APPRECIATIONS - 2002
Sunday Times Feb 9 2003
A great loss to the Muslim community
A social worker par excellence, Kalabooshana Al-Haj S.B.C. Halaldeen is no more. He breathed his last on the day of the 27th fast, (Day of Lailathul Kadr): Inna lillahi wainna ilaihi rajioon. He was 72.
He started his career as a schoolteacher. He later became a Labour Officer and then Assistant Commissioner of Labour. He also served as an Assistant Commissioner of National Housing and AGA-designate Batticaloa. Later he became the personnel Manager at State Engineering Corporation, where he found many jobs for youths. Later he served in Saudi Airlines and on retirement he was in Colombo serving as a correspondent to Lake House newspapers and Saudi Gazette. An All Island J.P. and Attorney-at-Law, he was honoured a few years ago by the Y.M.M.A. Conference for the services he rendered to the youth movement as a committee member, assistant secretary, treasurer, general secretary, vice president and president.
He was the founder president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum. He was also instrumental in forming the Fathima Educational Fund (FEF), which serves children from the underprivileged homes, providing them with job-related education.
We had great respect for him as he was a beloved father to us. We consulted him when something important was to take place in the family. He also formed an association called "Data Family Fund' with the aim of helping the underprivileged members in the family.
He was also the Assistant Secretary of the 'Baithul Mal Fund' till his death.
He was married to Dr. (Mrs.). M.B. Pathumuththu, who also happened to be the first Muslim Woman Inspector of Schools and a pioneer in Muslim female education. She was also the first Muslim trained teacher and was the Principal of several Muslim Maha Vidyalayas in the island.
He was the elder bother of S.B.C. Thassim, Vice President of Saudi American Bank, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was also the maternal uncle of Professor B.A. Hussainmiya, Senior Lecturer, Darussalam University, Brunei. He leaves behind his only brother Al-Haj S.B.C. Thassim and his sister Janeer Miskin.
Beloved father of Azwer (Canada), Sara Zulficar (Sweden), Dr. Akbar, (Saudi) Dinar (Germany) and Rizanar, Mr. Halaldeen was fondly addressed by our family members as 'Darro' and I believe no one can fill his place.
The Janaza left the residence at Kent Road, Colombo to Maligawatte Y.M.M.A. Headquarters, where people paid their last respects. After the Janaza prayers at Maligawatte Jummah Mosque the burial took place at Maligawatte burial ground. The large crowd present at his Janaza witnessed and confirmed that a great son was lost to the Muslim community and especially to his family.
The family has also lost an intellectual giant, a great father, a writer and a man of vision who wanted to forge unity among the family members at large.
'Darro Kaka' I raise my hands in my daily prayers, asking a dua: "Ya Allah in his mercy grant him Jennathul Firdhouse, Aamin."
A Game Ranger who braved many a threat
The people who have not heard of H.K.C Kumarasinghe, Game Ranger of the Yala National Park who died under tragic circumstances on January 28, may be wondering why so much has been said and written about him.
Well-educated with a degree from the Peradeniya University, Mr. Kumarasinghe was a born leader, fearless and totally dedicated to his job. He was well aware of the enormous risks he faced as the head of the Anti-Poaching Unit at Yala Park. The dangers and death threats he received did not stop him from carrying out his duty. He passionately believed in the work he undertook. The commitment he displayed was amplified by the fact that he often used his personal funds.
Under his leadership, the slaughter of animals at Yala was reduced significantly. It is indeed difficult to put down in writing what a wonderful human being he was. His subordinates, peers, seniors and those who knew him had much respect for him and held him in high esteem.
His work and dedication should not go waste. This may well have been his last wish. All those around him should help achieve his aim of eradicating the menace of poaching and all other illegal activities from national parks.
I would also like to pay a tribute to his late father, mother and family for nurturing and moulding him to become the man he was. His name will live on for many generations to come.
May he attain Nibbana.
Angels have welcomed little Shani
As a candle is blown away by the wind,
As the light from a candle is gone,
Our candle of joy, love and laughter,
Has returned to the heaven's above.
The angels have welcomed a new little girl,
Away from the woes of this cruel world.
The angels have welcomed her in through the gates,
To a whole new world of eternal joy.
But to us down on earth, memories of her,
Shall never be blown away by the wind.
Memories of Shani shall linger in our hearts,
Through our lives and right through the end.
When we have to return to our places above,
Near the gates of heaven, she'll stand with a smile,
And welcome us home,
To a world full of love.
Janice C. Liyanage
Sunday Times Sep 22 2002
He strove to do justice according to the law
Tudor De Alwis
I associated closely with Uncle Tudor since my childhood. In my mind, the judge intertwined with the man, and it is difficult to appreciate one without addressing the other. Never pompous or arrogant, he yet earned the respect of those who appeared before him and also those he dealt with in ordinary life. He achieved this because he was reasonable and decent. Perhaps, in these times ridden with crises and disillusionment, these qualities go unnoticed. Not that Uncle Tudor ever complained. Such things did not matter to him.
Tudor was the third son of an officer of the courts in Pasdum Korala, at the time we were still a colony. As a child he had a somewhat strict but comfortable upbringing. He studied at St. John's, Panadura with a reputation for discipline and good results. Latin and the classics were part of his curriculum. I have heard that he was studious and mild mannered in school.
His father was delighted when Tudor took to law. After passing out as an advocate he practised in the Panadura and Kalutara courts. He also won the hand of Celine Perera, a pretty solicitor. This was a time when there were very few female practitioners of the law.
After a short period he joined the judiciary as a magistrate.
It is said that society is in transition. The turmoil that pervades the country doubtlessly affected the judiciary too. Though troubled by the social chaos around him, Uncle Tudor was clear in his mind what his role as a judge was. He strove to do justice according to the law.
He did not believe that a judicial appointment automatically conferred judicial wisdom on the appointee. A good judge had to work at it everyday. There were no shortcuts. He studied the law, mastered the facts and then demanded every argument from the lawyers. There are indeed many eminent lawyers who paid glowing tribute to his work as a judge.
But all around him was a nation in the process of losing its sanity. Constitutions were adopted and discarded, laws were amended and repealed, judges were hired and fired on a whim, and many judges themselves regarded the judiciary as a career and some took to manoeuvring themselves to higher courts over the heads of more capable and often senior colleagues.
It was widely thought that some judgements were obviously made to placate the powers that be. Of course these institutions have now lost most of their lustre. Uncle Tudor was not one to lose his head. I am proud that to his last day in the judiciary he maintained the highest principles of judicial integrity and decorum.
Like all of us, he had his share of joys and sorrow. I suspect that the loss of his daughter Shanez in the prime of her life was a blow he never fully recovered from. But he mourned privately and with dignity. That was Uncle Tudor, judge and good man.
"The spirits of just men made perfect."
You, in whose hands her final destiny
Have now dulled her limbs and stilled her voice.
Will You tell her that I came, touched her brow
And whispered my love?
Memories of years past blur my eyes
As I remember her laughter and her joy
The tenderness of her hand holding mine
The hours we spoke, the dreams that threaded
And bound to her so strong, the ones she nurtured
Strengthened: cocooned within her courage
And her faith that they would justify, be true
To each act of love, each sacrifice she made
They remain a memory of her immortality
But I stand aside alone in my futile
For she is now no more : can You tell her please
That I kissed her cold feet and pledged my love
As I bid farewell.
'Thaatha' we were privileged by your living and we are more privileged by your death, thirteen years ago. I say this because the path to God is more confirmed in us when we reflect on your life.
We are proud to say that we are in the process of inheriting your unmatched human qualities. It brings joy to think of you. These precious memories will be treasured and appreciated until we meet with our Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again to unite all of us and share His glory.
K.A. Wilbert of Wattarantenna, a member of the K.M.C. for a time, was an honourable man. He won the hearts of everyone.
His life was dedicated to the service of his fellowmen. He treated all alike, whether they were rich or poor.
People loved and respected him very much.
A soft spoken, kind-hearted gentleman, Wilbert has gone to his eternal rest. Goodbye, dear friend. We shall never, ever forget you. You were our gentleman politician.
He demonstrated the love of God
Rev. Gamini Serasinha
'Teach me dear Lord to have unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in your sight.' - 1 Peter 3: 4.
The third death anniversary of Rev. Gamini Serasinha fell on September 3. Those who have had the privilege of associating with Father Gamini, as we affectionately called him, knew him as a great encourager who demonstrated the love of God at all times.
Fr. Gamini's life was dedicated to teaching people that the greatest need was a new relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins. He ardently believed that 'In all things God works together for good to them that love Him' (Philippians 1: 12 -18 ).
He was my Parish Priest at St. Paul's Church, Kandy for several years when I was a child. My family had a close relationship with him and he visited our home often to pray with us.
My next encounter with him was after I moved to Colombo for employment and started attending St. Mary's and St. John's Church, Nugegoda where he served as Vicar.
Fr. Gamini had time for all people irrespective of their status.
When I visited him once in the vicarage he already had some visitors.
When I went in they were seated comfortably and chatting to him - they were a blind beggar couple from the Nugegoda super- market.
I once sought Fr. Gamini's counsel as I was disturbed over an office matter.
He advised me that those who desired to be Christ's disciple should have an idea of what it meant to carry the cross. He made me realise that death, though it is the end of a transitory life, meant it was time to go home to Christ and begin a new life. He let God rule his life and was prepared to go 'home' at any time.
He worked hard to bring harmony and goodwill among people.
He believed that if we cared for those who did not have much, God would take the responsibility of caring for us not only on earth but for eternity.
Fr. Gamini never took God for granted. He was grateful for the privileges he received from God and in turn was serious about the responsibilities given to him.
He emphasized through every teaching that our commitment and love to God should be steadfast. Sharing our resources with the needy was a requirement he stressed on. He believed and trusted in the divine leadership of Jesus and His power over disease, sincerity, sensitivity, humanity, love and faith.
- Sanjiv Wijayasinghe
Religion played a unique role in her life
It is four years since the death of my beloved wife Mallika Abeysirigunewardena (nee Mallika Geraldine Yapa Abeywardena) on August 23, 1998 at the Kandy General Hospital after a brief illness.
Mallika was a devout Buddhist in whose life religion played a unique role.
She had her primary education in the English medium at Vincent Girls' High School, Batticaloa during the time of renowned Principal G. Craft. Later she attended Holy Family Convent, Kalutara, St. Thomas' Girls' School, Matale, St. Bernadette's College, Polgahawela during the period of the famous Grammarian Principal W.H. Samaranayake, St. Scholastica's Girls' College, Kandy (now Hemamali Girls' College), Christ Church College, Kurunegala and lastly St. Ursula's Convent, Badulla. She had to move from one school to another so frequently because her father, the late Gerald Edwin Yapa Abeywardena, a senior station master, was transferred from time to time.
During her school career she excelled in netball and athletics. Mallika was a woman of many facets. Having resided in Pilimatalawa, Yatinuwara for nearly 43 years, there was nobody in the area who did not know her.
Later on in life she turned her hand to writing and was the provincial correspondent for the now defunct 'Sun' and later the 'Times of Ceylon' and 'Daily Mirror' newspapers.
The person who guided me and our children for 40 years is no more. Without her loving care and affection my life is desolate. When our wonderful life comes to my mind, my eyes turn teary.
Sunday, August 23, 1998 when she passed away in the wee hours of the morning, was the saddest day in my life. With each passing day, the loneliness becomes more unbearable. May she attain Ama Maha Nivana - great blissful Nirvana !
Sunday Times Sep 15 2002
Dadda loved me a lot
I was his pet, he loved me a lot
But never told me so
But I have heard from others
And his deeds showed them all
The day he gave me away
As a bride to another
It had been his saddest day in life
My uncle told me so
The tears he shed on my wedding day
That I will never forget
He was losing his little girl
And gaining a son in life
He loved my eldest son
Like he loved no other
Took care of him and guided him
And spoilt him a little too.
God called him and he went away
To his eternal rest and home above
He may not be with us in life
But with God he will always be
He is present in our hearts
And there he will always be
He was my Dadda
And no one can take his place
She was gentleness personified
Mother Lewis, F.M.M. (Sr. Frances Monks)
The death of Mother Lewis who worked as a missionary in Sri Lanka, saddened me very much. She passed away in the United States, after a terminal illness patiently borne.
My first encounter with Mother Lewis was in 1947, when I was a student at O.L.V. Convent, Moratuwa. She had just arrived from the United States, and we were some of her earliest students. We were inclined to be rather naughty and inattentive at times, but she left a broad margin for our playfulness and soon established a fine rapport with us.
Nevertheless, we were too young, too "green" and too immature to appreciate her innate goodness, her dedication and her saintliness. She was just a nice teacher, kind, pleasant and soft-spoken. Within a short period, while she was still in her twenties (with a maturity far beyond her years), she was appointed Principal of O.L.V. Convent. By then she had won the hearts of all the teachers who gave her their whole-hearted co-operation.
After leaving school, I joined her staff to do part-time work for seven years. It was truly a joy to work for Mother Lewis. During that period not once did I hear her speak an unkind word to anyone. She was always affable and appreciative. She was a true friend and guide to me.
My yearning for convent life made me take up an appointment in a distant school, but Mother Lewis' kindness was never forgotten.
During her tenure as principal, the school made excellent progress in studies and sports. She took a keen interest, in extra-curricular activities, but first and foremost, she placed emphasis on the religious formation of her students. She realized that her students needed a solid religious foundation much more than academic achievements.
She maintained a high standard of discipline, but never did she raise her voice or resort to harsh tactics.
Her simple, unassuming ways, her calm, placid manner, her slim, tall figure and dignified bearing, her pleasant disposition, and above all, her kindness and compassion, left a deep impression on the minds of her students, and won for her their respect, admiration and loyalty.
Mother Lewis was gentleness personified. Her gentleness was something that I truly admired and marvelled at. Many were those who had a profound admiration for her, but very few could emulate her.
Sixty one years of her life had been consecrated to the Lord. After my retirement, during a traumatic period of my life, when I was (in the words of the psalmist) like 'a pelican of the wilderness', a 'sparrow alone upon the house top', Mother Lewis was a tower of strength to me.
A few years ago, on the advice of a doctor, she bade good-bye to Sri Lanka and returned to her homeland.
Towards the end, when her life was
quiet ebbing away, she had been constantly saying, "I am going to see my divine
spouse". While asking God's forgiveness for any ingratitude that I may have
shown to such a wonderful person, I praise and thank God for Mother Lewis'
beautiful life and for the joy that she brought to the lives of those who had
the privilege of associating with her.
Sunday Times Sep 8 2002A versatile man who brought recognition to Lanka
My late brother Shaul Hameed's third death anniversary fell on September 3. He was educated at St. Anthony's College, Katugastota, Vijaya College and Zahira College, Matale. He showed a flair for English writing and started with the Children's Corner in the Sunday Observer to which he was a regular contributor from 15.
While being in Standard VII, he launched a magazine for Matale schools called New Broom. Later he organized the Matale Student Union of which he was elected President. Being interested in adult education and English teaching, he was responsible for establishing a number educational institutions in Matale and Kandy for backward Muslim communities.
He was Director and Principal of Winchester College, Matale which prepared students for foreign and local examinations conducted in English. He was also elected President of the Central Ceylon Muslim Assembly and it was through this organization that the Kandy Muslim Teacher Training College was inaugurated. At that time there was a dearth of Muslim trained teachers to teach Muslim children.
In 1956 he became actively involved in politics and joined the UNP. He contested the general election held in March 1960. Since then he was returned to power in eight consecutive elections counting 39 years. Thus he had one of the longest unbroken parliamentary records.
He was elevated to the Cabinet in 1977 when the UNP returned to power. He also became the first Foreign Minister. Since independence the Defence and Foreign Affairs portfolios had been held by the Head of Government and it was in 1977 that Foreign Affairs was formed as a separate ministry. He became the first Foreign Minister during the Middle East boom. At that time restrictions in issuing passports and the existence of exit permit, discouraged employers recruiting Sri Lankans. One of his first directives was to remove all restrictions on issuing passports. He also opened embassies in Middle Eastern countries.
Throughout his long and unparalleled stint of nearly 15 years as Foreign Minister, he remained a deeply committed student of all aspects of foreign policy and international affairs.
He spearheaded a number of discussions abroad and at home to settle many national and international disputes. He was involved in three major attempts to resolve the armed conflict through negotiation - the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, the Premadasa- LTTE talks of 1989/90 and the All Party Conference of 1990-1992 of which he was Vice Chairman.
His proficiency in Tamil (he was trilingual) was invaluable in establishing a rapport especially with the younger members of the LTTE team.
He attended the Non-Aligned Summits in Cuba, India and Zambia, SAARC meetings and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. His contributions were respected.
He was Chairman of the ministerial conference of NAM from 1977-1979.
One of his greatest contributions was the role he played in projecting Sri Lanka's national interest at the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. He was closely associated in formulating Lanka's case for special treatment in the delimitation of its continental shelf given the special geological features present in the southern part of the Bay of Bengal.
These efforts have resulted in a statement of understanding being incorporated in the Law of the Sea Convention, which accommodates Sri Lanka's concerns. This would bring about extensive economic benefits to the country, through the exploitation of resources in the extended areas of maritime jurisdiction.
Let me conclude with a prayer: O Allah make the grave a garden of bliss and also make the grave not a place of hell fire. Allahummaj al Kabrahu Rawlathan min Riyalul Jinan Wala Thaj al Kabrahul Huffrathan min Hufrin Niran Ameen. May Allah Almighty grant the highest felicity to this departed soul in Jennathul Firdous.
Why do the good die young?
(One of the pilots who crashed in
You leave the morose, yet take the glad
Leaving children weeping and widows sad
You take the kindhearted yet leave the stern
Families are left to grieve - for loved ones to yearn
You take the upright - those who 'fight the good fight'
And yet, leave the ruthless to rule with their might
You take the 'family man' yet leave the one who doesn't care
Dear God, in Your wisdom - Do you think it's truly fair?
Accept, accept, dear God, we've to accept
You take men who are honest, with liars we are left.
I do not understand... dear God, tell me why
The bad are allowed to live, why 'tis only the
good, who always die?
The ink on the appreciation written about my Aunt Sellammah Chinniah was yet to dry, when came the shattering news from Toronto of the death of her partner on July 28. My aunt died on May 4.
M. Chinniah, a philanthropist has been a household name in Karaveddy. Proof of this was the crowd that thronged the gates of his ancestral home on hearing the news of his death, though it's more than 10 years ago that he migrated to Canada.
In Karaveddy, he was adored by everyone and for close family members he was a demi-god. He helped them financially and paid periodic visits to their homes. He was known by several names such as 'Colombo Mamma', 'Colombo Appah', 'Chinniah Kunchiyan' and 'Kunchi- appu'.
While happily settled in their own palatial house in Wattala after retirement, having given the daughters in marriage and taking pride in son Ambihapathy who was then a Superintendent of Police, tragedy befell the family in July 1983. Their home was reduced to ashes and the family scattered.
In the late '90s, the couple had to leave for Canada with much reluctance at the insistence of their children. The loss of his life-long partner, as days passed by became unbearable and within 90 days he too succumbed at the ripe age of 94.
She lit the path for us to follow
Deshabandu Swarna Ferdinand, founder member of the Jaipur Foot Programme in Sri Lanka, passed away peacefully in Australia recently. Professor Sethi of India invented the Jaipur foot limb in 1970, specifically with the rural amputee in mind. The footpiece of this creation was based on a concept presented by Dr. Muller who was the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of the Colombo General Hospital then.
In 1983, Professor Sethi visited Sri Lanka and made a presentation on the fabrication of the Jaipur Foot Limb at the SLFI. The Colombo Friend-in-Need Society was invited to the presentation. At the time Sri Lanka had not developed a proper artificial limb and all that an amputee received at the General Hospital was a wooden peg leg.
It was at a time like this that Prof. Sethi visited Sri Lanka, when there were nearly 4000 amputees hobbling on wooden pegs without proper artificial limbs. The Friend-in-Need Society being the first charitable organisation to have been launched in Ceylon by Governor Sir Edward Barnes in 1831, seized the opportunity of providing this low cost marvel called the Jaipur Foot Limb to the thousands of disabled poor who had been denied mobility thus far. Prof. Sethi supported the project by training the first two technicians at his workshop in Jaipur for six months. It was the good fortune of the disabled in the country as well as the destiny of the Society, that we had Swarna Ferdinand with us as Secretary of the Society.
It was her courage and determination which really saw the birth of the Jaipur Foot Programme in Sri Lanka. She worked ceaselessly, taking the work home, getting up at 4 a.m. and writing when her mind was fresh, till the Society achieved its objective of launching the project in Sri Lanka. Eventually, by 1985 patients were receiving prostheses mainly suitable for rural amputees who formed the large bulk of our patients.
In recognition of her enormous contribution towards the rehabilitation of the disabled as well as her life-long services towards humanity, President R. Premadasa awarded her the title Deshabandu in 1989. When she left our shores in 1990, she left her legacy behind at FINS. She had lit the path for us to follow. She had shown us how to give of ourselves totally and unreservedly.
May she attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
Colombo Friend-in-Need Society
Sunday Times Sep 1 2002Grand old gunner, gentleman and officer
Brig. Leonard Wickremasooriya
Brigadier Leonard Merlyn (Lyn) Wickremasooriya was born on March 26, 1916. He was educated at Trinity College, Kandy. At 24 years he was commissioned in the Ceylon Garrison Artillery (CGA) as a Second Lieutenant, on April 1, 1940, when World War II was raging in Europe.
In 1941, he was ordered to proceed as the Officer commanding the Ceylon Contingent to Cocos Islands, where he served till 1942. On his return to Ceylon he was demobilized at the end of World War II.
After the Ceylon Army was inaugurated on October 10, 1949, he was commissioned to the rank of Captain on November 11 the same year. He was promoted Major on June 1, 1952, Lieutenant Colonel on October 1, 1957 and appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment at Rock House Camp, Mutwal. This was the home of the gunners from the very inception of the Artillery in British times.
In January 1962, consequent to the attempted coup by certain elements of the armed services and the police, the three Artillery Regiments [including the 2nd (Volunteer) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and the 3rd Field Regiment] were disbanded, as many of the officers involved happened to be from these two.
Col. Wickremasooriya was annoyed and upset that his regiment, the 1st H.A.A. was also disbanded, although not a single officer or other ranker was involved. He was angry as officers from at least two other units were also involved, but these units were not disbanded.
Nothing came of his protests and the regiment was disbanded in humiliation on April 25, 1962, and a new regiment namely, the 4th Regiment Ceylon Artillery was raised on April 26, 1962. The ignominy of his regiment being disbanded hurt him a great deal, but he bore this ordeal and pain with courage and equanimity.
On May 1, 1964, Colonel Wickremasooriya was appointed Commandant, Army Training Centre (now the Sri Lanka Military Academy) and concurrently Garrison Commander (now Area Commander) Diyatalawa, where he served till December 31, 1969, on which day he retired from the army.
Colonel Wickremasooriya had a reputation as a gentleman of absolute honour and integrity. He set the highest possible standards with regard to personal conduct and discipline and expected his subordinates to fall in line. He did not tolerate any acts of indiscipline. His turn out was impeccable and his manners polite in the extreme. He was genial, genteel and gentle, and even in difficult situations, remained unruffled and calm.
He bore no grudge or animosity even towards those who attempted to humiliate him. He had a good memory, a great sense of humour and was a raconteur par excellence. More than all else he had time for people.
On November 1, 1999, Col. Wickremasooriya was promoted to the honorary rank of Brigadier by the President. A rare honour for an officer who had retired over 30 years before. The promotion gave him immense happiness and cheered him up at a time his health was failing.
Brigadier Wickremasooriya passed away on June 25 this year and a military funeral was held on June 27. The army and the Gunner Regiment paid him the respects and honour he so richly deserved.
May be from somewhere up above, Brig. Wickremasooriya was listening to the final gun salute and the Last Post.
Nothing would have given this grand old gunner greater happiness, than this final farewell.
May the turf lie lightly over him.
Major General Gratiaen Silva VSV (retd.)
He led an exemplary life
My loved and respected elder brother "AS" to some and "Rane" to others, was the eldest in a family of seven brothers and five sisters, from Karagoda - Uyangoda in Matara.
He was 76, when he died on August 4 after an illness lasting barely two days. He was kind, religious and saw only the good side of others, whether it was family, colleagues, superiors or subordinates. He led an exemplary life and took an active role in helping those in need. He was never proud or haughty. That was my Aiya.
At St. Thomas College, Matara his esteemed guru, the late Noel Rodrigo saw his abilities and got him to do the Senior School Certificate examination in one year instead of the usual two after the Junior School Certificate. Having obtained an exemption from the London Matriculation examination, he started a career in agriculture in 1947, winning a scholarship to the School of Agriculture, Peradeniya.
His first posting after a two-year diploma was to the Batalagoda Paddy Research Station in NWP. This was a few years prior to Batalagoda becoming famous for H4 and BG paddies. While at Batalagoda he caught the eye of eminent scientist M. Chandraratne who was the Deputy Director of Research.
He learnt the basics of paddy research there. During this period he was selected with two other young men to follow a six-month training course at a Japanese paddy research station in Saitama.
I remember spending my university vacations with him at Batalagoda. He had made many friends outside the farm amongst the Muslim community who owned paddy.
My brother's grasp of the fundamentals of paddy research brought him in contact with senior scientists such as the late Dr. A. W. R. Joachim, late Dr. E Abeyratne, Dr. C. Panabokke and the late Mahinda Silva, who was Director of Agriculture and later Secretary to the Agriculture Minister. He was awarded a travelling fellowship to Mississippi in USA to study methods of paddy cultivation there.
While being attached to the Research Division at Peradeniya he married Rani Manel Kulatunga of Nugegoda. Rani was a devoted partner attached not only to her husband but also to the whole Ranatunga family. Their only child is Dilani.
After serving a spell at Peradeniya, my brother served as Farm Manager of Hingurakgoda. From there he took charge of the Hambantota district as the District Agriculture Extension officer. Later he was offered a scholarship to the University of British Colombia, Canada and obtained a degree in Agricultural Economics. After his return he played an active role at agriculture headquarters in Peradeniya. A few years later when the Agriculture Research and Training Institute (AR & TI) was set up at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7, he was the automatic choice to fill a key post.
He served there till his retirement and got a position in a World Bank project in Kaduna, Nigeria. On his return from Nigeria, he accepted a number of assignments at IFAD. He also served on the Board of the Coconut Research Institute thereby sharing his experience with others.
The large number of old friends, colleagues and family members who attended his funeral bears testimony to the attachment they had to my beloved brother.
A precious gift that
brought so much love
My dearest, beloved putha I can't believe that already one year has passed since that terrible day when the sea snatched you from us, in front of our eyes.
Dada, akki and I have gone through 12 months of untold grief and I sometimes wonder whether I will have the strength to face life and the many years ahead.
I dream of you often, and see your beautiful face smiling and happy. You tell me not to worry, that you didn't suffer any pain and that you are happy and for me to be happy too.
Then I wake up and I am more devastated than before, because I realize that it was only a dream, and that you are lost to me forever.
I look back upon every single moment we spent together as a family and remember all the happy times we had, all the laughter we shared.
If I had known the years with you were going to be so short I would have held onto those moments like a lifeline.
When I recollect a moment I spoke to you harshly, I regret it ten times more. Putha it was always done in good faith and with a love only a mother will know.
After I had akki, I yearned with all my heart for another baby but it was not to be.
Then after almost ten years of prayer that beautiful miracle took place- you were born. You were God's gift to me for many years of prayer and devotion. You were the "miracle" that God gave to me.
Our happiness knew no bounds, you were so beautiful, your ways so loving, generous and sweet. You were precious not only to our family but you touched the lives of all the other family members too.
When you were taken away I realised that you had been a temporary gift given to me by God and that the Lord had taken you back for safekeeping.
I see your beautiful smiling face everytime I look around me. I imagine your lovely dancing steps whenever I listen to a song. Your name enters unknowingly into every conversation I have and your image enters my tired mind when I go to sleep.
Everyone who loved you will be remembering you on your first death anniversary. Thank you darling for the wonderful child that you were.
The memory of the precious gift we had for 15 years will remain with us till the end of our days
Your ever loving
A wonderful father
Although it is two years since you left us,
It seems a lifetime.
Whenever we think about the people
Who have influenced our lives the most,
We think of you.
