with another family friend of ours, Chula de Silva, who also appeared free. I was acquitted. Ian’s assistance was available to everyone he knew, and to friends of friends. His benevolence and compassion knew no bounds, as a lawyer and when he was a Senior Solicitor General and Bribery Commissioner.

As a father, he was very close to his son and daughter, but because of work, he tended to neglect the family, something he regretted later in life. He had excellent support from his late wife and the children and son-in-law, not forgetting his sister-in-law, who took great care of him in his last years.

As a Senior Solicitor General and Bribery Commissioner, Ian reached the apex of his career. He could be emotional, and sometimes undiplomatic, which strained his relationship with the late Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Felix Dias Bandaranaike. He would disagree openly on various issues with the Minister; sometimes he was correct, but he lacked diplomacy in dealing with his superiors. He felt he deserved to be Attorney-General, when someone else was appointed. Ian felt he had shown enough dedication, commitment and loyalty to the Government and the Minister.

He loved music, singing and dancing. He loved to play the guitar and sing, and often entertained us at his home in Mount Lavinia, with Gaya Pattikirikorale, Upali Seneviratne, Jeyanathan, Pat Suaris, and Ariyasena.

He also played an important role with the Special Squad, formed with the Director of Intelligence at the time, L. D. C. Herath (later IGP), Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike, and a team comprising Upali Seneviratne, Zernie Wijesuriya, B. A. Jeyanathan, G. Ariyawansa, Gaya Pattikirikorale, Pat Suaris, etc. 
Ian played an important role in rounding up the insurgents of 1971. He had excellent leadership qualities, and the intellectual capacity to plan, execute and prosecute. He had his plans for rehabilitating those who required a change of attitude.

He was very flamboyant, and proud of his revolver, which he carried and displayed whenever necessary. He was dedicated, committed and showed honesty and integrity, and courage and boldness in his decisions. He was not one to be swayed by political influence.

When he fell ill, his wife and family looked after him. Sadly, his wife and loving son predeceased him. His daughter, Shyama and son-in-law and sister-in-law and grand children cared for him in his last years. He was hardly able to speak when I visited him, but he was clearly happy to see Vere and me.

Nihal de Alwis

A devoted service at the warfront

Capt. Euranga Rathnayake

The third death anniversary of Capt. Euranga Rathnayake fell on June 4. During his career in the Sri Lanka Navy, he was awarded the ‘Ranawickrama’ medal for his devoted service at the warfront.

He was later also awarded the ‘Uththam Seva’ medal.

He also received the Long Service medal, 50th Independence anniversary medal, 50th anniversary North and East medal, Poornabhumi medal and the Vadamarachchi Riviresa medal.

He was also honoured with the Fast Attack Flotilla Pin.

This highly decorated officer passed away after a brief illness. We miss him greatly.

Wife Shiromi and daughter Sanuji Ruwanya


Sunday Times June 5 2011

A final goodbye to my grandmother

Daphne De Soysa

My dearest Archa,

I may have shown up in the early evening of your life, but I still remember how I saw you as a remarkable lady. You were a legend. You had so many adventures and lived your life with such character and flair that you really were comparable to none.

I remember the Sukiyaki parties for which you dressed Sammy, Akkie, and me in bright-coloured kimonos, mainly just as decorations, tottering around in two-small sandals smiling at guests. I remember the Norwegian party decorations that I found one day, only to realize the extent of your party-planning skills.

Your love of Christmas was infectious with the four Christmas trees (one in white) adorning 25/6 Barnes Place every year. You sent those ornaments to California. These ornaments have decorated my every Christmas tree since, and will continue to decorate any Christmas tree I have as your spirit lives through another generation. You didn’t just show me the beauty of Christmas, but also the beauty of tradition and celebration, the beauty of life.

I always loved the pride that you took in your birthday: how much you planned the parties, the best purple saree chosen, and the very events that they were. You always let me help you open your birthday presents the next day, laughing at my dismay over yet another bottle of eau de cologne as I hastily searched for the chocolates.

I remember an elocution prize-giving to which you came. I recall how proud you were of me, and how many times you told me so. You were always so proud and happy for all of my accomplishments, and you always made it so clear.

When we moved to the United States, you mailed me two cookbooks which I, to this day, still have. Today, I love cooking. Many recipes that I tried were in those original books. On the two occasions that I returned to this great land, you laughed at my accent and told me you must be so important for Americans to visit. The whole time you were so happy to see me, and patiently and laughingly listened to all the stories I always had.

My truly favourite memory of you was when I got sick and was unable to visit you, you would ask me to come to the balcony in our house. You would stand on your balcony, and I, a little girl at that time, would stand on mine. Then, we would blow air kisses to each other. You used to catch them, count them, and then tell me when I could go back to my room.

You were one cool lady who taught me so much about life not only with your words, but also through your actions. You really knew what it was to live life to the fullest. Thank you for being my Archa. I will miss you.

Love
Tashi

Tashiya Gunesekera

Your too, too short life brought us untold happiness

Baby Minindu Matheesha Hewage

It is three months since you bade us goodbye, on March 7, 2011. Never did I dream that as your Grandma I would be writing an appreciation in memory of my darling Chuty Baby. My heart aches and my eyes fill with tears as I write this.

Your beginning was so sudden – you rushed into our lives, ahead of time. Why so, darling Minindu Baby? Did you have a premonition of a sudden departure, just at your beginning? Your Amma sacrificed a lot to be with you and nurture you. She did it to the letter. She was like your shadow, up to the moment you left us.

Your loving Amma and Thaaththa’s untiring efforts, love and dedication transformed tiny you in no time into a cute little bundle of love. You gave us happiness to last a lifetime. Your first words, first steps, sweet smile, adorable ways – the many firsts in your short life brought us untold happiness. But it was to be just 16 months, from beginning to end.

You showed exceptional talents, promising a bright future. At that tender age, you could manipulate the remote control or mobile for your favourite songs and tunes, whenever you wanted to sleep. And how happily you would sleep, listening to the music and relaxing in our arms. All this will never be erased from our memory, as long as we live.

You had an unusual interest in the moon, flowers, and statues of Lord Buddha. You worshipped Lord Buddha with your tiny hands clasped above your forehead, just like an adult. Every day you wanted to worship, and with signs you directed Amma and Thaaththa to light the oil lamp and joss sticks. You have left us with many beautiful memories, but also endless heartache, and so many questions for which we cannot find answers.

Your unusual beginning, lovely existence and sudden departure have left a void in our lives, never to be filled. Your sudden departure came as a bolt from the blue, shattering our lives. We are still lost in a wilderness, trying to find a way out. As Buddhists, we should tell ourselves that death is inevitable and a stepping stone to another life.

Sweet little darling, may you never face such an untimely death in your sojourn in Samsara. Come back to us, dearest Minindu Putha, with a new beginning, and enjoy a long life.

We are waiting. . . .

Your ever-sorrowing Grandma

Champion of teaching English as a second language

Dr. Douglas Walatara

Dr. Douglas Walatara died on February 2, aged 91, leaving behind long and lingering memories among English teachers of yesteryear of a colossus in the field of teacher education. His mission was not merely the training of English teachers but more significantly their education, both at the Government Training College, Maharagama, and later at the University of Peradeniya. A mission of a life-time it turned out to be, from the 1950s right down to the end of the century.

In those days of yore, there were teacher-trainees at the Government Training College, ranging in age from their late teens to their early forties. Among the younger trainees were those who aspired to an English degree but had failed to gain admission to university. They sat for the Government Training College entrance examination, considered the second best option, and then sat at the feet of Dr. Walatara and Mrs. Evelyn Geddes, both English Honours graduates of the University of Ceylon.

That was abundant recompense for the lost privilege of sitting at the feet of Professor Lyn Ludowyk and his colleagues of the prestigious university English Department. (Mrs. Geddes died at 95, four years ago, in Australia.)

The trainees’ university entrance texts were brought out of limbo, dusted and opened for a fresh look several years after Form Six. Dr. Walatara and Mrs. Geddes invested these volumes with new life. There was also extra reading of texts such as Eric Newton’s “European Painting and Sculpture” that we drank deep of. This was the rich content of the subject of English that went beyond Hornby’s “Structural Words and Sentence Patterns” –“the dry bones of structure from which all living flesh has been plucked” (to use the memorable words of the late Dickie Attygalle), but which the new English as a second language government syllabus decreed to be the sum and substance of a second language.

Dr. Walatara eschewed such thinking and argued the case for “English as a non-medium vehicular language”, not just a second language. He wrote a fine tail-blazing book, “The Teaching of English as a Complementary Language in Ceylon.”

In it he argued for the teaching of English “whole”, that is, inclusive of its literature and culture, and not merely as a shadow language. He lamented the English teacher’s own declining command of his subject. The problem is a matter of not knowing English. It was Dr. Walatara’s view that “there is no other way of improving standards of English in the country save by enforcing a thorough study of English language and literature on the prospective teacher of English.”

One wonders who among our English teachers and those engaged in directing them, the myriad directors, advisers and consultants, are even aware of such a book, more relevant now than then. It was published in 1965 and priced at Rs 9.50, just to indicate the long lapse of time since.

Dr. Walatara also initiated the publication of “Changing Times”, in response to deteriorating standards of English in our schools. The Department also transferred the editorial board members, who taught in schools in the vicinity of Maharagama, to distant places.

A more recent reminiscence of Dr. Walatara’s contribution to the Teaching of English was “The Reconstruction Method.” This was designed largely for the benefit of rural children struggling to get a handle on the second language under teachers who themselves “learnt English as a foreign language and for whom English was entirely foreign”, as Dr. Kamal de Abrew once wryly remarked.

It was a bilingual method that relied on using the mother tongue as a resource for providing “a runway for taking off on the second language learning flight”. Dr. Walatara was seconded from the GTC to the Secondary Education Division of the Ministry of Education to organize and direct the “Reconstruction” pilot project in selected rural schools.

This project, and the textbook to go with it, was sabotaged by two professional antagonists who obtained the favour of the powers that be. The textbooks were sent to the Valaichenai paper factory and turned into pulp. It was the destruction of “Reconstruction.”

The irony is that a prophet was unhonoured in his own country by the powers that be in the Ministry of Education. But the gross attempt to extinguish the candle that Dr. Walatara lit in the gathering darkness of English studies did not succeed. He packed his bags and went to Peradeniya to join the University’s Faculty of Education, where he continued his mission of educating English teachers and not merely training them. He also obtained his doctorate there and his thesis: “Education and Attention: A Basis for the Humanities”, was published by Macmillan in 1980. He retired as Associate Professor of Education. 
After his retirement, his services were avidly sought by the Workers’ Education Institute, the Postgraduate Institute of Management, the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration, and also banks and corporations.

–This little tribute to Dr. Douglas Walatara, a renaissance man of our time, is from one of his callow students of the Fifties, who in later years became a grateful colleague. To Hermi, and Aruni, Vassathi, Ajanti and Sepali and their families, condolences felt in the deep heart’s core.

C.N.S.

A great show, thank you to a great man of the theatre

Kenneth M. De Lanerolle

The St. Thomas’ College Matara Ex-Seniors’ Drama Club remembers a great show and a master of stage production

It was the year Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Eight.
Exams over, our heads were light, 
Books were out of sight.
The ex-seniors’ Drama Club saw light.
At St. Thomas’ G.H.S. Matara, 
Mr. Kenneth de L’s home.

His sister, Ruth de L. undertook
The formidable task
Of producing Lady Precious Stream, 
Now a dream.
“Oh, we can do it,” the Principal,
Miss Ruth’s sister, beamed. 
Brother Kenneth was called upon
To train a teen-age group.

We were struck by his personality
Resolved and firm.
Strict discipline – “Accomplish
Your task, girls!”
Of course, Sister Ruth, the chaperone,
Took her seat aside, 
All under her watchful eye,
Her laws to abide.

Our first hurdle -- my cousin Shanti
Was Lady Precious Stream.
Her stern father was furious:
“Falling in love with the gardener!
She cannot take part! Imagine
The PM’s daughter!”
I conveyed the news to Miss Ruth,
Who changed the Truth –
“Oh, tell him the gardener is a prince in disguise!” 
It worked! Permission granted – how I lied!

Producer K. de L. started rehearsals,
He never smiled.
I was the Prime Minister with the
Well-trained voice – never mild.
K. de L. drilled me to be the ferocious father,
To oppose my daughter’s marriage
To crush her lover.

Rehearsals were serious, giggles were many;
One stare from K. de L. silenced the silly.
The stage was set at Broadway Theatre
With a real Chinese cast.
Our producer was also director
And a clever make-up artist.

I was transformed into a powerful PM
With curled moustache.
All players had eyebrows raised
For Chinese eyes.
K. de L. trained the ladies to trip
Short, quick steps:
And sail across the stage, fanning away.

Midst laughter and cheers
A grand, grand show.
Today, I gaze at the photo
of Lady Precious Stream –
It is indeed a beautiful dream.

To Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle –
Producer, Dramatist, Artist.
The ex-seniors’ Drama Club
Pays this grateful tribute.

You left this world sans “Kala Awards.”
We hoist this flag to honour you – 
This is our Award.

Chathurani Abeyawira

Sunday Times May 29 2011

Lanka’s epitomization of the ‘London Bobby’

Collin Perera

Posthumous appreciations invariably reflect the sterling qualities and significant contributions made in that person's lifetime. I am honoured to write this appreciation of a colleague and friend - Collingwood Englebert Perera, popularly known as Collin Perera. A retired Senior Police Officer he distinguished himself both here and abroad leaving a shining example worthy of emulation by today's generation. 
He was Sri Lanka's answer to the 'London Bobby', loved by everyone, touching the hearts of rich and poor alike. The nostalgic trail of memories he left will be etched in our hearts forever.

A true gentleman, Collin drew everyone to him with his soft-spoken ways. Possessed of a good tenor voice he enjoyed singing, was a voracious reader and had a remarkable penchant for contributing articles to the press regarding his life and experience in the remotest parts of the island. In sports he enjoyed wrestling but was also a physical culturist who won the Junior Mr. Ceylon title on two occasions. He played cricket and soccer for the Police, was a wildlife enthusiast with hunting and fishing as his hobbies and swimming his forte.

