In memory of their kindness


Sunday Leader Dec 30 2007

Wing Commander Anthony Maurice Fernando

It is with profound sorrow that I pen this appreciation on the demise of Wg. Cmdr. Anthony Maurice Fernando who breathed his last on November 16 in Brighton U.S.A.  He left an inedible mark in several fields of activity in the Sri Lanka Air Force and Royal Oman Police which he enriched and adorned with great competence and grace.

A dear friend he left behind a void which never can be filled. His greatest attribute was his love and respect for all people and his patent humility and simplicity.

Denzil was born on July 11, 1939, the eldest in a family of eleven. He was brought up by his parents in a deeply religious and disciplined environment. From his childhood he was exemplary in his performance whether at home or school. His deep sensitivity, his sense of commitment and dedication to anything he undertook was remarkable. He received his education at St. Anthony's College, Katugastota and St. Joseph's College, Colombo. The high ethics and discipline of the OSB and OMI priests had a great impact on his life.

On successful completion of the G.C.E. (Advanced Level) examination he chose the profession of arms as his calling and enlisted in the Royal Ceylon Air Force as a flight cadet on April 27, 1959. On completion of his initial flying training and the award  of "wings," he was promoted Flying Officer in August 1961.  Excelling in his flying and administrative duties he was promoted Flight Lieutenant in 1965.

Following his performance in varied positions of flying training and in command of flying squadrons he was promoted Squadron Leader in 1971.

He was later appointed officer commanding the Standard Examination Unit and Command Rating examiner and also as acting base commander. He was promoted Wing Commander in 1976. In every position he held, he performed to the entire satisfaction of his superiors.

On completion of 21 years of service despite having a clear path he retired from service on April 30, 1980. Later joining the Royal Oman Police as an Air Operations Officer along with other Sri Lankan Air Force Officers they made a significant contribution to air operations and made Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Air Force proud.

While in service he was decorated in recognition of his services and awarded "The Oman Peace Keeping Medal," 10th Anniversary Medal, Glorious 15th National Day Medal and the order of the "National Emblem."

Denzil married Premanie on December 28, 1970. In love with each other they overcame intricate problems. Their marriage was a tremendous success. They were a loving couple, harmoniously blended into one and went through the ups and down of life finding solace and happiness in each other through all the trials and travails. He adored his two daughters Sheolie and Dinali. Their home was an abode of peace, love and affection.

Denzil zealously guided and fashioned their careers and today Sheolie after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in public health is presently a third year medical student at the George Washington Medical College while Dinali is a physician attached to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. They are both married to professionals.

Denzil was an unassuming person never given to ostentation and bragging. Throughout his life he epitomised kindness, gentlemanliness and other good qualities which are fast disappearing from society. He earned a reputation as an efficient, dedicated and honest officer

In retirement his life revolved around the family and religious activities. He was deeply religious.

Denzil was a wonderful friend who reached out to his friends particularly in times of distress; he was steadfast in his loyalty to his friends. With his demise I have lost a dear friend.

I now realise how real Charles Caleb Colton's words are;

"True friendship is like sound health,

The value of it is seldom known until it be lost."

I have lost a friend that is hard to replace, there remains in me an emptiness and void I don't seem I can fill. I thank God however for the gift of Denzil's friendship. I thank God for his life. I will not say farewell because I know we will meet again.

May the turf lie gently over him.  May he rest in peace.

Rex Fernando 

Nation Sunday Dec 30 2007

Dr. C.L. Fernando – his life gives us strength

December 26 is not a happy day for most of us, and it needs no elaboration. Anniversaries are for remembering loved ones who will never come back and December 26 is probably the day that haunts us most, as individuals and as a nation.