You have given so much of yourself so often,
Without expecting anything in return.
The values you've taught us
The care you've given
And the wonderful love you've shown
Have enriched all our lives
In more ways than we can count
Our love for you has been greater
Than you have ever imagined.
We have never thanked you
For giving us the greatest gift of all
The lessons we learnt through your values.
You were the best daddy
Anyone could ever have.
We thank Almighty Allah
For having given this wonderful daddy to us
Your ever loving children
Man of God
He was a true gentleman. Modest and shy in nature, he never asserted himself. His words were few and softly-spoken. He did not speak ill of anyone.
He never complained when overloaded with work or when wrongly blamed for negligence. If asked a favour, he would readily oblige with a smile.
At the Society for the Uplift and Rehabilitation of Leprosy Patients (SUROL), he was office manager, but he was also accountant, cashier, clerk, peon and at times, field officer.
Having worked at SUROL for many years, he knew his work and the leprosy patients - their families, strengths and weaknesses.
Only a man like Bernard could keep his cool with some patients who were not the easiest to work with. At his funeral, the tears shed by leprosy patients bore ample testimony to the care and concern he showed them.
He was so scrupulously honest that I took the risk of signing blank cheques he could fill in when necessary.
My friendship with Bernard spanned over 55 years.
At St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa, we were classmates, body-builders and wrestling partners. Even as a boy he was different. He would not join a fight, play truant or enjoy a forbidden sea or river bath. Unlike us, he respected and obeyed parental and school authority.
I am still to meet a family as happy as Bernard's. In 1975, I had the pleasure of solemnizing the marriage of Bernard and Susila. Often, he told me that Susila and he were made for each other. During their 27 years of wedded life, I do not think they hurt each other by even a word. A loving husband was he to Susila, and a devoted caring father to his two daughters, Dharsini and Darshika.
Bernard was a rare man, a man who lived by Gospel values and radiated the love, care and concern of Christ to all those he met, worked and lived with. He may not be canonized, but he was a saintly being, a man of God.
It is my privilege and joy, to
have had a friend like him.
Derrik Mendis S.J
Sunday Times Aug 25 2002Remembering an 'uncrowned king'
Sir Razik Fareed
The legendary and respected Sir Razik Fareed passed away peacefully on August 23, 1984 at the age of 91, after a fruitful and dedicated service to the country in general and his community in particular.
Sir Razik was born on December 29, 1893 at Grandpass, Colombo and received his early education at Zahira College Colombo, and later Royal College.
He entered politics by contesting the New Bazaar Ward of the Colombo Municipal Council, beating the candidate known as "Lion of New Bazaar", the late N. Saravanamuthu.
Sir Razik Fareed championed the cause of Sinhala-Moor unity and a united Sri Lanka, thus demonstrating that the interests of the Moor community and the welfare of all Sri Lankans were near and dear to him. He was popularly known as the "uncrowned King of the Ceylon Moors".
In 1946, Sir Razik was associated with D.S. Senanayake in founding the United National Party.
He established Muslim Ladies' College, Colombo to give every educated Muslim man an educated Muslim bride.
He had a generous heart and spent much of his wealth on the poor, without many knowing about it.
His long service as president and later as life president of the All Ceylon Moors' Association for nearly 40 years and as president of the Moors' Islamic Cultural Home for more than 40 years bear testimony to his commitment to serve the community.
The Sir Razik Fareed Foundation' to
foster and preserve for posterity the humble service rendered by him in the name
of Allah, has been inspired by his work.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Illaihi Rajioon
M. Ruzaik Farook JP
Sri Lanka Islamic Society.
He was a physician and humanist
Dr. Cyril Perera
August 17, marked the sixth death anniversary of a most noble and eminent physician, who was a "martyr" towards his profession. I refer to none other than Dr. Cyril Perera.
I had the privilege and honour of knowing him for well over a decade, first as a patient, and later more closely. He referred to me affectionately as "my son". He was a physician cum humanist par excellence, belonging to a calibre, one rarely finds in the medical fraternity today. Despite his great knowledge and experience in medicine he was very humble. With him the practice of medicine, was a service to humanity, and not a reason to make profits. Often he did not charge a fee from his patients. He not only loved his profession, but was also truly dedicated.
His departure has left a vacuum, which is indeed very difficult to fill.
During my long association with him, I have yet to recall him speaking ill of any one. Even if any individual had spoken ill of him, which may have reached his ears, through indirect channels, he would just give his charismatic smile, which would speak for itself.
It is my earnest hope and prayer, that his noble deeds, would be enumerated by the members of the medical profession. Dr. Cyril's name will remain in the hearts of the people who have received his unsolicited kindness.
A literary giant and beloved guru
A.H. Peiris, affectionately called Wyn passed away after a brief illness. He had long passed the Biblical age of three score and ten. He had been a distinct personality in the confines of education - a school teacher, headmaster, principal and finally senior lecturer at the Aquinas College of Higher Studies.
Teaching was a vocation for him. While imparting knowledge, he inculcated values, social, human and religious in his students. His first lesson to students was on good manners, courtesy and social graces.
He valued the appreciation and gratitude of his pupils more than any monetary gain. Backward students were coached after school and during vacations, all free of charge. He gave a helping hand to a past student to set up an institute that is thriving today. His favourite subject was English Literature and he could recite long passages from celebrated poets like Shakespeare from memory. He was aptly named a literary giant.
He left too soon
Manoj dear it's almost two years
That awful day you bade farewell to life
Many disappointments coincided to act at once,
Causing all of us unbearable sorrow and grief.
In the home where your loved ones
With loving care for you to have lived;
But in short span to eternal home you left.
Leaving a void that cannot be filled.
Darling precious, our beloved son,
Hearts of many that you have won.
At the tender age as a rugby giant,
In your alma mater of Peter's Saint.
With friends in distress you used to
A pleasing feature you inherited rare
Now that for you to rest in God's good care,
Is our daily, fervent and incessant prayer.
God's priceless gift to us was you in
a big way,
But taken back so soon in a mysterious way;
For us to overcome this shock we pray;
Eagerly waiting to meet in heaven one day.
Ammi and Thathi
Sunday Times Aug 18 2002A gentle, beautiful and useful life
Kolitha Ratnayaka passed away recently at the comparatively young age of 65. Born in 1936, the youngest son of Mudliar A.A.W. Ratnayaka to a wealthy land and plumbago mine owning family in Deniyaya, Kolitha had his early education at Rohana Vidyalaya, Matara. Later he joined the 1948 group at Royal College.
At Royal, Kolitha was loved by his fellow students and teachers alike. He was an excellent swimmer, member of the rowing team and played for the school's first XV rugger team.
At George Steuarts, where Kolitha worked for 20 years except for a brief spell with E. Coats, Galle, and a short stay abroad, he rose to be a senior manager in charge of plantations. From George Steuarts, Kolitha moved on to the Janatha Estates Development Board in 1977. As the General Manager of JEDB, he was instrumental in introducing CTC manufacture in tea and the factory at Katubowitiyana will bear testimony to his involvement with the Sri Lanka tea industry.
He also initiated steps to bring on par wages paid to female workers in the plantations with that of their male counterparts.
It has been said with authority that Kolitha's tremendous contribution to the plantation industry in Sri Lanka may never be properly recognized or recorded. Kolitha worked at JEDB for 17 years. He also held the posts of Chairman of the State Plantations Corporation and Chairman of the Tea Small Holdings Authority before doing a spell of five years at the Planters' Association as Assistant Secretary General. He had been working for over 40 years.
During his "retirement" Kolitha worked, if anything, even harder than during his working days. He published several books on agriculture which was his life-long passion.
He had the greatest respect for the Buddhist clergy and had close links with several temples and their incumbents. The letter written by Ven. Galboda Gnanissara Mahanayaka Thero of Gangarama to fellow members of the Buddhist clergy recommending Kolitha's son Sagala as a suitable person to represent Matara district is a prized possession. It describes father and son as true disciples.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, three children, his daughter-in-law and two grandsons to whom go our sympathies on their sudden loss. They can however, be consoled by reflecting on his gentle, beautiful and useful life and the fact that his memory will continue to live on in so many others besides themselves.
S. K. Samaraweera
All-rounder and courageous fighter
Nimesh Anjana Wickramasinghe
Liyanarachchige Nimesh Anjana
Wickramasinghe known to us, the class of '96 at S. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia,
as 'Wicky', passed away on July 17, after a three-year battle with cancer. It
was a tragedy for the batch, his family, relatives, friends and his beloved
Wicky hailed from a family of distinguished old boys and great sportsmen of STC. His father L.M. Wickramasinghe was hockey Captain of the college from 1961/62. Both his brothers Viresh and Dinesh were great sportsmen.
Wicky was one of the rare finds of the college because of his all-round capabilities. He entered STC in 1985 from President's College, was college prefect in 1995/1996 while leading the college hockey 1st Eleven team and captaining the college boxing team.
He played for the 1st Fifteen rugby team in 1996, was a member of the Sri Lanka national hockey side and played hockey for Sri Lanka schools and Colombo schools.
He began his career with the Hayleys group of companies and moved on to British Airways and Mobitel.
Suddenly in 1999, he was detected with a brain tumour.
In this period Wicky displayed superhuman courage. He never gave up hope, not even when the medical experts did.
Wicky was a great man at heart and courageous fighter. With a heavy heart I quote Hemingway: "You can kill a man but you never can defeat him."
STC Class of 96
Friend and counsellor
Ivy de Silva
It is with deep love, we write this appreciation in memory of our sister-in-law Ivy, who went to be with the Lord on July 13. She was a Florence Nightingale who cared for the sick and suffering, working in major govt. hospitals in Colombo, until her retirement as a nursing sister.
She was a counsellor and guide whenever anyone needed her.
She was a great mother to her daughters, Nirmali and Shamila, and her sons-in-law Jeevalal and Paul, were a tower of strength during her sickness.
She was cheerful and withstood the pain and suffering with fortitude. Ivy had a loving, understanding and supporting husband in Gordon.
May the Lord give him the strength and grace to face her loss.
I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race; I have redeemed my pledge.
Ruth and William De Silva
Sunday Times Aug 11 2002A doctor and gentleman
Dr. Bede Jayaweera
Death anniversaries bring poignant memories, beautiful, yet forlorn, of the sterling qualities of our dear departed.
Dr. Bede Jayaweera, whose fifth death anniversary was on July 28, had his education at St. Benedict's College, Kotahena. Having graduated from the Colombo Medical Faculty, he served in several outstation hospitals. After post-graduate studies in Britain, he assumed duties as consultant pathologist at the Maharagama Cancer Hospital in 1962.
From humble beginnings, he rose to dizzy heights to become the most-sought-after pathologist. His diagnoses were always beyond question and endorsed by all. Experts abroad always agreed with his diagnoses, when relatives of cancer patients sought a second opinion. The more famous he became, the humbler he was. That was Bede, the gentleman, who never forgot his roots.
Laboratory technologists who worked under Dr. Jayaweera recall with gratitude the expert guidance they received from him.
Bede had a way with the technologists. He showed regard for their long experience and had no qualms about getting their advice on technical matters. He took a personal interest in their family problems and often went out of his way to do what he could to solve them. He respected their sentiments and they in turn reciprocated by extending their unstinted loyalty to him.
Bede was also well-informed on any subject and could speak on mundane problems at length and provide ways and means of solving them. During a short stint as Acting Director at the Cancer Hospital, he rooted out lethargy, corruption and procrastination amongst the staff.
Though he was a strict disciplinarian, the hospital staff had great regard and respect for him as he was honest and straightforward.
Dr. Jayaweera had a heart of gold. As a devout Catholic, he contributed his share to the end. After retirement in 1995, he took charge of 'Shantha Sevena', a non-fee levying home donated and maintained by the Captain family for terminally ill cancer patients, under the auspices of the Cancer Society.
Dr. Jayaweera had great satisfaction working for these unfortunate patients, comforting them in the last few months or weeks of their lives.
Simplicity in all aspects of life was the hallmark of Dr. Jayaweera's character and he abhorred pomposity, ostentation and publicity.
Dr. Anandi Samarasekera
He helped many with a smile
M.C. Zainul Hussain
The demise of Mohamed Casim Zainul Hussain was a shock to all his relatives and friends.
Having learnt that he was due to leave for Mecca to perform Haj with his wife on February 16, I gave a call home that evening only to hear that he had died.
I knew Zainul from childhood. He was born in Hulftsdorp and lived in the area.
Educated at St. Sebastian School at Hulftsdorp, Zainul worked in two leading newspapers. He first joined Thinakaran in 1960 and worked there for more than 25 years as a reporter and sub-editor.
After retiring from Lake House, he worked in Qatar for a couple of years, returned home and joined the Island as a sub- editor.
Zainul was soft spoken and simple. He helped many, irrespective of caste, colour or creed and I was one of those who often went to his house to hand over articles for publication. He accepted them with a smile and got them published.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs honoured Zainul with the Kathir Al Haq award in 1994 in recognition of his contributions.
The day before his departure for Haj, Zainul had visited the Island office to bid goodbye to his colleagues. On the day of the flight, he had looked cheerful. He collapsed and died while waiting to emplane.
May Almighty Allah grant him Jennathul Firdouse!.
A duel unto death
Ran Banda Seneviratne
Maradankalla was a jungle village,
Nestled under the shadows of Mihintale,
Where King Tissa's royal chase,
Changed Lanka's history and fate.
Wannihamy Ran Banda's father,
Was the brave patriarchal leader,
He was teacher cum medicine man,
Vel Vidane and head of a clan.
They shared their labour,
In toiling and tilling,
They shared their produce,
In community living.
Timely rain brought,
Plenty and prosperity,
Beast and drought,
Ruined them to penury,
They consoled themselves
With eightfold law of universality.
When green paddies are smiling,
With savoury milk seeds,
Wild elephants are scenting
Their delicious seasonal meal,
They are drawn by these magnetic fields.
Message was received by jungle mail,
That a wild herd was on its way,
The braves of the village, the patriarch mustered,
With their heavy muzzle loading muskets,
They donned their doeskin sandals
To rush through jungle.
The elephants were greeted,
On their trail,
With deafening gunfire,
To turn their tail.
A magnificent tusker veered,
From the stampeding herd,
Crashed through a different track,
Wannihamy too with raised gun,
Ran to drive him back.
Suddenly a yawning precipice so deep,
Cut its panicked effort to flee,
Its feet screeched to break the speed,
Wheeling round it charged the same ground,
Tusker saw him and unable to elude,
Curled the trunk a deadly foreboding prelude.
Wannihamy reined his strides,
He could not sidestep had not time to retreat,
For steep embankments reduced his options,
A desperate being and a desperate beast,
Propelled by a surging karmic compulsion,
Few seconds stretched their impending fate.
Tempered by danger with knack for
With steel nerve and reflex action,
Aiming at forehead of target in motion,
In split second time he fired in a gamble.
Lumbering with raised trunk,
It collapsed and buried the tusks,
At the feet of the patriarch.
Tension released he heaved a sigh of relief,
He felt remorse at the fallen beast,
He plucked a branch and hung on a bough,
A ritual for Aiyanayake, the jungle god.
- G.H.A. Suraweera.
(Ran Banda Seneviratne was an Attorney-at-Law who hailed from Anuradhapura. He was a dramatist, TV and radio presenter, poet and writer in both Sinhala and English.)
We're bound to meet again
Colonel Upul de Lanerolle
Three years ago a gunshot took you
The glorious sun went down with you, putha,
Yet you left behind a loving gentle warmth
And the vibrancy that was always part of you.
Pinkamas were held in your name by all your kith and kin
with love and deep sincerity.
We're certain of one thing Upul Putha
That in the vast sea of Sansara
We're bound to meet again and yet again.
- Sorrowing mother Yasa de Lanerolle
(Colonel de Lanerolle passed away on 31.07.99)
Sunday Times Aug 4 2002Natural leader in war and peace
Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa
"Brigadier is calling, Brigadier is calling..."
That was all we heard. Being in the Special Forces, we only get a few minutes' warning. We get ready at once and run to the Brigade Commander's office. He tells my immediate boss of a rich mill owner kidnapped by the terrorists for ransom. We, the Special Forces, had to rescue him.
Having conducted so many operations together, we knew the Brigade Commander well. His orders were explicit, and we had no doubts about the way he conducted operations. He had developed so much confidence in us that we used to take major risks. If 20 of us were surrounded by thousands of terrorists, we knew he would take appropriate action. If they were not his orders, my Commanding Officer would not have sent us on this high-risk operation.
Boarding two helicopters we landed in an area northwest of Vavuniya, in a place dominated by terrorists, and managed to rescue the mill owner, killing one terrorist and capturing a few T-56 rifles in the process.
This was just prior to the Vadamarachchi Operation, on a Sunday afternoon at the Vavuniya army camp. The Brigade Commander was Brigadier Denzil Kobbekaduwa.
Others might have asked why a Tamil mill owner needed rescuing from Tamil terrorists by Sinhalese soldiers. But this was the lesson he instilled in us -no discriminaton. What better advice could we have in the present context?
Ten years ago, Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, made the supreme sacrifice for his country on August 8, 1992 at Araly Point in Kayts.
He was born on July 27, 1940 and brought up in Kandy. He was educated at Trinity College, joined the Army in 1960 and was commissioned to the Armoured Corps in 1962. I had the privilege of working under him for a brief period. He was diplomatic but determined, formidable but friendly, with a strong sense of public duty. He possessed a rare blend of qualities that enabled him to guide the Army during difficult times.
August 4, 1991 was Victory Day for the Sri Lanka Army, when the Elephant Pass Army Camp which had been surrounded by the LTTE and was under siege for a month, was rescued by us in a do-or-die operation. The second phase, entrusted to our battalion, was even more difficult. This required the expansion of the camp southwards and the capture of a village off Thadduwankody. Since there were no alternatives, we did this through a frontal assault on well dug-in enemy positions. With the LTTE resistance being high, we were unable to advance. Further, as the engineers were not able to repair the culvert on time, the armour was bogged down in mud. We lost several good men.
August 8, was the second day of the operation. Our battalion attacked at the crack of dawn, without armour, artillery or air support. One company streaked through an open patch and entered the village, killing 17 terrorists and capturing arms and ammunition. Sadly though, a few of our soldiers too were killed in action, with several being critically injured. General Kobbekaduwa, the man behind 'Balawegaya', visited our battalion. "Well done, congratulations, that was one of the best first light attacks I have seen," he declared, congratulating my Commanding Officer and myself. I did not think then that I would be weeping for this great soldier exactly one year later.
Racial discrimination was not in his vocabulary. Trigger-happy soldiers, whether in the south or the north, were never encouraged or even tolerated by him. He created apprehension in the minds of his enemies, superiors and politicians alike. Gen. Kobbekaduwa joined the Army at a time when many officers were the sons of famous fathers. With times changing, unemployment took the place of patriotism as a motive for becoming a soldier. Often it was those who could not find any other satisfactory source of income who enlisted in the forces. But in such a context the General had the required common touch. He knew the difficulties of the poor soldiers. He had the ability to make a patriotic fighting force of those who had joined the Army purely because they could not find a job.
He had a wonderful knack of cheering the men. He always considered human factors such as meals, leave and welfare, without forgetting that the best welfare you can provide to a soldier is training. He believed the morale of the soldier to be the greatest single factor to win the war. And he believed that to keep morale high, one needed primarily to look after the soldier's welfare.
When the war situation worsened in the country, many officers resigned after their 21-year stint, although they were still comparatively young.
But General Kobbekaduwa stayed with the Army because he wanted an end to this senseless war, and did not wish to leave the burden to the next generation.
His career could be remembered for a series of remarkable military achievements in high intensity operational areas.
Generous and hospitable, loyal and determined, Kobbekaduwa was a devout Buddhist while respecting all other religions alike.
General Kobbekaduwa knew most of his fellow officers by name and, whether in the battlefront or at Army Headquarters, he addressed them by their first name. Such was the simplicity of a man born to lead and to fight for his motherland. He guided, inspired and encouraged the soldiers to fight for a united Sri Lanka.
Always preferring to be in the thick of the fighting, boosting the morale of the men with words of encouragement to march on, rather than by belting out orders over the radio.
Officers and men alike preferred to take part in operations conducted by him, because he would plan and execute them meticulously.
Had he not taken over as Division Commander in July 1990 at a crucial time, Killinochchi and Jaffna Fort would surely have been overrun by the Tigers. He and General Wimalaratne planned and executed operations "Gajasinghe" and "Thrividabalaya" with such precision that they were resounding victories for the Army.
He was an excellent rugger player in his day, and probably the best referee we have ever had. Many have witnessed his performances in the rugger field, but very few have seen him playing soft ball cricket. After the arrival of the IPKF in July 1987, they took over much of the burden of military operations, and we had enough time to play cricket in the small ground in Vavuniya. After the toss, the two Captains would decide on their teams. The first choice for anyone was the Brigade Commander, not because he was the Coordinating Officer but because he was the best cricketer in Vavuniya Camp. Even in his absence, he would be selected first, with "Brigadier avoth apata", and then only would the rest of the side would be selected.
A natural leader in war and peace, he was a man of unostentatious dignity and outstanding integrity. For the record, I should note that I wrote an appreciation eight years back without mentioning my name. Now the regime has changed and so have the leaders. People who were scared by his popularity, or felt threatened by it, have passed on, and so one can write of one's experiences with him without fear or diffidence.
10 years ago, the guns boomed and the bugles sounded the mournful melody of the Last Post. A sea of humanity gathered in and around the cemetery, while millions of Sri Lankans who were glued to their TVs bowed their heads in intense grief. The nation was bidding farewell to Lanka's bravest soldier.
Lt Col (Rtd) Rohan Wijesinha ,W W V, R S P
Law College, Colombo.
A refreshingly different person
Lt. Col. Upul De Lanerolle
Three years ago on the fateful day of July 31, destiny snapped my beloved malli away from the world. Days have painfully and gradually dragged along but the acute pain we experienced three years ago has not yet diminished.
This may be due to the reason that he was such a rare human being, a refreshingly different person, full of vibrancy and enthusiasm, impulsive, brave, courageous and so very lovable.
He did have a quick temper and lacked patience but his loving heart was one of gold. What was outstandingly different in his character was that he believed in helping anyone whom he cared for by not mere words but with instantdeeds and actions. He offered unconditional assistance without a trace of hesitation or reluctance.
Anywhere he was present, the place shone and rang with merriment and I know his loss can never be filled.
When my husband Rohan visited Hatton National Bank, Jaffna recently, malli's friends gathered around him showing him warm hospitality with open arms, warm care and concern. This was ample testimony as to the way they loved malli. It was their way of paying tribute to this wonderful man, whom they had all loved. His sterling qualities were an asset to anyone whose lives he had touched.
To our family, his loss is too heavy to endure... the sparkle of our lives has been quenched and all we are left with are fragments of golden memories, which we fondly cherish as long as we live.
- Manisha Namal Seneviratne
He brought sunshine into our lives
Uncle Kolitha breezed into my life in the gentle manner that characterized him. In the same way, he suddenly breezed out, like a whiff of wind on July 1.
My meeting with Kolitha Ratnayaka was purely accidental. I had met him briefly, whenever I visited his Flower Road residence to meet his children, but never shared much conversation. When I started compiling an article on the Sinharaja rain forest, his son suggested that I speak to his father. Uncle Kolitha turned out to be a source of inspiration and a repository of knowledge with a keen insight into issues environmental and social.
And soon, my reasons for visiting his house changed, and I began spending more time with this charming, gentle being. At the end of each visit, I felt rewarded and enriched by his quiet wisdom and liberal viewpoints.
Every week, he would give me a critical account on my week's work, and suggest various topics I could write on. During the short period that we knew each other, we managed to do some salient work, edit a few books on various aspects of gardening - and I was awed by his knowledge on aspects of farming - a subject close to his heart.
A born naturalist fine-tuned to nature, he was the kind of person who enjoyed identifying bird calls, looking into a nest or appreciating the hues of a flower. Politics, environment, gardening were topics that appealed to him. But what brought happiness to this pious gentleman mostly, was serving the cause of the Dhamma and, at the village level, helping the poor.
A strong advocator of serving one's country, he often reminded me that it was selfish to criticize the system from the outside, whereas the brave would get involved, and attempt to introduce reforms, for the betterment of all. When his second son entered politics, it was the same theory he applied - to attempt to reform something than being a critical non-participant.
Uncle Kolitha certainly enjoyed his retirement. He often said it gave him time for indulgences - such as reading books, spending time in quiet prayer or visiting temples.
He brought much sunlight into the lives of others, nurtured others with his warm and caring ways. Without hyperbole, he was the epitome of human kindness.
Often when he telephoned, I would mistake his son's voice for his - and this entertained him tremendously. He would chuckle for long, before he corrected me. Sometimes we would discuss books, and suddenly he would spring from his chair to listen to a birdcall intently, and would be delighted if he could identify the sound without difficulty.
He was much disturbed by the contents of the Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh's book titled "Defending India". Perturbed, he invited me to help write a book in reply - "Defending Sri Lanka". Sadly, we never got around to doing it.
When the Somawathi Chaitya was restored to its former glory to coincide with the Poson Poya, his entire family was to visit Polonnaruwa. It was he who had the rare merit and privilege of offering the chuda manikya to the historical temple. When I asked him why he opted not to visit the place, strangely, he said that single day tours were not for him anymore. "I have grown old though nobody notices," he chuckled.
Uncle Kolitha was a virtuous Buddhist, silently serving his motherland. He simply lived by the Buddha's word. When politically motivated thugs during the last general election, attacked his son's supporters, he sagely added that such behaviour was always short-lived.
Just three weeks prior to his demise, he released a book titled "Fruit Farming". Having requested a review, he said that he would prefer if I helped him to compile some articles on places of Buddhist worship. "With the passage of time, many things are forgotten. So let's record whatever possible," he said.
The last time he called me, he suggested that I go on one of my 'regular jaunts' and visit the gem pit from where he got his first 'chuda manikya'. I made an appointment to visit the owner of the gem pit the following week. "It would make a wonderful human interest story," uncle said. But the day before my visit, he silently departed from this world.
It saddens me to think that this is one story I would write, but one he would never read. He would never read my review of his book. Half the joy of many things we planned has fled with his demise. The last of his tangible gifts was a book on world religions. That was just a fortnight before he died. When I met him for the last time, I was rushing back to work. How I regret the loss of an opportunity to have one last chat!
Uncle Kolitha enriched the lives of so many, and certainly did mine. The Chinese often say that a little bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives you the roses. Similarly, wherever he went, I am certain that his fragrance pervaded, and now that he is gone, would continue to linger!
May he attain Nibbana!
Sunday Times July 28 2002Srian Perera
He belonged to a vanishing breed of men
It is with profound grief that I pen this appreciation as a tribute to the memory of our dear brother Srian who passed away following a massive heart attack in the U.K. in March.
The cruel hand of death struck him so hard and swiftly that his family, relatives, friends and associates who heard of his untimely demise were stunned, and all who knew him were plunged into a state of shock and mystery. He was in such robust health and so full of life that many used to say that there never was a dull moment when Srian was around, as he kept people in fits of laughter with his keen sense of humour and witty remarks. It is therefore difficult to imagine that Srian is no more. He has left us at a time when we need his presence and services ever more.
Srian hailed from a family which pioneered an industry that was associated with the manufacture of jams, sauces and cordials in the country. He was the elder of the twins in a family of five boys and our parents named their products 'S & J Twins', after the twins in the family, Srian and Janaka(now Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in Australia).
Srian with his brothers entered the hallowed portals of that premier Catholic educational institution, St. Joseph's College, Colombo, and soon made a name for himself as an outstanding sportsman. As a schoolboy his name was synonymous with that wonderful sport - athletics.
His ascent to fame as a schoolboy athlete, began in earnest in 1960 at the Inter-House Sports Meet. Srian won his first triple crown at this meet by winning the sprint double 100 yds. and the 220 yds. under15, with record timings and also won the Long Jump event. Srian, Janaka and I represented Marque House and won the Under 16 4x110 yds. and the 4x440 yds. relays for our House with records. Three brothers representing a four member relay team was some thing unique at the time. In the following year - 1961, which was one of his best years, Srian established two public school records in his pet events, the sprints which have remained intact ever since. He continued his scintillating runs for a few more years, very often clinching sprint doubles and breaking records in the process. He was without a shadow of doubt one of the finest sprinters produced by St. Joseph's and capped his colourful athletic career by captaining both Junior and Senior teams. Srian played a major role in College winning the Relay Carnival from its very inception for 7 consecutive years, sweeping the board at the Colombo North Group Meet, year in year out and annexing the coveted Tarbet Cup and Jeafferson Trophy for relays at the Public Schools Meet at regular intervals.