Collin was the son of Charles Walter Perera, a railway station master and Blanche Mary Perera, an English teacher, both government servants. Collin took his work seriously, was happily married to Sonia (nee Dias) and had one daughter Tania domiciled in Australia. A true church man, Collin was held in high esteem because of his Christian values - the piety, simplicity and honesty he radiated within his family life and his sharp professional and managerial skills. The self-discipline and common sense he possessed were his passport to the world.

An ace raconteur, many gathered around him at parties and dances to listen to his rich repertoire of stories, small revelations with big meanings. He enjoyed such gatherings and would regale his friends with stories in his own inimitable form of delivery.

Due to his father's constant transfers in government service, the family was repeatedly on the move. Collin had his early education at St. Joseph's College, Homagama and St. Mary's College, Chilaw and completed his University entrance at St. Benedict's College, Colombo, on his father's final transfer to Bambalapitiya. While awaiting results he was offered a position at the Registrar General's office, which he accepted. In 1952 he joined the Ceylon Police as a Sub-Inspector, one of a few enrolled to that rank. 
The Police service was highly recognized and enlistments done purely on merit and on persons hailing from respectable family background.

Joining the Police, Collin left behind his vaulting ambition of pursuing higher studies and through honest work and diligence, he showed that anyone could be an 'all-rounder' with the right application of talents. Collin was a disciplined officer with unquestioned moral rectitude who inspired deep devotion in those who worked for him. Always kind and helpful, mostly to those in need, he embodied patience and equanimity - a salient factor of his life.

I was fortunate to work under his command, in the early stages of my career in 1973 at Galle, under the then SP in charge of the Galle Division, the late Mr. A. Navaratnam known as ‘Nayaa' (snake). Mr. Navaratnam was a strict disciplinarian who exercised complete control over the area and brooked no interference with Police work. Unfortunately, the downfall of the Police force started then with the recruitment of Sinhala Only ASPP's, who were unable to function at top level due to the language barrier.

It was Collin who guided and looked after the novice Sinhala ASPP's whose rudimentary knowledge of English kept them down in the dumps. He guided them on how to tread the correct path. His knowledge of criminal investigation helped to make some of the newly recruited ASPPs like Kumara Pandivita and A.T. Fonseka reach the highest point of their professional achievements.

Collin served for more than 22 years in various parts of the island like Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Moneragala, Bandaragama, Panadura, Kalutara, Wadduwa, Horana, Moratuwa, Pettah, Tangalle, Galle and Hambantota. He had undergone overseas training in U.K. and Scotland Yard and later joined the Oman Police in charge of the Doha Division as Commander.

On his return to Sri Lanka, he was appointed Chief of Security at the Insurance Corporation under Lalith Athulathmudali. Here was a man of indomitable courage, blessed with a brilliant mind, a visionary pragmatic man of noble action.

Collin had a burning ambition to succeed against all odds and from relatively humble beginnings his love of learning and sheer hard work helped him to reach the pinnacle of success. He had carcinoma of the lungs and knew his health was deteriorating but managed his illness bravely having lived 75 long and hearty years, young at heart.

We mourn his passing yet remain conscious that all component things are subject to decay. Collin Perera was a versatile Police Officer, a gentleman in a class of his own who has etched his name in the hearts of all who knew him as a distinguished and honoured son of Mother Lanka!

Sarath Dhanapala

Farewell to a fine son of Bandarawela

Don Sarath Abesekera

I was greatly saddened by the demise of my beloved friend, Don Sarath Abeysekera. Our friendship goes back five-and-a-half decades. He was very close to me. Sarath came from a highly respected family in Dowa, a town close to Bandarawela.

He received his education at St. Joseph’s College, Bandarawela, under the strict supervision of Brother Onorius, Brother Rudolph, and Mr. Solomon. He would often talk about these scholarly gentlemen. Sarath excelled in English language and Latin.

After leaving school, Sarath joined the Irrigation Department. This was just after Sri Lanka got its Independence. Sarath served in many parts of the country.

He was a strong Leftist and would not put up with injustice. He used his pen to point out weaknesses in the administration of Bandarawela. He worked hard to clean up the dirty road running through the Bandarawela railway tunnel.

Sarath was a member of Old Hindi Films and Song Lovers Association and had a good collection of books and papers on Uthtar Bharathiya music and cinema. I don’t expect to meet anyone to equal my extraordinary friend. Dear Sarath, good-bye. May you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

D.I. Rajapakse

Missing my sister, Chuti Akka

Kamani Priya Abesundara Jayawardena

It is three months since you left us. You have left a deep void in our hearts. We are a big family, and you were a true sister, just three years older than me. We went to school together, shared the same room, got married the same year, and worked for the same airline. You were my trusted confidante, and my friend.

It is hard to believe you are gone. Everything seems so strange without you. I miss all the little things you did to show me you cared, especially the phone call in the morning to ask how I was and what my plans for the day were. Sometimes memories bring comfort and make me smile. Your sense of humour was a source of much fun and laughter at family get-togethers. You expressed your views frankly when necessary.

There is not an hour that goes by without my thinking of my wonderful sister. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten. No words can express the pain of losing you. It was so sad to see you go slowly, during your last illness. There was nothing I could do.You have left behind a wonderful husband and a well brought up daughter.

I will try to find solace in religion and meet you in Sansara to attain with you the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Hichchi (Nirmala Abeysekara)

To our beloved mother

Lady Marian Elizabeth Rodrigo

On her 100th Birth Anniversary

A radiant smile adorned her kindly face
She drew more lives to her with comely grace;
Her heart overflowing extended loving care
To all, yet she had more love to spare.

"To give one's life for the love of a friend
Is the greatest form of love" to expend;
She changed her course other needs to attend,
Her life was fruitful and blessed to the end.

She gave loyal support to her spouse, our dad,
To both their families and projects they did
Discipline and commitment she strictly applied 
To all aspects of her life, till she died.

She was indeed our foremost teacher,
To be good citizens she trained son and daughters
To give of their love even beyond the home
Breaking barriers to reach them, who suffer alone.

'Tis our turn now to show our gratitude,
For being our "Shining Light" we pay her tribute.
While we praise God with thanks we sing along
To our beloved mother we dedicate this song.

From her children and their families.

(Written on their behalf by her daughter Noelyn Fernando.)

Ever the life of the party at the Immigration Department

Bernard Granville Warnesuriye

Mr. O. B. Ratnayake, Honorary General Secretary of the Association of Ex-Immigration Officers of Sri Lanka, conveyed to us the sad news of the sudden demise of the current President of the Association, Bernard Granville Warnesuriye. He passed away in Texas, in the United States, on April 13, while holidaying with his son.

I consider it my duty to pay humble tribute to this genial and versatile gentleman, who endeared himself to one and all. Granville was soft-spoken, gentle, kind, caring and gentlemanly.

He was associated with the Department of Immigration and Emigration for well over three decades. He served as Immigration Officer, Chief Immigration Officer, and finally as Assistant Controller. I had the privilege of working with him closely. He affectionately called me “Nanda.” In days of yore, Immigration Officers were burdened with all kinds of tasks, from arrest and deportation of illicit immigrants to deporting over-stayers. This was in addition to Port duties, which involved night duty. Granville put his heart and soul into any task he was entrusted with. He was a very popular figure in the department.

Every year, we would have a one-month turn of duty at Talaimannar, a sea port that is no longer operative. Having attending to our disembarkation and embarkation duties at the twin-screw ship, the Ramanujam, we had plenty of free time at our disposal. The clerical work was minimal. This is where Granville showed his exceptional worth. He was a skilled raconteur and superb mimic. He provided us mirth with his girth. He was always full of life and fun, and he had a very infectious laugh. I never ever saw him lose his temper. He was our main source of entertainment, and at no cost. This was especially welcome, because Talaimannar was a virtual desert – remote and outlandish.

Granville regaled his colleagues with stories from his past. With his perpetual smile, he would entertain us for hours, over lunch or dinner. He was always upbeat and cheerful. He had an amazing zest for life. Granville was also an accomplished musician. He could play classical music and “oldies” with equal accomplishment. In short, he was a joy to be with. His mental equipoise and warm humanity endeared him to all who associated with him.

He was courteous even to the most junior subordinate. Kindness was the keynote in his character. He was also a model of decorum. His fine temper and quiet sense of humour were invaluable assets to the position he held in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Senior Protection Assistant, a job he took on after serving in Immigration.

Granville was a devoted husband, loving father and a sincere friend. Our happy memories of him will remain etched in our minds. May he rest in peace.

Nanda Nanayakkara

Beyond tears

Ponnuswami Sivakumaran

I was there first,
Then you came along
Two years later.
The sanctum sanctorum
Of our mother’s womb.
Fed by the umbilical cord
With her life-giving blood,
Our divine source.

Remember those rambunctious 
Boyhood days filled with mischief – innocent.
Those meal-time raids on Ma’s kitchen 
To taste food divine;
Remember the treks at crack of dawn 
On Friday mornings to the distant temple,
Little you and I trailing behind Pa. 
Schooldays were another story.
A wholly exciting story
With fond, countless memories.

Years rolled by.
Manhood followed adolescence,
Moved on to the livelihood of two men
Me here in the US of A, 
you holding the fort at home.
You, my dear one,
Were the main stay for Ma when Pa was gone.
Meanwhile, your help for the needy,
Your service to humanity,
Your ever-loving care for the less fortunate
Plus your little charges from the orphanage
Moved you to veritable sainthood;
My chest swelled with pride and joy.

Back here at home in New York,
Those weekly phone calls from afar
Kept us bound together
In a constant embrace.
And now- you have left me
To join our dear Pa and Ma.

Till we meet again,
My darling brother
My sweet saint.

Your adoring Perianna (elder brother )

A friend so dear

Kalzumi Inam

The Rose that lived with thorns
Has withered, leaving behind the 
Fragrance of a life so sweet
For us to remember.

How good she was;
How she used her goodness
To make others happy and gay.

I have seen her in tears,
But she never became the cause
Of any other’s tears.

The depth of her suffering
We shall never know. 
I could hear her faint voice
“ . . . My life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing,
My strength fails because of my misery,
And my bones waste away.”

How unfortunate we are, 
We could not repay her smile,
Which she shared with us so abundant ly. 
Now she has gone to eternity
(Although it is too early) –
That is her reward for believing in God.

Her life-suffering and relief at the end
Should be just enough for others
To change their ways

In remembrance of Kalzumi, a friend so dear, so loving, so kind,
so generous. We all miss her.

CBEU, SBI branch

Sunday Island May 29 2011

Indra Gamini Perera

May 28, 2011, 4:27 pm 

Mr. Indra Gamini Perera was born and bred in Panadura. His father was the late C. S. Perera a Proctor of the Supreme Court who practiced in Kalutara as the District Court of Panadura was not established at that time. Indra Perera was only five years at the time his father died and did not inherit his practice. His mother was Margaret Dias also from a well known family in Panadura.


He was educated at St. John's College Panadura a leading school at that time. His further education was at Alexandra College and later joined Law College and passed out as Proctor of the Supreme Court. He apprenticed under the late D. R. de Silva who was the Doyen of the Panadura Bar during that time. I believe he was his only apprentice and he accepted him as a duty to his deceased colleague and friend.


He met his wife Chinta a Medical Officer on the Tennis Courts of the Panadura Recreation Club where they played Tennis. Her father was the late Mr. G. P. J. Kurukulasuriya who was a well respected lawyer who specialized in the law relating to Buddhist Temporalities. He was also the editor of the Ceylon Law Weekly and our lecturer in Evidence at Law College.


The late Mr. Indra Perera joined the Panadura Bar and practiced mainly in the District Courts of Panadura, Kalutara and Horana. He was a member of the Bar Association and held many posts. As President of the Panadura Bar he represented the Panadura Bar in the Bar Council. He was also a Life member of the Organizations of Professionals Associations. He contributed much to the discussions at these organisations.


He was very independent and outspoken. He did not join any political party nor did he curry favour with politicians and attempt to obtain positions in State Agencies. He was very popular with the members of the Bar, both Senior and Junior.


He never missed a Bar Association function and attended all the farewell dinners to judges and participated in the other activities of the Association.


He was warm and friendly and reached out to people and gave a helping hand when his assistance was required. Mr. Perera was accepted by the Bar and the Bench and the Community and he was respected for his independent views and righteous conduct. He maintained the highest traditions of the Bar. He stands tall amongst Lawyers for his professional integrity.


Speaking on a lighter vein he was very proficient in playing the Harmonica (mouth organ) and was a great lover of jazz and rock and roll music. He loved singing in his own throaty voice. Above all he had a good sense of humour.


He was very conscientious of his duties and obligations to his family. He was a very devoted husband and a caring father to his two children. During the last nine years he looked after his ailing wife with tender loving care. His priority was to his family.


His daughter Aruni is a Chartered Accountant and presently works as the Country Manager of an International Accounting Body. She is married to Suren Rajakarier, who is also a Chartered Accountant and a partner of a reputed firm of auditors.


His son Harinda qualified as a Banker in London and now holds a managerial position in a prestigious bank. His wife Saruchi was also professionally qualified. Mr. Perera was at the time of his demise a grandfather of four grandchildren and was very fond of them.


May he attain Nibbana!
Anton Fernando.


Daily News May 26 2011

P Nagendran, eminent lawyer of past era

With the passing away of P Nagandran, President’s Counsel, we lose yet another link with the times when the practice of law was by and large considered an honourable occupation and its practitioners were in every sense learned men.

I first knew Uncle Nage (as we referred to him) as father of Sukumar, who played Tennis with us. Himself a competent tennis player, Uncle Nage was a keen sportsman having opened batting for Royal in his school days. His brother Indy, now domiciled in Scotland, was even more famous for his sporting prowess, having won colours in six sports at Royal. As a law student Uncle Nage had of course played for the Law College Team and subsequently represented the lawyers in their annual encounters against the doctors. He was particularly proud of a bowling spell in which he took a hat-trick of the best of the medical batting talent.

“You see we lawyers are very versatile, the doctors without their scalpels and stethoscopes are easy prey” he used to talk of that cricketing achievement with a twinkle in his eye.