Dr. C.L. Fernando was one among some 37,000 who died that fateful day. Yet, he was, for me, not one in 37,000. He was ‘One.’ The number one: No two words about it. Yes, I remembered him on December 26, just as I remembered him on December 26, 2006 and December 26, 2005. That’s not special, however. The truth is that in the past three years, not a single day has passed when I didn’t think of him. Such was the power of his presence in my life, just as in the lives of others no doubt, not least of all his father late Herman and mother Joyce. They were very proud of their son’s meteoric rise in the academic field, culminating in a top post at the World Bank. Their anguish, I simply cannot fathom for they were his parents, whereas I, a mere friend.

I can recount here the history of our friendship, which I have recounted before. I can tell about how we met in the kindergarten at S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia and how our friendship grew over the years, how he excelled as a student, how he exemplified Thomian grit, how he fulfilled his academic potential by obtaining a doctorate, and how he applied the knowledge he gathered in his career, which saw him being appointed as Country Economist of the World Bank. Or, I can talk about the eminently personal, like how he always kept in touch, wherever he happened to be.

If you ask around, there will be hundreds of people who will tell the same story about him. And I am sure that if you ask around, there will be hundreds who will also tell you that his absence is felt acutely, everyday, not just on December 26.

He was someone who was there for you, but more importantly, someone who actually could help when the entire world collapsed. I can’t help thinking that had he not been a victim himself, he would have moved mountains to bring relief to those whose lives crashed around those terrible waves. No, it would have had little to do with the position he held and the organisation he worked for. Simply, he was a stupendous human being with rare energy and rarer heart.

It is easy to begin sentences with ‘had he been here…,’ it is almost clichéd, but I am in possession of a poor lexicon, so I must say that had he been here, the huge intellectual lacuna that this country suffers from today would have been manageable. The country misses him, I am convinced. As for me, whenever things get me down, when it appears that nothing works, that the obstacles are insurmountable, then I miss my friend. I miss his words of comfort and I miss the calm way in which he approached all things and how he always found a workable solution.

Life is about arrivals and departures, I wrote one year after his death. In the interim, Dr. C.L. Fernando lived a life that makes it impossible for anyone to be indifferent to his sudden departure. He transformed in life and he transforms in death. His life gives us strength, his death disempowers us. Caught between the two extremes, our imperfections trouble us, we lose our way.

CL believed that the best way to predict your future is by creating it. Well, it was easy for him. He was a workaholic, true, but his work ethic was buttressed by intellect. He said ‘work, work and work’ was the best medicine for trauma. It is not that I have not worked, but it hasn’t really worked the way he predicted; not when it came to the trauma of his leaving.

Each of us must take refuge in memories and each of us will smile and be grateful in our own way. Each of us will grieve in our own way and strive to honour the memory of an exceptional man by rehearsing the kind of approach to life that he advocated simply by living it. It is not easy. Not easy at all.

Krishantha Prasad Cooray

An epitome of humanity

 (Tribute to Asoka Peiris)

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up.
and say to all the world, This was a man!”
(Shakespeare- Julius Caesar)

“By whom would you like to be remembered most?”
(Smiling) “I would like to be remembered first by God as ‘Asoka Peiris, His servant.’ Secondly, I would like to be remembered by my family as a good husband and a father. Finally, by my friends as a good human being”

I feel that the final words Asoka Peiris spoke to me in an interview I had with him a few weeks back, stand even truer today. There was no presentiment that my next words about him ‘in print form’ would be filled with nostalgia and grief so soon. His phone call to say“you’ve done a wonderful job with my story putha,” made my Sunday. A few days before his sudden demise on December 24, Mr. Peiris rang me to complement me on the feature I had done on the late Dr. Kamalika Abeyaratne, who was a close associate of the Peiris family. “Putha that was a lovely piece on Kami,” his words still echo so clearly.

Although I was not a long-term associate of Asoka Peiris, the few hours I spent in his company in my ‘journalistic capacity’ inspired me deeply. They were delightful and full of wisdom, witty and vibrant. The personality of the celebrated actor and the gentle human being; touched me profoundly. The friendly chats we had on the phone discussing many a topic- from plantation (which was one of Mr. Peiris’s signature areas of interest) to human follies and temperaments, held testimony of a lasting friendship, which alas was very short-lived.