He also captioned the Junior Teams of his House Marque (under 12 & 14) in cricket, and this brief stint held him in good stead when he played for his club in England and made immense contributions as a prolific run-getter.
Srian being a keen sportsman, quite naturally opted for an outdoor life and took to planting. Whilst I ventured out on tea and rubber estates in the low grown areas, he specialized in tea in the hill country.
He trotted the planting globe from hills of Uva to the cooler climes in our prime tea region N'Eliya and quickly climbed the ladder of success in his profession too. He got through all examinations conducted by the Ceylon Institute of Planting easily, and maintained very high standards of work on estates. He neither shirked his responsibilities nor did he take the path of least resistance when he had to face a problem. He was always forthright in his views, frank and outspoken, with malice to none and was reputed for his sturdy independence.
He established a healthy dialogue with his colleagues in planting and became the Branch Chairman of the Ceylon Planters' Society in Nuwara Eliya. He was also the President of a prestigious Planters' Club in the central hills. He was appointed as a Superintendent of Police in the Volunteer Force and was the Manager of the Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation Athletic team. These activities and offices he held clearly indicate the type of active life he led.
In 1978/79, he proceeded on furlough to England and resigned from planting, to seek greener pastures with the welfare of his young family foremost in his mind, which eventually proved to be one of the wisest decisions in his life.
In his personal life, his immediate family meant everything to him. Srian married Thilaka, a science graduate of the Peradeniya University, who is the eldest daughter of the late Senator Y.R. Piyasena and Mrs. Soma Piyasena. Their dedicated endeavours paved the way for their children to become what they are today.
The very fact that Chinthani is a professionally qualified accountant, Sashini a doctor of medicine and the only son Yenusha still in his fire of youth, a graduate and a consultant, will bear ample testimony to what I write.
He was so attached to his brothers that he considered them as a God given gift to him so much so that if he ever sensed a scenario that would have destabilised them, he took it as a missile hurled at him and promptly took concrete steps to rally round his brothers in a firm expression of support because to him family unity was paramount.
Srian was well known for his hospitality too, and those who had the privilege of being entertained by this wonderful host, either in his sprawling estate bungalows or in their beautiful home at Bracknell always maintained that Srian was one of the most hospitable men on earth.
Srian was generous to a fault and in assisting people in their hour of need, he resorted to acts of benevolence rarely seen, displaying humanity at its best for he belonged to a vanishing breed of great men who genuinely cherished human values. Memories of him will linger on and his near and dear ones will always be left to face that immeasurably lonely void of loss and despair as he has now entered the abode of peace.
Goodbye and farewell dear Srian, "To live in the hearts of men is not to die".
His lessons will remain in our hearts
B. Ariyapala's first death anniversary fell on July 16. Memories rush in about this unforgettable and exceptional character as a school teacher, husband, father and wonderful member of society.
As a teacher, he performed his duties without any complaints. As a principal, he fulfilled his mission humbly, modestly and with impartiality. Teachers who worked with him at Horowpothana Madhya Maha Vidyalaya, Kebithigollawa Madhya Maha Vidyalaya, Anuradhapura Deepani Maha Vidyalaya and several other schools, would recall the humility of this dedicated man.
The message of his sudden death was a reminder to me that life is indeed very short, and that all of us should be prepared to leave this world at any moment.
Rarely do we meet and associate with people like him, who have genuinely developed human qualities such as compassion, simplicity, patience and generosity.
He led an exemplary life in keeping with the Buddha Dhamma. He silently practised Buddhist teachings. He did not earn wealth but earned people. He taught us not to criticise, but to recognise reality and truth. Though he left us, his sterling advice and lessons will remain in our hearts.
As we mark his first death anniversary by performing religious activities, his memories and lessons will always guide us and make our lives better.
I am personally indebted to him for encouraging me to face all the trials and tribulations of life with an unwavering mind and for giving me the strength to become what I am today.
May he be free from all obstacles and challenges! After a short sojourn in Samsara, may he attain the bliss of Nibbana!
Don John Vidanapathirana
A simple, helpful person
My grandfather Don John Samarawikrama Vidanapathirana was a popular 'kalu vedamaththaya' in his village. He passed away in July 1995.
He was a very simple and helpful person. An honourable man, he won the love of people around him. Above all, he was a devoted Buddhist who gave almsgivings monthly to the Galboda temple.
May your journey through Sansara be short and may you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Sunday Times July 21 2002He was a silent worker
To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. So Al Haj M. S. Moujood, too, answered Allah's call and departed from this world on June 17.
Though in the forefront of trade and commerce in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were a few Muslims who realized the importance of higher education. Mackeen Moujood was one of them, who pursued higher studies and chose government service as his vocation.
Having graduated in science, he served in the Department of Labour where he rose to the position of Assistant Commissioner, a coveted post then. He also served in the Ministry of Plantation Industries during its formative years.
Being a person of intellectual integrity and devoted and dedicated 'doer', his urge to be of some service to society saw him being involved with the Moors Islamic Cultural Home, a pioneer service organization founded by Sir Razik Fareed in 1944.
He was an active member of the silver jubilee commemoration committee in 1969 and contributed his best to bring out a voluminous souvenir that contained several articles on the Moor community and its contribution to our motherland.
His wide experience in practically all activities of the MICH culminated in his being elected as one of its joint secretaries in 1985. He held this position for 17 long years, having been elected unanimously at every successive annual general meeting, until his demise.
To succeed and accomplish objectives, the leadership should be endowed with commitment and devotion of the highest calibre, coupled with hard work and diligence.
The MICH received this leadership in ample measure from Moujood. He will be always remembered, for his great contribution in the publication of the Sinhala translation of the Saheehul Buhari (a collection of teachings of the Prophet) and the development of the Pasha Villa at Dematagoda.
The Makola Muslim Orphanage, which renders noble but silent service to more than 600 students, is another organization which Moujood was actively involved in.
He was the joint treasurer of this institution, and spent every Sunday attending to the needs of these orphans.
He also served as joint secretary of the board of trustees of the Borella Jumma Mosque.
Al-Haj Mackeen Moujood never wished to win acclaim for what he did. He never talked about himself. A man of few words, he rendered his services silently.
In the home front, he was a towering father figure. Not only his four children, but also all his relatives looked upon him for advice and guidance.
He lived a calm and contented life, tackling problems if any, with a smile. He breathed his last with the same smile of serenity on his pleasant face.
May Almighty Allah grant him Jennathul Firdous! Aameen!
He moved in high circles but didn't lose common touch
A kind and gentle human being, Tissa was my valued friend. We attended the same school, Royal College.
He was in a higher class. So it was only later that we got to know each other and soon became friends. It was an intimate friendship that lasted till his death.
In recent years, Tissa led a semi secluded life, grief stricken at the death of his beloved wife, Visakha, a few years earlier. His love for her knew no bounds.
Tissa hailed from a rural background. He used to say of the peasants that he shared their joys and sorrows.
He left for England soon after the war, pursued his studies in law at the Inner Temple and passed out as a barrister.
On his return to Sri Lanka he practised law. His sharp mind and ready wit ensured a successful career at the Bar.
A feature, if we may call it such, of his adult life was his transition from a card carrying member of the Ceylon Communist Party to a believer in free enterprise. So much so that he founded a finance company which he named Sinhaputra Finance. The transition was out of sincere conviction and not due to any kind of expediency.
He developed the company which, thanks to Tissa, now enjoys a prestigious position in Sri Lanka's financial world.
He was appointed Ambassador to France and Switzerland and moved in the highest circles in Europe.
His charming personality endeared him to those whom he met and resulted in him making many friends. But he never lost the common touch.
An outstanding characteristic was his sense of humour.
He loved to play a joke on others, never though with malicious intent. He used to say the most outrageous things.
Tissa's fund of anecdotes and jokes made him a welcome guest at any gathering.
My daughters looked forward to his visit to our home and enjoyed his jokes particularly about his life in London.
Once both of us happened to be at London's Trafalgar Square on New Year's Eve night by the statue of Lord Nelson. (In those days there were comparatively few Asians in England.)
There were two sailors by the statue. In his own inimitable way Tissa asked the sailors, "Who is this?"
The sailors replied, "This is Alfred Lord Nelson who won the Battle of Trafalgar."
Tissa asked, "Oh, battle fought here?"
The sailors said, "No, at sea."
Tissa seemingly exasperated said, "Why he here then?" and then quickly "We don't know Nelson but we know Napoleon!"
That said we beat a hasty retreat.
Tissa was, after his own fashion, an outstanding personality. I am the richer for having known him. I shall miss him very much.
Sunday Times Jul 14, 2002She went forth for the good of many
It has been over a year
since the demise of my good friend Pushpa Hewavitarane.
A few days ago, she
appeared in a dream and said, "Nimal, let us go on a pilgrimage. I replied that
I was a busy housewife. She drove away. A short while later, she appeared again
and said: "Let us go home for a chat."
This strange dream
inspired me to write this long overdue appreciation.
When Pushpa returned from
England, clad in a white saree, with shaven head, bearing her husband's ashes
after his unsuccessful operation, I thought she would be a permanent sil matha.
She mourned for a while, but her vibrant spirit knew no bounds.
My watchword is service,
she said, and quoted the Buddha... "Go Forth for the good and welfare of many."
She certainly did that.
Pushpa and I were long
standing friends. Our friendship spanned more than 50 years, when she formed the
Daya Hewavitarane Dharma-duta Sabha. She left no stone unturned to make it a
The Sabha's maiden
enterprise was 'Sarana' a home for homeless mothers and infants.
To do work in the
outstations, she imported a fully equipped caravan. Often a bhikku would
accompany us to deliver sermons to villagers in remote areas.
The restoration of the
Yudhaganawa Dagoba, built to commemorate the battle between King Dutugemunu and
his brother Tissa, was another project we enjoyed. Today, it stands in its
original splendour, a shining tribute to Pushpa's untiring effort and
generosity. A 50-acre farm in Wellawaya worked entirely by young girls blossomed
into an exemplary means of livelihood for over 30 girls. Impressed by the
Herculean task of the girls, UNESCO donated a Massey Ferguson tractor and a van.
A few years later,
insurgents took possession of the complex. However, the Army came to our rescue
and gave the intruders marching orders, and restored the farm to the Sabha.
As insurgent activity was
rampant at that time, the Sabha gladly transferred the farm to the Army which is
now well managed by them.
During the Sri Pada
season, we climbed halfway up and brewed gallons of coffee to serve descending
When port workers went on
hunger strikes, a regular feature then, we would collect hundreds of
lunch-packets earlier dumped in the sea, and distribute them among the poor in
the Wanathamulla and Narahenpita shanties. A unique pinkama organised by Pushpa
was in Anuradhapura.
A hundred bhikkus seated
round the Ruwanveli Seya, protected by a canopy overhead chanted pirith all
night. A morning dana culminated in a pinkama reminiscent of the bygone
magnanimity of the Sinhalese Kings. From Nagadipa to Dondra, there is no place
we have not visited, to renovate ancient temples, establish Dhamma schools, and
to see to the well-being of the poor.
When drafting her will,
she allocated millions to various projects dear to her heart. Scholarships to
deserving children, the Sangha, farming implements to needy farmers, regular
donations to temples and to Ranaviru Sevena were just some of the projects.
I was the only signatory
besides Pushpa and the lawyer, when she assigned to the Public Trustee her home
at No. 17, Guildford Crescent. She named the home "Daham Lama" specifying in
detail how it should be run as a home for dasasil mathas, under the supervision
of six persons including myself.
Dear friend, may all your good deeds make your Sansaric journey a happy one until you repose in the Bliss of Nibbana.
- Nimaladevi Goonesekera
He kept vigil with me in London
Clem Perera passed away on
May 14, this year, after a sudden illness. I came to know Clem in 1984, when the
Sinhala Forum was formed in London to counteract the false propaganda
proliferated by the LTTE in Europe. Since those days, he had been an
indefatigable promoter of an undivided Sri Lanka.
In 1987, we spent 24 hours
together, outside the Indian Passport Office in the Strand in London. There were
reports that India was making preparations to invade Sri Lanka and war supplies
were being rushed to the southern Indian ports. On this basis, I got permission
from the Superintendent of Bow Street police station to stage a one-man 24-hour
vigil outside the Indian Passport Office. Later I persuaded the police officer
to allow me to bring another person; and this was Clem Perera. From that day
onwards, he was a moving force and enthusiastic protester against Indian plans
on Sri Lanka.
I had prepared two
handouts for distribution in an around the Strand. He got them printed and got a
few youths to have them distributed. The one that pleased him most carried the
message: "India is giving even hypocrisy a bad name."
On the selected day, July
13 (exactly a week before the IPKF entered our shores), we were at our protest
station by 4 a.m. By 6 a.m. we had our posters displayed and 50 candles lit on
the edge of the pavement. At 8 a.m., when the Indian High Commission opened, we
The security men ordered
us to get out, as it was a diplomatic premise. They did not accept that we had
permission from the police. As the High Commission officials moved in to remove
the posters, Clem shouted at them not to do so.
This commotion brought the
police officers posted at the HC door to the place where we were. They firmly
told the Indian officials that we had permission to stage our protest, and that
we should be left alone.
Clem was in his element
trying to strike a conversation with everyone who came to the Indian Passport
Office. Many Sri Lankans gave us food and drink. In his inimitable humorous
style, Clem urged those good people that they could continue their Samaritan
work into the next day by sending food and drinks to his house, as he had a wife
and kid to support.
By midnight all was quiet
and no one was about, other than the police officers. It was then that Clem told
me of his dream of returning to his beloved motherland to spend his last days
there. His wish was granted.
By 1 a.m. he got into the backseat of my car for a snooze. I settled down with a book on the pavement with my candles and a gas lamp. Soon I had fallen asleep. It was Clem who woke me up at about 5 a.m. He teased me for falling asleep on the job! I retorted that he was no better, having a nice snooze, stretched out on the backseat of the car. With a twinkle in his eyes he said, "So that's what you think I was doing. I was up all night keeping watch over you."
That was Clem. Good-bye my friend.
She loved to help others
Merle Dayanthi Weerakoon
Merle, as relatives and friends knew her, passed away peacefully on June 3 during the wee hours of the morning and was cremated at the Nawala Cemetery.
She had her education at Bishops' College, along with her other two sisters the late Doreen Ramanayake and Annette Gomez. She was also the sister of Dr. A.M.S. Karunatilake, the former Governor of the Central Bank.
Her husband Gunasiri Weerakoon, former Commissioner of Labour and daughter Shamile Fernando and grand-daughter Tharini survive her.
She was a kind-hearted lady who loved to help others.
She was a benefactor to those who knew her, particularly her family.
Being supportive of others' education and employment was a great joy to this pious lady.
Above all, she was a devoted wife and beloved mother and grandmother. Even on the day of her death, she had lovingly put her grand-daughter to sleep.
May she attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.
A man of talent and style
Noel de Costa
A.M. Noel de Costa passed away on June 19 after a brief illness, at the age of 89.
I admired Uncle Noel very much. A product of St. Joseph's College, he was my father's contemporary and friend.
He was an outstanding cricketer, whose talents were passed on to his son Alan who carried on with equal distinction, much to Uncle Noel's delight.
A talented golf and tennis player, he was an ardent lover of wildlife and nature and a great supporter of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society.
I recollect with deep sadness, some memories of Uncle Noel. I first came to know him years ago when I accompanied my father to his office.
Years later in the 1970s, he helped my sister and me to get our first jobs.
I was employed by the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society and my sister joined Uncle Noel's firm. By this, our association with his family gradually became very close.
I will never forget how this fatherly figure used to go out of his way to drop us at home after work on rainy days.
He was handsome and had style. In everything, he demonstrated his sense of style - be it speech, writing, deportment or dress. He was kind, gentle, quiet and soft-spoken. Yet he was authoritative and won the respect of all he came into contact with.
His endearing nature was complemented by the bubbly personality of his dear wife, Aunty Rowan. The understanding and support of his charming, devoted and unassuming wife contributed significantly towards the person he was.
She has lost a wonderful husband, his children, a loving and caring father.
To all other members of his family and to everyone of us who had the fortune of knowing him, his passing is a deep personal loss.
Uncle Noel was a voracious reader, who even at his age managed to go through the newspapers.
He had made arrangements for his funeral and even the obituary notice titled "The long day's task is done and we must sleep", and the family adhered to his final request.
The last melody
Melody. That's what you
I remember, the days you sat beside me
as I played my big, black grand piano
I remember you watching my fingers waltzing
across the keys and watching my face,
and whispering words of love.
You loved the tunes I
Music was in me and that's why
you called me, Melody.
But that's just a memory of the past.
The tunes once heard shall never be heard, again.
That's my promise to you.
But today, I play one last
In memory of you, my love.
Today, you're not sitting next to me,
watching my face or my fingers running
across the piano, or whispering words of love to me.
But from heaven above you are
listening to me, I know.
So till we meet again,
This one is for you, my love.
A frank and simple man
It's with a deep sense of
sorrow that I write this appreciation for one of my favourite cousins, Rohan
It was about two years ago
that I heard that Rohan Aiya had a fall when he had gone to Argentina for a
Rotarian Conference, representing Sri Lanka. Since then he had been unconscious
till he passed away in January, this year.
He was attached to his
relatives, whether they were affluent or not.
I remember how when I took
up a teaching appointment in Male, I went to bid him goodbye. He was very happy
and presented me with a leather wallet which had been given to him by one of his
business partners, and told me that I could put all my travel documents in it.
It was very useful to me
each time I went abroad. I treasure it to this day.
He used to invite me for
Sunday lunches where Neelakanthi, his wife, used to lay out a big spread, after
which I was dropped back home.
Another event was his
annual almsgiving, where all the relatives and friends were invited.
The last almsgiving where
I met him was about two years ago.
He was hale and hearty and
told us that he, Neelakanthi and their three daughters continued these
almsgivings without a break.
His frankness, simplicity,
devotion to duty and honesty were outstanding.
The passing away of Rohan
Aiya is a great loss not only to his devoted wife and daughters, but also to his
May your journey through sansara be short and may you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.
Sunday Times Jul 7, 2002
Whatever he undertook, he did well
Wilhelm is no more. A sudden illness
took him away when he was in full stride. Wilhelm was a versatile personality,
sportsman, planter, businessman and entrepreneur.
Wilhelm was an outstanding sportsman
at Trinity. He played in David Frank's 1956 rugby team, which was arguably one
of the finest produced by Trinity. Wilhelm won the coveted Trinity Rugby Lion
for his performance as a flanker, then known as wing forward. He continued his
rugby when he was a planter in the upcountry districts.
As a planter he was trained by the
legendary Gamini Salgado and went on to be superintendent of many estates, his
last being Andigama Estate, Giriulla. He was also interested in diversification
and even bred sheep when he was at Andigama.
Moving on from his planting career,
Wilhelm ventured into the business world, where he enjoyed a great degree of
success. It was as an entrepreneur that Wilhelm showed exceptional talent. He
started by introducing gherkins as an export crop and was so successful that
many others followed. He moved into coconut fibre products and made a success of
this venture, too. Here again many others followed. More recently, Wilhelm
introduced Poulownia, the fast growing timber species, to this country.
Unfortunately, he did not live to see its fruition.
Wilhelm, together with Raja Attygalla
and Lasantha Fernando, formed the Association of Ex-Planters. He was the
association's first president. This association has as its main objective the
welfare and well-being of planters who have retired and need assistance in
various forms. Wilhelm spent a lot of time and energy, and even his personal
funds, in getting the association on its feet and running. He was president for
five years and gave up when he was satisfied that the association would not look
back. Today this association is over ten years old, functioning effectively and
a tribute to Wilhelm's vision and his concern for his fellow planters.
Wilhelm was determined to help rugby
at Trinity from which he had benefited greatly. He threw his weight behind the
Old Trinitians' Rugby Scrummage with his usual fervour and enthusiasm. He was
president of the OTRS for two years and guided this group to becoming a useful
arm of Trinity's rugby scene. Wilhelm was a source of strength to the Principal
of Trinity, Prof. W. Breckenridge. He worked tirelessly along with a few others
to build the Pallekelle Stadium for Trinity rugby.
Those who knew Wilhelm will miss him
greatly. He was a good friend, who was concerned about his friends. Whatever he
undertook, he did well. He had the ability of leading from the front and
infusing his enthusiasm in the members of the associations he led.
The members of the Old Trinitians'
Rugby Scrummage and the Association of Ex-Planters salute Wilhelm for his
untiring efforts on behalf of both these organizations, and wish to record their
We offer our deepest sympathies to Lorni and the children on their sad loss. Their consolation is that Wilhelm lived a great life and was appreciated by all who knew him.
- President and Members of the Association
President and Members of the Old Trinitians Rugby Scrummage
Bishop Harold de Soysa
He was childlike and humble
On May 4, the church remembered
Bishop Harold de Soysa.
He was the first Ceylonese Bishop of
Colombo. He and Bishop Abeynaike are perhaps the only two Bishops of Colombo to
be elected uncontested.
He hailed from a family which has
served both the church and society well. Having received his education at Royal
College, he proceeded to England where he studied at Oxford and was trained for
ordination at Cuddesdon. After his ordination in England, he worked there for a
short period before returning to Ceylon. Here he worked in Kandy, Moratuwa and
He was also the principal of the
Colombo Divinity School, where he was responsible for the training of many
ordinands. While being principal, he was also made the Archdeacon of Colombo.
Bishop Harold would be remembered for
many things. His contribution to the Sunday school movement and the Church of
Ceylon youth movement would always remain etched in our memory.
He was also the live- wire of the
Gospel and Culture Movement in our church's, Indigenisation.
He also played an important role in
the Church Union and the Ecumenical Movement. His work in this area was
recognised to such an extent that he was part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's
Anglican-Roman Catholic conversations.
He and a few others dreamed and saw
visions about our new cathedral, but, alas, he, like Moses, did not enter the
Promised Land of the new cathedral. While the cathedral was being built, he died
in 1971. However, his mortal remains were buried inside the cathedral.
Above everything else, Bishop Harold
was essentially a man of God. He was a man of prayer who developed his own
spirituality. That was manifest in his life and work.
This man of God was indeed the perfect child of God for he was childlike simple and humble in many ways. We thank God for the life and work of this unique man of God.
Fr. Sydney Knight
R. G. Bernard
A gentleman to the letter
The affable and amiable businessman,
R. G. Bernard is no more. He was a man with great wisdom and foresight.
Bernard never failed to offer the
best advice to those who came to him with any problem. He was not only helpful
in word, but also deed, and he never refused assistance to those who sought
He was a gentleman to the letter and
lovable family man. He built up his business through sheer commitment,
dedication and determination. At times, we used to wonder how such a kind-
hearted, man became a successful businessman. Of course, Bernard proved to the
world that an honest man with a good heart and generous spirit could also be a
For me, Bernard was not only a friend
but much more. Only a few weeks ago, he called on me to see how I was faring
after open-heart surgery, and was full of advice.
May the turf lie softly on his ashes and may he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Ranjit C Dissanayake
A bright light who cheered us all
It has been a year since our only
brother passed away without a word of good-bye.
He was no celebrity or popular figure, but a quiet and unassuming person very dear to his family members and friends.
His sense of humour was his most outstanding characteristic. He had a remarkable knack for mimicking.
The memories of many happy hours spent in his company can never be forgotten.
His jokes, often spun by him, kept us refreshed and happy. The house rang with laughter when he was present.
His philosophical outlook helped him lead a calm and peaceful life, for he never worried about misfortunes or eventualities.
"Let matters take their own course," he would often say, and death did have its own way as it snuffed him out suddenly.
He was a bright light which cheered us all the way through, and now, there is no laughter in the house.
He has left a void that can never be filled. May he be in heaven making those who went before him laugh.
It is this thought that gives us some consolation.
May his soul attain peace.
His loving sisters
Sunday Times Jun 30, 2002He was a perfect, gentle knight
I am happy to pay my modest tribute
to someone I knew and respected as an elder statesman in the expatriate Sri
Lankan community, committed international civil servant, and above all, mentor
The exemplary odyssey of Andrew
Joseph's life and career has been traced by others. I focus on Andrew the Sri
Lankan. He belonged to that lucky and exceptional post-colonial generation who
graduated from university and took up key government positions immediately after
the country regained independence in 1948 after four and a half centuries of
colonial occupation. While many of the elite sent their children mainly to
western universities, Andrew was quintessentially a home-grown product of a
leading Sri Lankan school and the only university we had at that time.
He once told me that he wanted to be
an architect and eagerly followed some college architecture courses after his
retirement from the UNDP. Social pressures and the historic challenge facing his
generation led Andrew to take the intensely competitive examination and enter
the elite Ceylon Civil Service. He was placed first in his batch.
The task of converting the rich
heritage of an ancient country's past into the political and economic viability
of a modern nation state was shouldered both by the politicians and the
professional class. Andrew was in the latter category, and his ambition of being
an architect had to be converted to the larger task of nation building,
especially in the health sector.
Sri Lanka has already overcome the
scourge of malaria and the groundwork was being laid for the exemplary
socio-economic indicators that were to make Sri Lanka fashionable with
development economists - the high literacy rate, the long life expectancy, the
low maternal and infant mortality rates and the distributive economic justice -
until the prevailing fashions of the economic deities changed.
In 1959 Andrew, then newly married to
Sue, moved from the national stage to the international stage - first to the
WHO, where our distinguished Secretary-General began his own career in the
international civil service. From there Andrew's commitment to the cause of
developing countries drove him to join the UN Technical Assistance Board, which
mutated into UNDP. He enjoyed serving in Asian countries as Resident
Representative. Andrew's lifelong discipline of conscientious public service,
precision in thought and action, his dynamism and dedication to the cause of
poverty reduction were thus fully deployed.
Unsurprisingly, he was brought to
headquarters, first to the African Bureau and then to the Regional Bureau for
Asia and the Pacific, which became his home for over a decade. Succeeding
another Sri Lankan - Raju Coomaraswamy, as Assistant Administrator for Asia and
the Pacific was by any standards a remarkable feat for a national from a small
developing country in the international system. But such was Andrew Joseph's
reputation in the UNDP that his claims were undeniable enabling him eventually
to be appointed Associate Administrator. Thus he became the second Sri Lankan to
achieve Under-Secretary-General rank and, the first and so far the only, career
international civil servant from Sri Lanka to do so.
Throughout his career, Andrew
encouraged and guided his younger colleagues in the UNDP and his younger friends
from Sri Lanka with solicitous advice and wise counsel. They responded with
gratitude and admiration - as I did.
While being from both an ethnic and
religious minority in Sri Lanka, Andrew remained dedicated to the cause of a
united, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Sri Lanka. The fact that his last request
was for family and friends to make donations, in lieu of floral tributes, to his
old school to benefit needy students regardless of ethnic origin is eloquent
testimony of Andrew's caring personality.
A mutual Sri Lankan friend once
observed that Sri Lankan expatriates were either super patriots or super
critics. Andrew was neither. Maintaining his bonds with family and friends in
Sri Lanka he also remained linked to successive governments counselling and
helping visiting VIPs.
My impression of Andrew will remain as when I first met him 24 years ago - clear-headed, soft-spoken and gentle, with a twinkle in his eye and a generosity of spirit that seemed inexhaustible.
As Chaucer described, Andrew's prototype in the Canterbury Tales, "he was a very perfect gentle knight".
UN Dept. of Disarmament Affairs
A war hero remembered
Major Lal Hemantha Wijewardhana
"What am I to do, in an office
With my training overseas?
O, father give me permission
To join the field!"
Lal Hemantha Wijewardhana
A Major of Vijayaba 1st Regiment,
Sacrificed his life at twenty-nine
In 1995, June 1.
You were commanding a hundred
When shot in the Thiriyaya jungles
"Leave me alone and run!"
Was your last command.
But, that was not obeyed
By your faithful friends,
Bleeding and screaming in pain
You were carried home on their shoulders!
They trudged 13 kilometres in the
Those brave sons who brought you to Trinco,
Alas! a few yards ahead of the camp
You breathed your last, in their hands!
Suffering and bleeding for hours
You had called your family members -
If you were brought swiftly to Colombo,
Our darling you would have lived much longer!