But he was very happy when his only child Sukumar chose a career in medicine in place of the wigs, quills and the musty law books of a legal practice. Sukumar is now based in the United States where he is an Executive Medical Director at the Multi-National Daiichi Sankyo Corporation.

As was the case with most eminent lawyers of that era, Uncle Nage began his legal career with the Attorney General’s Department as a Crown counsel. At the time, recruitment to this department was mostly by invitation. The Attorney General and the senior judges kept a look out for promising young lawyers who were then invited to apply.

Uncle Nage often spoke happily of the days when as a Crown counsel he would travel the length and breadth of the country representing the Crown. Fearless independence and uncompromising integrity were by-words of a Crown counsel’s world and thus the department was held in high esteem in the country then.

After some years he left the Attorney General’s Department to commence a practice at the bar and soon became a much sought after lawyer, particularly in civil matters. Nagandran’s contribution in the Courts was acknowledged, when in the 1980’s he was made a President’s Counsel. Lately my association with him was mostly on a professional basis. It is then that I came to understand the deep learning, not only in the law that he possessed. A tireless reader, Uncle Nage could talk on many subjects with authority. Like all great minds his mind was at its best when discussing ideas and concepts, rarely descending to personal issues. In the practice of the law he considered that a lawyer’s primary function was to assist Court to come to a just finding, abhorring the questionable tactics adopted by some who think that a good lawyer must win at any cost.

I also realized that whatever professional work he undertook received the most meticulous attention from him. Burning the mid-night oil, he would prepare for his cases with such care, that judges often relied on him for guidance on the law as well as the facts. He did so without a tinge of partiality.

In later years I detected a sad resignation in his demeanour. The world that he grew up in and began his professional life had changed. In most matters mammon rules now and men often falter before temptation. Among lesser men, he would have felt lonely.

P. Nagandran, President’s Counsel, was a lawyer and a gentleman.

Ravi Perera


Dr K D G Saparamadu, a caring human being

Dr. Kirthi Saparamadu, who left us recently at the age of 77 was one of the most caring human beings. He cared almost selflessly for his wife who predeceased him, for his three children, for his grandchildren, for his relatives, friends and colleagues and everybody in the orbit of his acquaintance.

To me the affection he showed made me consider him more an elder brother than a cousin.

Born at Veyangoda to a rather affluent family led by two school heads who were social mentors in the area and educated at Ananda College, he matured into a unique adult contemplative, deeply religious, highly principled and compassionate.

He reached the highest in the field he had chosen for himself. He was a Consultant in Dental Surgery and former member Expert Panel of Oral Health, WHO. On his own he had initiated an advisory service for schools, concentrating mainly on underprivileged schools.

Carrying with him the legacy of the teaching profession in later life he veered more and more towards the dental health among schoolchildren and relished working in distant and remote areas periodically sacrificing the perks of a lucrative private practice and comforts of living in the heart of Colombo.

Due to a peculiar set of unfortunate circumstances I had missed seeing him in a state of ill health and even in his death.

I preferred to visualize his handsome face vibrant with life, a look of keen interest in everything around him, prone to deep thought yet very well-balanced and ready to laugh at small things.

He took a keen interest in my writings and offered advice often.

After all we were a lad and lass come to town from the village.

Of course he had burst into the international scene and according to another speaker was well-known in the WHO circle as Sappie.

There are more things in this world other than what we actually see.

Though gone away Kirthi Saparamadu still looms above us all in his goodness.

May be I will meet him again somewhere.

Padma Edirisinghe



Sunday Times May 22 2011

Courageous captain did not live to complete those last chapters

Captain Suraj Dantha Munasinghe

May 19, 2011 marked the 10th death anniversary of Captain Suraj D.Munasinghe, psc of the Sri Lanka Navy. Born on February 18, 1950, he was the fifth child of Tiddy and Rani Munasinghe. A student of St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy, Suraj not only excelled in studies but was also an active member of the Literary Union, the College Debating Team, the Drama Society, etc. In addition, he was a senior prefect and a Cadet officer.

At 19, while studying for his university entrance, Suraj joined the then Royal Ceylon Navy as an Officer Cadet, on July 1, 1969. He was commissioned as a Sub-lieutenant on January 1, 1974. (His batchmates, Mohan Samarasekera, Cecil Tissera and Daya Sandagiri, eventually went on to become Commanders of our Navy).

As a young officer, Suraj held the posts of Commanding Officer, SLNS Tissa, Trincomalee and SLNS Edithara, and Command Operations Officer (West) and (North). Later, he was appointed as Coordinating Staff Officer (Navy) at the Operations Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.

In the rank of Captain, Suraj served as the Command Operations Officer (East), Commander Southern Naval Area, Commandant-Naval Recruit Training Centre (Boossa), and Commander Western Naval Area. He also served as the Director Naval Personnel and Training at Navy Headquarters, until his retirement from service in 1996. On retirement, he was transferred to the Regular Naval Reserve.
He followed several training courses in India and the US, and the staff course at the Naval Staff College in Rhode Island, in the US.

In recognition of his courage, efficiency, honesty and loyalty to the country, he was decorated with the Republic of Sri Lanka Armed Services Medal, Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal and Clasp, President’s Inauguration Medal, North and East Operations Medal, Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, and the Vadamarachchi Operation Medal.

Suraj was a thorough officer and gentleman. He moved with ease and grace among colleagues and subordinates alike. He was always there to help anybody in need, whether it was a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger.

His courage to face challenges was evident from his early days. It was reported that Suraj, while accompanying a small team of sailors as a raw junior officer, came to the assistance of a helpless woman in a remote area who had given birth. They rushed the mother and the newborn in the Navy vehicle to the safety of the nearest hospital.

He always had a ready smile and a kind word for everyone, was quite ebullient, and at times irrepressible, daring to call a spade “a spade”, no matter the consequences.

Like the Weerasekera brothers, who were a few years junior, Suraj was a talented writer. I was privileged to read many of his writings, including the manuscript of a novel he had started on. Unfortunately, he did not live to complete the concluding chapters of this interesting story.

It is sad that Suraj did not live to see Channa and Jagath, his adored sons, settle down in life, choosing their respective vocations after graduation. However, his untimely death spared him the agony of seeing the prolonged illness of his devoted wife, Hemamala, who stood beside him to the end.

May Suraj attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

- I.R.

Now she is a bride of Christ

Marie Absalom

Our niece Marie Absalom -- a beautician, dresser of brides, hair dresser, floral arrangement specialist, cake maker and a person of many other multi-faceted talents passed away recently. In her life she beautifully dressed hundreds of brides. We believe, as the Bible says symbolically, that she is now a bride of Christ.

We could not be present at your funeral but I need to say at least now that as a niece you have been very close to me. From the time your mother Chrisy and your father Walwin brought you to their lives my husband Oscar and I were close to your family.

Your kindness, care and love to your family and relatives are what we treasure the most about you. You were there for me when I was sick and you have been a great consolation to me. You have spent many days with me, helping in my needs. You and your husband Raja have worked hard to build your loving family all your life.

In our minds the memory that we will carry of you is kindness, your willingness to help your family, relatives and friends, being there to show your care, concern and love to the people you know. You put your deep religious beliefs into practice as a wife, mother, grandmother, niece, relative and a friend. 
We have no words to describe how much you will be missed.

You have entered the kingdom of Our Lord and the company of the Blessed Mother and all the saints. We will all miss you very much darling Marie as we say goodbye to you. Pray for us as you enter the house of Our Lord. We all love you and you will always be in our thoughts.

Aunty Anna

Salute to sailor who saved many lives on the day of the tsunami

Victor Zoysa

On that tragic Boxing Day in 2004, our friend Victor Zoysa saved the lives of thousands, including our entire family. He was a merchant seaman and probably the only person in the country who had experienced a tsunami first hand, in Valparaiso, Chile, in South America.

He told us later that there too the sea had the flat wave-less appearance we saw that terrible morning, and he knew immediately that trouble was on the way. His first job was to clear the beach, which he did in his usual vigorous fashion. He asked the women and children who had gone down for a dip in the sea to get out, get into their cars and go home. He was just in time.

Grand-daughter Dhatri came running up to the house crying, “Seeya, seeya, the sea is coming.” And so it did. A wall of water, a good 30 feet tall, was moving towards us. There was just time enough for us to take shelter in the house, when it crashed, shattering windows and doors, and roaring over the roof. … 
When the water receded, we all came out to hear Victor shouting that more waves were on the way, and to get out fast.

This area was Victor’s home. He knew the low-lying areas and where we would be safe, above water level. Victor was also a non-commissioned officer on his ship, and a boatswain (pronounced bosun) in the days before electric loudspeakers. He had developed a voice of sufficient power to be heard above the loudest of gales, so he was able to shoo people onto high ground, while standing in one place.

He took a short cut to the main road to stop traffic. When we were making a run for the temple, which was on a rock, I got left behind. Victor yelled to me to take a short cut. I was just in time for Dayan to pull me on to the rock before the second wave struck. Not content with that, Victor grabbed a canoe which was floating about, and filled it with biscuits and sweets for the soaked, miserable folk huddled together inside the temple. I treasure the memory of the two cream crackers he gave me.

Victor could quite easily have taken shelter himself that day, and left us to our fate, but he was not that kind of man. I had met him before and I knew he was someone who was deeply concerned about what was going on in the country. In his retirement, he purchased and ran a couple of private buses. He was involved with the private bus owners’ association and was in Trincomalee when the private bus service opened there.Victor Zoysa received many accolades here and abroad, and he was featured in prestigious magazines, including the Reader’s Digest. But he remained very much the simple but forthright man he was.

Michael, Nilu, Shalini and Dayan Abeyaratne, Manesha Samarasinghe, Aruni Weerasinghe, Dhatri and Chahel.

He was always content with what he had

Dudley Seresinghe

Dudley better known among friends as 'Sere' was known to me from 1964. He was my brother Vere's batchmate when they joined the Sri Lanka Police in 1957 along with several others like J.W. Jayasuriya, Aelian Alahakoon, D.M.T.B. Dissanayake, Gunda, Perinpanayagam, Navaratnarajah, Lal Wewala, Pathirana and others. I came to know him closely from 1970 when both of us served in the Prime Minister's security (Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike) along with C.P. Jayasuriya, Lal Wewala and D.M.T.B. Dissanayake, V.T. Dickman and S.K. Chandrasekera.

Dudley was always an introvert. A simple, humble person, he preferred to take a backseat in any situation. He never liked to hurt people. As a result he was never given his due place or the rightly deserved promotions in the Police Department. He was honest, hardworking and dedicated and always stood by his superiors, often sacrificing his wellbeing for the sake of others.

He was very close to his family. He loved his children dearly- there was a very real incomprehensible bond between them. He had very high moral standards - one could call him a perfect gentleman. 
Dudley became a freelance investigator after retirement and never took short cuts in investigations as I found when he undertook work for my company.

I saw him in the Police Hospital when he suffered a stroke. He never made a fuss about his illness.
He was a sincere friend. He never failed to visit friends who were ill or attend the funerals of friends and relations. I recall the following words which describe his friendship - " like a river friendship works best when it flows unhindered."

He became a Pentecostalist and the final year of his life reflected his Christian attitude in a deep sense of sacrifice, love and care to others. He was always content with what he had and that was a great quality.

May he rest in peace.

Nihal de Alwis

Air Ceylon pioneer pilot ‘Captain Ma’ was a hero to us teens

Captain P. B. Mawalagedera

Captain Punchi Banda Mawalagedara, a pioneer aviator of Air Ceylon, passed away in March this year. He was 90 years.

“Captain Ma”, as he was known to his friends, and as Peter among his British and Australian aviation colleagues, was a distinguished student of St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota. After leaving school, he wanted to become a motor mechanic. However, with the start of World War II, he volunteered to fly for the Royal Air Force (RAF). After initial flying training at Ratmalana, he was sent to the UK and Canada for further training. But by the time his period of training was over, the war was also just ending.

On returning to Ceylon, Mawalagedera decided to resume motor engineering studies. But it was not to be. When the government of the soon-to-be-independent Ceylon started up a national airline, Ceylon Airways, soon to be known as Air Ceylon, he joined the fledgling carrier as First Officer (co-pilot) on the Douglas DC-3 Dakota.

Air Ceylon made its inaugural flight on December 10, 1947. In May/June 1948, Mawalagedera was the co-pilot of a special government charter flight to Sydney, Australia, carrying a Ceylonese naval crew who were going to bring back a trawler bought by the Ceylon Fisheries Department. Thus, P. B. Mawalagedera created history as a member of the first all-Asian flight crew to fly to Australia from any country.

Between 1949 and 1953, Air Ceylon flew international services in partnership with Australian National Airways (ANA), using a pair of Douglas DC-4 Skymaster four-engine airplanes. During that period, First Officer P. B. Mawalagedera often operated domestic and regional DC-3 flights as co-pilot to Capt. Peter Gibbes, a senior ANA management pilot based in Ceylon to oversee the ANA operation.

Several decades later, at his home in Australia, Capt. Gibbes recalled pleasant memories of those halcyon days in Ceylon, flying alongside Mawalagedera and other Ceylonese pilots, such as M. R. (Rex) de Silva, George Ferdinand, Emile Jayawardena, etc.

“Captain Ma” soon earned his command (captaincy) on the DC-3. He was subsequently posted to Amsterdam during the Air Ceylon/KLM Royal Dutch Airlines partnership to fly the Lockheed Constellation and turboprop Electra. Returning to Ceylon at the end of his period of secondment, he became director of the Civil Aviation Examiner for pilots’ instrument ratings in Air Ceylon. Subsequently, he was appointed Assistant General Manager (Operations), while his good friend and colleague, Capt. George Ferdinand, was Manager Operations and Chief Pilot of Air Ceylon.

In 1964, Mawalagedera and Ferdinand were sent to Woodford, Manchester, to ferry-fly a brand-new Avro (Hawker Siddeley) 748 turboprop aircraft to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It was Air Ceylon’s first wholly-owned turbine (jet)-powered airplane (the aforementioned Lockheed Electra had belonged to KLM).

The Avro’s arrival at Ratmalana Airport on Friday, October 30, 1964. was a “big deal.” There was extensive publicity in the local media, such as it was in those days, including a multi-page supplement in a leading newspaper to mark the occasion. Accordingly, the two pilots who flew the Avro (registered 4R-ACJ) to Ceylon, Captains Mawalagedera and Ferdinand, were feted and hailed as aeronautical heroes.