My earliest memory of Asoka Peiris, the actor was his portrayal of Nelum Bandara, or Sudu Appo’s appachchi in ‘Amba Yahaluwo.’ I was a mere child then and did not have the slightest clue that I would cross this great actor’s path as a journalist, many years later! As an adolescent, his much acclaimed role of Ariya Bandara in ‘Guru Gedera’ impressed me immensely. “I spent hours with T.B.Ilangaratne who wrote the book discussing the characters. Sudu appo, my son symbolised socialism whilst Maha Kumarihamy, my mother, old order. Nelum Bandara symbolised the transition from feudalism to socialism and he was torn between these two eras. This gave me the key to play his role successfully…. I prepared my mind so much about Ariya Bandara and I never wanted Asoka Peiris to take over!” These recollections that he shared with me, still reverberate.

I was blessed to have captured this great human being’s eventful life before he received the ‘final call.’ Above all, I feel blessed to have been inspired by a supreme human being whose immortal words “before you act or do anything, you must remember to be human,” I will always treasure.

Randima Attygalle

CeSPA salutes its founder member Deshamanya
J.P. Obeysekera

The passing away of Deshamanya (Senator) J.P. Obeysekera in October 2007, a founder member of The Ceylon Society for the Prevention of Accidents (CeSPA) established in 1951, saddened the current members, many motoring enthusiasts and senior Police officers who knew him.

He was the only surviving founder member of CeSPA who continued as such, until his demise.
Obeysekera received his early education at Royal College, Colombo and later graduated from Cambridge University, UK. He obtained his MA (Cantab.) degree while in the UK. He excelled in athletics and was the athletics coach at Cambridge University. In 1938, he obtained an A grade certificate as a pilot and was a member of the Cambridge Flight Squadron. Obeysekera was the first Ceylonese pilot to fly solo from England to Ceylon, doing so in 1946 on an Auster airplane.

He took to politics and in 1960, contested for the Attanagalla seat. He served as Junior Minister of Health and Finance and acted on behalf of the Health Minister on several occasions. He was also a senator and a motoring enthusiast owning a range of vintage and classic motor cars. He was the Vice Patron of the Classic Car Club of Ceylon and participated in many motor rallies and hill climbs. He was also a former President of the Sri Lanka Scouts Association.

It was 56 years ago that J.P. Obeysekera, along with a few others including some officials from the British High Commission in Colombo, founded the Ceylon Society for the Prevention of Accidents (CeSPA), and he served as Vice President. The then Governor of Ceylon was the patron and Miss. Phil Deacon of the British High Commission served as secretary. Until 1956 all CeSPA meetings had been conducted at the British High Commission. The Ferguson’s Directory 1951-1953 gives the details of the founder members of CeSPA. The main objective of the Society was the active promotion of road safety, industrial safety, home safety and child safety.

I witnessed the enthusiasm and keen interest shown by late Obeysekera in the area of road safety and accident prevention, especially since 1982, during which period I was Director Traffic and DIG Traffic at the Police Department.
Realising that road accidents were on the increase, he took a keen interest in road safety and the prevention of accidents. He assisted the Traffic Police in organising speed traps to detect speeding drivers along the Kandy Road, especially at Nittambuwa. He always extended his assistance to the Traffic Police,

whenever needed. During our frequent meetings and discussions, we have exchanged ideas about the traffic situation in Colombo and the suburbs. He has been a regular participant at the various seminars and workshops held in the field of accident prevention.
In recognition of his services towards ensuring road safety since 1951, the Council of CeSPA awarded him a Meritorious Service Award and a memento, at its annual general meeting held in 2004.