Brave sons, we bow to you,
For bringing our dear one -
For us to see, his final glimpse,
For a last kiss on his loved face.
Darling son, brother, nephew,
In our hearts, you will forever live
May you be reborn in our family
And attain 'Nibbana' finally!
Those who feel the pains of war
Will always oppose the perpetuation of war!
Sunday Times Jun 23, 2002Mervyn De Silva
Wandering between two worlds, one
The other powerless to be born.
On June 22 1999, as the twentieth century drew to an end, Mervyn de Silva left us. At that time one could sense that with his passing, an era in the literary history of Sri Lanka had ended. Because he was the last of a glorious age of journalism. He belonged to an illustrious tradition of English journalism in Sri Lanka that gave us H.A.J. Hulugalle, Jayantha Padmanabha, Tarzie Vittachi and Denzil Peiris. They were brilliant editors who provided us with not just world-class newspapers; they were also erudite men who helped build a Ceylonese literati that any society can be proud of.
Today, three years after his
departure, it is time for considered reflection on Mervyn, his life and his
contribution. His literary pilgrimage took him through three stages. The first
began with the liberal education that he received at Royal and Peradeniya. Here
he acquired and imbibed all that was admirable in Western culture, literature
and thought. And he was able to transform these literary skills into a career in
journalism at Lake House that climaxed in the early seventies with him becoming
editor of the Daily News and the Sunday Observer.
By then he was Sri Lanka's best-known
journalist. He would cover and report on the country for the most prestigious
international journals: the Economist, Newsweek and the London Financial Times.
He also reported for the BBC. As a foreign correspondent he was the driving
force behind the Foreign Corespondents' Association, serving as its president.
He left an indelible mark on journalism in this country.
But he went beyond being just another
literary dilettante. The rise of nationalism that came with the post-colonial
years interacted with and impacted on his Western sophistication to give this
country, for the first time, an editor who was liberal in the most profound
sense of the word, in that he was sensitive to the aspirations of the emerging
Sinhala and Tamil speaking world.
His second arena was international
affairs. He schooled himself in foreign affairs so that he became the country's
foremost writer and broadcaster in this field. As Secretary-General of the
Ceylon Institute of World Affairs he fashioned a forum where the issues of the
day could be discussed and developed. One of my earliest recollections of Mervyn
was at a presentation by Shirley Amerasinghe, then Colombo's Permanent
Representative at the United Nations. While Maj. Gen. Anton Muttukumaru presided
it was the debonair Mervyn, immaculately dressed, pipe in hand, who gave the
vote of thanks. He opened with: they say it's a good thing that diplomats have
long noses, because they cannot see beyond it. It was pure Mervyn, charming,
witty, the consummate speaker, a treat to listen to. The two-day seminar that he
was to organize in 1972 at the Taprobane on The Indian Ocean Region, brought
together the best minds of the day, among them jurist Lalith Athulathmudali,
diplomat Yogeswaran Duraisamy, academic K. H. Jayasinghe, writer Hector
Abhayavardhana and strategist Rajan Kadiragamar.
At a time when the Cold War had left
the emerging states in the South with little option but to formulate their own
foreign policy, Sri Lanka was fortunate to have in Mervyn someone who was gifted
with a sense of history. It enabled him to respond to the flood of ideas coming
out of the South as it grappled with its newfound freedom and evolved a policy
of Non Alignment.
Understandably the mainstream media
could not accommodate him or contain him; so he had to break out, he had to do
his own thing. And so began the third phase of his journey. He set out to create
and fashion a literary vehicle that quintessentially could carry his progressive
liberal vision. And in 1978 was born The Lanka Guardian. He shared his dream
with me on a warm afternoon at the Orient Club. This was where Mervyn retired
each day, and as his eye focused on the billiard table, his mind grappled with
the challenge of launching a new magazine, a different magazine.
In those early days, The Lanka
Guardian drew on the literary talents of independent writers like S.
Pathiravitharne, Regi Siriwardene and V. P. Vittachi providing them, and later
countless other writers with a unique forum. Mervyn also built around him a
loyal team, Hugh Abeyaratne who single-handedly sub-edited the magazine, Gamini
Dissanayake who looked after the business side and Shahareen Ismail behind her
typewriter. And from a small office at the YMBA they opened a window through
which a generation could view Sri Lanka, could share ideas, could debate issues
and could publish poetry.
In the years that followed, as tame
journalism became the hallmark of the mainstream media, the Guardian stood out
as a fiercely independent magazine, which opened its pages to diverse views and
distant voices. It was honest and intelligent in a world that had become
mediocre and mundane. It conveyed news, made analyses and poked fun, as
everything around was reduced to stultified regimentation. As Sri Lanka passed
through the darkness of the eighties and nineties, as violence swept the land,
destroying dissent and creativity, Mervyn ensured that the Guardian hit the
streets. It was his statement of faith, his belief in getting truth and opinion
out there regardless of the cost..
He kept at it with tenacity, undaunted by the challenges. At that tenuous period of time, it was his testament, his legacy. History called him to independently take a stand as a commentator, and this he did without a moment's hesitation. And he kept on at it until the very end, writing, broadcasting, thinking and speaking, never disheartened by the carnage, the futility and the vanity of that era. He kept true to the end. Surely could he have said when it was all over, like Mark Anthony before him? Unarm Eros, the long day's task is done.
A reservoir of knowledge
Last Thursday, June 13, 2002, a
legend in Sri Lankan journalism, Victor Gunawar-dena died after a brief illness.
I first came to know Victor when I
was the Director of the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) in 1995. My close
association with him began with my introducing an idea to him of starting a
course of study in Journalism and Communication for school leavers. The accent
of this course was to be on ethics and professionalism, in print journalism and
the related fields of TV, radio, advertising and public relations.
Victor grasped this idea with vigour,
within weeks fleshed out comprehensively the concept paper I had prepared, and
made it possible for us to operationalize the course in 1996. The first Diploma
Course in Journalism and Communication in the English medium for school leavers
was thus born with Victor as its Project Director.
Within a short period, with Victor's
guidance, direction meticulous arrangements and planning, the course enjoyed a
considerable reputation. Victor believed in assuring quality, and his attention
to every detail in developing the curriculum, his exhaustive consultations with
highly reputable resource persons and his dedication and commitment to the
Project, helped make my dream become a reality. Soon, the Diploma Course at the
SLFI was referred to as 'Victor's baby'. How true! He nurtured it with tender,
loving care and treated the students like his own children sometimes even
compromising on discipline and order.
Sadly, Victor's premature exit from
the Course, left him a highly disappointed man. Predictably the Course took a
different turn, having lost its father figure.
During these past few years Victor
was also a strong arm of support and strength to me whenever I sought his
counsel on a variety of matters.
Newspapers described Victor as a
'living encyclopaedia' and a 'walking library'. This is only an underestimation
of what he was. He was all of it rolled into one - a reservoir of knowledge,
information and wisdom.
On the June 1, this year, I began a
new association with Victor when he joined the President's office as its
Consulting Editor, Publications. Within a span of 12 days he taught all of us so
much, and quickly became an indispensable resource.
On that fateful day last week, Victor
had just completed an interview with the Chairman, Ranaviru Seva Authority on a
story he was writing on welfare measures introduced for armed forces personnel
and their families. While leaving the building he fainted, and on admission to
hospital was discovered to have an expanding intra-cranial haemorrhage, which
the doctors pronounced inoperable. Victor's condition deteriorated rapidly and
within 24 hours he was gone.
With Victor's demise, Sri Lanka lost
a highly respected journalist with unparalleled integrity. His daughters lost a
father one could only dream of having.
I lost a guide and mentor, I will perhaps never have.
Dr. Tara de Mel
Fond farewell dearest mother
Winifred de Silva
You are the dearest mother
Are the best that's ever been!
The world has ever seen
To us your children, you, dear mother
From the time that we were children
You taught us right from wrong
You built up our characters
To be just, clean and strong
Love for God and our Heavenly Mother
You firmly instilled in our mind
To tend and care for the poor and needy
And our neighbours to be kind
You loved us all so dearly
With your very heart and soul
And with care and understanding
Guided each one to their goal
Even with nine children
To nurse, to clothe, to teach
When other's children sought your help
You always were within their reach
You cooked and washed and fed us
Then rushed off to teach at school
But still had time to show us how
To abide by the rules.
Through example and precept
You taught us how to gain respect
Give unto others their rightful place
And to look at things from their aspect
For grand and great grandchildren
You had all the time
And with the in-laws gathered round you
Your life was so sublime
You also were a friend indeed
With kith and kin who were in need
Your generosity you'd never show
What your right hand gave, your left would never know!
You carried us on the wings of an
Through good times and in bad
You were our trusted confidante
The best friend we ever had
Our friends were welcomed, sans
And you helped our friendships, grow so strong
They'll miss you as much, as us dear mother
And remember you their whole lives long
We thank God for you dear mother
and your exemplary life
The way you held your head up high
Through trouble and through strife
Ever noble, strong and silent
You shielded us from harm
Every time we failed or faltered
You were there, with outstretched arm
To keep you longer with us
We tried our very best
But God thought it was time for you
To have that well deserved rest
So, farewell, farewell dearest mother
Ever gentle and so kind
Etched indelibly you will stay
In each one's heart and each one's mind
Mother we pray, please guard and
From your special place in heaven
And forgive us our trespasses
Even seventy seven times seven
We know you're seated by God's side
With our father gone before
And hope one day to join you
And together live for evermore!
Your grateful children
The epitome of spirituality
Mohamedali Sultan Abdul Cader
Marhoom M.S.A. Cader passed away on
March 12 in Colombo, surrounded by his loved ones. The beautiful smile and the
tranquil look even in death bore testimony to the dignified and pious life he
In a Hadeeth, the Prophet had said:
"The angels will descend upon a person who is nearing death. If he is good the
angels will say, 'Come out! O good soul proceeding from a good body! Come out in
an honourable way and rejoice in God's bounty and favour and the Lord is ever
happy with you'. The angels will then escort his soul to heaven and upon
reaching the heavenly entrance, the inhabitants would say: 'Welcome! O good soul
proceeding from a good body, enter ye with full honour and rejoice in the bounty
and pleasure of Allah.' His soul is then taken from one heaven to the next and
eventually escorted to the presence of Allah, the Most Exalted."
Marhoom Cader certainly lived a rich
and eventful life. Having received his secondary education at the prestigious
Jaffna Hindu College, he pursued higher education at the Colombia University,
New York, where he was the vice president, of the Foreign Students' Association.
He was the second Muslim from Jaffna to enter the Ceylon Administrative Service after Senator A.M.A. Azeez.
He was secretary at our embassy in
Jakarta, served in the Ceylon delegation to the United Nations, New York and led
a many a Sri Lankan delegation abroad for conferences.
This brilliant public servant served
his motherland untiringly and held many prestigious positions. At the time of
his demise, he was a member of the Colombo Mediation Board and the panel of
Disciplinary Tribunals for Public Servants. He was also a fellow of the Royal
Commonwealth Society, Sri Lanka.
Despite all the glorious feats
achieved, he remained the epitome of modesty, simplicity and humility with a
deep and abiding sense of spirituality. His face would light up with a smile as
he greeted his friends and relatives at his home, 'Villa Qadir'.
It was Mr. Cader who translated "Guru
Mani" one of the earliest works of Guru Bawa Muhiyaddeen, and named his
translation "The Pearl of Wisdom" and credited the entire proceeds of the sale
of this book to the Serendib Sufi Study Circle.
Innaa Lillaahi Wainnaa Ilayhi
Raajioon - to Allah we belong and to Him we return.
May he attain Jannathul Firdause.
M. Z. Akbar
Sunday Times Jun 16, 2002
STF elite force bears his stamp
The passing-out-parade of the 45th batch of the Special Task Force (STF) worked with absolute precision recently as it has since 1983.
There are a few, some living and some
dead, who were responsible for the creation and development of this elite police
paramilitary unit. They provided direction, guidance and leadership, but one
name in particular that can never be forgotten is that of Upali Sahabandu,
Director of Training of the STF from 1983 till his untimely and tragic death in
1996. Most, if not all, of the ceremonies and protocol associated with the STF
which had been introduced during his time as Director are still preserved.
From a teachers' training school in Katukurunda, I witnessed it being transformed into one of the finest training institutions in the world. I have seen similar institutions in Israel, Britain and South Africa, and it is no idle boast that the STF training wing easily ranks alongside them.
The man responsible for this achievement was Upali. Those who knew him intimately cannot fail but see his golden touch in that training establishment - be it the beautiful landscaping, the many firing ranges or the abseiling tower, assault courses, gymnasium and other training facilities. They all stand out in mute testimony to his dedication and commitment.
It is not so much in these inanimate objects that we witness the hand of Upali but in the products that he churned out, batch after batch over the years. His concentration was mainly on the individual entrusted to him, to be transformed into a man fit to enter the ranks of the STF. He spared no pains and utilised all the resources at his disposal.
He did break, mould and make men out of virtual "green horns" as the expression goes. This was a challenge he revelled in.
A martial arts exponent, he led by example, and the trainees virtually idolized him. His enthusiasm and energy were infectious and he had no difficulty in motivating and inspiring his instructors and trainees.
He did not restrict himself only to the confines of the training establishment, but participated in exercises and active counter-terrorist operations.
It was during one of his visits to the operational areas that he fell victim to a terrorist landmine.
The STF as a paramilitary unit has done both the police and the country proud. It has excelled in sports particularly in marksmanship and martial arts, a fact acknowledged by Minister John Amaratunga who addressed the trainees at the last passing out parade.
No man who has been actively involved in the STF was unaware of the tremendous contribution of Upali towards the success of the STF. He was a man who has been held in high esteem, not only within the police but within the armed services.
In the years to come, it is possible as it often happens that he would be forgotten.
There are institutions named after individuals who had no involvement in them.
Here was a man who dedicated the better part of his life into the training of this elitist force. It would cost the police and the country nothing, if they were to name the STF training wing, the Sahabandu Special Forces Academy.
It would be a fitting tribute to a
man of the calibre of Upali Sahabandu.
"He will not grow old as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember him.
Retired Senior DIG
Beatrice Sahabandu Amerasekera
She touched the hearts of many
Softly and tenderly, Jesus called you darling mummy. You slowly slipped away on that morning even without waiting for nangi. The blow of parting was severe. The loneliness and emptiness will never fade away.
A grand and gracious lady, Beatrice Sahabandu Amarasekera - "mummy" to most of my friends - passed away on November 24, last year at the age of 87. It is difficult to imagine that the rest of my life will be spent without her and I will only have precious memories.
She was in poor health for four
months and despite her suffering remained cheerful. My friends who visited her
while I was at work were told that she would not live long.
She was gifted with extraordinary talents and qualities. Her abilities were many. She never disappointed anyone and did the work entrusted to her. She was calm and quiet, kind and intelligent. She touched the hearts of many.
She was a veritable human dynamo and gained the respect of all who came in contact with her vast knowledge, dedication to work and unassuming nature. Her belief was that one should sacrifice self interest for the good of the community.
A voracious reader, she won newspaper crossword puzzle prizes on many occasions. Even at her ripe age, she had about 10 students whom she taught English although it was not her vocation. My mind goes to this beautiful verse.
What a friend we have in mother
Who will all are secrets share
We should never keep things from her
Tell her all and she'll be there
Oh, what tender love she gives us
When in sorrow or despair
Tell her gently whisper softly
She will listen, she'll be there
Good night darling mummy till we meet on that beautiful shore.
Bud that will adorn the Master's lapel
The gardener came around in the early
Looking for a bud for the Master's lapel,
The gardener knew no ordinary bud would suffice,
For He is the Master of all masters!
Of the two buds on a lush green bush,
Carefully pruned and well nourished,
The gardener snipped the bud about to blossom,
Perfect! he sighed with great delight!
To blossom on the bush and wither
No! This bud so precious, there is no way,
It will adorn my Master's lapel,
Enveloping Him with a fresh mild scent!
The learned shine like stars!
The motto of his school so reminds-
A star so bright that adorned the horizon,
Has left the orbit to brighten after cluster!
The loss so awesome, the shock so
Hearts are laden with grief intense,
Yet it was as easy as passing exams,
For Shehan to go through the Pearly Gates!
- Grieving fellow parents of St. Nicholas' International College
Sunday Times Jun 9, 2002
She saw God in everything good
She was an artist. To her, art was
life; she lived and breathed it. She drew, she painted, she sculpted and she
created stained glass pictures of great beauty.
She danced and she wrote poetry. She worked towards a world in which everything could be made more beautiful, from an inner sense. She was wedded to art in more than one sense ; her first marriage was to a sculptor and her second to a concert pianist.
She believed in God and kept an open mind about religion. Through her rich and varied experiences in life, she had come to believe that God was in everything that was right and good. Her expansive mind was able to draw from the teachings of all the great religions and form her own beliefs. She believed that God lived through art and that art in its purest sense, was worship of divinity.
She cherished freedom of spirit. She identified it as a bond with a higher power. It was this free-spiritedness which made her break with the shackles of a highly conservative upbringing and in her mid-20s, leave Ceylon and in her own words, "all that I had ever known and loved", to sail to England to pursue her dream of graduating in art.
Her action would have sat ill with the traditions of the background that Varuni came from, but she was one who beat her own path, not one who meekly followed the one laid for her by society. "An inner urge drove me on," she has written in her memoirs. She could not have given rein to her free spirit if she had also not been a woman of great courage. To deliberately move away from the comfort zone that she had known, in that day and age, and pursue her calling despite tremendous odds which she encountered in a strange land, would have required grit of a high degree.
She never faltered and never looked back. In time, she achieved the spiritual fulfilment which she sought, the best evidence of which was her admirable serenity. It has been said that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage; to me, there was no better example of the truth of that saying than Varuni.
Varuni, at 92 years, had traversed a great distance on the path of life, yet she never spoke from a great height. She was one of the world's best listeners and nothing important escaped her notice, yet she would keep her own counsel. If advice was asked for, it was given with such simplicity that one was left wondering whether one had thought of it on one's own. She had a unique ability to bridge the gap to people of all ages.
She was one of the most vibrant and positive people that I have ever met. Most people at 80, sit in an armchair waiting for the end; Varuni at 90, had her kitchen remodelled. She believed in living life to the fullest, never frittering away time. She believed that looking good not only made one feel good but demonstrated respect for one's self and others and so, every single day she would make herself presentable, even if it was only for herself, as was often the case. She was proud of her eastern culture and in all the 65 years that she had been away from her motherland, always wore the saree and often, a flower in her hair. Varuni, with her quiet strength, firm beliefs, refinement and dignity, was a source of inspiration to many and the tributes that have flowed in speak of the impact she had on people's lives. Said one, "I feel very privileged to have known her. She was such a warm, talented person - so devoted to her work and her beliefs."
Said another, "She had an indomitable spirit and a most realistic outlook on life. Her mere presence in the community was a sufficient contribution in itself."
"Varuni was a wonderful person. She was a unique and mystical person, totally independent, yet, totally a friend. She is still very much a part of my life," said yet another.
Varuni has passed away but she is still very much a part of my life too. For, "What is dying?" as portrayed by Bishop Brent:
"A ship sails and I stand watching
till she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says, "she is gone". Gone
where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large as when I saw her.
The diminished size, and the total loss of sight is in me, and not in her, and
just at the moment when someone at my side says, "she is gone", there are others
who are watching her coming and other voices take up a glad shout, "There she
comes!' And that is dying.
Farewell, Varuni, until we meet again!
He was a true Sinhala patriot
Those who knew Clement Perera, fondly known as Gal, have lost a true friend. The organisations he represented have also lost a truly dedicated and self-motivated worker. The war-ravaged areas of the north and east he often visited have lost a true philanthropist. The children he knew have lost a Santa Claus, and above all the nation of Sinhala a true patriot.
The poverty alleviation work Clement implemented through the Thawalama Development Foundation and Success Colombo, and the patriotic work he did through the National Joint Committee and the Sinhala Jathika Sangamaya, were not for profit, fame or praise. He expected nothing in return except mental satisfaction.
After his retirement from the UK civil aviation service, he returned home to utilise his retirement benefits to help out a nation in distress. What he did is little known, for he sought no publicity.
His contributions could perhaps be greater than those made by the known patriots whose actions have been glorified and publicised.
The invaluable contribution he made to the Sinhala Buddhist cause is so vast that it would be difficult to record all of it in a brief appreciation.
On May 4, we completed a seminar for pre-school teachers and were to meet a Horowpathana Buddhist monk whose temple we had selected to implement a programme on poverty alleviation. A pre-school teacher travelling with us informed us that the Upulwilla Rural Women's Development Society of which she was president had won the first prize at a recently concluded district rural development society competition. As the first prize, the society had won machinery for a rice mill. Though the society had secured a suitable building and had installed the rice milling machinery, they lacked the capital to purchase the paddy that is due to be harvested shortly.
Unscrupulous traders buy the village harvest at low prices.
She requested a loan of Rs. 200,000 through Thawalama to purchase the paddy harvest. On his return to Colombo, Clement donated the Rs. 200,000 to the Thawalama Foundation requesting that the money be given to the society. That was his silent service. He silently did for those in need.
His death on May 15 was so sudden that we are still trying to recover from the shock while we strive diligently to achieve our aims and objectives sans his support. The void created by his death can never be filled.
May he attain Nibbana
Lt. Col A.S. Amarasekera
An outspoken and fearless person
E.W.B.J. Bandara Ehelepola
It is two years since the death of my good friend Ehelepola, Ehela Walawwe Bhatiya Jayalath Bandara. Death came to him suddenly after he suffered three heart attacks within five months.
He had his primary and secondary education at St. Thomas' College, Matale and obtained double degrees in arts and commerce as well as a post-graduate diploma in education from the University of Peradeniya.
As a teacher, he was responsible for starting the commerce stream in several schools in Matale and Kandy. As a commerce teacher, he did yeoman service in the Maldives for some years. On his return, he retired from government service and joined the Trinity College staff.
His interests were manifold. He was a good orator full of wit and humour. An avid gardener, good carpenter, electrician and motor-mechanic, he was essentially a down to earth and practical man.
He had a pleasing personality and was outspoken and fearless. He was proud of his talented family and was a pillar of strength to them. When his son Lieutenant Pasan Ehelepola died in action, he was devastated. He was a sincere friend to us and we shall miss him.
May he attain the supreme bliss of
Asela Bandara Jayasekera
Sunday Times Jun 2, 2002He taught us to live life to the fullest
"And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance…"
As a son he was cherished. As a brother he was adored. As an uncle he was the best you could ever have and as a friend he was truly loved. As a family we were honoured and blessed to have him in our lives.
I am not sure what it is about death that makes it so difficult for us to bear. We know that each of us will have to face it one day. But there are certain people whom you wish could be with you forever. Uncle Hareen was one of them. You couldn't have asked for a more caring, generous and vivacious person. It seemed as if the sun always revolved around him. He had a magnetism and charm that immediately made you feel at ease. No matter who you were, or what walk of life you came from, you would at some point get a dose of his charm.
But as anyone who knew him could tell you he wasn't the model citizen by any normal standards. He pushed life. He lived it on the tightrope that none of us had the courage to walk. I think that is what made him such an enigma. Here was a person - just like you and me - who dared to live life by his own standards. He did not live it by what he 'should' do, he lived it by what he 'could' do.
Most of us fashion our thoughts, behaviour and ultimately our life path by society's rules and opinions. But not our Uncle Hareen! Maybe that is what drew him to us. He touched a part of us that induced excitement and courage - the childlike quality in everyone of us that tells us "Yes! I can do that!". If there was a car that needed to be driven any faster, a more outlandish joke that could be made, if you did something that was embarrassing and didn't want anyone to know or if you just needed a crooked smile, a hearty laugh and a big bear hug, you knew who would be there to give it.
Needless to say, we are all going to miss him. Terribly. More so because we feel that he took with him the part of us that we felt was too vulnerable to show anyone else. But I think he would have liked to have thought that instead of taking it away, he awakened it. So today keep his spirit alive by keeping that part of yourself open and promising yourself to remember to live life to the fullest. Then take a moment, pop a beer or pour yourself a good shot (on the rocks!) and say, "Here's to you buddy. We'll miss you."
"When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain."
- Niroshini Amerasekera
No peace in appeasing despots
In a laboured and far-fetched pun, Mr. Johnny Schucroft (if that's his name) advised me last week to scream in HooKay and, in the same breath, accused me of bad taste. With his limited talents, the poor fellow had done his best to play a tit-for-tat word game. But to be effective, he must learn to draw his shots directly from the text. Example: Who is wagging from behind Mr. S's little Johnny to act in bad taste? See? It is not contrived. It flows directly and easily from his fictitious name.
Dismissing that aside, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Mr. S. avoids facing the key issues and clings to Clause 1(2) a. That Clause was raised to point out that Ranil's strategy, as signposted in the MoU, is not going to save the nation. He has given a whole whale and got in return a sprat. And after 90 days of the ceasefire the guerrilla despot (Ashley Wills in TIME) keeps on demanding more and more, with no end in sight.
Mr. S's argument is that everything has been tried and because nothing has succeeded the only alternative is to give in like the surrender of the TNA to Prabhakaran's gun. This reflects the myopic thinking of the UNF and PA leaders. Ranil is out to please the guerrilla despot; because he, like Chandrika, has come to the conclusion that the only way to peace is to appease. The peace Thavalama begun by Chandrika has been taken over by Ranil and he is running away with it at break-neck speed to achieve what? Peace? Neither of them has stopped to ask whether any party that appeased a despot ever won peace. Ranil, who has a fondness for reading biographies of prominent leaders (including, perhaps, Hitler and Neville Chamberlain) should know that it has never worked. Ranil can buy time but can he buy peace?
And yet Ranil has chosen to go down this defeatist track at a time when the guerrilla despot is at his weakest ever. The international blast, coming especially from September 11, has clipped his wings. His deadliest weapon of suicide-bombers, targeting non-combatant civilians, is now classified as a crime against humanity. He is wanted by the Interpol and India. He is banned by democratic countries. His cadres are depleted. He is forced to abduct schoolchildren. The LRRP, according to the London Economist, was getting too close to his liking. Bombs planted by disillusioned Tamils are exploding outside his doorstep. He has no chance of regaining Jaffna by force. Or retaining Jaffna in case he regains it by force.
The United States has joined India in saying no to Eelam. The Tamils, weary of an exhausting war, are seeking safer havens away from the guerrilla despot. But the UNF and PA leaders are vying with each other not only to hand over Jaffna but two thirds of the coastline and its hinterland with the able aid of the NGOs, the Christian churches and the so-called intellectuals dependent on NGO handouts.
Let me conclude by saying that all this has nothing to do with my personal relations with the Wickremesinghe family. I have the highest regard for them. I have the highest respect for the Wijewardenes. Jointly, they spearheaded the massive battle against the state invasion of the free media. They have inspired and led the Sinhala Institute of Culture. They are the committed dayakayas of Buddhist temples. At Lake House Bookshop Mrs. Nalini Wickremesinghe has been the guardian angel of the creative talent of the nation.
They have been the power behind the throne that built this nation on a multicultural foundation. In the past, they have stood for the inalienable right of all citizens to share this land as the common property of our people - all our people. They never believed that political salvation will dawn with the carving of ethnic enclaves to satisfy the arrogant claims of unsubstantiated history and unadulterated racism of only one community. As members of the majority community they stood for the just and reasonable right of all minorities. They rejected extremism of the left, right, centre-left and racists of the north and the south.
It is also heartening to note Ranil's frequent references to the kings of the Sinhala kingdoms. It could be read as a commitment to honour, to fortify and to uphold the historical tradition that resisted despots and invaders who threatened the time-tested core values and the sharing of a common space that stretched from coast to coast. There is a heavy responsibility in a commitment to such a lofty ideal. Eventually, he will be tested on how well he fulfils this commitment.
My criticism, therefore, was not to deny the achievements of the Wickremesinghe family. My criticism was to urge Ranil to free this land from racist despotism and to preserve (despite its corrigible faults) the respected traditions of multicultural liberalism nurtured under the sovereign umbrella of Sinhala-Buddhist culture. The Wickreme-singhes have a place in history and that should not be undermined by misguided politics which may serve the needs of today but not their generations to come.
H. L. D. Mahindapala
Negombo's forgotten genius
N. S. Godamanna
The death anniversary of N. S. Godamanna, artist, sculptor and photographer, fell on April 21.