My former schoolmate and now Assistant Editor of Airways magazine, Roger Thiedeman, recalls: “For a few years after 4R-ACJ arrived in Ceylon for the first time in 1964, Captain Mawalagedera and Captain “Ferdi” (I had the pleasure of making the latter’s acquaintance in Australia 31 years later) were two people I idolised, but always from a distance, the way a teenager might idolise a favourite movie or pop star. Just because they were pilots of Air Ceylon’s new turboprop aircraft.”

It would not be wrong to say that those feelings were the same with all aviation-minded young people in Sri Lanka at the time, this writer included. In 1967, Air Ceylon purchased a second turboprop airliner, this time a French-built Nord 262. But the engines of the Nord were unsuitable for climatic conditions in Ceylon, and proved troublesome and unreliable. So when the airplane was returned to its manufacturers a few years later, the ferry pilots were, once again, Captain Ma and Captain Ferdi, who by now were synonymous with Air Ceylon.

Indeed, one of my lasting memories of Captain Ma – also from a distance – was the day he and Capt. George Ferdinand ferried the new Air Ceylon HS 121Trident three-engined jetliner from Hatfield, UK, in 1969. I was standing on a balcony of the control tower at Bandaranaike Airport, Katunayake, with a few trainee pilots from the Ratmalana flying school. When the crew emerged from the sleek, new tri-jet, to be again greeted with much fuss and fanfare, they instantly became our heroes too.

As an “airport bum” (trainee pilot) at Ratmalana Airport in the late 1960s/early ’70s, I soon got to know Capt. Mawalagedera, who had his office there. Then, with the JVP insurgency in 1971, I joined the Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) Volunteer Reserve.

One morning, at China Bay, Trincomalee, we received a signal from RCyAF Headquarters, asking us whether we wanted to join the regular Air Force. I requested time until the end of the day to make my decision, then went on an Air Force flight to Palaly/Kankesanturai (KKS).

As luck would have it, I met Captain Ma and his crew, who had just operated an Air Ceylon Avro flight to KKS. I told him I had to decide whether or not to remain in the Air Force. In his characteristic style and no-nonsense voice, Capt. Mawalagedera advised me to get demobilised and apply to Air Ceylon for a pilot’s job.

With yet another inter-airline partnership, this time with French airline UTA in place, Air Ceylon needed at least 100 new pilots. I followed Captain Ma’s suggestion, but after demobilisation from the RCyAF, I remained unemployed for a couple of years. In hindsight, though, given the direction my flying career subsequently took, it was a good move based on sound advice.

After joining Air Ceylon as a First Officer, and immediately after a strike by Air Ceylon pilots, I was elected to the committee of the Pilots’ Guild. With Captain Ma as Assistant General Manager (Operations), we had a love-hate relationship. There was never a dull moment when he was around. I remember his advice to me, as a young “union man”, when one day he gave me a lift home. Another pilot was heard to comment that pilots and Air Ceylon management were in cahoots. “That’s right,” Captain Ma said. “Get to know your enemy before you fight him. Kill the enemy first, before he kills you.”
Controversial though Capt. P. B. Mawalagedera may have sometimes been among the Sri Lankan pilot and airline fraternities, his dedication, professionalism, and contribution to commercial aviation cannot be denied. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and flew with him.

Postscript: Capt. Mawalagedera pre-deceased his wife, Mavis, by only a month. As Mavis Wijeratne, she too made her mark with Air Ceylon on December 10, 1947. But unlike the man who would later become her husband, Mavis’ major contribution was unplanned. As she recounted to Roger Thiedeman and me in August 1997, Mavis was working as a receptionist for the newly-formed Air Ceylon when it was preparing for its inaugural flight. On the day of the grand occasion, the stewardess who had been appointed to crew Air Ceylon’s first official passenger flight took ill. Mavis was urged to take her place – and that’s what she did.

As an untrained stewardess on the inaugural DC-3 Dakota flight to Jaffna/KKS and Madras (now Chennai) and return – flown by Captains Peter Fernando and C. H. S. Amarasekera, Miss Mavis Wijeratne (later Mawalagedera) unwittingly wrote her name in the annals of Sri Lankan commercial aviation history.

Captain G. A. (Gihan) Fernando

DN May 21 2011

True friend remembered:

Bernard Granville Warnesuriya

O B Ratnayaka, the Hon General Secretary of the Association of Ex-Immigration Officers of Sri Lanka, of which I myself a member, conveyed the sad news of the unexpected and sudden demise of the current President of the Association. He had passed away in Texas in United States on April 13, Whilst holidaying with his son. Bernard Granville Warnesuriya has also been a past President. I myself consider it my bounden duty to pay this humble tribute as a mark of respect to the genial, versatile and many splendoured personality who endeared himself to one and all. Granville, as he was fondly called by the contemporaries was always soft spoken, gentle, kind, caring and graceful.

Granville was associated with the Immigration and Emigration Department for well over three decades in various positions as Immigration Officer, Chief Immigration Officer and finally as Assistant Controller. I myself enjoyed the proud privilege of interacting with him closely. He always called me "Nanda" affectionately, in which I really revelled as an endearing salutation.

During the halcyon days of yore Immigration Officers were burdened with numerous arduous agendas like arrests and deportation of illicit immigrants and visa overstays leading to their final deportation. They were in addition to port duties which necessarily involved night duty. He put his heart and soul to whatever task he was entrusted with. He was a very popular figure in the department due to his unquestionable candour.

Our turn of duty at the Sea Port Talaimannar (which is inoperative now) was for a period of one month, invariably once a year. Subsistence allowance too was paid in addition to the emoluments. After attending to duties connected with disembarkation and embarkation of passengers of the Twin Screw Ship "Ramanujam" we had plenty of time at our disposal. Clerical work involved was minimal.

This is where Granville proved his outstanding worth which was quite exceptional. He had the rather rare distinction of being a skilful raconteur and a superb mimic. He provided us mirth with his girth.

He was always full of life and had a very infectious laugh. Never ever have I seen him loosing his temper. Thus, he was our key provider of entertainment at no cost. This was all the more welcome as Talaimannar was a virtual dessert being remote and outlandish.

He regaled his colleagues with past stories of various events inclusive of his private life that had taken place over the years. Many were the interesting conversations over lunch or dinner, as the case may be, that at times went on for hours with his perpetual smile. He was always up beat and cheerful. His zest for life was epitomized in the joyful way he conducted himself all the time. Granville was also an accomplished musician. He could also play classical music as well as the 'oldies' with equal aplomb. In short, he was a joy to be around. His mental equipoise and worm humanity endeared him to all those who associated with him.

He was courteous even to the most junior subordinate and kindness was the key note of his character. He was indeed a model of decorum. His fine temper and quiet sense of humour were invaluable assets to the coveted position he held in the UNHCR as Senior Protection Assistant, which he entered having served in Immigration.

Granville was a devoted husband, beloved father and a sincere friend. The happy memories we associate with him will remain etched in our lives. May he rest in peace!

Nanda Nanayakkara

Retired Assistant Controller of Immigration and Emigration


Remembering D B Welagedara

D B Welagedara is a name that dwells in the hearts of the people of Kurunegala, because of the memorable services he has rendered to them during a period spanning a half century.

It is 22nd year since his demise. D B Welagedara Commemorative Society met at 8.30 am on April 22 at the Welagedara memorial on Colombo Road to revere his memory. This year too there was an alms giving, other meritorious activities and donations of spectacles and equipment to facilitate the mobility of the handicapped. The award of D B Welagedara scholarships too took place at the time.

D B Welagedara was born on October 31, 1915 at Panaliya, Polgahawela as the only son in a renowned family of the area.

He had his education at Ananda and Nalanda Colleges in Colombo and at St John's College in Jaffna. He then joined the Law College of Sri Lanka for his law studies and at the end of his studies he became a Divisional Revenue Officer - a member of the first batch of such officers who replaced the Rate Mahathmaya who were holding office at the time. He was elected the President of the Divisional Revenue Officers Association.

He was outstanding in rendering services to the rural public. At their insistence he resigned from the public service, sacrificing his pension to contest the snap General Election of 1952. He was elected the MP for Kurunegala defeating no less a person than the Queen's Counsel H Sri Nissanka, a stalwart in the political arena.

Welagedara served the public as Mayor, Member of Parliament, Deputy Minister, Cabinet Minister and Provincial Governor, right to the day he passed away. His services in this regard was mainly in the fields of education, health, transport, agriculture and religion, but not restricted solely to them.

He was exemplary in his conduct and was a model to be emulated.

His most outstanding quality was his punctuality. Once having accepted an invitation to be the chief guest of a school ceremony, he visited the school at the exact time indicated to find that the ceremony would not start even after some delay. In resentment, he left the school forth with advising the principal to train the schoolchildren to work on time.

He was very keen to follow to the letter the Buddhist ways of living. His position was that he did not need any additional protection as he was protected by the Holy Triple Gem. He functioned as the Secretary of the Mahiyangana Chaitthya Renovation Society, when the late D S Senanayake was the chairman of that society, followed by his son Dudley Senanayake.

His last request fully reflects his Buddhist Traditional Values. It was as follows: "Request made to my relatives and friends."

* Death, just as birth, is common to all beings including myself. It cannot be avoided. Therefore, no purpose will be served by grieving.

* My eyes should be used to provide vision to a person who could make use of them.

* My body should be given over to a hospital or research institution that could make use of it for advancement of the medical sciences to benefit others.

* If I have done any wrong to you, bury its memory forever.

(The remains of Welagedara were handed over to the Sri Lanka Medical College while the eyes were handed over to the Eye Donation Society of Sri Lanka).

King Dutugemunu who vanquished King Elara, had much respect for the latter. He ordained that any person passing by the tomb of Elara, should pay homage to his memorial.

Welagedara too had these inimitable virtues. He named a school started by him as H Sri Nissanka Vidyalaya - being the name of a political rival. The inaugural entry in the Log Book of the Maliyadeva Model School - a school that Piyadasa Wijesinghe planned to start and effectively completed by Welagedara is an order by him that Piyadasa Wijesinghe should be invited for all the ceremonies of the school. These examples truly illustrate his qualities.

Welagedara took pride in his being a Sinhalese and a villager.

He believed that if any person remembers the Buddha first and noble Sinhala kings like Parakkramabahu and Dutugemunu secondly and refrains from adopting the wicked practices of the foreigners. He was bound to prosper. His practices truly reflected this philosophy.

He moved in regal circles but never forgot his rural background nor did he forsake his bond with the common man.

All his efforts were directed at making a Bath Korale (a rice bowl) out of Sath Korale. He was himself an experienced farmer. His example induced others too to take to cultivation. A tree planting campaign was an indispensable item in any birthday celebration for him. His policy was that a tree should be planted for every tree uprooted.

His adorable qualities are the gift he left us.

May D B Welagedara attain Nibbana!

D B Welagedara Commemorative Committee.


Karunadasa J Liyanage

It has been eight years since my father passed away, even time just doesn't have the ability to heal the wound that it caused me and my family.

My father was a great man, not just a caring father to me and my sisters and a loving husband to my mother, but a guide and mentor to all. He was kind to everyone around him and went to great lengths to ensure that any injustice did not befall anyone, even those who sometimes opposed him. He was a dynamic person and I wonder how different life would have been if he was still with us.

But he is gone, and we had to face many difficulties up to this point, difficulties that I am sure would never happen if he was still with us. We used to live in the Middle East, in Oman and the UAE, where my father worked as a Senior Quantity Surveyor.

My father held the opinion that education was the key to success no matter what your station was in life and when he saw Sri Lankan children in Oman lacking a proper school to provide education, he got together with other well known members of the Sri Lankan community and formed the Sri Lankan School in Muscat, a school that at present provides education to over a thousand students coming not only from Sri Lankan but from other countries as well. Even when my father migrated from Oman to UAE, he saw how many Sri Lankan children were out of touch of their heritage and there too helped to conduct Daham Pasala in the premises of the Sri Lankan Embassy. That too has developed into a major operation with separate buildings and a much qualified staff dedicated towards it.

My father was a skilled Quantity Surveyor and even won the award for the Best Quantity Surveyor in the UAE in 2001. He always helped his colleagues whenever they had any sort of problem be it at the workplace or elsewhere. Known as 'Karu' among his friends, he was respected by nearly everyone in the community. I remember how many of them visited our house frequently when we were staying in Dubai.

He loved me and my sisters very much but yet did not show his affection outright. I remember when I learnt how to ride a bicycle properly without using training wheels, my father came out to see me ride a few times even though he was very sick at that stage and how happy he was to see me do it.

He was firm as any father should be and dealt with discipline when it was necessary. He made me and my sisters who we are today.

Randika Liyanage



Sunday Times May 15 2011

NAZEEHA ZAHEED

My aunt  Nazeeha Zaheed, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 29th after a brief illness. When the world awoke to watch the wedding of Britain's Prince William and his bride Kate, our family was awakened to the sad news that the time had come for my dear aunt to bid farewell to the world. Friday is a significant day in the Islamic calendar, and it was understood she passed away at the call for the dawn prayer (Fajr) and was buried before the Noon prayer (Jummah) which has a lot of bearing in the Islamic sense.

Many thoughts come to my mind, as I travel down memory lane. Fondly known as "Najja" by her family, she was a loving and kind-hearted soul. When I think of her I am reminded of many things; a Garfield clock, a house full of cats, a chest full of toys, a table full of goodies that delights the child and last but not the least her fondness for entertaining.

She was a soft spoken lady, with not a harsh word escaping from her lips. She weathered the storms of life with patience and gentle loving care. In any family difficulties, she was kind, considerate and never remorseful. When life dealt her a blow, she accepted it with calm. When life was unkind, she was not. She went about her duties without a care in the world. You could never see how she truly felt, have you hurt her, made her feel bad. You'd never know, she hardly spoke, and the few times she did, not a harsh reprimand would she make. Sarcasm and humour at the cost of another were unknown and alien to her gentle nature.