Until the time of his demise, he was an active member of CeSPA, having served as President and also Vice President.
We are very grateful to our late founder member J.P. Obeysekera, for his immense contribution to CeSPA. He was conferred the National Honour of Deshamanya by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Senior Traffic Police Officers, who knew him well, will always remember him as a genial and friendly person always willing to lend a helping hand.

He leaves behind his wife, former Health Minister Deshamanya Siva Obeysekera, his son Peter and his daughter Chanthal and two grandchildren.
I am certain that many road safety officers, traffic police officers and motoring enthusiasts will join me in prayer for the repose of the soul of this remarkable gentleman J.P. Obeysekera.
May he rest in peace!

T. Perinpanayagam
President, CeSPA

The simple scholar who lived as he preached

~ Alec Robertson

The fifth death anniversary of Deshabandu Alec Robertson falls tomorrow, December 31. His passing away was lamented by all Sri Lankans as well as his numerous foreign friends and acquaintances, who had at some time or other benefited from his guidance, friendship and exemplary life, and more than anything else from his deep understanding and propagation of the Buddha Dhamma.

Alec Robertson

Sri Lanka has no dearth of Buddhist scholars, among both the Sangha and lay persons, but not many would claim to have all those and many other attributes found in abundance in Mr. Robertson. My own association with Mr. Robertson at a personal level was short. On the other hand as a long standing Buddhist activist, I have followed his writings and radio broadcasts.

His son Prasantha happened to be a close friend of our eldest son and it was through this fortuitous circumstance that I was able to establish some personal association with Prasantha's father. On my few visits to his home I observed the simple lifestyle of the Robertson family.

Looking back on Mr. Robertson’s life, one could assume that he has been fortunate in many ways, the most important being his long sojourn as a servant of the Buddha and the Dhamma. His father, a Christian, worked in Dodanduwa close to the Dodanduwa island hermitage, the reclusive abode of Gnanahtiloka and Gnanaponika Mahatheras. They were both of German origin. Young Alec had accompanied his father on his occasional visits to the hermitage, and these encounters had left an indelible impression on him.

With that initiation to the Dhamma, while living and working in Colombo, young Alec had continued to seek the guidance of other religious dignitaries, including Ven. Pelene Vajiragnana Thera, Ven Narada Thera, Ven. Piyadassi Kassyapa Thera and Ven. Soma Thera, all from the Vajirarama, in Bambalapitiya.

Alec was too young to have known and interacted with Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), but his adult life seems to have been shaped by his vision. Another person who may have inspired Alec was the late Prof. Gunapala Malalasekera, the doyen of Pali and Buddhist scholarship, and Buddhist activist of the time.

Practically all who have penned their appreciations of Alec and assessed his many contributions in the service of the Dhamma have highlighted his dexterity in responding to probing questions and clarifications on the Dhamma and the life of the Buddha. What was most remarkable about Alec was his unhesitating responses, and clarity of delivery. Let me end this short appreciation with the following quote by Asoka Jayasinghe (in 2005) who considered himself an adult Sishya of Alec:

"We are left with the memory of this great Buddhist layman whose life was that of an ideal Buddhist; both in erudition and practice"

"Sabba Danam Dhamma Danan Jinathi.”

By Dr. W.M.K. Wijethunga

Epitome of honesty, integrity and humility

~ Sanghadasa Berugoda

A former Surveyor-General, Sanghadasa Berugoda passed away recently in Adelaide, Australia, after a brief illness. He was 73 at the time of his demise.

Mr. Berugoda had a distinguished academic and professional career. He passed the final examination of the Sri Lanka Survey Department Training School and got through, in rapid succession, the Junior and Senior Professional Examinations conducted by the Cambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate and the Final Examination of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, England.