After retirement, Mr. Godamanna led a low key life till Rupavahini highlighted him in a programme called "Little Michelangelo of Little Rome", featuring some of his paintings and sculpture.
When Mr. Godamanna got the contract to paint St. Mary's Church, Negombo, he engaged two equally famous assistants, artists Donald Ramanayake and Henry Dharmasena.
However, his genius was not confined to murals, which any artist could do on 'terra firma'. Lying on his back for hours drawing gigantic pictures in the correct proportion up on a high ceiling is a feat of endurance worthy of mention.
Recently, sections of the paintings have been washed off due to a leak in the roof. Though the roof has been repaired, the incumbent parish priest has not yet been able to find a painter to retouch the damaged portions - the job being so risky. This shows that Mr. Godamanna had risked life and limb to give the parishioners a unique mural not found in any other church in Sri Lanka.
The parishioners persuaded the Negombo Municipal Council to pass a resolution to name the new road behind Mr. Godamanna's house "N. S. Godamanna Mawatha". However, it is regrettable that the municipality has not put up the name board yet.
May justice be done in honour of a man who served quietly.
A man of reason
Merwyn De AlwisOne of the people I most admired was Oswald Merwyn De Alwis, or "Uncle Merwyn".
On the Poya Day in April, when he visited our home to meet my father whom he had known very closely for 54 years, he sought my advice on a banking matter and I am so pleased I was able to give him the counsel he needed. As usual he had a long chat with my father, and I heard from time to time, bursts of laughter from the drawing room. Little did I realize that it was the last time I would have the privilege of meeting this jovial, sincere and knowledgeable gentleman.
Just nine days after this visit, the phone rang and it was Uncle Merwyn's second daughter, Neelanthi, who had flown in from Canada after seven years to see her parents just the previous night. She gave us the bad news that her father had succumbed to a massive heart attack and passed away just four hours before her arrival in the country.
About two out of three times when I answered my father's telephone, it would be the familiar voice that I heard on the other end: "This is Uncle Merwyn. Is your father at home?" The two used to talk for more than an hour at times on various topics, a minimum of five times a week, and it was not unusual to hear that there had been four telephone calls from him in a single day, especially when an interesting cricket match was in progress.
Having held the post of Legal Draftsman, he was an authority on any legal matter or current topic of the day. When the newspapers published, say the full text of the Budget Speech, or the Draft Constitution, he would read the contents and discuss with my father its salient features.
A little known fact was that he was an authority on the latest developments in the field of medicine. For any ailment, he could say what the treatment should be and it always proved correct, when subsequently a medical practitioner was consulted. When he or his ever-loving wife Manel, felt the slightest discomfort, they consulted a medical specialist, and he regularly had routine medical checks, which did not reveal any cause for alarm.
Having been the only child of well-to-do parents he was used to a comfortable way of life, but never wanted to be extravagant.
He had an excellent sense of humour, seldom seen among those in the legal profession, (as he was) and among bankers (as myself). When I think of him, several humorous anecdotes he has related over the years come to mind.
After his retirement, he had a spell in Bangladesh, where he helped the young nation in drafting their laws.
His friends used to count on him if they were to purchase a new car or equipment, because he would go into every detail before making a purchase.
He always took a balanced view of any current issue, regardless of which political party was in power.
Uncle Merwyn's elder daughter Dileeni had chosen France as her second home, and she owes her present profession to her father, who taught her French at an early age, and so too his only grandchild who is an undergraduate in a Canadian university.
The unforgettable Mr. Merwyn De Alwis is no more. He lived a successful life of 79 years, but memories of him will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
During World War II, our cousins attending big schools in Colombo came back to their villages. Mr. Palakidnar was among the Colombo students who joined Kokuvil Hindu College.
The Colombo students found the environment somewhat strange. The staff of Kokuvil Hindu College were in white verties and national shirts.
My association with Palakidnar began in the common classroom for senior and pre-senior students for the English language and literature class.
Mr. Palakidnar entered University College, Colombo and obtained a degree in arts and proceeded to qualify as an advocate of the Supreme Court. Having practised law for sometime, he entered the judicial service as Anura-dhapura Magistrate. He adorned every echelon in the judicial service until he became the President of the Court of Appeal.
I had the opportunity of associating with him more closely when he served as Jaffna District Judge. We were members of the executive committee of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of India. The late Yogendra Duraiswamy was president and Mr. Palakidnar a vice-president while I was general secretary. Our main task was to draft a constitution on the basis of the constitution of the parent organisation and Mr. Palakidnar showed us the way to adapt it for local conditions. He suggested that we enshrine only what was most essential. He was realistic and had the ability to keep his eye on the fundamental issue.
He dedicated himself fully to whatever social activity he was involved in. Our efforts to organise the Vivekananda festival in Jaffna in 1980 saw us meeting with eminent people. Senator S. Nadesan Q.C. was spending his furlough at his brother's home in Navaly and we spent an evening in conversation with him on subjects ranging from Nadesan's own trial to dietary principles. Nadesan was nonchalant about his own trial but emphatic about the manner in which we should take our diet.
Towards the end of our meeting, Mr. Palakidnar requested Senator Nadesan for a copy of the affidavit he had furnished to court and the Senator obliged. To me the request for the affidavit appeared to be improper. On our way home I asked him whether it was proper for a judge to borrow the affidavit and Mr. Palakidnar replied, "The judge enjoys the freedom to improve his legal education at all times".
The third phase of our friendship was more relaxed. During conversations, he would recall the character of the village preacher in the 'Deserted Village'. His prediction for the Karma Yoga in the Gheetha made him admire forever the characterisation of the preacher by Goldsmith.
To them his heart, his love, his
grieves were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven
As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form, the
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
- M. Subramaniam
devoted son and friend of all
Hareen de Saram
When my son's e-mail to me in Manila
last Tuesday, started with "Some very sad news…" I knew that Hareen, my youngest
cousin, was gone forever ending our long association, which started from our
childhood. He was more a friend than a relative.
Hareen's death was not totally unexpected but when the stark reality that I would not see him again hit me, it moved me to tears. The only solace was that he enjoyed life as long as he lived and death was to him a relief from the extreme pain and suffering that many of his malfunctioning organs gave him.
Hareen had some sterling qualities. The finest example of which was his devoted caring for his mother who, like him, suffered a painful illness for a long time. Throughout this period, Hareen cared for Aunty Ivy as I have not seen any son do. Hareen was fortunate that he had a close family with three sisters who loved him dearly. His sisters, in these last few months, took great pains to try and pull him through. However, as he told an aunt on the phone from a Singapore hospital earlier this month, "God wants me up there." I am sure that this was God's plan.
Hareen, a bachelor, considered all his close relatives his own family and was interested in the welfare of everyone. All his nephews and nieces were extremely fond of him especially because he could relate to them easily. Hareen was a good friend and likewise he had some good friends who are going to miss him dearly. Rarely do people like Hareen pass through this world. We who knew him were lucky to have been there when he did.
From far off Manila, I can only say, "Farewell Hareen. I loved you. May you find that peace in Heaven which only God can give."
- Jayantha J.
found jobs for many youths
Don Nandasena Jayatilaka
Don Nandasena Jayatilaka, the second
son of Muhandiram D. S. Jayatilaka and brother of Sir Baron Jayatilaka, passed
away two years ago at the ripe age of 91.
"DN" was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo and had Sir Lalitha Rajapakse and Hema Basnayaka as colleagues amongst others, who became prominent citizens in pre and post independent Ceylon.
He worked briefly at the Colombo Kachcheri and then took up the Post of Registrar of Marriages, Births and Deaths in Kelaniya in accordance with his father's wishes. Marriage was considered a prerequisite for the post and hence a suitable nuptial was arranged with young Trixie Jayasinghe of Nagoda Walauwa, Galle, who became his life-long partner.
Mr. Jayatilaka also took an active part in the co-operative movement in Kelaniya and held the posts of secretary and president of the Siyane Adhikari Co-operative Union for 20 years and president of Pethiyagoda Co-operative Society for more than 30 years. He was appointed an All-Island Justice of Peace and was also a charter member of the Kelaniya Lions.
He worked tirelessly as the Chief Dayaka of the Bodhirukkarama Temple, Waragoda and was a committee member of the Vidyalankara Dayaka Sabha until his death.
He was a director of a shipping and foreign trading company and helped provide employment to numerous youth in Kelaniya. He was a generous person and leading contributor to many local causes even in his ripe old age. Though entitled to, he never charged a fee for registering a death. DN was sought after by many politicians during his time and was a personal friend of President J. R. Jayewardene and R.G. Senanayake. As a person he was kind and bore no grudges. He enjoyed hosting friends and relatives at his residence.
He remained active and mobile and
maintained rationality of thought even to his last day. He is survived by his
wife Trixie, sons Rajpal and Haritha and daughter Ramani.
His death has left a void not only for his immediate family but for everyone who came in contact with him, specially the older residents of Kelaniya. May he attain Nibbana.
He lived by the Dhamma
The birth and death anniversaries of Gamani Jayasuriya, well-known politician, outstanding Buddhist leader and above all, man of integrity, fell on April 30 and April 25 respectively. He died in 1998, five days before his 75th birthday.
He was a Member of Parliament for more than 20 years and Deputy Education Minister from 1965 to 1970. He held several cabinet portfolios thereafter, namely, Health, Agriculture and Agricultural Research and Food and Co-operatives.
He was the President of the Maha Bodhi Society of Sri Lanka for several years, Chairman of the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust and Trustee of the Maha Bodhi Society of India.
I first came to know Mr. Jayasuriya around 1982 when I was Chairman of the Ceylon Fertilizer Corporation. The Corporation which was under the President was brought under the Ministry of Agriculture at a time when Mr. Jayasuriya was minister. In view of this change, I wished to offer my resignation to him allowing him to make a new appointment, if he so wished.
When I finally met the genial minister, we engaged in a friendly conversation on general matters, and at the end of that warm dialogue, the offer of a resignation did not arise.
In 1984, I expressed to Mr. Jayasuriya my wish to relinquish the post of Chairman since I also held the post of Director at the National Fertilizer Secretariat. He reluctantly agreed.
He invited me to serve on the Board of Management of the Maha Bodhi Society of Sri Lanka, fulfilling a great desire in me to work with this affable man. The hallmark of his political career and the action for which he will be remembered came with his resignation from the government in 1987 in protest against the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.
He announced to a shocked nation that he was abandoning politics for the cause of Buddhism and the Sinhala people. Many would dispute the validity of the reasons but perhaps none would contest the sincerity of his action.
During a Government Parliamentary Group meeting where President Jayewardene explained the Indo-Lanka Accord, there appeared to be no objections till Mr. Jayasuriya stood up and declared that he was opposed to the accord and would resign from the government forthwith.
A few days after his resignation, he was washing his car at his residence at Kollupitiya, when a man passing on the road approached him and asked, "Sir, why are you washing the car?" He replied that he no longer had government drivers to perform the task. The man, himself a driver, washed the car for him. This spontaneous action of an unknown person was a reflection of the respect the general public bore for Mr. Jayasuriya.
On an earlier occasion, in the early 1960s, the government of Sirima Bandaranaike introduced legislation for the takeover of private secondary schools owned by religious institutions. The UNP, then in opposition, opposed this measure. Buddhist opinion at the time was strongly in favour of the takeover of schools by the government.
Being a strong supporter of the Buddhist cause, he found it against his conscience to oppose the legislation. This caused him great pain of mind. Fortunately, a provision in the UNP constitution provided that a legislator may be permitted to abstain from voting on grounds of conscience. This provision saved the day for Mr. Jayasuriya.
Towards the latter part of his life, Mr. Jayasuriya took much interest in the practice of the Dhamma, especially mental development or Bhavana. He became a regular meditator and often visited the Vipassana Meditation Centre at Wijerama Mawatha in Colombo.
In 1991, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Maha Bodhi Society of Sri Lanka, he organised a 10-day residential meditation course for around 350 people. This event at considerable cost was an introduction to meditation for many and contributed to the popularisation of meditation in the country. As we commemorated the birth and death anniversaries of Mr. Jayasuriya, a question that came to mind was whether the country and the people have done enough to revere the memory of a public figure who made great sacrifices for what he thought was right. People often complain that we do not have men of integrity to guide the destiny of the nation. However, those few who possess these characteristics are often forgotten all too soon after the initial glorification.
May his journey through Samsara be comparatively calm and smooth and may he attain the bliss of Nibbana.
- Rajah Kuruppu
You're always in our hearts
You are gone forever. But there will
always remain within the frame of my heart and in those of many others the
beautiful and indelible picture of you, Chitra.
A dutiful, dear daughter,
A pupil bright and promising,
A wife, wise and wonderful,
A mother most affectionate,
A sister so sharing,
A cousin most caring.
A friend, firm and faithful,
An in-law just ideal,
A grandma fond and gracious...
A real 'Rara Avis'!
May you, by the power of your own virtues, and the merit transferred to you by your loved ones, attain the perfect peace of Nibbana soon!
A source of comfort to all
After an association spanning more than 60 years, it was indeed sad to lose Kanapathipillai Annai.
A highly principled and
non-controversial character, he was one of the first to present himself in
national attire for an interview to enter the Civil Service during colonial
It was perhaps a sign of defiance and it perhaps cost him a place in the Civil Service.
He, however, secured another position wherein he rose to be the Senior Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services.
Mr. Kanapathipillai was never self-centred and had an expansive outlook in life. He would often give his point of view but also listen patiently to others' point of view.
The last years of his life were dogged by illness, but he bore the pain silently.
He was a source of comfort to all and
true friend in adversity as well as in prosperity.
Good bye Annai! I miss you.
Great legal guru and father figure
Dr. H. W. Jayewardene
It was twelve years ago on April 20, 1990 that Dr. H.W. Jayewardene, a great advocate Sri Lanka produced, left this world. He was an advocate par excellence, Queen's Counsel who appeared in almost all the important appeals in this country, good administrator, great teacher to many a lawyer and pillar of strength to the legal community.
A brilliant student of Royal College, Colombo, in the choice of a profession, he like his father, grandfather, paternal uncles and his own brothers before him, selected law. At Law College, he passed all his examinations with honours and won scholarships and the prize on the law of evidence.
He practised both civil and criminal law, but demonstrated a preference for civil appeals. In a short span of 13 years, he began dominating the Appellate Courts and in recognition of his exceptional ability, silk was conferred on him at the age of 37.
The first president of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, an organization that he was instrumental in setting up, he was also the president of LAWASIA and the Organization of Professional Associations and Vice President of the Commonwealth Law Association.
He was a perfectionist, precise in what he said and did in the courthouse or elsewhere and was meticulously prepared for each case irrespective of the importance of the brief he was handling.
In an era where the standards of professions are diminishing, it is pertinent to note a few admirable qualities of this great practitioner. When a case was handed-over to him, and from the time the brief reached his chamber, he saw to it that his client got the best. Once showing some briefs that were on the shelf, he said, "Treat all briefs alike, some cases will bring you more money, and some may be pro deo (appearing free of charge), but your future will sometimes depend on the case you do pro deo."
His chamber was full of character and reflected his many interests. It had not only legal literature and law reports from many countries, but rare books on other subjects, such as architecture, history, civilization, aesthetic education, Buddhism and even a large sculpture of Saraswathi, the Goddess of Knowledge.
He was a man of many parts. He was the chairman of the Law Commission, served in the Council of Legal Education and on the Board of the Law Faculty of the University of Colombo. In recognition of his dedication to legal learning, the University of Colombo in 1985 conferred on him the Degree of Doctor of Laws. He also served as chairman of the Industrial Disputes Commission, director of the Tourist Board, chairman of the SLFI, member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and chairman of the Human Rights Commission.
He also served as a member of the UN Commission which reported on the dispute between the governments of the USA and Iran regarding American hostages held by Iran. He led many delegations representing Sri Lanka and in fact led the delegation to Thimpu and New Delhi to discuss a solution to the ethnic problem.
In 1985, he was a guest of the USSR Academy of Sciences and in 1986 he was invited by the Australian government to visit that country as a 'distinguished person'. His visit to China as a special invitee literally laid the foundation for the magnificent Superior Courts Complex of Hulftsdorp. Today it stands as a great monument to his memory, yet only a few know that without him there would not have been such a wonderful complex.
It is, however, no secret that Dr. Jayewardene's skills in law and great advocacy were such that it was so difficult to beat him in any court battle. Dr. A.R.B. Amerasinghe, former Judge of the Supreme Court delivering his speech at the Law Library in 1998 when a bust of Dr. Jayewardene was unveiled said, "...He was on the one side or the other of every important case and played a significant role in shaping the law."
Even on Christmas day in 1989, this erudite scholar worked with his juniors in chambers preparing carefully to oppose certain draconian provisions of the Debt Recovery Legislation that were to be passed. It was a privilege working in such a chamber. He has produced a host of great luminaries and his juniors are ever grateful to him for the guidance he provided. The present Prime Minister, too, was a junior of Dr. Jayewardene.
On completion of 49 years at the Bar, in March 1990, he celebrated this event in grand style at his Kumbaloluwa Estate in Veyangoda, with all his juniors, past and present, relatives and friends. It was indeed an eventful day. It is but unfortunate that he had to depart this world a month later, while on a pilgrimage to India. I was the last junior counsel and it was a privilege to be under his tutelage. I will always remember him as a great guru and father figure. The services he has rendered to the legal fraternity of Sri Lanka will remain as a glorious tribute to this great son of Sri Lanka. May he attain eternal bliss.
Dr. Harsha Cabral
Lecturer, Sri Lanka Law College
Guide me Cucoo
I wish you were here Cucoo
Take my hand Cucoo, just this once and walk with me
And may you hear, wherever you are, bird choirs of ecstatic praise...
Come, Cucoo walk with me now - where flowers bloom, waters gurgle and birds sing...
While I show you around the garden that I love
Where the guardian trees enclose -
the secret place, and where the sunlight gleams upon the cool stone and breezes
blow just for you, Ammi and Thathie... now at rest.
Speak, if you must Cucoo and tell me why you had to go so soon - tell me if you can?
While I sit and ponder alone -out in the sun
And not go home - my heart sad and sore....
Cucoo, be my guardian angel wherever you are...
And remain close - when I blindly go blundering away from you...
I know - it is now too late to say good bye and to share the best with you. So forgive me Cucoo.
And come walk with me to a quiet place of peace and happiness and lead me out into the light once again....
As you walk amongst my dreams...
A man of compassion
Tudor de Alwis
Tudor de Alwis passed away last month while visiting his son in Jakarta. His sudden death caused shock and sadness to his many friends.
Tudor Dunstan Gerald de Alwis was born on May 24, 1923.
He completed his degree at the Ceylon University and law studies at the Law College. He started practising as an advocate in 1951 and joined the judiciary in 1958.
He was appointed Badulla District Judge in 1968 and promoted High Court Judge in 1983. He became an Appeal Court Judge in 1986. He was also legal consultant to the Central Bank from 1988 to 1995.
Tudor was admired for his simple approach to life, his intellect and his ability to grasp essentials quickly. He was always sympathetic to the weaker side and practised the virtue of compassion both as a judge and ordinary person.
He enjoyed a feisty debate on almost any topic but made sure that at the end of the night, all parted as friends. A keen bridge player, he was not shy to engage in vociferous post-mortems. He was generous with his hospitality and a good sport in the social sense - never did he refuse to join in, whether it was a picnic, a dance, a trip or even a game.
He was unassuming and never sought to
impress or to monopolise attention.
Most of all, Tudor was a devoted family man and his wife, children and more recently grandchildren, were closest to his heart.
Sunday Times Apr 28 2002
He stood for peace
Rev. Sam D. Horshington
Teacher, priest and friend
There's the verbal wreath I send
Scrolling a memorial never to fade
Deep impinged by the impression you've made
Upon our boyhood days and more mature years
Encouraging the timid spirit by squashing fears
Together we fell on the muddy field drenched with rain
Together teacher and pupil rose again.
Illustrating the power of
determination in real life
To vanquish man's evil passion for war, violence and strife
Simple truths you simply taught, 60 years ago
Remain fresh in our hearts today deep within.
When shipwrecked often in life - long after our days in school
Your soothing words quell the soul's rebellious tide into a placid pool
Like unto the Good Shepherd's still waters and green pasture
And our cup overflows with loving Christian rapture
Such was your spirit, courage and
Posted amid endless gunfire and scare
As bullet-ridden Jaffna's Archdeacon
You set alight Christ's peaceful beacon
For nine long, nerve-wracking years
Standing steadfast casting away fears
You fought the good fight
For peace with all your loving might..
Today the best way to revere and remember
You and Sri Lanka's noble sons together
Is to abhor war and be forever
One nation, one Sri Lanka
Visionary Islamic scholar
Sheikh Yoosoof Hajiar
Al Haj P. M.M. Yoosoof, 74, former Ameer of Jamath -E- Islami in Sri Lanka and founder president of the Organization to Support the Islamic Revolution in Iran (OSIRI), a renowned and respected Islamic scholar who had spent most of his life in Islamic academic and da'wah work, passed away after a brief illness at a private hospital in Colombo, on April 13.Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.
Sheikh Yoosoof Hajiar, as he was popularly known, stood as a colossus among thinkers, scholars and Islamic workers.
The strength of Sheik Yoosoof
Hajiar's personality and wisdom won him many an admirer in the country of his
birth and elsewhere. Humility and selflessness were his signatures. He was
unstinting in friendliness, sharing and compassion.
In 1978, during his tenure as the Ameer of Jamath-E-Islami in Sri Lanka, while the nascent Islamic Revolution led by Imam Ayatollah Khomeini was in the making in the streets of Tehran, Sheikh Yoosoof Hajiar and his inner circle of friends at the Jamath had the foresight and wisdom to recognize and appreciate this greatest event in the Islamic world and embrace it wholeheartedly without any inhibitions.
His active involvement in the propagation of the message of the Islamic Revolution, brought him in contact with the leaders of the Islamic Revolution. The relationship, thus cultivated, made him meet the architect of the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini at Jamaran, North Tehran, in early days of 1980.
Even when some of his erstwhile supporters slowly decamped, he stood firm in continuing to support-what he considered as a question of belief and disbelief - against all odds.
He remained steadfast in his support for the most remarkable spiritual event which occurred in his lifetime and held it very dear until his last breath. His demise has indeed created a big void in the Islamic movement of Sri Lanka.
We at the Islamic Services Organization, extend our condolences to his bereaved family, and pray to Almighty God to grant them the power of patience in their hour of grief. May Allah grant him the highest position of the Janaath Ul Firdouse.
Z. M. Seyed Mohamed
Secretary, Islamic Services Organisation
Justice will be done
H. D. Amaradasa
You passed away on January 14 without giving us a chance to bid farewell. We are still trying to recover from the shock.
You were a loving husband and devoted father. Most of all you were an honest, dedicated teacher. You always believed that a teacher should be honest and dedicated. You followed it to the letter without any selfish motive. You did everything for the betterment of the students and the school. You used to say that at least one percent would be grateful.
That one percent was with you, when you were pushed into a mire. You really died that fateful day nearly five years ago.
I will never forget your face on that day. Tears were streaming down and you looked at me with shock and disbelief.
You tried to find out who and why they did this to you. But you left this ungrateful world before you found the answers.
We have a mission to find out the culprits who destroyed your worthy life. We will do our utmost to see that justice is done to you.
The house is empty without you. Your
death has left a void that can never be filled.
May you never meet these heartless, ungrateful people in your journey through Sansara.
Sunday Times Apr 21 2002
He was a national figure
My late brother Shaul Hameed was educated at St. Anthony's College, Katugastota, Vijaya College and Zahira College, Matale. He showed a flair for English writing and started with the Children's Corner in the Sunday Observer to which he was a regular contributor from the age of 15.
While in Standard VII, he launched a magazine for Matale schools called 'New Broom.' Later he organised the Matale Students' Union of which he was elected first president. Being interested in adult education and teaching of English he was responsible for establishing a number of educational institutions in Matale and Kandy districts particularly in backward Muslim localities. He was the director and principal of Winchester College, Matale (named after a famous Public School in England) which prepared students for foreign and local examinations conducted in English.
My brother was also elected President of the Central Ceylon Muslim Assembly and it was through this organisation that the Kandy Muslim Teacher Training College was inaugurated. At that time there was a dearth of Muslim trained teachers.
In 1956, my brother became actively involved in politics and joined the UNP. He entered the arena of national politics when he successfully contested the general elections in March 1960. Since then he was returned to power in eight elections, counting 39 years as an MP. This was one of the longest unbroken parliamentary records in the country.
He was appointed to the Cabinet in 1977 when the UNP came to power and became the first Foreign Minister of this country. Since independence the portfolios of Defence and Foreign Affairs had earlier been held by the Head of Government.
By this time the Middle East boom had begun. Restrictions in the issue of passports and the existence of exit permits discouraged employers from recruiting people from Sri Lanka.
The Central Bank annual report of 1977 states that only 10,000 workers had gone for employment in the Middle East.
One of my brother's first ministerial decisions was to remove all restrictions on passports and open Embassies in Middle East countries. Today more than one million Sri Lankans are employed in the Middle East.
Throughout his long and unparalleled stint of nearly 15 years as Foreign Minister, he spearheaded a number of discussions abroad and at home to settle many national and international disputes. He was involved in at least three of the major attempts made in those 15 years to resolve Sri Lanka's intractable armed conflict through negotiation - the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, the Premadasa - LTTE talks of 1989/90 and the All-Party Conference of 1990-1992 of which he was Vice-Chairman.
He was the Chairman of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-aligned Movement from 1977-1979. He also visited many countries in Asia as an envoy of the United Nations to solicit support for a UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy. He served on the UN Advisory Board on Disarmament Studies for 10 years. He was an ardent advocate of internationalism and regionalism.
He was also a proponent of greater understanding among South Asian nations for the resolution of common problems and played an active role in the formation of the South Asian Association for 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 regional co-operation.
As a Cabinet Minister, he tried to respond to problems in a practical and positive manner, more professionally rather than as a dogmatic intellectual. He had enormous drive and a stupendous capacity for hard work. He established himself as a national figure because of his proven competence and leadership potential. Happy birthday brother.
May Allah Almighty grant the highest felicity to this departed soul in Jennathul Firdous.
You inspired and guided us
Three years have drifted by since you
were taken away from our midst. There is so much grief and pain and so many
things have happened since your sudden departure.
Your leadership and inspiration are missed and remembered not only by your family and friends but also by the C.G.R Station Masters' Group 55.
Here in England we speak of you with love and pride.
Years may pass and time may fly but memories of you will never die and shall live in our hearts forever.
Retired Station Master
The Queen Mother: An Elegy
Gracious Flower: the dew, the tears
that came when clouds
Of war destroyed the land: the bombs, the blood, the pain;
The balm was yours in dignified soothing....
Your consort of York our king you loved
And strengthened to keep us free again.
When freedom fights for freedom all alone, you were there
Mothering a bereaved battered nation and other's pain
In tears and joy, in England's bitter striving....
Your gentle smile and tender graciousness
Made us free and not in vain.
You saw the world forget awhile the fighting
For better things.... better days unceasing
In your progeny, our Queen tender young
In a new era of faith away from fear.
Queen Mother in the twilight of your days,
Your life.... your breath is England, the hope, the joy, the rays
Your royal motherhood brings to all the world....
Adieu.... and Rest in Peace.... the day is done....
He gave much to science
Prof P.C.B. Fernando
In the mid 1960s the then Vidyodaya University had a limited science faculty and student agitations were directed towards the lack of quality among the teaching staff. It was then that the faculty was redesigned with the input of quality scientists.
The late Dr. G.C.N. Jayasuriya left the MRI to head the faculty as Dean and Professor of Chemistry. The late A.C.J. Weerakoon joined him as Professor of Zoology, from the Department of Fisheries where he was Director of Research, the late O.S. Peries, then Deputy Director of the Rubber Research Institute, joined in as Professor of Botany and P.W. Epasinghe as Professor of Mathematics. P.C.B. Fernando complemented the staff by relocating himself from the Department of Physics, University of Colombo. Vidoydaya University soon became the University of Sri Jayawardenapura and began a pioneering effort which resulted in the output of enterprising science graduates. "PCB" taught physics and with his Colombo University colleague Professor M.L.T. Kannangara began research in connection with the earth's magnetic field. Soon his contribution became legendary.