She remembered those in need and never forsook her duties to maintain family ties. In fact she laboured to keep the family peace. She'd always inquire into the wellbeing of her kith and kin. She was the favourite sister-in-law of my mum. Mum would often speak of how sweet a person she was. She'd always inquire into my dad's health, even, if she couldn't make her round of visits. On her return from trips abroad, she never forgot a souvenir for my mum, sister and myself. I feel my uncle had more than his share of luck, the day she walked into our family homes as dear aunt "Najja".

Aunty Nazeeha, I never knew I'd, miss you so much, though we knew you were ailing. I guess nothing prepares one for the pang and pain of losing someone whom you care for. You were such a lovely and kind soul, we make dua that Allah (SWT) grants you
Jennathul Firdouse, Aameen, Aameen Aameen!!!!

To her dear son Nauzan and her most talented daughter Nazra, our thoughts, prayers and duas are with you and your families today and always.

Safra Rahman

RIYADH
K.S.A.



From priesthood to human rights, a man of many parts

Joseph Nalin Swaris

Joseph Nalin Swaris, an intellectual, historian and critic of art and politics passed away while on a tour of China on April 16. Like his two older brothers Ranjit and Lakshman, Nalin was educated at St. Benedict's College. Soon after finishing his Senior School Examinations he decided to join the priesthood - the Redemptorist Order, studying at St. Alphonsus College, Bangalore, India. After his ordination, he returned to Sri Lanka. He preached in several missions and became a popular figure, because of his outspoken ideas making his sermons interesting.

As one of his friends Quintus Perera pointed out recently Nalin gave up the priesthood and went to the Netherlands in 1969 where he obtained a Master's Degree in the Social Sciences in 1973. He taught Social philosophy and methodology of Community Development at the Senior College for Social Work, De Horst in Driebergen for 17 years. He obtained a Master's Degree cum laude in Religions from the Catholic University of Nijmegen.

In 1990 he began studying the social dimension of the Buddha's Teaching and the study led him to obtain a PhD cum laude for his dissertation Magga, the Buddha's Way to Human Liberation - A Social Historical Approach, by the State University of Utrecht in 2997. Besides teaching, lately he was also involved in human rights activities.

After his retirement from teaching, he was heavily involved in human rights and visited several countries addressing conferences involving these issues. Many of these articles appeared in Dutch newspapers and magazines. He became very fluent in Dutch. Nalin visited Sri Lanka every year for a few months. This year he decided to visit China and his life suddenly came to an end.

LAS, Florida, USA

You touched our lives with sincere warmth
Uncle Nalin

Though I write in tribute 
to you, I know 
I write for myself.
For my words 
will not penetrate 
death’s stillness
nor touch your heart 
which has suddenly stopped beating.

No matter, I write anyway,
for there is a need in me to do so.

Even if it is only to put on record
that you were family
that you lived, loved, and were loved
that in spite of your fine mind
and rare intellect,
in spite of the philosophy, the theology, and 
your stand for Rights 
you will best be remembered
by those who were closest to you,
for your wit and humour, 
the laughter that punctuated- even dominated
every conversation

The laughter which now 
recedes to memory

I write to say out loud
though you will not hear me anymore
that you carried with yourself
your own brand of joy 
and touched- even filled 
our lives
with a sincere warmth

I can only hope you knew
you were held in that same affection.

Hasitha Wickremasinghe

If love alone could have saved you

Ondray Ephraums

Brother Ondray, we speak your name
With love and pride;
A thousand times we needed you
A thousand times we cried;
If love alone could have saved you,
You would never have died.
We smile through tears we try to hide 
“Thank you”, Brother, for the times we shared,
And the way you cared;
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you did not go alone – 
A part of us went with you
The day God called you home.

Our angel baby brother, it is one year since you were called to eternal rest, on May 14, 2010.You are fondly remembered by your ever-loving sisters Hermoine, Linda and Helen, brothers-in-law Ranjan, Brian, Roger and the rest of our families, here and abroad.

Hermoine

He transcended linguistic, ethnic and religious differences

M.A. Bakeer Markar

As one who represented the Kalutara District in Parliament I am honoured to pay tribute to M.A. Bakeer Markar on his 14th death anniversary. Alhough I did not have the good fortune of serving together with him in Parliament I got to know him quite well through his son and my friend Imthiaz Bakeer Markar who also served the country as a Parliamentarian and a Cabinet Minister.

Bakeer Markar was born on May 12, 1917 in Beruwela. His father Hakeem Alia Marikar Mohamed Marikar belonged to a family of physicians with an ancestry traced to Sheikh Jamaluddeen Al-Maghdoomi, a pioneer Arab settler in Beruwela. Mr. Bakeer Markar was educated at Zahira College, Colombo where he came under the influence of the great educationist Dr. T.B. Jayah. At school he was an able orator with a good command of not only Tamil but Sinhala and English as well.

Mr. Markar entered the Ceylon Law College in 1942 but had to wait until 1947 to qualify as a proctor due to the intervention of World War II. During the war he joined the Civil Defence Services and was sent to Hyderabad India for specialized training. During this period he also served his alma mater as a teacher for a short time.

At the 1947 general election he played a leading role in the campaign of Dr. Jayah in Colombo Central. Thereafter he became a supporter of the UNP. Mr Markar first entered politics in 1950 when he was elected uncontested as a member of the Beruwela Urban Council. In the first year itself he became the Chairman of the Council.

In March 1960, he contested the Beruwala electorate and was elected to Parliament. However, he was not successful in the July general election the same year. He won the seat in 1965, lost it in 1970 and won it again in 1977 with a thumping majority.

He became the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in August 1977 and within a short time was elected as Speaker. He held this position with dignity and distinction until August 1983, when he was appointed a Cabinet Minister. In June 1988 he resigned from Parliament to serve as the Southern Province’s first governor. He held this position until December 1993.

A singular honour befell him when he was the Speaker. As the then President J.R. Jayewardene and the Prime Minister R. Premadasa had to attend the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Mr. Markar being the next in line was called upon to act for the Head of State. This is the only instance since the 1978 constitution was promulgated that a person other than the Prime Minister was bestowed this honour.

He represented Sri Lanka at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. He was also awarded the Distinguished Order of Merit by the President of South Korea in 1992. He was one of the many who worked hard to make Sinhala an official language. At a joint conference of delegates from the All-Ceylon Muslim League and the All-Ceylon Moors’ Association held in 1955 he sponsored a resolution to make Sinhala an official language and succeeded in persuading the conference to adopt it unanimously.

A firm believer in unity in diversity, he had the ability to transcend linguistic, ethnic and religious divides. Though he was a Muslim leader, he was able to earn the goodwill and respect of all communities. 
Mr. Markar espoused the cause of national unity with all resources at his disposal. It is heartening to note that his son Imthiaz is continuing the good work started by his father through the Bakeer Markar Centre for National Unity.

He led a full life, serving his religion, people and the country. He died 14 years ago at the age of 80. A man of great character adorned with simplicity and sincerity he endeared himself to all those who had the privilege of associating with him.

May his legacy continue to inspire generations of Sri Lankans. to come.

Tilak Karunaratne

Never thought Daddy would leave us so soon

Dr. Derrick Oswald Nicolle

In memory of my beloved father
It’s been ten long years since you bid me good-bye,
It seems like yesterday;
I find it difficult to forgive myself for not kissing you good-bye,
I never thought you would leave so soon;
Daddy, you were in such good health, but answered God’s call
For your valuable service in God’s Heavenly Kingdom;
There’s not a day that passes that I do not shed a tear for you,
So darling Daddy, I will love you till I meet you some day,
In God’s Beautiful Paradise.

Hazel Anne Nicolle Seneviratne

Only his genius for making things work would have revived an ailing giant like the CWE

Dharni Chandragupta Wijesekera

The last post has sounded, and grief-stricken colleagues and fellow professionals bend their heads in respectful tribute. DCW, chartered accountant “par excellence” and past president, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL), who bestrode the profession like a colossus, has crossed the great divide.

His voice is permanently stilled. A sense of great loss hangs heavy over the profession. It is no easy task to catalogue the multifaceted contributions DCW made to the profession in particular, and the country in general.

DCW’s initial baptism as a chartered accountant was at Shell Company, where he was soon recognised for being an innovative and committed officer. Following the oil company’s takeover, he set up a consultancy firm, Associate Management Services. He was among the first chartered accountants here to introduce information technology as a tool in consultancy practice.

In a short time, Associated Management Services became one of the country’s most sought after consultancy outfits, receiving a steady flow of World Bank and Asian Development Bank assignments. DCW had found his dream career in management consultancy, which took him on a meteoric trajectory. In 1980, DCW reached an agreement with Coopers and Lybrand, UK, where he had had his training two-and-a-half decades earlier.

The result was Coopers and Lybrand, a firm of chartered accountants in Sri Lanka. Devasiri Rodrigo, who had worked at Coopers and Lybrand, joined DCW as a partner. Mr. Rodrigo had the responsibility of building up an audit practice, while Mr. Wijesekera continued his consultancy practice as the precedent partner.

When Pricewaterhouse and Coopers Lybrand merged internationally, the two local firms merged as PricewaterhouseCoopers. Many who received their training under Mr. Wijesekera continue to hold him in awe and refer to him with respect and gratitude. Under his able guidance, PricewaterhouseCoopers rose to be one of the “top three” practising firms in Sri Lanka. Mr. Wijesekera retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers in September 1992, on reaching the age of mandatory retirement.

DCW’s expertise was then sought by the Government, to strengthen the expanding state corporate sector. He was on the committee appointed by the Minister of Finance to review capital structure and the management organisation of corporations.

DCW played a lead role in re-structuring key corporations and strengthening their accounting and management systems. Subsequently, the Government called upon him to shoulder more responsibilities – as a director at Air Lanka, the State Fertiliser Manufacturing Corporation, and the Ceylon Fisheries Harbours Corporation. Deficiencies in these organisations were speedily rectified. DCW successfully dealt with the symptoms and the ills; those were what mattered to him; the causes were of no interest to him.

Perhaps his biggest challenge came when Lalith Athulathmudali appointed him as chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE). Here was an ailing giant, crippled by inefficiency and running at a huge loss. DCW accepted the post at a time when public sector business disasters were depressingly rampant. In just a few years, DCW transformed the CWE into a profit-making entity, meeting the country’s basic consumer needs and selling at a fair price.

DCW never saw a state sector organisation as dysfunctional; if properly managed, it would work. That was his motto. This he demonstrated when he pulled the corporate behemoth, the CWE, out of the mess it was in.

DCW had a strong, confident personality. He was totally focused on the tasks at hand, and knew exactly what course of action to follow. As a leader, he was respected for his foresight and organisational competence. He never compromised on his principles. But he was always ready to listen to a contrary viewpoint and evaluate it on its merits.

DCWs’ contribution was not limited to the corporate world. Although first and foremost a professional accountant, he was happy to advise when approached by other professions and academe. He was sought by the medical and engineering sectors, and was on the board of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine and the council of the University of Moratuwa.

DCW’s contribution to his own profession was outstanding. At the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ inception in 1960, he was appointed a member of the examinations committee. In 1968, he was appointed a member of the council of the Institute, serving on several committees. In 1978, he was elected president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, a position he held until the end of 1981.

Advancing age did not mellow or slow down DCW. His quest to expand and update his knowledge continued unabated. Often, he visited the ICASL members’ lounge to read The Wall Street Journal. 
In September last year, I accosted him as he was hurrying along Bullers’ Lane. He held in his hand a book with a blue cover. It was “Blue Ocean Strategy”, the book that had taken the management world by storm, challenging the conventional foundations of strategic success.

“Lal, read this book,” he told me. “It is a masterpiece. But remember that contrary to what the book suggests, there are no separate blue and red oceans in the business world. There is only one big ocean, where blue and red currents crisscross all the time.”

That was typical of DCW’s skeptical, analytical style, which informed the range, depth and quality of his knowledge. On occasion, DCW’s cavalier, no-nonsense style could be provocative. He would sometimes lose his temper, and this would alienate the more conservative-minded. Subordinates and colleagues were also occasionally at the receiving end of his verbal onslaughts.

DCW, the stubborn, dictatorial boss in the office, was full of charming banter outside the office, and the “boss” continued to command respect and affection. He was more intent on solving problems than following rules; while this may have drawn criticism from some, it earned the respect of others.

DCW deserves all the encomiums and plaudits he gets for an outstanding performance. His résumé is impressive and weighty. He chose not to follow the beaten track, but the path strewn with challenges. His pragmatic approach and perseverance brought him fame and success. He illuminated the accountancy profession for more than five decades. A beautiful innings has come to an end.

DCW’s philosophy can be summed up in lines from W. E. Henley’s celebrated poem, “Invictus”:

“It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

Lal Nanayakkara


Sunday Times May 8, 2011

Ratnapura-born teacher had a genius for making English study enjoyable

H. A. V. A. Gooneratne

”It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

I heard these words from H. A. V. A. Gooneratne, fondly known as “HAVA” to his intimate friends, when his beloved wife died, several years ago. I still do not fully understand why he chose those words from the last chapter of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”. But we could see clearly that he was greatly saddened by the loss of his beloved wife.

HAVA’s occasional philosophical utterances emphasised his role as a duty-conscious government employee who had the welfare of the institutions where he worked at heart.

He started his career as a teacher, although his father wanted him to be a planter. After passing the university entrance examination and a competitive exam, he entered the Maharagama Special English Training College, where he qualified as a teacher. Later, he followed a university diploma course in education.

Hailing from Ratnapura, he felt obliged to render service to his place of birth. Having been appointment as the principal of the Batugedera Maha Vidyalaya, where he did much to develop the school. He never sought political or individual favours, and he opposed attempts at elitism, either at university or at school.

He was always guided by his conscience, and believed that “honesty and sincerity will yield their rewards in the long run.” As a lecturer in English, he was known for his talent for using various techniques and devices to help his students grasp the basics of grammar.

He was also on the staff of the Management Faculty of Sri Jayawardenepura University, where I too was an English instructor. HAVA had a genius for teaching, especially in teaching English as a Second Language. He was a guide, a good teacher, a master to his faithful students and followers, a friend to all, especially to friends in need.

HAVA passed away on April 10, 2011. He was 80 years. He leaves behind two sons and two daughters, and nephews and grandchildren. All of them are well set in life, and are worthy citizens.