He also obtained a Master of Science Degree in Town and Country Planning from the then University of Sri Lanka, Moratuwa Campus. His professional career saw him achieve similar success. Starting as a Government Surveyor, he became Assistant Superintendent of Surveys, Superintendent of Surveys, Deputy Surveyor-General, Additional Surveyor-General and finally Surveyor-General. An expert on cadastral surveys, land use policy planning, urban/rural planning and legislation for registration of titles (land), Mr. Berugoda was released by the Survey Department for a stint as Director, Land-use Policy Planning of the Ministry of Lands prior to assuming duties as Surveyor-General. On retirement as Surveyor-General, he was invited by the Department of Town and Country Planning of the University of Moratuwa to function as a Senior Lecturer (Grade 1) on contract for one year. He was also appointed Course Coordinator for the newly established M.Sc. Degree Programme in Land-use Planning and Resources Management.

Mr. Berugoda was closely associated with a number of professional organizations and gave of his best for the advancement of the objectives of these institutes. He was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), England, Surveyors’ Institute (FSI), Sri Lanka, Institute of Surveyors (FIS), India and Institute of Town Planners (FITP), Sri Lanka.

He was also associated with the Organization of Professional Associations. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Berugoda both as a friend and colleague for well over three decades and was his immediate neighbour for over two decades. I have always known him to be a brilliant scholar and devoted public servant. His official duties were his first priority. He went to office well in advance of the starting time.

He was an inspiration to young professionals and set high standards by example rather than precept. Mr. Berugoda was an epitome of honesty, integrity and humility. He was a work horse in his own right who ensured that the work was done no matter who was responsible for the task.

He was also an ardent researcher and although his research topics are too numerous to be mentioned some of them were: ‘Problems of land ownership in relation to land development in Sri Lanka’, ‘Land records in Sri Lanka’, ‘Land ownership problems and their effect on cadastral surveys and registration of title in Sri Lanka’, ‘The need for an appropriate land information system for Sri Lanka’, ‘Land supply for shelter’ and ‘Policy strategies for land use planning in Sri Lanka’.

Most of his research findings have been presented at numerous national and international seminars and conferences. Mr. Berugoda was a devout Buddhist in every sense of the word, be it in thought, word or deed. According to his wife Kanthi he started his day with a short session of meditation to be followed by a rigorous routine enabling him to reach office by 7.30 a.m.
He was closely associated with the activities of the temple and was a leading figure although he never sought or accepted office.

Even when he was abroad he never severed connections with his local temple and the monk and continued to meet his obligations as a ‘dayaka’. He often resorted to ‘dhamma dana’, the issue of free Buddhist books to dhamma schools and interested individuals, and while in New Zealand he taught the dhamma to Buddhist children.

He became a vegetarian in the latter part of the 1980’s and a vegan in the 1990’s. He was a simple, selfless, enlightened individual with few worldly desires. Beru was a loving husband to Kanthi, adorable father to son Vidura and daughter Mihiri and fond grandfather to his grandchildren. To his friends and colleagues he was sincere and immensely helpful.
May he attain Nibbana.

By Prof. Ashley L.S. Perera

Nation Sunday Dec 23 2007

Mrs. Corinne Lawrence – Rest in peace

It was with great sorrow and deep shock that I heard of the death of my dear friend Corinne. She was a close and loyal friend. She was a lovely and generous person who never failed to do her best for anyone in distress.

She was deeply involved in spreading the gospel and it was only recently that she handed over this work to another friend. She also helped in many work in the line of Mother Teresa’s, especially in her work for the Bible Society.
She was a very cheerful person and always enjoyed a good hearty laugh. Whenever troubles came her way, she used her deep faith and complete trust in God to overcome them.

I never lost such a dear friend before. And she will be missed by many others scattered across the globe. Yet, we can draw some consolation from the fact that Almighty God has added one more bright star to His galaxy.

Farewell my dearest friend. May your soul rest in peace!