PCB came from "academic" stock. His father was a Professor of Medicine and his mother an outstanding educationist. But in his early days at Royal College - the days of Bradby and Corea - his scholarly activities were less evident than his prowess in sport. His elder brother who was a diligent student used to dread the time when physics master Cecil Belleth signalled him out to complain about the disinterest of his younger brother.. In time PCB entered university and the award of an exhibition indicated the growing capability in physics.
PCB has given much to science and to scientific bodies such as the SLAAS. His influence in building new generations of scientists was considerable.
PCB was one of the nation's leaders
in science and scientific education, but not for him the media accolades that
are reserved for politicians, and often even the notorious. There is something
so wrong in our present value systems, one wonders, if the generation that PCB
taught, will have a hand in putting that right?
May he attain Nibbana!
Sunday Times Apr 14 2002
Remembering a brave son of Lanka
Brigadier Bhathiya Jayathileke
The Sinhala New Year in 2000 was a period for celebration but by the third week of April, fighting had escalated in Elephant Pass. Bhathiya, a veteran of the Vaddamarachchi campaign was not a novice in this battle in Jaffna.
Young Bhathiya after commanding the cadet platoon at Royal College, Colombo was awarded the Col. T.G. Jayawardena Memorial Shield for the best Cadet Sergeant in 1978. Later he opted for a military career. Being a member of a family with a military background, he joined the Sri Lanka Army as an officer cadet in 1979.
In November 1998, Brigadier Bhathiya was appointed Commanding Officer of 541 Brigade at Elephant Pass.
By the end of 1998, the LTTE, having won at Killinochchi were pounding Elephant Pass. Bhathiya led his valiant troops, facing wave after wave of attack until "tactical withdrawal" took place.
This gallant and brave son of Lanka died due to lack of water, not due to an enemy bullet. He breathed his last on the night of April 22, 2000 at the Palali Military Hospital.
Needless to say, Bhathiya who commanded two brigades in this battle was admired by his men. He, in turn, spared no effort in looking after them.
Bhathiya was a loving husband to Sashika and beloved father to daughters Druvinki and Sachini.
Bhathiya lived for what he believed, fought for Sri Lanka and faced an untimely death. But his memory will live with us forever.
May be attain Nibbana!
Sarathchandra Rajakaruna, MP
Cannot forget my son
Lt. Pasan Balajeeva Bandara Ehelepola
Some mothers tell me
"At this cruel warfront
My only child was killed.
My only son was killed
I got a sealed coffin
My son had a watery grave
My son is missing in action
My son is disabled for life."
"But you are a lucky mother
'Cause you have three other sons and a daughter
Your son's was an instant death - so no suffering
You got the body intact
Impressive funeral was given
Befitting a national hero."
I may be a lucky mother
Every single son and daughter is a precious treasure
The void cannot be filled as the identity is unique
He was a versatile leader
Senior College Prefect, President's Scout, Leader of
The College Scout Troop, and House Captain
The day his Cadet Band was selected the best in the country
How proudly he paraded the streets of Kandy
As an Under Officer at the Military Academy
He led the famous Gannoruwa Company
The Elephant Pass battle
Recommended him for a Rana Sura medal
His trade marks were practicability
and humane qualities
A gentleman and officer par excellence, he
Lived up to the highest expectations of the army
When he could have tactfully retreated and saved himself
He went forward in the defence of his subordinates
Thus a talented leader was nipped in the bud.
He was closest to his father
Both in look and in deeds
When the father was away in the Maldives
The son was with me
When the son was away in Jaffna
The father was with me
Now both are gone
Never to return to me
Even after ten long years
I am still trying to convince and console myself
That I am a lucky mother
How could it be, when my son is no more
Mine own son,
You will never be forgotten
As long as memory and life lasts
May you be blessed with long life
Free of pain and peril
After a short sojourn in Sansara
May you attain the bliss of Nibbana.
-Prema Kumari Bandara
Devoted mother, charming wife
Rani Sepalika Dias
Your cheerful life was like a sweet,
scented flower, but you left us a year ago creating a void that cannot be
filled. It is a great loss not only to me and the two children, but also to
everybody who associated with you. We miss you and love you for what you were- a
devoted mother, charming wife, admirable daughter and inspiring friend.
Everybody appreciated your modest and unassuming way of life. Your sincerity and kindness was vividly portrayed under different circumstances.
You were outspoken but avoided arguments. You were satisfied with what was available and never yearned for anything more. You were a tower of strength to me and helped me become what I am today.
As a mother you did everything to make the lives of our daughter and son comfortable, healthy and perfect. No words can express my feelings about your commitment as a wife. You did everything possible to ensure that I concentrated on my duties efficiently. You did the marketing, cooking, sewing and all household chores, never seeking the help of housemaids.
You advised me in your calm manner and was always the voice of reason. You lived according to Buddhist principles.
The blow of parting was severe. The loneliness and emptiness will never fade away. With silent tears and aching hearts we think of you.
Palitha and children
Siva was my friend and colleague
during a period spanning four decades. I recall first meeting him at the Loans
Department in the then Central Office, at the Bank of Ceylon, York Street, where
we worked together as junior officers learning the trade.
He first impressed me as an exceptional example of a knowledgeable and committed banker, with a determination to reach the top. Another striking characteristic of his personality was that he had no hesitation in openly expressing his ambitions to achieve excellence in his banking career and to interact with the highest levels of the bank, then headed by C. Loganathan, the first Sri Lankan General Manager.
We parted company thereafter, when we moved into different areas of operations within the Bank. Siva gained rapid promotions with his vast knowledge, hard work and dedication.
In the early '80s, he was posted to the bank's first overseas branch in London as Chief Manager, during which period he was instrumental in obtaining 'recognised bank' status for the London office from the Bank of England.
Siva was not only a knowledgeable and enthusiastic banker but a caring human being as well. His disciplined life tinged by his religious beliefs no doubt, helped him to achieve his goals and objectives. He was always ahead of the times and driven by his determination to achieve both for himself and the Bank he served so loyally.
Siva retired from the Bank of Ceylon in 1995 and I retired in 1996. We have both continued to serve the banking sector in different capacities. Siva was, thereafter, invited to work as Advisor to the Governor by A.S. Jayawardena. He considered this as the pinnacle of his career.
Siva's sudden demise is a loss to all of us and in particular to the banking sector. He dedicated his life to improving and upgrading the banking skills and knowledge of the younger generation. I have no doubt that his devoted wife and children will be strengthened by his exemplary and noble qualities.
International civil servant
Andrew Joseph, who died recently at age 78, joined the United Nations System in 1958, after a distinguished ten years in the Ceylon Civil Service (CCS), holding various senior positions in the Ministries of Finance, Health, and Food and Agriculture.
Between 1956 and 1963, he was appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO), serving both at WHO headquarters and in WHO's Regional Office in Alexandria, Egypt.
Andrew or "AJJ" as he was known to legions of staff in the organization, joined the United Nations Technical Assistance Board, UNDP's precursor organization, in 1963. A quintessential "field person", he initially served as Deputy Resident Representative in Zambia and the Sudan and subsequently and successively as UNDP Resident Representative in Nepal, the Philippines and Indonesia until 1976.
During this period he also served out periods of secondment with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), between 1970 and 1972 and again, as Director of the Field Programmes Divisions, between 1974 and 1976.
In 1976, the then Administrator of UNDP, Rudolph Peterson, acting on the premise that serving staff with such distinguished records and operational experience might best serve at the highest levels in the organization's operational bureaux, appointed Andrew as Assistant Administrator and Regional Director of the Asia and Pacific Bureau, a post in which he served for a record 13 years.
In 1989, Administrator William H. Draper III appointed him as Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of UNDP, where he served until his retirement the following year in 1990.
In a UN career spanning nearly four decades, Andrew epitomized the very best traditions of the international civil service. He left a legacy of excellence, fairness and decency reflected in part by the many "graduates of the AJJ school" who continue to serve in the system, including several at senior most echelons.
Always sartorially elegant and eloquent in expression while possessed of a near puckish sense of humour, few can lay claim like Andrew Joseph to have been so widely respected and loved while garnering such fierce loyalty from the many colleagues who came to work with him in the course of his long and varied career.
Mark Malloch Brown
UN Development Programme,
Sunday Times Apr 7 2002
Joseph Bernard Koelmeyer
Sunday, February 24 was a sad day for the Koelmeyer family both in Sri Lanka and Australia. On this day, Bernard answered God's call. He was 77 years and had the privilege of breathing his last, while reading the good news of the Lord during mass. He died as he lived in peace without a struggle, for his life had always been without friction and conflict.
Bernard was an unassuming person. In times of danger, distress or difficulty he would remain calm and unruffled. His dedication, commitment and selflessness as a serviceman was legendary. He was respected and admired by all those who came in contact with him. When he retired from the Navy, he held the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Later he worked for a short time at Millers in a senior position.
Religion played an important role in his family. He was a devout Catholic. He believed that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of".
Bernard was actively involved in the work of the lay apostolate at St. Mary's Church, Dehiwela. He was a lay minister of the Eucharist and manager of the parish welfare shop.
Bernard was a devoted husband, loving father and affectionate grandfather.
Pioneer of modern Morawaka Korale
It is 20 years since the death of M.D. Yapa of Waralla, an illustrious son of Morawaka Korale in the south. The person whom the late MP Keerthi Abeywickrema described as the "Baas who made MPs" is still remembered with gratitude.
Born in 1904 in Akuressa, Mr. Yapa had his early education at St. Thomas, Matara and later obtained a Diploma in Agriculture from the School of Agriculture in Peradeniya. He decided to settle down in the picturesque village of Waralla where he ventured into planting tea and rubber.
He entered public life at the age of 29 by becoming Chairman of the Morawaka Village Council, which post he held for 16 years.
The schools he helped establish in Waralla, Horagala, Paragala and Alapaladeniya paved the way for a literate society in Morawaka Korale. New roads, new bridges and the attention paid to providing basic facilities to many villages helped establish links with towns.
It was on his initiative that the
Darangala and Kalubovitiyana settlement schemes were created. The road which
connects Morawaka through Kalubowitiyana to Neluwa (which now connects Matugama
and Colombo) is a direct result of his foresight.
After obtaining state land, he established the Waralla Uttaragiri Viharaya and then turned his attention to the neighbouring Getabaruwa Raja Maha Vihara. Getabaru Vihara neglected because of its inaccessibility, rose to fame after a motorable road was cut and an annual Esala perahera was held.
Morawaka Korale Peace Council
Sunday Times Mar 31 2002
It is with profound grief that I pen this tribute to well-known architect Ananda Peiris, who died on March 1, after a brief illness.
Ananda affectionately known among his close friends, relatives and neighbours as 'Ana' is no more. His death was a shock to Royal pool members who enjoyed his company. His departure proved how fragile life is.
The son of the late Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Peiris of Bawa Place, Ana had his early education at Royal College and later at Trinity College, Kandy. Then he joined Messrs. Billimoria, De Silva Peiris and Panditharatna of which his father S. H. Peiris was a partner. Thereafter he obtained professional qualifications abroad and on his return, father and son set up their own firm and became leading consultants.
A genial personality with an abundance of goodwill, he will be missed for his generosity and compassion. He helped anyone who came to him for assistance.
His friends were from various social strata and the large crowds at his funeral were testimony to his popularity.
In what must be their darkest hour, our sympathies go to his wife Shiranthie and children Lehana, Shehan, Thushika and Anoushka.
Words cannot express how much we miss him, but I hope the sun will shine through the rain someday and help us overcome this sorrow.
Ana, may your journey through Sansara be short and end in the bliss of Nibbana.
The sudden death of H. D. Amaradasa saddened both the old and young students of Mahinda College, Galle.
Mr. Amaradasa was a teacher par excellence having last taught music at Mahinda College. When he joined the College in 1978 there was no musical instrument or a classroom to teach music. Requesting students to bring their own musical instruments, he managed to form a school band in June the same year to sing religious songs at various important places in Galle.
In 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1994, this great music master's students shone in the all-island school music competitions by winning first and second places not only in singing but playing instruments, like the violin, mandolin, flute, sithar, cello etc.
He never gave tuition but taught the students free of charge. Money was not everything to this humble man.
In 1982, he provided music to the drama 'Ahimi Sampath' (telecast on Rupavahini). In 1992, he directed and produced 'Mahinda Puranaya' and collected almost Rs. 100,000 for the Security Fund. In 1995 he staged a drama in the Galle Town Hall and collected over Rs. 100,000 for the National Defence Fund.
He not only taught music but also values to his students.
May he attain Nibbana!
Sunil R. Wickremeratne
Devapriya Jayawardena, fondly known as Priya is no more. But he has left behind many golden memories.
Though Priya attended courts in various parts of the country, he spent most of his legal career in Kegalle and Mawanella.
Priya was a brilliant student, during both his school and Law College days. He was able to win the prestigious prize for Jurisprudence at Law College.
He was widely read on many subjects. You could put any question on any subject and expect a satisfactory answer from him. He also had wit. Above all Priya was a good friend.
I got to know Priya in the early seventies when both of us were junior lawyers at the Kegalle Bar. He remained a close colleague till his demise a few months ago.
Sabapathi Shanmugalingham, who died in February aged 59, was a firm believer in education and supported students to achieve their goals.
Born in Pandateriuppu, Jaffna, Mr. Shanmugalingham graduated from the Peradeniya University with an Honours Degree in History. He took up the post of Principal of Sri Arumuga Vidyasalai, Chulipuram.
As Principal, he was a strict disciplinarian because he held the view that discipline was the most crucial aspect in uplifting education. Though he was strict with students and teachers, he was also tender and compassionate.
He knew everybody in school by name, and also their skills, strengths and even weaknesses. As an efficient manager, he was capable of making sound decisions.
Sunday Times Mar 24 2002
Today marks the first death anniversary of Sujith Prasanna Perera, Assistant Superintendent of Customs who was brutally killed on his way to office on March 24, last year.
Sujith began his Customs career in 1989 and joined the Preventive Office, the main enforcement arm of the Sri Lanka Customs, in 1993. It was here that he developed his skills to become an excellent investigator.
He was thorough not only in Customs Law but also related laws. He was instrumental in uncovering many complex commercial frauds and had the ability of detecting hidden, vital clues while perusing incriminating documents.
He was sent to the United States in 1998 on an investigative mission, where with the assistance of the US Customs he acquired evidence to uncover a massive smuggling racket involving several US and local companies. His excellent investigative skills impressed the US Customs officials to such an extent that they wrote commendations to the Director General of Customs on Sujith's ability.
They also said that Sujith was an asset to Sri Lanka's Customs Department.
During my period at the Preventive Office as the Chief Preventive Officer, I had the opportunity of working closely with Sujith who was a Senior Assistant Preventive Officer. He was an extraordinary person, fearless in dealing with smugglers and unscrupulous importers. Sujith was ready to do any job at any time and worked day and night until the desired results could be achieved. Usually he was more in office than at home. He was a strength to fellow officers and they were comfortable and confident when Sujith led a raid.
He did not work for commendations or appreciations, his only aim was to do his part of the job well.
His integrity and bravery earned him many enemies and eventually he made the supreme sacrifice at the age of 34.
To the Customs Department, it is an irreparable loss, while the country has lost one of its great sons.
Sujith, a year has gone by. But you will remain in our hearts forever.
Assistant Director of Customs
It is with profound sadness that I pen these lines in appreciation of Kirthie Abeysekera, award winning investigative journalist and author who passed away in Toronto, Canada. In the '60s and '70s he served as a crime reporter of the Ceylon Observer. He was best known for his exposés of the underworld.
Though Kirthie emigrated to Canada in 1975, he kept in touch with his readers in Sri Lanka through regular contributions to newspapers on a wide range of topics.
Kirthie had close links with Sarvodaya. In his own words he had something in common with Sarvodaya, our rural roots. His book, 'The Doughty Dons of Dowa' was printed and published by Sarvodaya Vishva Lekha and the launch was held in Toronto on December 29, last year.
Since I could not attend the launch I sent a message to be read out at the ceremony.
It is but seldom that we encounter human beings of the calibre of Kirthie. He was a living embodiment of sincerity and decency.
His passing away is a great loss not only to his close friends and relatives but also to numerous readers in Sri Lanka.
I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Olga and children Jayantha, Chitra, Rohan, Anoma and Chamani.
Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne
Fitzroy de Mel was educated at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa where he also played cricket. After leaving school and engaging in higher studies, he found employment at the Survey Department and later at the Mahaweli Authority as a cartographic engineer.
He had beautiful hand-writing and was requested to write the oaths of Sri Lanka's first Executive President J.R. Jayewardene. He played cricket for the Survey Department too.
Fitzroy was a committed Christian taking on the duties of server, Sunday schoolteacher, Sunday school secretary, warden and lay assistant.
He was a talented actor and played roles in Henry Jayasena's Kuweni, Mana Ranjana, Weda Varjana, Diriya Mawa Saha Ege Daruwo, Apata Puthe Magak Nethe, Kaluware Jaramare, Hunuwataye Kathawa, Thawath Udesanak and in teledramas and the children's programme 'Master Mama', Amba Yahaluwo and Hiru Kumari.
He was appointed a cricket umpire in the 1960s and officiated at unofficial Tests. He held the post of Vice President of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers in Sri Lanka (ACUSL) where he was made a life member in 1994 for his services. He was also a member of the ACU England.
At the time of his death he was serving as Assignment Secretary to the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka.
Sunday Times Mar 17 2002
I had wondered many times over my mother's extended illness, how I would ever make it through losing her. It was only with the help of God that I was able to get through Mum's death and funeral. It is as though He has put a shield around me so that I don't feel the full brunt of the pain. I still grieve for her. But I know I am not alone, my Lord is with me always. He is my rock, my high tower from the storm and I will grieve holding onto His hand.
She was with me at my birth and I was there for her at her death. We had some very special moments in the days before her death and I know I am blessed with a legacy of courage. I am sad and angry and I weep now for the pain and suffering she endured. Selfishly, I wish she were here so that I could massage her legs, comb her hair and hold her hands. She had lost so much weight but in death she looked like the beautiful young woman she had been.
She has always been such an important part of my life. I remember so many special moments. I recall long chats with her on the phone, going out for a meal with her and then sharing a trip to the shops.
We were all told how to cope without her. We found written instructions from her. She had even written her own obituary notice. We showered her with unfailing love, care and comfort and obtained the best medical treatment for her. When she was working at the cancer homes and even at the Cheshire Home many people received her unstinted support. Those who associated with her simply loved and adored her.
It was remarkable how she endured her illness for four months. She was calm, unruffled and cheerful to the very end. We are sad that she is no longer with us, but glad that her suffering is over and that her last days were mostly peaceful with little pain.
God made a wonderful mother;
A mother who never grows old;
He made her smile of the sunshine
And He moulded her heart of pure gold;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars
In her cheeks fair roses you see;
God made a wonderful mother
And He gave that dear mother to me.
Thank you darling Mummy for all that you were to us and did for us. You helped others and expected nothing in return. You never counted the cost. May your soul rest in peace. Farewell Mummy, till we meet again.
My friendship with Ronnie dates back to 1957. I met him at the Polytechnic for the preliminary selection of physical culturist for 'Mr. Superman'. I was adjudged the winner and Ronnie the first runner-up. Ronnie never forgot this and whenever I met him at functions he never failed to mention it to the others.
Later Ronnie joined the Parliamentary staff and rose to be Sergeant-at-Arms; a position he held with aplomb, dignity and decorum. He can be described as a 'gentle giant', the way he discharged the task of removing MPs from the House, at the behest of the Speaker. A combination of brain, brawn, savvy, wit and tact, enabled him to be a friend of all and enemy of none. His charisma was such that he held the top slot of many prestigious clubs and associations.
Ronnie, I will miss you. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to his wife and children. May he attain Nibbana.
The service you rendered to the people of Kurunegala as a Justice of Peace is also beyond description. You treated everybody alike, without any discrimination.
You were a strict disciplinarian to your children. It made us climb the ladder of higher education. Thank you, dear father, for you made us what we are now. You took pride in our achievements.
I also remember the smile which lit up your face when you went through the progress report of your grandson whose hearing is impaired. You encouraged him to do his studies well. The help you extended towards his further education in addition to the duties you fulfilled, would accrue merit and shorten your Sansaric journey.
We cannot erase the golden memories you have left behind. Every day we think of you and lovingly kiss your photograph, dearest father. We will love you forever.
Shanthi De Silva
Sunday Times Mar 10 2002Denzil Peiris
Denzil Peiris, the maestro, was the greatest all- round editor I was privileged to have worked under in the late sixties until the late seventies. In my career as a journalist, both here and in many capitals overseas, I have worked for at least 20 editors. But none could match Denzil.
Denzil was the complete journalist with an unmatchable gift of transcending them all in the intricate spectrum of journalistic endeavour. He had covered the entire gamut of the newspaperman's craft starting from the very bottom.
Denzil was a remarkably skilled compound of writer, re-write man, conjurer of headlines, layout wizard, newsman and media management guru all rolled into one. As the complete editor, I cannot believe he will ever be equalled. His choice of staff was unconventional. Mostly it was dictated by his whim, the whim of a legendary and permissibly eccentric genius.
Denzil was the editor and certainly looked the part. He was always nattily attired. His features were sharp and one could hardly fail to observe his dimpled, protruding jaw, which many believe is a give-away symbol of the strong-willed or stubborn.
Denzil was often intractable and would not let up until he got what he wanted, whether it was the transfer of a staff member, poaching a journalist from the sister paper or in badgering the administration for a promotion or monetary award for an individual, even after he had exhausted the allocation of the particular budget. He could change headlines with a pirouette of his pen, in the twinkling of an eye, giving them a catchy twist that often smacked off classical refinement. For instance the late-breaking story featuring the brutal killing of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate by the pathological cult killer, Charles Manson fell into my lap for treatment. Striving frantically to beat the deadline for the second edition I edited the agency report. Then battling against time for a suitable banner with only minutes to go I headlined the story: "Pregnant actress murdered."
The page-proofs were up in a matter of minutes. Glancing at his watch he twirled his pen like an adept gunfighter, poised it over the page proof for a second, slashed my headline with a flourish and substituted it with: "Hollywood sex symbol slain."
This was the virtuoso in his element, inspiring his troops by example. But the story of the man's genius goes beyond his brilliance. His greatness does not end there. He was a man both intelligent and passionate. He had the ability to be intensely and vitally involved in the day's events and yet the capacity to see beyond them. His attitude towards journalism was clean and he thought that journalism had some measure of social responsibility. It is true that he was demanding, authoritative and imparted his journalistic will on all around him.
He brought the best international standards to the local print medium, and was a real force in Sri Lankan journalism.
The "Observer" Denzil edited, was very much a reflection of the man himself. It was lively and zestful and a wonderful showcase for young talent. Denzil forged a close-knit and tough-minded team which was the most powerful and dynamic Sri Lankan journalism has ever known.
If he was a great communicator he was also in the best sense an educator. His passion was not particularly for the scoop, but for intelligence, for readers to understand what was going on. An elegant man, he was one of those legendary figures who was as good as his myth. His presence was so strong that it still lives. No other journalist would ever again accumulate the prestige both inside and outside journalism as he did.
Gaston De Rosayro
I first admired Hector, as a schoolboy, at St. Anne's, Kurunegala, when he played cricket, for the Kurunegala S.C. in 1945. Hector was a versatile left-hand bat, agile cover fieldsman and opening bowler, the third fastest, at that time in Ceylon, the fastest being D.S. Jayasundara and next Fairly Dalpadadu.
Hector, also played for the S.S.C. for a number of years in the company of 'Pappa' De Saram, Sargo Jayawickrama, Mahes Rodrigo and others. The tour of India by the S.S.C. was also memorable with Hector, scoring centuries against teams captained by famous Vijay Merchant.
Those days, cricket was played for one's leisure and other's pleasure.
I vividly remember the match in 1952, when Hector captained, the Dandagamuwa S.C. and my uncle Felix, captained the 'Kurus' S.C. for the Laliyatte Shield. The 'Kurus team' consisted of my uncles and nephews all from one family. Hector, came into bat one down. When at four runs, he played a scoring drive to the covers and I dropped the catch he went on to score 76 runs and we lost the match and the shield.
His wife, Anne was supportive of Hector, to the last, whether in law, sports or illness.
Hector's passing away is not only a great loss to Kuliyapitiya, but also to his old school, St. Joseph's. May the turf rest lightly on him.
Cdr. A.R. Cyril Fernando, SLN (Rtd.)
Sunday Times Mar 3 2002
An ardent musician, he pioneered the promotion of Sinhala gramophone records under the "Columbia" and "Odeon" labels. The very first complete "Maha Pirith" recording was produced by his firm.
Mr. Fernando actively participated in several social organisations, including the Buddhist Theosophical Society where he functioned as an executive officer for several years. Mr. Fernando was on the Board of Management of the Tharuna Abhiwurdhi Sadaka Samitiya and was its schools' General Manager conducting the affairs of 70 schools. He was Chairman of the Lawri's Children's Home in Colombo 10 which caters to the needs of a large number of orphaned girls.
Mr. Fernando took part in the functions of the Ruwanweli Seya Restoration Society and completed a room at the Dutugemunu Pilgrims' Rest in Anuradhapura now used by thousands of pilgrims. To his credit also stands the Nalandaramaya Buddhist Temple at Nalanda Place, Colombo 10, where regular Daham Desanas are preached and a Daham school functions.
The crowning glory of his life can be seen in Anuradhapura, where he along with his brother, constructed a brass railing within the inner perimeter of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi thereby giving protection to this sacred tree.
These and other services of this silent social worker to his motherland and particularly to Buddhism, will no doubt help him in his journey in samsara and to achieve the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
He leaves behind his son Jayantha and three daughters. His wife Mrs. Violet Wijetunga of Galle pre-deceased him.
A grateful employee
A widely respected and eminent sports personality, who had a reputation in rugby, he embodied the ideal qualities we associate with sportsmanship. Kavan was brought up in an era where winning was not the sole purpose of the game, where team spirit and fairplay were the underlying principles. Kavan exemplified these values which are so rare today in the world of sports, where the scramble for money, fame and glory have taken precedence over decency.
He was a humanist and true team player.
The sports arena in Sri Lanka is still largely male dominated and old boy networks are strong. Inspite of this Kavan was open minded and supported me as President of the Foundation. This impressed me, because he grew up in a different era when gender equality was not generally accepted.
Kavan gave me wise counsel and was always ready to assist me. Through the years, Kavan's continued service as a Trustee of the Foundation contributed much to sustaining the high standards upon which it was established. I find it hard to imagine the Foundation without Kavan. His camaraderie and good advice will be sorely missed by me and my fellow board members. Our next gathering will indeed be a very sad one.
Duncan White Sports Foundation
He functioned as Deputy Minister of Mahaweli Development and Minister of Lands, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development, until the People's Alliance came into power in 1994 and subsequently as an MP.
The construction phase of the accelerated Mahaweli programme, launched by the UNP, was successfully nearing completion, under the guidance of Gamini Dissanayake, when Gamini Athukorale took over. He had a clear vision and plan of action for the second phase, which included consolidation of resources, empowerment of beneficiaries and giving them ownership of the Mahaweli Development Project.
He also realized the importance of human resource development and for the first time, a Human Resource Development Division was setup.
The first impression of officials who had to work under his direction was that he was a strict administrator. But it did not take long for them to realize how kind hearted he was and also how close he was to the officers and the people.
Once, when he heard that a senior officer was suffering from a serious illness, he spoke to him personally. When he came to know that the facilities available in Sri Lanka at the time were not adequate for the treatment of such an illness, he suggested treatment abroad.
He spoke personally to the then President, R. Premadasa and made arrangements to provide funds from the President's Fund to meet part of the expenses involved for treatment abroad. He also spoke to Air Lanka and made arrangements to get the tickets.
He was deeply concerned about unemployment among the youth. He attempted to provide them with computer training and a knowledge in English by initiating such programmes in Mahaweli areas.
In Sri Lanka's march towards development, the name of Gamini Athukorale will never fade. I see him as a Minister, who worked untiringly and with dedication and also a human being with rare qualities.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana !
Human Resource & Institutional Development,
At one time several of his past patients lived in Geneva and all had on many occasions spoken to him over the phone and got relief, as the Swiss doctors treating them had to struggle with CT scans and other reports to make a proper diagnosis. Such was his ability. It was rarely, if at all, that he ordered tests and then too only to confirm his findings.