May HAVA attain Nibbana.

Dharma Kaviraj

‘No’ was never in her vocabulary

Delini Peiris

It was with profound grief and shock that we heard of Delini Aunty passing away. I had spoken to her the week before and discussed cricket with her, a subject that was very close to her heart and one of her favourite topics especially when the World Cup matches were at our doorstep – as she herself phrased it. She was ecstatic over the invitation she had received from her friend Bertha (on holiday from Canada) for evening tea and dinner, where she watched the quarter-final match with her , little knowing that it was going to be her last outing. Could she have asked for more – a rendezvous with cricket and a lifelong friend.

Delini Aunty had many such dear and sincere friends – because she had been a sincere and helpful friend to others. She took great pleasure in helping others and you would think that the word ‘no’ was not in her vocabulary. She would assist people in kind and cash and never expected anything in return. A lady Chief Inspector of Police sobbed and told us how she was greatly indebted to Delini Aunty who just by giving her moral support at the NIB saw her through many situations so that she could achieve what she has today.

Whenever a friend or relative lost a loved one, Delini Aunty would make sure to have the grieving family over on a regular weekly basis for a pow wow and a nice home cooked meal. In most instances the extended invitations from her stretched to a year or more, thus making sure that she helped them ease their pain, in her own special way. Her uncle, Uncle Frank was one such person. That was how she helped him cope with the loss of his wife.

Many brides have dressed and left for the exchange of their nuptials from Cecil Uncle and Delini Aunty’s house at Park Street and she was always overjoyed to make their home a wedding house filled with festivity. She would plan everything meticulously and traditions and customs were maintained. The loyal, ever faithful Pema would bear testimony to these large hearted and benevolent acts of Delini Aunty for which she would be remembered forever.

The loving sons of Delini Aunty’s sisters ensured that she was very comfortable and happy during the last few years of her life when she was no longer able to drive about and do things for herself and she would always tell me how grateful she was to them. She loved her nephews dearly.

Delini Aunty never forgot to wish us on our birthdays and our anniversaries and she even remembered the birthdays of the younger generations. The data was not stored on a laptop or desktop- it was her eidetic memory. When it came to her own birthday, she loved to celebrate the occasion.

The ‘hen party’ that she had on her birthday will never be forgotten by her friends and family alike. But this year we could not wish her Happy Birthday and Delini Aunty could not invite us either. Sadly and coincidentally April 7 was her 86th birthday as well as her 7th day almsgiving, following her demise. I miss her and her telephone calls very much.

May all the acts of charity and their merits help her to attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

I. Peiris

Malli Baba, you grew up to be a fine young man, and then you left us so suddenly

Prabath De Silva

It is one year since you bid us good-bye. Never did I dream that I would have to write an appreciation in memory of our dearest Prabath.

It is one year since you left us, but I could not make up my mind to write this appreciation in your memory. You have left a deep void in our lives, departing suddenly and leaving us in a dilemma. Putha, it is hard to believe you are not here with your dear ones. Your innocent smile will always bring back sweet memories. It is with great sorrow that I pen these few words, when I could have written a book about you, an exceptional young man.

You were our “Malli Baba”, because you lived with us for a considerable period. You were a bonny baby who brought us happiness. Your mother, father, sister, my two children – Harsha and Priyanga and uncle Peter – we were a big family. Everybody loved you and cared for you. You grew up to be a handsome young man, excelling in your studies and achieving your dream of becoming an engineer. Your determination brought you success.

With aching heart, I think of your gentle qualities – you were a true gentleman. Although a bit reserved, you were very concerned about others, especially those in difficulty. You expressed your views frankly when necessary. Your unassuming nature was admirable. Your friends will testify to all this. We admired you and wanted to see you doing very well in life. But our hopes were shattered when, suddenly on the 5th of May, we were told that you were seriously ill. With a heavy heart, we visited you at hospital and realised the gravity of the situation.

Oh death, how cruel of you to take away our darling Prabath, and at such a young age. Our precious Putha was only 34 years. It is unbelievable. The blow is too much for us. But we find solace in our religion. Death is inevitable. We have to accept the bitter truth that this life is only a stepping stone in sunshine.

Darling Prabath, we bestow merit on you, and may you be born again among us.

Aunty Sheila

Exemplary teacher, wife, parent and aunt

Kumari Abeygoonesekera

“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” These words exemplify the life of Kumari Abeygoonesekera. A rare vein of selflessness ran through this person (as rare as it is for someone to write an appreciation of his mother-in-law).

Kumari was one of 14 children born to P. M. and B. M. Talwatte. And there lies a remarkable tale of how her mother brought up her family after her husband’s untimely demise. Kumari remembered being thrust into the living room, a child of 10, to play lilting tunes on the piano for her father’s friends. She would rather have been with the friendly elephants, Gunaya, Hurathala, and Sella.

She was born with a classic musical ear and an extremely sensitive nose – she could sniff out the faintest of odours. Everyone said there was something about Kumari that set her apart from the rest. She looked at life somewhat differently, and her heart strings were tuned to a frequency few understood. Her favourite word was “unsophisticated.” Kumari schooled at Mahamaya, Kandy, where she introduced netball – played in lama sari. During her walks through paddy fields to school, her keen eyes met those of Justin (a Dharmarajan), and for many years the two exchanged love notes through willing emissaries. They were finally married, and their wonderful union lasted 56 years, and brought forth three differently talented children: Aruna, Priyamali and Kavan.

She passed out as a teacher from the Maharagama Training College, and her final stint as a teacher was at Royal College, Colombo, where she taught Maths, Music, Science and English for more than 10 years.

While at Royal, she was instrumental in starting the percussion band, which is now a permanent feature during the interval at the Bradby Shield matches. Her students remember her for her special teaching methods, blending kindliness with firmness – a difficult combination to juggle in a classroom full of boisterous teenage boys.

She was a tower of strength to Justin during his career, from the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs to the FAO in Rome and Bangkok, and finally as the Parliamentary Ombudsman. She helped him take important decisions and stood by him in difficult times. As a mother, she made sure her children learnt life skills in addition to their studies, and in a practical, sensible manner she moulded and fine-tuned them and helped them achieve their aspirations.

Their house in Colombo was always open to all her nephews from Kandy who needed a foothold to launch themselves after school. Her eagle eye and healthy kola kenda diet did much to keep the boys out of too much trouble. Above all, she loved giving shelter to the incorrigible, and offered them a sense of empathy and compassion that they had never before experienced.

Kumari was a forthright lady who called a spade appropriately, and who fought injustice whenever she encountered it. She had a penchant for offering her love and kindness to the weak, oppressed, unfortunate and differently abled.

She did her best to bring some light, colour and hope into their lives. I remember her somehow making it to Sahanaya once a week to play the piano for the inmates there. But the most significant project she undertook, together with her nephew in the Army, was to build 12 houses in Panama for those displaced by the tsunami.

She made it a family project and got all her sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces involved. Whenever there was a shortfall of funds, she was there with a handful of cash to ensure the work went on. Finally, when it was completed, it gave her and the family great joy to see their labour of love a reality.

She dearly loved her nephew in the Army. When he died, tragically by an act of terrorism, she did not stop grieving. And thus began a slow decline in her health that saddened all who loved and cared for her.

When she passed away, she had given away everything she had possessed. She has left a legacy of love and selflessness that will be hard to emulate, but we will try. 

Jomo Uduman

Good Samaritans could not outdo Ananda Aiya

Brigadier M.P. Ananda Jayawardena, KSV

Ananda Aiya was an “older brother” in every sense of the term. He breezed into my life in the latter half of 1997. He and his brother, the late Sundra Jayawardena, were partners of a firm that supplied spares to the Navy.

There was a certain tender that the brothers’ firm won. The problem was that by the time the tender process was completed, the item originally quoted was no longer available. The supplier could provide only an updated version, at the same price.

Ananda called me and asked if he could go ahead with the order. The matter was put to the Tender Board, and it was decided that the tender would proceed in his favour. There the matter ended. Then I remembered seeing the name “Sundra Jayawardena” in my late father’s diary of 1973. I dug up the old diary and found that next to “Sundra” was the name “Ananda”, written alongside.

Subsequently, there were a few calls regarding the supply of various items. In March 1998, I visited a close friend to condole with him on the death of his mother. There, for the first time, I set eyes on Ananda Aiya. He was a close relative of my friend’s. Thus began a lifelong friendship, deepened by the fact that my father had known him.

To be a friend of Ananda’s was indeed a lifetime affair. He never lost contact. He found a reason to call you, if not every day, at least once a week. He made it his pleasant obligation to meet you at least once a month. If the going was tough for you, he was there for you, with a helping hand and a smiling face. At such times, he never left your side, to the point of being a pain in the neck.

His practical knowledge and insights were phenomenal. The amazing fact was that he stayed in close contact with everyone he knew. He was equally a friend to your driver or your household help. He would do the same for an ambassador or a secretary. His large circle of friends was his great strength.
Ananda Aiya believed in networking. He would put friends together so that the one who was better placed in society would help the other rise in life and society. When he saw a friend down on his luck, he would go to the extreme ends of his extensive network to help that person.

There was one especially precarious situation, involving two colleagues and me. Ananda left no stone unturned until he had redressed the situation. When the reconciliation was accomplished, Ananda was the most jubilant of the four of us. It was his personal victory.

Ananda was always calm. I never saw him angry. I never heard him use a harsh word. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone, unless that person had caused hurt to a friend of his. I never heard or saw him fail to extend a helping hand, whatever the occasion, time of day, or class, caste or creed of the person needing his assistance. I have never met a Good Samaritan that could outdo Ananda in good and kind deeds. I never saw Ananda without a smile, despite the many tough cards life had dealt him.

When my son was three years old, Ananda Aiya came home with a pizza. From then on, Ananda Aiya became “Pizza Seeya” to my son. He had a wonderful way with children. They worshipped the ground he walked on. He was always concerned about the future of my daughter. The day she took her oaths as an attorney-at-law, Ananda Aiya was over the moon.

When we sent her a text with the sad news about Ananda’s demise, she replied: “Why does it have to be people like him, oh why, why, why?” At one time, his eldest nephew Praminda was more a son to Ananda Aiya and Aruni than Praminda’s actual parents. To the very last, Ananda had a very special place in his heart for Praminda.

He understood his two sons and helped them to develop in their strengths. He wanted them to grow up as reliable, honourable and respectable citizens.

Ananda loved a bit of fun. He would subject Aruni to one practical joke after another. He would feign sickness and watch through the corner of an eye to see how she would react. He would test Atthe, his closest buddy, by dropping a controversial word into the conversation to see his reaction, to the amusement of all. We will miss Ananda’s antics.

At this point in time, we can only pray that the burden of grief that lies so heavily on Aruni, Mindika, Dulindra, and relatives and friends, will be lightened. We pray for all who will miss his wake-up calls, especially Aelian and Atthe. We pray that they all to come to terms with losing a wonderful friend, and we wish that we can all be to each other what Ananda was to us.

May his soul enjoy eternal rest, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Rear Admiral Tony Abeyasena, RNR

Dearest Bunty, your 22 years with us were a holy gift from God

Nipun Rajantha Jayamaha

I call out to my beloved Bunty (Nipun) Putha, having never written a letter or a note to you from the time you were born, in November 1988. But I spoke many things, advised you on many occasions, and guided you wherever necessary – all of which you followed or acknowledged with a smile. You never spoke harshly or unkindly to anyone, but spoke straight from your heart.

I told you many times that I loved you, and you did say you loved me too, before you left us, oh so suddenly, your thoughts unknown to us. You have left us sweet memories. As I write this tribute, my heart aches and my eyes fill with tears. It is difficult to see beyond this sorrow, but we will depend on our memories to comfort us tomorrow.

When you were born in 1988, we over overjoyed. Your first cry, first words and first steps brought us untold happiness. And the happiness continued as we followed the many firsts in your life. We watched you grow to manhood, a well-mannered and kindly young man. You reached out to society, regardless of caste or creed, to friends and to family. Your well-mannered ways, unconditional love, and friendship will be missed by all your loved ones.

Most of all, you were always there to lend a helping hand. I am told you were the first to forgive and forget when there were differences among your friends. They did not want to leave after your funeral, when we bade you farewell, on March 28, 2011.

Dearest Bunty, I long for your voice, your presence, but we know you are now with God, watching all of us from Heaven above. You made friends easily, and you were always very quiet about your accomplishments. You never carried bitterness in your heart, and without being over-ambitious you achieved great things, the best things in life. You were never jealous or unkind, but you were a down-to-earth boy. You spent just a little over 22 years with us. You have left us with an unbearable pain in our hearts and minds that will continue until we meet again.

I am lost for words to comfort Appachchi, Ammi or your loving Nangi. My heart aches for them. All of us will hold tight to our memories of you – to comfort us and to learn from your exemplary qualities.
Your life was full of loving deeds, always mindful of our needs. Today and tomorrow, and our whole life through, we will love and cherish you. Only those who truly loved understand the heartache of parting without a farewell.

Farewell, my dearest darling Bunty.
Gone yet not forgotten,
although we are apart
your spirit lives within us,
forever in our heart
Until we meet again, may God
Hold you in the palm of his hand.

Nanda


Sunday Times May 1 2011

A medical marvel who had many other interests

Dr. Percy de Zilwa

Dr. Percy de Zilwa was born on February 4, 1917 and often reminded his friends that we could never forget his birthday because of Sri Lanka's independence day. He died a few weeks after his 94th birthday.

On April 30, 1970 he suffered his first myocardial infarct and in December the same year he had his second myocardial infarct. He was treated at Prince Henry's Hospital in Melbourne - a hospital that has long since ceased to exist although Percy kept going there for some 40 years since then. He was then treated with Warfarin, Atromid and as he said a "sensible diet".

Many years later he was tried on a "statin" to which he reacted violently and it was later discovered that he, his brother Jim and the rest of the family were all intolerant to "statins". He carried on in spite of high LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Percy had many different medical appointments in his life time. He worked in the orthopaedic clinic in Colombo, and in Melbourne he was for many years in the school health service. He maintained an interest in medicine even after his retirement and often alerted me to the possibility of a side effect of some medication - he picked up the latest edition of MIMS from me.

