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H. M. Gunasekera

Although I am not directly involved in the information media and communications, I came to know H.M. (as we called him) in 1959 through one of his colleagues - Bertie Galahitiyawa. In early 1960s I had the opportunity to participate in some programmes of Radio Ceylon - as the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was known at the time. I can remember how Messrs H.M., Thevis Guruge, Madawala S. Ratnayake, Mahagama Sekera, Palitha Perera, Sudharman Silva and Bertie Galahitiyawa worked as a team at Radio Ceylon during that period. H.M. together with them produced some memorable programmes on their own initiative. H.M. was the senior most and most important link among those living and belonging to that band of well known broadcasters.

After a few years I met H.M. again in London in 1967 when he was in charge of the "Sandesaya" programme of the BBC. There too I had the opportunity to participate in broadcasting work connected with "Sandesaya" for sometime. I can remember how he showed me at the BBC for the first time how to present news over radio.

H.M. became a close confidante of mine in London. I used to visit his home in London very often and I remember how his late wife Leela used to prepare meals for us. H.M. was very much attached to his family and lived a simple life.

He knew his subject well and as a person was very patient, calm and collected. H.M. knew how to tell what he wanted to tell and I do not think that he offended anybody who came into contact with him. It was a pleasant task to chat with him and you feel at ease with his conversation. He possessed a unique voice and a controlled diction which added lustre to his presentations. H.Mís attitude towards life and work seems to have been greatly influenced by the philosophy of that great principal of his school - the late Dr. E. W. Adikaram.

H.M. started his professional life as an announcer at Radio Ceylon in 1950. Although television broadcasting came much later he became an adept in both fields. Despite the fact that both radio and television came under heavy political influence as time went on H.M. never deviated from his principles. I think that stood in good stead for him to adorn various positions with recognition in both fields for over fifty years.

We lost contact with each other for a considerable period of time due to my long stay abroad. After my return, we met recently at the Rupavahini Training Centre.

I spoke to him over the phone just before he fell sick on Thursday (09 May) to inquire whether he would attend a felicitation ceremony for a lyricist at SLFI that evening. He only said that he was not feeling well and was unable to attend. That was our last conversation. H.M., Bertie Galahitiyawa and myself had decided to meet soon to refresh our nostalgic memories, but fate determined otherwise.

With his demise we have lost a friend with humane qualities and the electronic media a versatile communicator and a guru of the young media personnel.

Tilak Kularatne