Dr. Jayasekera made his mark as the Registrar to Professor Nicholas Attygalle, one of the most distinguished gynaecologists Sri Lanka has ever produced. In the mid-50s he left government service and joined Dr. Raffle at the clinic at Wellawatte. Many of Professor Attygalle's patients, their daughters and even grand-daughters sought Dr. Jayasekera's assistance.
Delivering babies round the clock, making house calls even in the night and seeing hundreds of patients at the clinic, he was a busy practitioner.
Yet, he remained a family man devoted to his wife Anula and the children. He was never motivated by money and treated many a patient free of charge, besides helping various charitable organizations.
During the past years, many ex-patients of his would have thought, like me, "If only Dr. Jayasekera was with us today". We miss him.
Dr. Dayanath Jayasuriya
Maybe this was why I had a close affinity to Walter, my mother's brother. Walter was the eternal bachelor. If you thought that he was a saint - forget it! He had his "peccadillos". As a kid of ten, Walter and I attended one of those "melas" in Horton Place, the present site of Asha Central Hospital. Walter was in love and little Nihal was requested to hand over a letter to the girl of Walter's dreams. Unfortunately, I handed it over to the wrong girl and the 'mela' ended abruptly for us, with both of us running away from an enamoured buxom female.
Walter was an 'intellectual', a writer par excellence. He was a skilled journalist, a sub-editor of the Ceylon Catholic Messenger and the Bangkok Post. Some of his articles were published in internationally recognized journals. It was he who gave me an insight into English Literature. As a youngster, I had the privilege of listening to the conversations between Walter, Father Justin and Ivan Anton. The parry, thrust and humour were just unbelievable.
My interest in the Catholic faith, preliminary introduction into metaphysics and the knowledge of saints that mattered, were nurtured by Walter. He had a special devotion to St. Therese, the little flower of Jesus. All his nieces and nephews were given a little book on the life and times of this saint. We were enthralled with his stories of this lady. She was in his words, a saint for the ordinary man and woman. When I visited France, on a pilgrimage, how I wished I could have taken Walter with me to her birthplace, her family house and the convent she entered and lived in till her death.
My sister Erin and I owe our deep interest in mystery novels to Walter. Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey; Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple; Ngaio Marsh's Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn and Chesterton's Father Brown, were our favourites. Walter, that generous uncle of ours, presented us with copies of all the new editions, when they arrived in Sri Lanka.
His knowledge of classical music, his records and books, helped in the progress of our musical education.
If you were a relative or friend of Walter's, you would receive a periodic newsletter from him, in any part of the world you lived. The letters were deeply reflective, philosophical, poetic and humorous.
He and his sister, Celia, loved cats and dogs. I still remember a time in Bangkok, where one of the Siamese cats had 'peed' into my suitcase.It took vast quantities of disinfectant and perfume to get my suitcase ready for packing.
You were, Walter, very humane. I enjoyed the tempestuous fights we had and also the "togetherness" we shared. You and I used to enjoy a number of gourmet meals and choice wines both in Sri Lanka and Thailand.
He was 84.
Despite being very knowledgeable, he was humble and unassuming. His foresight was wonderful.
Canon Horshington had his early education at St. John's College, Jaffna but took up the London Matriculation exam at Trinity College Kandy.
A regular vistor to his humble home,
now I will only see
An empty room
Your empty chair,
We always feel
You're still there
Your gentle ways
Your smiling face
No one on earth
Can take your place
Our thoughts are with his wife and daughters in this time of sorrow. May the good Lord be with him.
A pioneer consultant in chest diseases, he also pursued a career in public health. After a distinguished stint at the Department of Health, with a DPH from Sydney, he served the Municipality and Glass House Diagnostic Laboratory.
He was always upright, a good companion, mentor, accomplished pianist, chorister, and loved his food and wine. Many were at the "receiving end" of his hospitality.
Our sympathies are with his charming wife, two sons and their families.
The Staff of Glass House
Sunday Times Feb 24 2002
Edward 'Bugs' Mason (EM), Grand Old Man of Motoring in our country died on January 7, 2002 while at work at Lake House compiling the popular Observer Motomag which he has been publishing for over 40 years. As they say in the Army he "died with his boots on". His funeral took place at the Mount Lavinia cemetery amidst a large gathering of motoring personalities and friends.
EM was born on November 26, 1915 to a respected planting family in the Kegalle district. His primary and secondary education were at St. Anthony's College, Kandy and the final years were spent at St. Joseph's College, Colombo. During this period he represented his schools in cricket, soccer, athletics and cadeting.
His interest in cars began with his father's three-wheeled Morgan W-289. During his life of 86 years he contributed immensely to transport and road safety in general and motoring and racing in particular, which is unlikely to be surpassed. He pioneered the organizing of hackery, elephant, boat races in the provinces and the Tour de Lanka cycle races.
After his stint in the Army, EM began his racing activities and on December 7, 1947 entered his little 'Bug' Fiat Topolino CY-3888 for the circuit meet organized by the Ceylon Motorcycle Club at Ratmalana. In the first race there were three 'Bug' Fiats and Paddy Philips beat the others. EM confessed, "It was my first experience in racing and it cut me down to size." In the next event for cars under 1,000 cc. in his own words he had the cheek to enter the little Bug of 500 cc. against more powerful vehicles.
He sprang a surprise leading the Renault, Morris and Standard over a lap, but had bad luck missing the turn and losing valuable seconds in getting back to the track. J.P. Obeysekera took the lead in the Renault followed by R. de Livera in the Morris and the 'Bug' finished third despite the detour. In the Monsoon Reliability Trials which commenced on June 5, 1948 from Torrington Square and covering 461 miles, EM entered his diminutive 'Bug" but no one was willing to be his navigator.
He knew the roads well and won the event. Losing only four points with 36 competitors in the car class and 38 in the motor cycle class. It was his first win and earned the nickname of 'Bugs'. That was the beginning of a successful racing career winning all types of events.
Although books can be written about his motoring achievements and contributions to transport, EM's contributions to the veteran and vintage motor movement are significant. Soon after the Second World War in the early 1950s the normal modes of motor transport upto 1939 in the A to Z series were regarded as veteran and vintage vehicles. The first 'Old Crocks Rally' on July 5, 1953 was organised by Lake House.
The 'Trinity' who pioneered this rally were W.R. 'Uncle Dan' Daniels, Captain 'Tabby' E.B.Murrell and Edward 'Bugs' Mason. Mason flagged-off the first Old Crock. He became a live-wire in all vintage rallies thereafter until his demise. The trio were called the "Three Musketeers" at Lake House.
To cap his interest in vintage cars, EM acquired a beautiful Chrysler D-1723 in the early 1960s from an old planter in Bogawantalawa. While at Dunlop's there was an inquiry for tyres and on following up, EM discovered the existence of this car.
He related that the planter, while handing the keys of the car, was full of grief. The car was in peak condition and EM reached Colombo in four hours. This car was then bought by Brain Jolly, Chairman of E.B. Creasy & Co. Ltd., active member of the Veteran Car Club of Ceylon, who took part in many rallies. Brian was very knowledgeable on vintage cars and owned some vehicles in England.
The Chrysler was taken by him on his return to England. (It is said that EM sold the car after an accident, as the numbers in the registration added to unlucky 13).
The Veteran Car Club of Ceylon was formed in 1953 by Chitru Peiris. Edward Mason was an active member and organized many rallies until the VCCC became inactive in 1987. The VCCC under the Presidency of Vere de Mel was instrumental in introducing landmark legislation banning the export of vehicles manufactured prior to January 1, 1945. During the Non-aligned Conference in 1976, a motor museum was set up by Chitru and EM played a key role. The museum unfortunately, was closed soon afterwards. The need for it is felt very badly today.
To save vintage vehicles, the Vintage Car Owners' Club (VCOC) was hurriedly formed in October 1987 when the VCCC failed to obtain any concessions from the Commissioner on impending legislation. The VCOC came to the rescue with Founder President M.M. Salih appealing to the Minister of Transport. EM gave his full support to the VCOC and was made the first honorary life member in 1991. He was the VCOC's advisor, guide and philosopher, actively participating in every event until his death.
To honour him, the VCOC held the Edward Mason Felicitation Vintage Motor Rally '94 on December 11, 1994 under the Presidency of late Dushmantha. It was a treat to watch the Mason family and Dushmantha arriving at the Taj in the Rolls-Royce CY-2086 led by a papare band playing "For he's a jolly good fellow". At every AGM of the VCOC, EM was elected protem Chairman. We will all miss the affable, amiable, genial and lovable EM.
EM's wife Merlyn pre-deceased him in December 2000. The VCOC conveys its deepest sympathies to EM's children Elaine, Jeffrey and Rodney. May his soul rest in peace!
(Vintage Car Owners' Club Newsletter)
Minister Gamini Athukorale was an exemplary politician. Politics was a religion to him. He always used his powers as a ruler, not to enhance his personal wealth but to uplift the socio-economic standards of the disadvantaged groups in society.
As Deputy Minister of Mahaweli Development and later as Minister he rendered a commendable service in improving the quality of life of more than 100,000 families in the Mahaweli settlements. He was the voice of the voiceless peasants.
As a senior executive of the Mahaweli Authority I worked with him very closely from 1989 to 1994. Even after the change of government, I maintained a relationship with him until his untimely death.
The settlement of over 4,000 families beyond Welikanda was mainly due to his commitment to the work programmes which came under his purview.
He was ever ready to take risks. Once in the midst of an inspection in System B, he decided to visit the army camp at Waddamunai. This camp provides security to settlements around Welikanda. The approach road to the camp is through dense jungle. A few weeks after his visit 26 army personnel were killed by terrorists on the same route.
He was a moving force in the UNP, a workaholic who neglected his health to serve the people and the party he loved so dearly. The UNP was rejuvenated partly due to his efforts in galvanizing supporters at the grassroot level to face violent polls without fear. He was loyal to leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and his ambition was to see that his leader took the reins of government once again. He achieved his cherished dream but the hand of death denied the country and the UNP of the valuable services of a honest politician.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.
Sunday Times Feb 17 2002Herbert and Premani Jayawickreme
Devi, Sujatha, Chitra, Mala & Gamini
We started the morning with 'devotions' under the na tree and ended the school day with gatha. In between we studied and played and competed with each other at games and tests. When term tests ended, we pushed all our desks together to make a stage, tried our hands at tumbler-talk, and palm reading, and put up plays for the other classes. At bana all the classes in one grade gathered in the old school hall and listened to Rev. Piyadassi from Vajiraramaya. When the school went on a day's outing, we went to the zoo, or walked in twos to the Majestic cinema to watch a film. When it rained and the lower school grounds flooded, and the school declared a rain holiday, she took off her shoes and waded in the knee-high rain water with us, sharing things that little children do that bond their friendship. The four squads of Visakhians who took part in the CESPA rally marched with her to win a trophy and remember her driving a toy car, dressed in her mother's sari, with sun glasses too big to balance on her child's nose in the play that the school presented.
In her final year at Visakha, her co-students elected her the president of the Science Association, the English Literary and Debating Society and the Buddhist Society. She also held office in other school societies. Her teachers recognised in her, qualities of leadership that they promoted, and elected her the head prefect of the school. Manthri conducted herself in office with a strong sense of responsibility, but never forgot to have fun with her friends; once as a close friend recalled, even taking turns at pushing a friend on Mrs. Pulimood's revolving chair, while waiting with the other prefects for a meeting with the principal.
The Brownie grown into a Girl Guide, she persevered and became a Ranger, getting together with the others in Visakha's 11th Co. to go on hikes, sing round campfires, spend days out camping and sell flags for the CNAPT. In 1964, she received the Juliette Low friendship award to spend six weeks at the Girl Scout Senior International Round-up in America. We met at the Ratmalana airport to wish her a good journey, and gathered round her father who couldn't contain the tears of pride that rolled down his face, and her mother who stoically held her head high, to watch Manthri walk towards the airplane. She came back with a little gift for each of her friends, full of stories of her trip across the seas, and wrote about it in the school magazine of 1965. "Each time I think of it, 'Round-up is fellowship, service and cheer, Round up the aims we hold so dear'... it brings back memories of six joyous weeks and an unforgettable experience I shared with thousands of girls."
When the inter-house competitions took place Manthri, a Jayatilleke was in the thick of it, playing net-ball, organising the science quiz, leading the English debating team, acting in plays by Shakespeare and Shaw with an equally brilliant sister - Anula. Some of these activities took Manthri beyond the school, to compete in debating, in oratory and the 'Light of Asia' contest. When she left the school, she won the Junius Jayewardene memorial prize for best prefect, the Helena Wijewardene memorial prize for leadership, the OGA prize for the Best Visakhian and the Adrian De Abrew Rajapakse Shield for the best all-round student .
Passing examinations came easily to Manthri who always combined her exceptional intelligence with hard work. She went into the science stream with some of us and sat for her (GCE) A. Levels - the selective examination to enter university. She qualified to enter the science faculty, of the University of Colombo, and graduated with first class honours in Zoology '70. As she recalled in the 70th anniversary publication of the school " it almost seemed as if being Visakhians, we had an unfair advantage - for often those who topped the batch always came from the same school!" displaying a humility that didn't mention that she was one of them.
Throughout her undergraduate career and when she was retained as an assistant lecturer in zoology, in the campus, she came to Visakha to meet old friends and new. When Visakhians celebrated 'Founder's day' with an all-night pirith ceremony and alms giving, she was there to partake of it, to chat with old friends and new, and catch up on news of those who weren't there. Usually it was she, who gave news of old friends who were spread out across the world, as she kept in touch with most of them, and when they returned to Sri Lanka, drew them in to meet the others.
Manthri left Sri Lanka on a Commonwealth scholarship to specialise in entomology, at Churchill College in the University of Cambridge, where she became the first woman to receive a PhD. Soon after she received a post doctoral research award at the StrangeWay Research Laboratory in Cambridge. It wasn't only studies that occupied her interests there. Romance took over when Manthri met a fellow doctoral student from Sri Lanka, Ranjan Ramasamy. Their marriage was a partnership of two human beings who worked together professionally, setting high standards in their work as researchers, contributors to professional journals and reviewers for publications and participants in seminars nationally as well as internationally, in their respective fields.
There followed several years where she worked, with Ranjan, as a scientist in King Faisal University, in Damman, Saudi Arabia, when their daughter Maheshi was born, then onto the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), in Nairobi, Kenya, after which they became senior lecturers in the University of Jaffna for a year. In '84 they left again, and Manthri worked as a research associate at the University of San Diego, USA, and went onto the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane Australia, as a staff scientist and senior lecturer.
Returning to Sri Lanka, enriched by the experience gained in many universities across continents, they took up posts as senior Research Associates at the Institute of Fundamental Studies, Peradeniya, under the direction of Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma. They based themselves in Colombo where Maheshi schooled, and commuted weekly to the IFS. Manthri sought out the Medarata branch of her OGA which she joined and worked with, and combined a busy schedule as researcher, reviewer, organiser of symposia, seminars and public lectures for the Institute, and also the Sri Lankan Association for the Advancement of Science, of which she became the General Secretary in 1999. Very few of us knew then, that she was fighting an illness which she laughed off as if it were a common cold, till the very end when it restricted her to one place and she called her family and friends around her.
When she gave the Pulimood Memorial Lecture at Visakha in 1995, from the class of '66, Manthri Samaranayake Ramasamy had become a recognised scientist in the field of entomology and parasitology, the mother of a teenage daughter, who would emulate her parents' academic excellence.
By then she had also become an Associate Professor at the Institute of Fundamental Studies, simultaneously lecturing at the Post Graduate Institute of Science of the University of Peradeniya. She was still the outspoken friend we had known, speaking with authority on a field in which she had achieved international recognition, but keeping in touch with a school which had moulded her being.
We wished that she would have lived longer among us, and been spared the pain of her last year. She had no regrets in a life she had lived to the full. As we live on, the echo of our late Principal Mrs. Pulimood's words ring on "Let the girls of Visakha realise..that the work and standard of their Alma Mater are judged by the lives they lead. Let them take up the challenge to serve their time and generation". Manthri, you fulfilled this wish, and will be missed sorely as we carry your memory with us.
Class friends from Visakha Vidyalaya
He was a strict disciplinarian and never paid attention to those who came to him with false information. If he saw a mistake, he punished the employee, but had no malice towards anyone. He always helped them who were in need irrespective of their position. He had regard for those who carried out their duties efficiently. He believed that duty comes first.
May his journey in Sansara be short.
He lived his life to the full, his foremost aim and ambition being to uplift his family members, relations and friends.
He was born on June 13, 1921 and had his early education at T.B. Jayah Maha Vidyalaya, Slave Island.
He served in the Old Boys' Association and Al Iqbal Maha Vidyalaya Parent Teacher Association for school development.
He served in many positions and was Secretary of the Wekanda Nusrathul Islam Association, Shahul Hameedia Mosque, Slave Island and Maligawatte Janaza Welfare Society. May Allah grant him "Jennathul Firdhouse" . Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Illaihi Rajioon.
M. Ruzaik Farook
Sri Lanka Islamic Society
Sunday Times Feb 10 2002
Kirthie Abeyesekera, was among those rare persons who had a late calling to journalism. He entered the tournament of the press as a middle-aged bureaucrat from the Local Government Service, unlike the majority of us who were schooled in the art from an early age. I came into journalism around the same time or thereabouts as Kirthie. But there was a difference. Kirthie was a mature man of the world, with the demeanour of a person hell-bent on succeeding in his new found occupation. I, as a brash, callow youth, although perhaps inflamed by the same idealism, was carefree and directionless. We came into journalism at a time when the profession boasted some of the biggest and brightest stars in the business. We were under the guidance of "The Skipper", the celebrated Denzil Peiris.
But Kirthie's ability and talent, compounded by his propensity for hard work, even under the most trying circumstances were soon recognised. He had a natural aptitude for the craft and his faculty of extraordinary quick insights and highly-tuned instincts earned him the reputation as the greatest crime reporter, ever.
His competitors pounding the crime beat for rival newspapers were hardly in the same league. He scooped them incessantly and he did so with panache. But despite his many successes, he did not become a head-swelled prima-donna. He was aware of the vital importance of being equal to the daily grind. The key to his success was that he did all this with an incredible persistence and unbending discipline, to say nothing of the absolutely crucial need of being at the right place at the right time. As a police reporter of the "Observer", he covered some of the major crimes in the sixties and seventies.
He will be best remembered for his penetrating exposes of the underworld.
He covered some of the most sensational court cases of the time, including the "Kalattawa murders" and the "Kirimbakanda killing". Kirthie was not a big man, physically. He was of average height and build. Yet, he was feisty and adventuresome and stood out among the bravest in the fraternity. During the first JVP insurrection of 1971 and the ensuing reign of terror, Kirthie was in the thick of the drama. He was the first local journalist to report from the front-lines of action. His reports, complemented with superbly illustrated pictures by photographer Chandra Weerewardena for the "Observer" were prize-winning material by any standards, anywhere.
Kirthie's array of contacts on both sides of the crime beat was imposing as was his unrelenting perseverance to capture the essence of the characters who lived on the edge and who usually preferred to remain elusive. He was a brilliant investigative reporter with an inclination for off-beat stories and an inordinate curiosity for news. Possessed with a fluent writing style, he was trusted by his wide range of contacts among both "cops and robbers", an invaluable asset in journalism.
Although he moved around with a vigorous efficiency, most would acknowledge that there was a demeanour of quiet professional solidity about Kirthie, which made his very presence inspiring. Kirthie cut a dash and was conspicuous with his greying mane, his features enhanced by twinkling hazel eyes. He was always elegantly attired. Kirthie exuded the look of the cultured class, rarely encountered among the fraternity, even during those enchanting times. Even when he strode with measured tread along the vast corridors of the Lake House Editorial, entering or making his exit, he exuded the air and walk of a man who knew where he was going - even if he was only heading for his favourite pub.
But for Kirthie, family affection had been the greatest gift in life. Yes, he was essentially a family man, a steadfast friend and both an idealistic and kind person. Still, for a hard-boiled newsman, Kirthie, manifested a singular innocence, a sort of gentle ingenuousness. In those heady days with the "Observer", there was always the presence of Kirthie's wry and sardonic humour.
Whenever Kirthie became overtly conspiratorial and mischievous, we immediately suspected that someone would become the victim of his rapier wit. He would unleash his verbal thunderbolt with that characteristic twinkle in his eye and a deadpan face. And then he would throw back his head and chortle uncontrollably, prompting an infectious roar from those around him.
Kirthie's literary gift was but one of his extraordinary endowments. His outstanding record of aesthetic talents include a mellifluous singing voice and the intellect of an eloquent bilingual public speaker. Few were aware that he was a graded professional Radio Ceylon artiste in the forties and sang in his own concerts. Among his contemporaries at the time were Chitra and Somapala, C. T. Fernando and Susil Premaratne.
Few among any of his peers had hardly a quarter of Kirthie's vivacity, his eager interest in the world, or the ability to stir the feelings of his friends and loved-ones by his sincere and passionate displays of demonstrative emotion.
Goodbye, Kirthie, beloved big-brother, crony and confidante. Rest assured your many buddies and I all mourn your passing. We are privileged to have been counted among your friends. For us you made the world a better and happier place. Be assured you will constantly be in our prayers and thoughts. And at every reunion, until the last of the Knights of the Old "Observer" remain, we will always raise our glasses to you in a ceremonial toast of thanksgiving for enriching our lives. And Kirthie, always the merry old soul, certainly will like that.
Gaston De Rosayro
Sunday Times Feb 3 2007
Many would disagree and even find Athukorale, the charismatic assistant leader of the UNP rather brash as he spoke his mind. But such was his character that he plainly expressed exactly what he felt. And that itself was a novel experience to us scribes who are used to politicians who are often careful and untruthful in their utterances to the level of hypocrisy.
My first glimpse of Gamini Athukorale has remained deeply etched in my mind. As a cub reporter nine years ago, I was watching the legislature in session from the Press Gallery and immediately noticed a white national clad, bespectacled minister, locking horns with a legislator.
Somehow, that image of the furious minister has remained. And over the years, we developed an extremely comfortable professional relationship so much so that he shared his candid views with me, and though not necessarily in agreement, I found his approach rather refreshing.
For those in the UNP, Gamini was the one who sweated, toiled and laboured to bring a UNP government into office. While other leaders were recognised for their ability to govern, Gamini certainly was recognised as the driving force behind the UNP's electoral victory last December.
As Ranil Wickremesinghe said in his funeral oration, perhaps Gamini's untimely departure was brought about by the excessive workload he shouldered, the burdens he silently bore on behalf of the UNP. And having done his supreme duty by the UNP, of securing electoral victory, Gamini Athukorale was so jubilant that he claimed that he was even ready to leave the world in a spirit of victory.
The UNP, a party that is often seen as a monopoly of of the traditional ruling class, experienced a difference when Gamini Athukorale came along. He certainly belonged to that same class. Yet he was the man with the common touch, the man who knew public feeling, felt their pulse. Undoubtedly, it was he who had that essential Sinhala identity that many found lacking among UNP politicians, and the man who embodied the fighting spirit the UNP seemed to lack.
When a group of UNPers while in opposition advocated a national government with the PA, Gamini Athukorale declared war on such thinking, openly claiming that a few portfolios should not lure the UNP. He felt strongly about the UNP being the single largest party, and felt that agreements based on portfolios was not something the UNP should go for.
It was Gamini's Jana Bala Meheyuma last July that provided the UNP the necessary impetus and the winning streak to a party that was languishing in opposition. It was his show, his opportunity to display his skill in mobilizing people, his undaunting spirit and indefatigable effort that saw the end of the road for the PA administration.
His finest hour in politics was when he was made the UNP General Secretary following the dismal defeat in 1994. And the new General Secretary had a massive rebuilding operation entrusted to him. He began with an ambitious membership drive, met grassroot level organizers, revamped the party and rebuilt the party organisation that had been neglected during a 17- year administration.
Having built it up from scratch, he injected the UNP with new vigour as he continued to hold protests and take up issues headlong. In Parliament, his voice rose against corruption and malpractice. That was his forte. He was in his element when he was providing leadership to the masses. Just three months short of celebrating 25 years in politics, the dynamic Ratnapura legislator undertook his final assignment last year- to seal the PA administration. And having done that, his joy knew no bounds.
Gamin Athukorale's detractors would concede that he was candidly honest, outspoken and loyal to his party. And often there were moments that reminded me of our first meeting- the angry legislator taking on the opposition years ago.
If there was a prize for loyalty among UNP ranks, my contention is that Gamini Athukorale would have won it uncontested. Such was his unswerving commitment to the party and loyalty to the party leadership. The mantle of high office sat lightly upon him.
At 51, Gamini Athukorale shared the enthusiasm of a kid, and had strong likes and dislikes- things that made him easy to associate with. And over the years, I have got used to seeing him in the Parliament lobby, taking quick steps and flashing his ready smile. There are a million things that flit through my mind as I write this piece on Gamini.
And one thing is true about Gamini Athukorale. As we mourn his loss, as the UNP struggles to recover from the devastating shock, Gamini Athukorale could never truly fade away. He had so much of vitality. Such men never die.
Uncle Rohan, was gifted with many qualities. He was a gentleman par excellence and humble person.
Despite the high positions he held in Jaycees, Rotary and the field of commerce and industry, he never lost the common touch.
When I attended the funeral of a fellow Jaycee, who died under tragic circumstances, I was surprised to see among the many friends, Uncle Rohan. When I expressed my surprise he said, "It was my duty to pay my respects to a colleague, although I did not know him personally." This was his humanity .
Another remarkable thing was that whenever I sent him congratulatory notes on his successes, he would make it a point to acknowledge them despite his busy schedule.
It is my earnest hope and prayer that younger generations will follow Uncle Rohan's example.
May his soul rest in peace.
May Aunty Neelakanthi and his family be given the strength to bear this loss.
Sunday Times Jan 27 2002
Ronald Doyne Seneviratne, was the only son of Abraham Isaac de Alwis Seneviratne, Mudliyar of Wellaboda Paththu in Matara. Born at the turn of the last century on July 1, 1906, he passed away as peacefully as he lived on October 2, 2001. The brilliant achievements of this most modest man, in the field of medicine in particular, are well worthy of record with some insight into his life and times.
Doyne spent his early years in Matara. Those happy and peaceful times remained in his memory. This gave him the idea, at age 90, when his mind was still clear, to hand write his recollections of a bygone era.
Doyne recalls the destinies of his mother, four sisters and interesting episodes during his visits to family friends along with his parents. Perhaps, descendants of old families in the town may be interested to know that he portrays the homes and visits to James de Saram, Oswald Tillekeratne, D. Saa Bandaranayake, John Illangakoon, Mudaliyars Gooneratne and Wickremaratne, Peter Rodrigo and D. Orta Ekanayake. Of industrial giants, he mentions friendship with Edmund Samarasekera and his father of citronella oil fame, and with Odiris, his sons Dharmapala and Harischandra whose food products are now a household name islandwide.
Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule over 50 years ago. Doyne's concise observations as follows, of British governance are thus interesting.
"The highest power in the land was the Governor representing the King. Power was delegated to grassroots levels by a series of steps. Government Agents were the provincial head. Under them came the Assistant Government Agents, in charge of Districts, into which a province was divided. A district was divided into Korales and Pattus headed by Mudaliyars. Under the Mudaliyar was the Headman who reached villagers. The Kachcheri was the head office of the Government Agents and Assistant Government Agents.
"Good governance was maintained by personal attention and regular circuits of inspection by Government Agents and Assistant Government Agents. In order to keep alive the 'ruler' image, the circuits were marked by much pomp & pageantry. The usual procedure at such circuits is illustrated by my personal experience as a small child at St. Thomas Girls' School, Matara. The school was informed well in time. The garden and buildings were spruced up and the children drilled in their parts. Just before the time of arrival, we were lined up at the gate - the little ones in front and the bigger ones and teachers behind. On arrival, the dignitaries were welcomed with patriotic songs. A specially selected child proudly presented a bouquet and was rewarded with a pat on the head. The young ones gazed with awe and admiration at the white uniform, with gold buttons, and white helmet with gold spikes and a scarlet plume of the Government Agent."
Sadly the vanity of our rulers remains much the same though half a century has gone by!
It was in 1918 that Doyne left for schooling at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia. About his interest in boxing which commenced in Matara and continued at St. Thomas' he wrote:-
"A few days before leaving, I was watching Mr. Manaring, Assistant Superintendent of Police in charge of Matara Division, training a group of Police boys in boxing. Noticing my interest, he invited me to join his boxing classes. My interest in boxing led me to join the boxing classes at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, coached by Charlie Jayatilleke, a well known boxer of that era. I was included in the college team and won my weight in 1921."