But Percy's medical background was just one facet of his long and varied interests in life. His knowledge of religions apart from Christianity was astounding - he could name so many sects and how they came to be formed.

Trinity College was his school above all other learning institutions. He will long be remembered for the exchange scheme he started with Wesley College in Melbourne. Many are the students who first visited Australia because of Percy's effort and some of them are now domiciled in Australia.

Percy was also closely associated with several clubs in Melbourne and the A.C.F. was his pride and joy for many a year. His one lament in later years was that there weren't younger generations who could keep these clubs going.

He was recently upset when he read that an award I had received in Sri Lanka had spelt my name incorrectly - he told me that a jeweller whom he knew could correct the spelling on a bronze plaque that I had received! That was Percy at his immaculate best.

Those of us who knew Percy as a friend and for many years as a patient - will always remember his happy smile and jovial disposition. There will always be only one Dr. Percy.

Quintus de Zylva

A dedicated teacher who left an indelible mark at Thurstan College

Arty Walter Pathiraja

Arty Walter Pathiraja belonged to a distinguished family from Suriyagama, Kadawata, his father being the late D.D. S Pathiraja and his mother Eugene de Saram. His passing away has created a void which will be difficult to fill. He will be missed by all who had the good fortune of knowing him.

He will be long remembered for his outstanding record as a teacher at Thurstan College, and his successful teaching career of over 30 long years. His wife Anula was also from a well known family in Ratnapura, and was an illustrious teacher herself. She gave him the unstinted support he needed in the work he was involved in.

They played a very happy supportive role in the upbringing of their children, who repaid them in full measure by reaching great heights in their respective professions. Mr Pathiraja’s contribution towards the progress of the school was not limited to the academic side, which he did with much integrity and commitment, but also extended to the field of sports, specially cricket.

He gave generously of his time and guidance to the students. It was during the tenure of my husband, the late P. S. Gunasekara as Principal of Thurstan College that I had the privilege of knowing Mr Pathiraja. I was attached to the Department of Education, Green Path as In-service Advisor for English in schools in the Colombo region. Mr. Pathiraja took great pains to improve the quality of English in the schools and stressed the need to converse in English fluently.

Unassuming, but asserting himself as and when the need arose, he will be remembered at Thurstan throughout the years with deep gratitude and affection for those of his calibre are rare today. After his retirement he was invited to assist in various functions in the school office, which I believe he was ready to perform.

He was popular among the staff and students and much respected. He was unassuming and bore no malice towards anyone. He had a keen sense of humour which evoked much fun and laughter in the company of friends.

I extend my deepest condolences to his dear wife, Anula, children and families.

“ Nama gottam nagirathi”

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Irene Gunasekara

Gentle yet iron-willed principal who gave us lot more than a sound education

Rev. Sister Rosina Nanayakkara

I write with great respect and pride for my beloved principal Sister Rosina Nanayakkara though I might have been one of the naughtiest pupils, during her time.

Sister Rosina passed away on January 11 this year . And on January 13 we had a day of reunion and nostalgia in the city of Galle with past pupils of Sacred Heart Convent from various parts of the country, principals, staff and students of other leading schools in the city, politicians, clergy and of course the past pupils of St. Aloysius College, our brother school gathering to pay their last respects.

Any words I can use to describe or remember Sister Rosina seem inadequate. Having been born to a Buddhist family and being a practising Buddhist myself, I respect other religions while retaining faith in my religion. It is an attitude I learnt from Sister Rosina. Even though a Catholic nun herself, Sister Rosina made sure we Buddhists attended our rituals and sermons whenever they were conducted in the school.

I remember she even went to the extent of making sure the children not only removed their shoes but their socks too during religious observances. I remember this vividly as I was pulled up once for not removing my socks at a sermon. But I obviously had to keep my toes "under cover" as they were painted in a colour that I was certain would not have impressed Sister Rosina had I removed my socks in her presence, not to mention my two sterling silver toe rings.

The strict disciplinary code maintained by her in the school not only forced us to do the right thing, but also left us with loads of memories to carry with us after we left our alma mater. Despite numerous punishments for not tying up my hair, I still "let my hair down", although at times it used to "get in someone's hair"!

The undisputed, assertive partnership she had with our most loved vice-principal Elizabeth Senanayake is still talked of, not forgetting them being nicknamed by the Aloysians as the "doubala" (meaning a pair). The two of them set a perfect example of lasting friendship.

Sister Rosina taught us how to be courageous in a crisis without losing one’s dignity. I remember but not much of that unpleasant day in 1988, during the youth unrest in the south when students of leading schools in Galle were asked to take to the streets. SHC remained the only school that didn't fall into the hands of the ‘rioters’.

Sister Rosina took care of our physical safety. While some students were manhandled and verbally abused, I was one of the relatively lucky ones who managed to hide under a table in the music room. Although the school was left with a smashed chapel, ruined garden and messed up classrooms, when I came out of hiding, I witnessed children getting picked up by the parents as if it was another ordinary day in the school calendar. This is how Sister Rosina put such chaos in order.

A member of the School Development Council for a number of years and having close association with the school, my father called her the “Iron Lady”. Although the physical resemblance was quite contrary to that, I believe what he meant was her courage.

Growing up in the beautiful city of Galle, with a pampered upbringing, and a lot of mischief in school, there are two things I carry from my wonderful childhood that no one or nothing can take a way - beautiful memories and a good education. Sister Rosina will always remain in my memory as "unique".

Wathsala de Silva

A true physician with a heart of gold

Dr. H. Z. G. Oswald Senanayake — A tribute on his 100th birth Anniversary

Hubert Zachias Gerard Oswald Senanayake was born the 11th to his proud parents Don Eusthakius Johannes Senanayake and Elizabeth Prera on May 2, 1911. He was the youngest brother of Gracelyn, Cyril, Beatrice, Lily, Winifred, Pearl and Ruby. Three more brothers had passed away at a very young age.

Having lost his father at a tender age, Oswald was ably cared for by his mother who passed away eventually. The boy commenced his education in his hometown at the Kandawala Primary School, then went on to St. Mary's Negombo for his secondary education and finally to St. Joseph's College, Colombo.

At St. Joseph’s he won many a prize, became a Greek scholar and took up teaching Greek. He was a keen Cadet and member of the Volunteer Force. He was no mean sportsman, playing soccer for college on the left flank. His prowess included a curling left which hit the back of the net, long before maestro Pele was born! He also played tennis and was a good swimmer.

Then came a different calling – to take to medicine and specialise in tuberculosis, for his father had died of TB in an era when there was no cure for this deadly disease.

Being selected to university to pursue a course in classics, as he was proficient in Sinhala, English, Greek, Latin, French, German and Russian, he decided to change course with the help of his good friend K. George N. Fernando who was a medico. To this unorthodox proposition, the then Rector of St. Joseph’s, Fr. Legoc the legend himself, called it a Herculean task. Oswald did change course and qualified as a medical doctor in 1931.

A specialist he became in TB in addition to being a Child Specialist, Chest Specialist and tireless Physician in government service, transferred from one corner of the country to another. In 1942, he married Maysie Regina Frances Goonetilleke who had to move house 150 miles all the way from Deniyaya to Kandawala. He shared his life with her for the next 48 years and we were the half dozen offspring -- Priyadarshini, Dharini, Sriani, Rohan, Susantha and Hasita.

His dedication to treating TB patients was amazing. He was in charge at the Anti-Tuberculosis Institute at Kehelwatte, Colombo 11 and before that the mainstay at the Welisara Chest Hospital. He was also the first Medical Officer of Health at the Kandana Chest Hospital.

After retiring from government service, he came back to the village he loved, Kandawala, and began practising from his ancestral home, Senanayake Walauwe in 1964, soon after opening his second surgery in the heart of Negombo.

His surgery not only provided free consultations but also free medicines both day and night to those who could not afford to pay. He was a true physician with a heart of gold in contrast to those engaging in thriving private practice these days.

Not too happy about disturbing his staff at midnight, he even trained one of his offspring to assist him in his dispensary after office hours! His hunger for new methods of treatment took him back to Britain where he studied psychiatry in Manchester and subsequently worked at Prestwich Hospital. On his return to Sri Lanka he also took up acupuncture. Invited by the Parish Council of the church in his area, he became an active member, serving as its Hony Secretary. His donations to the church were many.

He also contested the Village Council election, narrowly losing to the sitting member. Heading the co-op movement as its chairman, he introduced incentives including the ‘deep-litter system’ to the poultry farmers.

Banking at the doorstep he brought to the village, facilitating the opening of the first rural bank at Kandawala. Having lived in the ‘kuppi lampuwa era’ he pioneered efforts to blow out the bottle-lamp and introduce electricity to the whole of Kandawala.

A keen planter, Oswald not only developed his ancestral property at Kandawala but also bought prime coconut land at Bingiriya. He planted a wide variety of fruit trees in his home garden, the succulent yield of which we still enjoy. He also ventured into paddy cultivation to make at least our family self-sufficient in this staple.

He had business acumen too and I remember his stories on how he paid for his medical degree by making bricks in his garden and selling them. Later in life, he installed a brand new coconut fibre mill at Kandawala. Ever charitable, he donated school books to the children of the mill workers to encourage them towards education which he dearly cherished.

He also pioneered a fisheries project in Pitipana, Negombo with his bosom buddies H. Cyril Fonseka and Proctor Marshal Fernando. This doctor turned architect and builder also constructed three houses in Negombo with bricks manufactured in his own backyard.

Ever-willing to share his knowledge, he ventured into writing, believing that someone out there will benefit. His writings included ‘Manna for the Hungry’, ‘Let Your Golden Age Dawn at 70 Years’ (translated to Sinhala on numerous requests), ‘Conversations about Sri Lanka around the World’ and ‘Happier Marital Sex Life for The Able & Less Able’. He even re-printed and distributed his learned father's historic ‘First Book of Sinhala Grammar’.

After battling diabetes for decades when he bade goodbye on July 17, 1990, his last publication was being translated to his mother tongue.

The trademark of this man of many achievements was his laugh. He never showed anger to anybody.
Now his children look back affectionately on his love and care, we cherish his guidance and advice and we are justifiably proud of his awesome achievements. We believe he is out there with the Lord Almighty, watching over us every minute!

Susantha the fifth


Sunday Times April 24 2011

Wonderful memories of ‘Lavender Lady’

Daphne De Soysa

Countless memories of my favourite aunt; Daphne de Soysa, which are stored deep in the recesses of my heart keep flooding my mind, after her death. Her husband, Uncle Cecil, was one of my father’s favourite cousins and my father was their doctor as well. I first saw her when I was a teenager and she brought her children to consult my father about their childhood ailments. I always admired her grace, dignity and charm long before I got to know her well.

This happened much later, after my marriage; when she and Uncle Cecil were constant visitors at my maternal Uncle Abhaya’s home as he and Uncle Cecil were close friends. To get to know her was to love her and we met often; I was closer to her than to my own mother, and she was my guide, philosopher and friend. Both of us together, planned and organized the homecoming for my cousin Romesh and his bride Nelun at Uncle Abhaya’s home.

She was the daughter of W.P.H. Dias of Panadura and educated at Ladies’ College; a perfectionist to her fingertips, a brilliant hostess and asset to her husband in a myriad ways. I recall the many parties she organized for family birthdays and get-togethers, each one was with a special theme which was carried out to the very letter, in food, dress and decor. If she gave you a recipe, every piece of meat or vegetable was cut to the exact size, and she insisted that one kept to all this detail.

Her husband was the rock on which she built her life and she took time to come to terms with her loss, and out of her grief and anguish. After Uncle Cecil’s death, she expressed a wish to go to Yala, so my late husband and I took her there. It was a real holiday for me, as she took it on herself to organize all the food, menus and so on, which were all of high gourmet standard. We went on many trips together, and she would always organize the food part of it; to give me a rest from housekeeping.

She was the gracious chatelaine of her home, her husband’s devoted wife and confidante, a wonderful mother, grandmother and mother-in-law. As a mother, she was the ideal receptacle for her children’s dreams and ambitions; which became hers too.

Before she was confined to her bed, she was an indefatigable organiser of many charity projects and events, and for the Anglican Church. These were inspired and encouraged by both her husband and her brother-in-law, the late Bishop Harold de Soysa. After her husband’s death, she gave away all her coloured clothes and came out of black and white into grey. After that she stuck to all shades of purple from lilac, mauve and lavender….my nickname for her was ‘Lavender Lady’.

She was of immense strength to me when my husband died, spent hours with me, and was a strong shoulder for me to lean on through those difficult times.

To her children, right through her life; till her last years, she was an omnipotent being, a protector and miracle worker. She had a unique devotion to order, propriety and conservatism. She loved all her children; but was particularly close to Sunil and Dayani, who lavished tender, loving care on her.

As one who loved her, I find myself with special memories of her that have nowhere to go, dreams of her that will never be fulfilled. But what matters is that I have them; however whimsical or impossible they may seem. My one regret is that she couldn’t live her last years, or lie in death in her own home, in which she spent such happy times with her family.

“A perfect woman, nobly planned, to guide, to comfort and command”.

Ilica Malkanthi, Karunaratne

That sweet voice will now join the choirs of angels

Lankika De Livera

Four girls burst out loud into song, while walking along the pavement of the Colpetty junction in Colombo.

“I'm born again, I feel free
No longer alone
A bright light is shining
And shows me a world that I own…..”

We were sweet sixteen. Bishopians. Carefree. Happy and oblivious to the scorching heat of the mid-day sun. Oblivious to the weight of the books we carried home after school. Oblivious to the stares of the passers-by….

Lanki led the singing with her sweet soprano voice. Nisha and Sharmini harmonized in different parts. I joined in spontaneously.

Those were the days of Boney- M, Abba, Bee Gees… Life was full of laughter and fun. Lankika De Livera, and I studied in parallel classes from kindergarten till the O’levels at Bishop’s College. She became my close friend when we were in the A’ level class, studying History and English together. 
Lanki and I spent many hours together since then. She was quiet and was in the background of things. I was more in the forefront of school activities. But we forged a strong bond of friendship.