Doyne's academic brilliance unfolded at St. Thomas' College where he was awarded the Gregory Scholarship, passed the Junior Cambridge with honours in 1921, the Cambridge Senior also with honours in 1922, gaining exemption from the London Matriculation. He ended his school career winning the coveted Victoria Gold Medal for the best all round student in 1924.
Having entered the University College in 1924, Doyne gained admission to the Medical College, Colombo an year later. He had an exceptional record of achievements in these institutions as well. He was placed first in the first class in the Pre Medical and first in first class in every professional examination at the Medical College, winning in the process an impressive array of gold medals, prizes and scholarships.
He won the Pre Medical Medal, Lucy de Abrew Gold Medal for Biology, Charmers Gold Medal for Anatomy, Mathew Gold Medal for Medical Juris Prudence, Vanderstraaten prize for Hygiene, Garvin Gold Medal for Operative Surgery, the Rutherford Gold Medal for Tropical Medicine as well as the Pre Medical First Professional and Post Licentiate Scholarships.
Doyne ended his working career having served as Pathologist of the General Hospital, Colombo, Director of the Medical Research Institute and Deputy Director of Health. He was a Lecturer and Examiner of the Medical College of the University of Ceylon.
His pupils as well as others in the profession, who know of his contributions to medicine still hold him in high esteem for his achievements accomplished ,with modesty.
Doyne married Indrani Pieris in 1936. They had a son Ranjith and a daughter Manil. He and his family lived in the home he built in Cambridge Place, Colombo.
Doyne had his share of traumatic experiences in life when his son and, later, his wife predeceased him. He, however had the consolation and satisfaction of being looked after with devotion by his daughter. Much to his delight, dullness in his home soon disappeared when his grand-daughter Anushia came to live with him with her family. In the tranquil eventide of his life, what gave him great joy was silently observing the antics of his two small great grandsons, Devin and Janek who were the light of his life. Doyne remained mentally alert and did not suffer from any serious ailment.
Despite Doyne's impressive qualifications and achievements, he remained a very modest and unassuming man. He passed away peacefully in his own home at the age of 95 years with his beloved daughter and grand-daughter beside him. His goodness, gentleness and loving kindness to his fellowmen will always be in the minds of those who knew him.
My family has known the Athukorales for many years and have remained good friends. During the recently concluded election campaign, my husband and I went to see Gamini's mother at Nawaloka Hospital. She was happy to see us both and lamented that her beloved son Gamini had not come to see her for three long days.
Such were the sacrifices and hectic lifestyle that go with politics especially with a young leader who had the masses support and was in the forefront of a strenuous campaign.
During the 2001 general elections, I had met Gamini many times at our residence in Balangoda. The party's inaugural meeting in the area was scheduled to be held at our residence at 10 a.m. By 9 a.m. our compound was filled with supporters from all nooks and corners, full of expectations, and ready for the campaign. When Gamini came, he was taken aback by the massive crowd and their support and enthusiasm. He was full of smiles as he greeted us both and introduced his young son Uditha.
The intensive pressure of an election campaign means that you can have your breakfast at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. The stress, day in and out, can be overwhelming even for a young and energetic man like Gamini. Indeed we feel sad that someone we have known for so long and who could have done so much for the Sabaragamuwa District, the party and the country met with such a sudden and unfortunately premature end.
Gamini was a man of the people. May his soul attain Nibbana.
Sanghadasa, the journalist is no more. His death was sudden - fate took him away on January 18, while on his way to work. On seeing a man being run over by a train, Sanghe collapsed, never to recover again.
He has left a void that would be hard to fill, not only for his family but also for the many readers who got to know him through his articles on film stars, cricket personalities and many more. Sanghe covered a large field ranging from sports to astrology to films.
Sanghe whose parents lived in Maligakanda was born in 1929. He studied at Clifton Balika up to Grade 4, and moved to Olcott Vidyalaya, Ananda College, as it is known to us today. He entered the Technical College in Maradana, thereafter to equip himself for employment.
Joining the Supreme Court staff when he was 35, he worked his way through the Court of Appeal, Magistrate's Court and District Court. He retired in 1984 and ventured into contributing columns on many subjects.
His did a nine-year stint at Lake House from 1985 to 1994 and joined Wijeya Newspapers in 1996, where he worked on the Daily Mirror. His colleagues admired him for his administrative skills and neatness in day-to-day work.
Unassuming Sanghe will be missed by all of us. May the turf lie gently over our pal, and may he attain Nibbana.
Sunday Times Jan 20 2002
After a long illness contracted on a visit to Peru in South America, Rohan N. Hapugalle passed away in his home at Maradana on January 3. Had he lived, he would have celebrated his 65th birthday on May 22.
Immediately after the landslide victory of J.R. Jayewardene's UNP government in July 1977, came Hapugalle's appointment as Chairman of the Sri Lanka State Trading (General) Corporation or STC. After a splendid stint of over five years at STC, he resigned on February 7, 1983, the very day I joined as an accountant, having faced him earlier with trepidation at a pleasant but intense interview. Very much senior to our 61-Group at Royal College, Colombo, Hapugalle hailed from the Class of 48.
Hapugalle was synonymous with STC, and his contribution is unparalleled in its 31-year history.
He made significant changes, thawing STC from a rigid monopoly of trade quotas to a flexible and dynamic business entity, as prevalent in the private sector. He saw STC survive against formidable and fierce private sector competition, and emerge as a major trading organization engaged in the import of top-flight technical products spread over an islandwide distribution network via a decentralized system of sales representation.
The light blue-tiled multi-storeyed STC head office stands as a landmark on Navam Mawatha, due to Hapugalle's efforts.
Then Trade Minister Lalith Athulathmudali's aim to provide the public with affordable TVs became a reality with Hapugalle importing a consignment from Tokyo in 1979. History was made when 12", 14" and 20" General colour TV sets were sold by STC at Rs. 1,625, Rs. 4,975 and Rs. 8,150! In similar fashion, Hapugalle made deep inroads into the transport industry procuring Honda - 185TNR motorcycles, low-pricing them and disposing them like hot cakes, forcing local agents to drop their prices.
The import duty withdrawal on bicycles in July 1979 saw STC importing standard type RMI push bicycles from India, forcing market prices to take a drastic downturn. Hapugalle helped the transport problem by supplying 50,000 push bicycles on tender to the CTB, 15,000 to Government Stores and flooded the market, stabilizing prices. Such was Hapugalle's business acumen.
He saw to it that rigid government tender procedures were modified to suit the times, while all imports from recognized and reputed foreign firms were established on an agency basis to ensure a continual flow of trade. The agencies Hapugalle established in his golden era at STC were legion: Boge Shock Absorbers, Boosey & Hawke Musical Instruments, Canon Photocopiers, Crocodile Mammoties, Diato Office Supplies, Everest Helmets, Forty and ORWO Color Film, General TV, Lion Office Equipment, Medico Solar Control Film, Pitney Bowes Marking Systems, Plessey Telephone and Intercom Networks, Tixo Office Products, Twyford Bathroom Suites, UTP Welding Electrodes, Yokohama Tyres and Tubes; the list is long and laudable.
He established retail sales points at the Mount Lavinia Supermarket Complex, Hyde Park Corner and Panchikawatte and a duty-free shop in Kollupitiya. The Mandarins at Old Moor Street saw him as the writing on the wall after STC successfully established the trade in ferrous and non-ferrous metals. His vision was varied and various: setting up a library and a trade intelligence service, trade in tea chest panels, plantation industry needs, export-packaging, sports goods, artists' materials, cement, chemicals, household supplies, lab equipment and X-ray film, arms and ammunition and commercial explosives. STC's assertive participation at the Mahapola trade fairs islandwide showed him as a merchant par excellence.
May he reap the good of what he sowed!
Justice Izzadeen Ismail who passed away at 84, known to his friends as Izza, was one of the most senior Judges of the Supreme Court. His equanimity and tact gave him the edge over many of his peers and contemporaries and a foremost place in the realm of law and justice.
He hailed from St. Joseph's College. It was evident as he climbed up the line as Magistrate, District Judge and Supreme Court Judge that he had the talent and the ability to reach the topmost rungs of the judiciary.
I first met him in 1953 when he was Hambantota Magistrate sharing government quarters with Douglas Liyanage.
Theirs was a friendship cemented by two spells together in Mannar and Hambantota. Moreover common interests, such as bridge and mutual friendships, provided support for a long association. In government service friendships formed in the remote outstations survived longest.
Izza had the qualities which contributed vastly to lasting friendship. I had the good fortune to be his neighbour when he was Kandy District Judge. When I was out for a short period on duty, his vehicle and driver were at the disposal of my family.
After retirement, Izza chose to continue his legal work. In 1989, he was appointed Chairman of the Public Service Commission of the Western Province where he worked until his death. Here too, his tact, understanding and sympathetic attitude came to the fore.
His wife Soorya and two daughters, Sherma and Imara, stood by him throughout, while his sons-in-law rallied round.
Both daughters took to law and are no doubt upholding the father's traditions.
Through a strange coincidence his birthday was on Christmas Day. Hence it was a subdued birthday last year.
The candles have dimmed, the final
hymn is over,
And the dust of time has settled on your grave,
Yet, we can never forget all that you have done for us,
The many sacrifices you have made,
The selfless service you have given to us, the members
Of the Bar Association, stand out like jewels in a diadem.
You were a tower of strength to the legal profession
And you went about your work in a silent manner
Without the trappings of showmanship.
Yet your efficiency was evident,
And success in everything you did was a foregone conclusion.
We are reminded of the fable of King Midas of Greek mythology
In that 'everything you touched turned to gold'.
Your death was so sudden, so unexpected,
And brought home to us the reality of the uncertainty of life.
All that matters when the call to the great beyond comes,
Is not how powerful, mighty or rich you are
But how you lived your life on earth.
And your life was filled with goodness and so transparent
That we have no doubt that the Lord and Master
Whom you served so faithfully on earth,
Would have welcomed you into his arms in Paradise.
The legal profession has lost a stalwart,
The country a brilliant lawyer and
We have lost a genuine and sincere friend.
Shammil J. Perera
Sunday Times Jan 13 2002
Just before Christmas 2001, I was listening to American singer Christy Lane. My son, Destry had registered some of her songs on my computer and he seemed to like her voice and, especially, the songs she sang.
Christy Lane has no spectacular voice; but she sang of the love of God and of the sheer humanity of the Saviour who was born among men. "Softly and tenderly," she sang, "Jesus is calling...."
When Destry answered that call on the fifth day after Christmas, December 29, he knew no softness or tenderness. The winds of God must have roared and buffeted my house as Destry's spirit left his broken, lacerated, 21-year-old body.... and with him went dreams, hopes, all happiness. How does one ever understand? How does a father, a mother, loving sisters and a brother come to terms with death?
My son Destry was born in Dubai in 1980. The moon over Karama was big and bright and he came to us, softly and tenderly. We watched him grow - a child who was slow to talk, even slower to read or write because he possessed that amazing gift which enabled him to memorise every word read to him by his sisters. He would then take the book, read back the story flawlessly.... but he never recognized any of the words he supposedly read. Why should he? They were all in his head.
As he took hold of his own education on our return to Sri Lanka, he became strong of opinion, of conviction; and it was my privilege to see a mind blossom. To my own exasperation, many were the times I had to strive to understand, but I saw a son so brilliant that he seemed to carry his own halo of ethereal light wherever he went and into every boyhood scrape he got into. The home soon had to accept it. There was the family way and Destry's way. The ways never parted, but always there was that distinct recognition of the difference.
At the Ecole International Kandy, his schoolmates called him "Destroy". He would actually do that, but not in the common sense of the word. He had that special knack of "destroying" the specious, the trite, the boring obvious. He was a seeker. He believed that behind all truth lay a greater truth. "Blind acceptance," he would say with impatience, and argue his way through life.
Home became a place of return as he explored, roamed the hills and jungles. He selected his friends with care and fashioned them, I suspect, to his will. He would roam the Knuckles massif for days - alone against the sky, breathing in the grandeur, the solitude of nature, then return to tell of his nights in a cave, or sleeping with a pillow of rock with the stars on his face. Unafraid - always unafraid - swimming the cold waters of the Teldeniya reservoir, riding his motorcycle up Hantane, leaping his machine from rock to rock in the moonlight, sitting to look on a sleeping Kandy at three in the morning and telling his friends, "The only thing I am afraid of is being afraid."
He began to excel as a photographer and was a wizard at the computer. He stacked my computer with so many programmes and applications of his choice that it now keeps complaining, "Too many parameters." Destry would chuckle. "Stupid machine," he would say and was particularly charmed to see it automatically correct his name to "Destroy" each time he keyed it in. He told me then: "This computer is so like people everywhere. It is afraid of the unfamiliar. It is afraid to take a chance and admit that there is a Destry."
I think this was becoming true of his very life too. To many, Destry was a factor that could be disturbing. Devastatingly forthright, alarmingly honest, he disarmed many and left his mark in his comings and goings. Professor C.B. Dissanayake, speaking at an exhibition of his photographs at the Alliance Francaise, Kandy, said: "It will not be long. Destry will soon outshine his father." My eyes were particularly bright that evening because of a proud tear in each of them.
His reading embraced mysticism, philosophy, humour and prophecy. His poems are grave, fervent with each thought seeming to burst at the seams. His was an all-sorts mind and he was just as happy with trowel and mortar as he was with wires and batteries and regulators and with a copy of Tolkien or Terry Pratchet or with writings on man's quest for immortality. He was convinced that this life was of little worth and the world was a sort of cosmic dustbin into which all dreams were consigned. Why is there no peace? Why is there so much horror and hatred and pollution and why is nature victimized so? And he would tell his mother, "This is no place for me. I hate this world of hatred and jealousy and the hot breaths of fools who have no love for anything but themselves."
He did not care for nice clothes. "If that's what the world insists on, then the world is run by tailor's dummies." He did not care for money either. He earned it, and his photography brought him much... and he would spend it all on the poor, the helpless. Each day he would stuff the saddlebags of his motorcycle with parcels and we never asked. It was not our business to ask. He would carry gifts to homes of refuge, orphanages, elders' homes. It was only when we brought his body home that we knew, to some extent, of his love for the helpless, the deprived, for those bereft and alone. The numbers that swarmed my home came from places in the district I never knew existed. They came to tell of my son's love, his support, of how he worked for them, helped them, knit his soul with theirs. That night I wept and wept. What else could I do?
Destry was struck down by a private bus barely 500 yards from home at 10.00 in the morning of December 29. He was pronounced dead at 2.00 p.m. We brought his body home the next day and consigned him to the earth on the last day of the year. Beside his grave, tall trees greet the sky and the wind sings and dry leaves bless him. A place he would like being in where dreams can be seen.
Our rainbow has lost its band of gold but he is locked close in the hearts of us all. No, son, it will never be goodbye.
Ranapala Bodinagoda departed to the 'life beyond' on January 9, 2000. It's time to reminisce on this illustrious gentleman. Here was a man who had a unique personality, commanding respect and admiration from all those around him in the multitude of appointments held by him concurrently!
Ranapala began his career as a teacher in 1940 at Anuruddha College, Nawalapitiya. He soon left the profession where he was popular, to be in charge of a people's depot in the hill country during World War II.
Bodi as he was popularly called began his upward career under politician J.R. Jayewardene in 1947, as his Private Secretary. He continued the role when J.R. became Minister of Finance (1947-1952) and subsequently Minister of Agriculture (1952-1956).
From 1957 to 1976 he was Manager of Dinamina, Janatha, Silumina and Daily News and concurrently functioned as Chairman, Press Trust of Ceylon Ltd., and Lanka Puwath.
Every organization or association he headed was well managed due to his strict discipline.
Bodi was a product of Ananda College. Though he held many a high post, in my view the greatest feat was when he was collared by Gate Mudaliyar A.C.G.S. Amarasekera as Executive Vice President of the Sri Lanka Magic Circle, in 1957.
On the demise of the Gate Mudaliyar, he assumed the post of President and held it till his death.
Since I am part of the Sri Lanka Magic Circle, I associated with Bodi very closely.
Bodi built oup the stature of the Circle by introducing many contests.
I remember that the only criticism levelled against popular Bodi, was that, though he was close to those in the seats of power, he never made use of such links to get an advantage either for himself or for the association. He in fact rejected an honorary decoration simply because he was a humble person.
What I am stressing is that although Bodi had the right connections he never used them to get a building site for the Magic Circle.
We, however got a building site in April 2000 by stressing our role as a Magicians' Association, which is considered a fine art by the Cultural Ministry.
Such was the standard laid by Bodi, that in his honour the Sri Lanka Magic Circle holds an annual contest titled 'Ranapala Bodinagoda Challenge Trophy'.
Bodi had rare qualities. He never did anything for personal gain, nor did he lend a hand for individuals to further their selfish motives.
A thing that remains undone by Bodi was his desire to renovate the Mihintale Caves for the monks to meditate there.
It is hoped that this forgotten task would be taken up.
Bodi's wife Malini was a tower of strength to him.
I can still visualize Bodi with a twinkle in the eye and pleasing smile, assessing the person with whom he would be talking. A great assessor he was.
May he attain Nibbana!
Lt.Col. Ronald De Alwis,
Sri Lanka Magic Circle
One year has passed since the death of Moshin Yoosufali, Chairman of T.A.J. Noorbhai and Co. Ltd., and Noorani Estates Ltd.
He hailed from the pioneer Bora business community in Sri Lanka.
I had the privilege of associating with him from the time I joined T.A.J. Noorbhai and Co. Ltd., as an accountant in 1982.
He was genial, humane and soft spoken. He understood the sufferings of the poor and assisted them whenever they sought his help.
Mr. Yoosufali was meticulous in anything he did.
He was highly regarded by his family members and employees. We miss him a lot.
May he rest in peace!
The world may have known many great men, but I am privileged to have been acquainted with only a few of them. The late Shelton Wirasinha or Uncle Shelton as I fondly knew him, was indeed one such person. Although it is 15 years since his demise, memories of Uncle Shelton remain fresh in my mind.
The Wirasinhas and my family shared a longstanding friendship reaching back to the time Uncle Shelton was the much respected Principal of Richmond College and my grandfather, the Government Agent, Galle. However, I was introduced to them only when they moved to Nawala in the early 1980s. Thereafter, Aunty Manel became (and still is) my very dear piano teacher, while Uncle Shelton was the precious audience during my weekly lessons in their home.
A man of few words, but those few valuable, his praise and criticism were of much guidance to me as a six-year-old just embarking on a long musical journey. He together with Aunty Manel, was more excited over my music exam results than I myself was.
When Uncle Shelton died after a brief illness on November13, he left behind an irreplaceable void. Yet, his memory lives on.
The late Shelton Wirasinha was an erudite classics scholar, the quiet voice over the waves of Radio Ceylon, the familiar face on the Dulux Quiz Show, the revered teacher and principal and much more. But to me, Uncle Shelton was the epitome of all qualities that mark greatness in a man: powerful principles, strength of simplicity, lasting loyalty, collected calm, honourable humility and the "tragic flaw" (if it ever was) of gracious generosity to everyone around him, regardless of his own needs.
It may be 15 years too late, but today I show my appreciation and celebrate the memory of Shelton Wirasinha, the wonderful human being. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
This is in appreciation of all the men who lived like Ranbanda Seneviratne of Maradankalla near Mihintale. Ranbanda, the prominent lyricist who died on December 5 belonged to that rare mould that exhibited sterling qualities.
His frankness, simplicity, devotion to duty, honesty and high sense of humour were outstanding characteristics of a selfless, noble nature.
His sudden death is an irreparable loss to the Sri Lankan music field, his family and all near and dear to him. He was born great and also achieved greatness in the sphere of music. He composed a number of memorable Sinhala songs, such as "Dawasak Pela Nethi Hene, Landune and Ulaleno".
His achievements were enormous. The vacuum created by his demise can never be filled. His voice will linger with us as long as we live.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Saumya Sri Chaturanga Aloysius
Sunday Times Jan 6 2002
The fifth death anniversary of veteran journalist and former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Eamon Kariyakarawana, fell on January 3.
He was 67 years old at the time of this death.
Born on Christmas Day of December 1930, he was a devout Catholic. An old boy of De Mazenod, Kandana, Maristella, Negombo and St. Joseph's, he started his career in journalism in 1950 by joining the 'Gnanartha Pradeepaya' newspaper. In 1951, he joined Lake House as a staff reporter. Working as a courts reporter both in Sinhala and English, Mr. Kariyakarawana was the centre of a controversy when he published his book, Bandaranaike Ghathana Naduwa.
Later he went on a journalism scholarship to Australia for two years. He was editor of the 'Janatha' until he left Lake House in 1968.
Being a close friend of then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, Mr. Kariyakarawana worked as Editor of 'Udaya', which was begun by Esmond Wickremesinghe on behalf of the Premier.
After being appointed Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in 1978, he used his business skills to improve its economic stability. By modifying the outdated radio permit system, he was able to get huge financial benefits for the SLBC. The payment of royalty for all songs broadcast was also introduced during his time.
The SLBC's provincial channels 'Rajarata Seva', 'Ruhunu Seva' and 'Mahanuwara Seva' were launched in his era.
After six years, Mr. Kariyakarawana resigned from the SLBC. On a request made by Commerce and Shipping Minister, Lalith Athulathmudali, he was appointed Chairman of Ceylon Ocean Lines, where he served for four years.
In 1989, he contested the Gampaha District on the SLFP ticket. He was also the Editor of 'Sirilaka', the SLFP newspaper.
The youngest brother of Sri Lanka Press Association President, D.F. Kariyaka-rawana, he authored many books including 'Taruna Viplawaya', 'Mehema Jeev-itha', 'Han Kook Manse', 'Selected Asian Stories', 'Yugayaka Awasanaya', 'Nippon'' and Bandaranaike Ghathana Naduwa'.
To my dearest daddy
Oh! my daddy, to us you were so wonderful
Oh! my daddy, to us you were so good!
Gone are the days when you would take me on your knees
And with a smile, you'd change my tears to laughter.
Oh! my daddy, so funny yet so adorable
Deep in my heart, I miss you so today.
Daddy, you were the most
knowledgeable person we have known.
You were the most methodical person we have seen.
And you were the greatest adviser we have ever had.
I will always love you and remember you daddy.
May you attain Nibbana!
We met for the first time, 50 years ago, on July 1, 1951 at the University of Ceylon, Colombo. George was one of a group of seven freshmen from Royal College, along with T. Vairavanathan, J.P. Madanayake, K.M.J. Fernando, Sivarasa, Tara (Mano) Amarasingham and Ernest Corea.
Being batchmates, we soon became close friends, with many an interest, bringing us together-English with Prof. E.F.C. Ludowyk, Economics with Tawney Rajaratnam and H.A. de S. Gunasekera, the University Singers' Choir (conducted by Robin Mayhead), the Dram Soc., the English Literary Circle, the Music Society, the SCM Choir, the University Students' and Sports Councils, and at all events at the university, in general.
As sixth formers at Wesley, we had heard of George, long before we met him! We had had the common objective of entering the University of Ceylon, at a time when Sir Ivor Jennings was its Vice Chancellor. It was then a university moulded in the rich traditions of British universities recognized by the entire Commonwealth. George was one of Royal's outstanding English scholars, and was admitted to the university, with an 'Exhibition' in English.
To his many nephews and nieces - some of whom, like Lakshman and Lilamani Sirimanne we came to know, well- he was just their lovable 'Ja-Marma -a childlike abbreviation of an epithet that had been foisted on him at Royal!
George (Hari to his mother) was a refreshingly unconventional person. His sense of humour was subtle, and kept us, 'seismic with laughter'.
Fame as a ruggerite was thrust on him, when - a year later - we had, relocated in the brand new 'Peradeniya Campus' of the University of Ceylon. The annual Colombo-Peradeniya campus encounters had been initiated, which included rugby football. And rugby players were sorely in need at Peradeniya. Colombo had several players of the ilk of Michael Abeyratne (Trinity Lion) whereas, the Peradeniya team had a mere six or seven undergraduates who had played rugby football, at some time! Only Tara Amarasingham and S.A.B. Dias (Trinity Lion) were players of repute!
So, talent scouts, spurred on by many a dispenser of goodwill, set out to discover rugby talent from among the assembled spectators at Peradeniya. The popular notion was that if one had been at either Trinity or Royal, preferably, they would know the game, anyway. Hence, were the first to be press-ganged into service! ... and so began George's rugby career at Peradeniya. He had entered the grounds as a carefree, happy would be spectator, only to be conscripted into the team! Tara's spare jersey - many sizes too large for him - and Ivan Ondaatje's "shorts'' - which reached half way down his calves, or beyond, completed his outfit, spiced liberally with safety pins hilariously provided by Shelagh Pereira (As he seldom wore socks, with his pumps or grecian slippers), nobody bothered to find him maroon stockings. He had to wear homebody's tennis shoes, anyway!
He was cast in the role of scrum half. There were now two Dias' in the Peradeniya XV - S.A.B. the formidable Trinity Lion; and our very own, deligthful, George. Peradeniya's myths and legends (compiled by the likes of Anton Dahanayake) hails the day as a red letter one for George. Wai Tsing Pakstun who was reading for an English Honours degree - a keen rugby fan - had been mesmerized by George's dazzling performance, on the field; and so began, a brand new chapter in his life!
Typically, nothing rattled George. He was calm and placid at all times! He was unique in that he had his very own, esoteric, time rhythm to which he 'moved'. Clocks and watches were useless appendages to him. Prof. Ludowyk always had one of his lectures from 8 am to 9 am. He arrived early, to catch us fresh. In his entire university career, however, George was, perhaps, present on four or five occasions, at the 8 o'clock lecture, so much so that he was sent for one day, and words of wisdom 'poured' into his ears.
"Even though one finds it extremely difficult - nay, well nigh, impossible, to get up early, in the cold, crisp mountain air of Peradeniya, I always commence my lecture at eight! ..... and you are an extremely valuable member of my class.....Œ
Shortly after Ludo had got it off his chest, George had been observed leaving Jayatilake Hall, before 8.45 am! A Herculean effort on his part to avoid the slings and arrows of his mentor.
Legend again has it that on his very first day at St. Joseph's College (Darley Road) as a brand new teacher (his first job) the senior prefect had queried, why he had arrived late! He had been mistaken for a new student (white shirt, white 'long' and pumps). This was the characteristically unobtrusive Dias!
At the Bank of Ceylon, as a trainee executive, he was often threatened with dire consequences (such as, being sent up to the General Manager) if he did not display an acceptable degree of keenness in the rather tedious process of being fashioned in the conventional image of a banker! Never did he let it be known that the ogre at the head of his bank was his amiable brother-in-law! He did not expect, or demand, preferential treatment from anyone.
His meteoric rise in the banking sector was a sequel to his quick acquisition of the requisite knowledge (in his own style!) as well as his knack of dealing kindly with people, in a manner, most considerate and fair.
I recall how the People's Bank image in Kandy skyrocketed with his leadership, and the style of management he provided his staff, as Regional Manager of the Bank's Central Region. He had moved to the People's Bank, shortly after its creation, to infuse into the organisation a vibrancy and dynamism it sorely lacked at the beginning. The fledgling bank was no more than a mere government department, with inroads made into its administration by the common or garden type of politician.
George was quickly moving up the administrative ladder, as a very capable officer of the highest integrity. His promotion as Deputy General Manager of the International Division (People's Bank) merely reiterated the fact that he was a versatile banker.
With the formation of the National Savings Bank (formerly, the Post Office Savings Bank) and his appointment as its first General Manager, he created history, by setting very high standards of management in a totally people-oriented arm of the banking industry. High standards set by him in building the public image of the NSB as a very safe, reliable and efficient organization, gave it a great impetus.
He next joined the ABN Bank, at a very senior level in the management cadre; to once again, move on, to take up more responsibility, at an international level, as the Girard Bank's Representative for South Asia. This bank was later renamed, the Mellon Bank.
I was away in Canada when he died. We had planned to meet in December, to sing Christmas carols and enjoy the rich fellowship of friends and family in this season of love and forgiveness.
This was not to be....
We shall, no doubt, meet again, though not on this earth, in places rich in memory and carefree laughter.
May flights of angels sing him to his rest....!