I was a risk-taker. She was pensive and cautious. She gave me sound advice. I was always busy. She urged me to find time to join her in reaching out to the less fortunate, the old and feeble, poor people, colleagues who had problems at home. She also demonstrated to me the importance of being patient and trying to understand the problems of others.

At the Interschool Shakespeare Drama Competition, Lanki was Lysander and I Hermia , the lovers in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Lanki held my hand and gently led me up the steps leading upto the stage in the darkness as I had to remove my spectacles and could not see my way. She ensured that I did not trip as I entered the stage.

Lanki loved everything that was beautiful- wildlife, nature, music, song, poetry, books, drama….She opened up the marvels of many wondrous works of art and nature to me. She used to often send a dainty card with a handwritten verse to cheer or inspire a friend or someone in need. I was often a recipient of such thoughtfulness.

Lanki excelled in singing. I was overjoyed when she decided to take part in the senior solo singing competition at school and asked me to accompany her on the piano. What fun we had practising for endless hours on the old pianos at the Bishop’s College music rooms or at her home or mine. She gave a magnificent rendering of “The Holy City” and “Hark Hark the Lark” by Schubert and was adjudged the first runner up.

Our friendship grew after we left school. I entered the Kelaniya University. Lanki entered Law College. 
I embarked on journalism at “The Island” newspaper and following my advice, she applied to “The Sun” newspaper. I accompanied her for the interview and waited for her downstairs while she met the editor upstairs. She returned after a successful interview. We were both thrilled!

As journalists working for two separate newspapers, we shared experiences. We also went on many assignments together to provide coverage for our respective newspapers. We both covered the Arts and Culture round. We went to many concerts together and many trips out of Colombo to cultural and archaeological sites.

We also had our own separate interests. I was adventurous and keen on the excitement of investigative reporting, she preferred travel, wild life and nature. Lanki introduced me to her friends at Law College. We went together for many Law College events and parties and she joined my Kelaniya University friends at get-togethers.

Lanki and her mother were regular visitors at our home for Christmas. She made Christmas special for us with her beautiful singing of carols. My family and I enjoyed the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities at Lanki’s home.

Enjoying our newfound independence and freedom as journalists and undergraduates, Lanki and I roamed around Colombo – Lanki driving her mother’s Volkswagon. Lanki and I planned lavish celebrations for our 21st birthday parties. Mine did not materialize and ended up in a quiet affair with my family and Lanki.

Lanki’s party took place at a resort on the Mount Lavinia Beach. I spent the whole day with her decorating the place. I also made the dessert for the occasion. Lanki was swept off her feet when she met Prasanna Panditharatne. She gave up her studies in law to marry Prasanna. She also gave up journalism.

She did her best as a young bride. She cooked for her husband and kept a resplendent home. 
But the fairy tale ended. Prasanna and Lanki realized that they were not compatible. Lanki’s life was soon clouded with sorrow.

However, the birth of a bonny baby boy, offered hope. He became the centre of Lanki’s life. She went to great lengths to ensure that he had a happy childhood. Lanki and Prasanna separated and went their different ways but both did their best for their son.

Lanki remarried eight years ago. I was the only friend she invited for the quiet wedding dinner. Lanki devoted all her time and effort to her new husband and child but failed to find happiness. During the last couple of years, Lanki suffered from depression. She was overcome with sorrow and worry. She returned to her mother’s home a few weeks ago.

When she called me in her distress, I did my best to help her, comfort her, to give her hope for the future. I took her to prayer meetings. She told me that she gained a lot of comfort from the prayer meetings and promised to keep coming.

I dropped Lanki at her mother’s gate after the prayer meeting on Wednesday night, April 6 . She gave me and my daughter hugs and kisses as she left, promising to come again with us on Sunday. She looked so pretty, in a bright yellow blouse as she stood at her gate and waved to us.

On Saturday, April 9, I got a call to inform me that Lanki was dead. Her mortal remains were cremated on Sunday, April 10 at the Mount Lavinia Cemetery Many of our classmates from Bishop’s College and her friends from Law College were there amidst the large gathering of relatives and friends.

As I left the funeral, my mind was filled with memories of Lanki, standing on the Bishop’s College stage singing the verse from “The Holy City”. 
“And once again the scene was changed;
New earth there seemed to be;
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea;
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o'er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna for evermore!”

I knew that for my dearest friend Lanki, there would be no more sorrow and depression. Lanki had finally reached the holy city, where she would sing hosanna for evermore with the angels!

Manique Mendis

Adieu to a Toastmaster par excellence, and dear friend

Paddy Gunasekara

It was eight o’clock and we had just finished our fortnightly meeting. As always I watched him descend the stairs slowly. As he reached the bottom step he smiled apologetically and said; “Young lady, I am not as quick as I used to be.” I was quick to reply that he was the healthiest 84-year-old I knew…..maybe I spoke too soon.

Paddy Gunasekara or CTM (Competent Toastmaster) Paddy Gunasekara as he was known among the Toastmasters fraternity passed away on January 21 this year. His loss was a shock to all those who knew him and extremely saddening to those of us who loved and cherished this beautiful man. As his third month remembrance drew close I thought it fitting to write about this extraordinary individual who has inspired my life.

I met Mr. Gunasekara or Paddy as we fondly called him back in 2006 when I joined a speech crafters programme conducted by CIMA. I found Paddy to be extremely fascinating from the very first moment I met him. His passion for Toastmasters, his sense of humour, and love for life was apparent in all what he did.

He was a founder member of the Colombo Toastmasters Club, a pioneering figure who introduced the art of public speaking to Sri Lanka in the early 1980s when many of us were still in our nappies. His love and dedication to the Toastmasters movement did not end there for till the very end he remained an active member, present at all functions, mentoring and coaching clubs and members and always ready to help. Although Paddy was not a member of the CIMA Toastmasters Club which he helped to set up he was always there, earlier than most of us greeting us with his charming smile and warm hug. He was often teased for being more of a member of the club than some actual members were, so when the current club president decided to recognize his contribution to our club by making him an honorary member of CIMA Toastmasters Club our response was unanimous.

I remember how proud and happy he was that day. Paddy had a great sense of duty. He took everything he did seriously whether it was a simple speech evaluation or being present as a judge at a contest he would be well prepared. He would never let anyone down and was dependable. I was shocked to hear that he had gone to great lengths to actually call up to apologize for not making it to a meeting when he was still recovering in the intensive care unit. That was how duty conscious he was.

Paddy was our grammarian at every meeting and he knew how to change a boring role of being the grammarian into a role that everyone envied. He would introduce a new word every day and many a time he would bring up a word that created much mayhem. How he secretly chuckled as we roared with laughter listening to other toastmasters enjoy playing with the word. He certainly knew how to make the meetings interesting and was always ready to have some good fun.

He never ceased to amaze me with his wealth of knowledge. You maybe an 18 -year- old or in your grand seventies but he could be just as comfortable with anyone speaking on any topic for he was well read and updated about everything that went on around him. I never knew someone who was so young at heart as Paddy. His body may have been weak, his step slow but he had a young heart for no one felt out of place around him.

Paddy to me was a great friend, someone I could look towards when I needed advice or support. He was always there and ever willing. He was direct with his views yet so considerate of how one felt. If I have learnt a thing or two about the art of good public speaking then a significant amount of the credit is owed to him. I will remember him for all the times he’s held my hand before a contest re-assuring me that all will go well and been the first to come and cheer me up when all didn’t go so well.

Paddy, you have been a beacon in guiding so many of us and you worked tirelessly to make Toastmasters what it is today. You shall be forever remembered for that but most of all we will remember you for who you were, the simple humble man who gave all he could to what he loved. We loved you then and we love you now and we always will. So long my friend…

Probodini Senavirathne

Be honest, be humble – that was how father brought up his family

Lucian De Alwis

April 9 would have been my father’s 100th birthday. An old Josephian, civil lawyer, JPUM (Justice of Peace and Unofficial Magistrate), acting District Judge Mount Lavinia, father had character and personality. He was a professional in the fullest sense. He stood strong on his principles when it came to decision making, and worked almost to the very end, until his death at the age of 88.

His mission in life was very simple: “Be honest! Be humble!” He chose a simple lifestyle, and tackled life’s challenges calmly. He was a down-to-earth, friendly person. Junior lawyers affectionately called him “Uncle”, and they valued his advice and guidance. And we, his children – my father had 11 children, six daughters and five sons – valued his way of life and we incorporated his mission in our lives too.
My father strongly believed in education. He was very proud that all his sons were professionals, but more importantly that we cherished the values he did.

With regard to his daughters, his primary concern, in the family tradition, was to find them the best of husbands. He wanted the best of sons-in-law. In this he succeeded, and so we have brothers-in-law who have always stood by the family.

My father’s mission continues in the next generation, in his grandchildren. My father left behind 25 grandchildren, ranging in age from 39 to six years. It is with pride that we look upon these young men and women who have excelled here in Sri Lanka and also overseas.

Behind my father’s success was my mother, Monica de Alwis, who raised 11 children and supervised the bringing up of most of her grandchildren. All this came thanks to the solid foundation my father laid down. He was strong enough to hold up many more generations to come. He taught us that more important than financial strength is strength of character. He taught us to face life with honesty and humility. This was the secret behind the success of Lucian de Alwis’s family. In return, God has given in abundance.

Thaatha, generations to come will look upon you as not only a successful lawyer but an honest, humble man who worked tirelessly, and in silence.

Vasantha


Sunday Times Apr 10 2011

A champion of commerce who was witness to the Ceylonisation of trade

OWEN REGINALD KRELTSZHEIM 
With the death of Owen Reginald Kreltszheim, aged 89, in mid-January 2011, we have lost a gentleman of a rare breed. I had known Owen for more than three decades, but closely only for a few years. His life and times, especially the way he guided the destinies of an export house and emerging Ceylon business and plantation interests in the early 20th century, deserve mention.

The middle of the last century marked the beginning of an uncertain future for the Dutch Burgher community, a community that had been somewhat privileged under both the Dutch and the British. The official language policy after Independence made many members of the community consider an alternative homeland. The majority departed our shores.

I believe many of Owen’s relatives were among those who left the country. 
But Owen chose to remain in the land of his birth. 
The Burghers had left an indelible imprint in both the public and private sectors, not to mention the professions and sports of this country. The Burgher community was distributed over all parts of the island, but many lived close to the city of Colombo. Nugegoda was much favoured among the community. The Burghers interacted and mingled easily with the other communities. Nugegoda’s cosmopolitan mix since British times suited them perfectly.

Owen lived in Melder Place, named after his wife’s family. Melder Place and Raymond Road were two parts of Nugegoda that were long associated with the Burghers.

After completing his education at Wesley College, Colombo, Owen joined E. B. Creasy and Darley Butler & Co. Ltd, the leading British firm. The pre-Independence era saw the rapid rise of Ceylonese business interests. Apart from the tea, rubber and coconut industries, the three principal revenue earners, Ceylonese businesses rapidly expanded into the maritime provinces, giving rise to a new breed of planters and business leaders.

As soon as Independence was achieved, there was a strident cry from the indigenous business leaders for the Ceylonisation of trade that had long been in the control of British and Indian interests. The government introduced momentous legislation, eliminating trading by British and Indian-owned firms. This resulted in the closure of Darley Butler’s export department, where Owen was employed. 
Owen had arrived at a decisive juncture in his life.

Among the main suppliers of cinnamon to Darley Butler was Darsin de Silva & Company, rubber and cinnamon planters and transporters based in Ambalangoda. Darsin and another cinnamon planter, Hector Fernando, had developed a friendship with Owen over the years. It was their influence and vision that led to the formation of Intercom Ltd, with Hector Fernando as chairman, Owen Kreltszheim as managing director, and Darsin de Silva and C. Muthukumaraswamy as directors.

When Hector died in the mid-1980s, Owen took over as chairman. Many attribute the rise of Intercom Ltd to the pinnacle of the cinnamon trade to Owen’s total dedication to work. He burnt the midnight oil to make the company a success.

It was also in the early 1980s that Owen took on the role of Honorary Secretary of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, which had pioneered the Ceylonisation of trade. The Chamber of Commerce had a substantial membership of emerging business leaders. Significantly, many of them were originally from the Southern coastal belt. Their rise brought about vital socio-economic changes, resulting in private sector expansion, employment generation, and enhanced export earnings.

Owen also served the Church. He was Warden of SS Mary and St. John, founded more than 150 years ago. He was also an active member of the YMCA of Nugegoda. These were two life-long attachments. Owen was also a keen tennis player at one stage of his life.

As Honorary Secretary of the National Chamber of Commerce, Owen distinguished himself by his meticulous attention to the tasks assigned to him. It was during this period, in the early 1980s, that I came to know him closely. He impressed me as a calm, unruffled and principled individual. He was indeed one of the last of the Mohicans.

May the grass lie lightly over Owen Kreltszheim. 
Jagath C. Savandasa


Thank you for being my Thaththi

Saranagutha Jayasinghe
I remember how your arms held me and gave me strength.
You were always there to listen, love, and defend me in everything.
You were my strength.

In my triumphs you were always proud and happy,
You were the shadow I wanted to stand beside and the strength I always had.
You gave me courage and all what we needed without thinking twice.
We only had to ask and next moment it became a reality,
You never questioned us, you never scolded us, perhaps it may have been a mistake,
but it showed how much you trusted us, and adored both of us.
You gave us a happy, picture-perfect childhood, with all the comforts one could get and endless love and caring.

Now that I am a mother, I can understand how happy you would have been to see us now
I’m very grateful and proud to call you my Thaththi..
If only I could turn back the time I would have never let you go.
Now that you are gone, the tears keep flowing .......................
Your hands so warm, voice so clear, sincere smile,
Your laughter, I remember like yesterday.

Just like the rain; tears fall, when I think of the good times we had, and what a cheerful, strong and smiling person you were,
Thank you Thaththi for giving me life, 
and a wonderful childhood, the best phase of my life….... 
Your little girl always, Shiro


Ex-Serviceman and environmentalist who strove to save the mangroves of Puttalam

ROBERT FERNANDO
My brother Robert Fernando and I both joined the Royal Ceylon Air Force on June 2, 1967. The Air Force Commander at the time was war veteran, Air Vice Marshal E. R. Amaraseker