Freddie Schoorwan

Rama- the banker with longest service record

V. Ramachandran, a pioneer and popular banker passed away on 28.11.2007 after a brief illness at the age of 73 - passing the biblical three scores and ten years.
He joined the Bank of Ceylon at the age of 18 in 1953 and retired in 1995 after serving the Bank for 42 years, which record is yet to be broken.

Ramachandran hailed from Atchuvely in the Northern Province, but completed his education at St. Peter’s College, and joined the Bank of Ceylon as a junior clerk. Through sheer hard work and dedication, he rose step by step in the ladder of success, finally retiring as the Assistant Manager, of the Northern Province office. He was rather unfortunate that although he was qualified for the Manager’s grade at the time of his retirement, due to the delay in finalising the promotion list, - he retired before his promotion was effected.

Rama was also an unfortunate victim of the Black July ‘83 violence, when he lost almost all his personal belongings and household effects. While most of those who were affected by the July ‘83 violence fled abroad to greener pastures, he went to serve his home station. However, he returned to Colombo after two years and served in the Supplies Dept and finally in the Northern Province office until his retirement.

After his retirement he became a full time social worker, helping the needy, the elderly, the sick and his former colleagues.
He converted his residence to a “Consultancy Office” where people with all their personal problems came to seek his assistance, and he rendered his wholehearted assistance in mitigating their problems. Rama was a friend in need not only to his family members but also a friend to all who he met. His popularity in the bank was amply demonstrated by the large number who attended his funeral even from far off places, representing all races and religions and all grades of staff.
“Old bankers never die, they only depart, and remain ever green”.

Likewise, Rama will be in the hearts of minds of all those who came into contact with him, and be a part of their memory always..

He will be fondly remembered by his beloved wife Pavalam, who contributed immensely to his success as a veteran banker, and his loving children Surenthiran, Sutharshini and Niranjan.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Morcha.


Wing Commander Denzil Fernando (S.L.A.F.) Retd.

He left an indelible mark

It is with profound sorrow that I pen this appreciation on the demise of Wing Commander Anthony Maurice Fernando who breathed his last on November 16 in Brighton, USA. He left an indelible mark in several fields of activity in the Sri Lanka Air Force and Royal Oman Police, which he enriched and adorned with great competence and grace.
A dear friend, he left behind a void which never can be filled. His greatest attribute was his love and respect for all people and his patent humility and simplicity.

Denzil was born on July 11, 1939, the eldest in a family of 11. He was brought up by his parents in a deeply religious and disciplined environment. From his childhood he was exemplary in his performance whether at home or school.

He received his education at St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota and St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. On successful completion of his GCE Advanced Level examination, he chose the profession of arms as his calling and enlisted in the Royal Ceylon Air Force as a flight cadet on April 27, 1959. On completion of his initial flying training and being awarded “wings,” he was promoted as Flying Officer in August 1961.

Excelling in his flying and administrative duties, he was promoted as Flight Lieutenant in 1965. Apart from his superior flying skills, his superiors identified in him the essential requisites of a trainer. He was selected to pursue a qualified instructors’ course at Royal Air Force Tern Hill in 1961. On graduating as a qualified flying instructor he was nominated for a command and staff college course at the same institution, evidently grooming him for command.

Given his performance in varied positions of flying training and in command of flying squadrons, he was promoted Squadron Leader in 1971. During his illustrious career, he served as a flying instructor, standardisation officer and acting commandant of the Air Force Academy China Bay while commanding the Number 2 Squadron.

He was later appointed Officer commanding the Standard Examination Unit and Command Rating Examiner and also as acting Base Commander. He was promoted Wing Commander in 1976. On completion of 21 years in service, he retired on April 30, 1980. He later joined the Royal Oman Police as an Air Operations Officer. While in service he was decorated in recognition of his services and awarded ‘The Oman Peace Keeping Medal,’ ‘10th Anniversary Medal,’ ‘Glorious 15th National Day Medal’ and the ‘Order of the National Emblem.’

Denzil married Premanie on December 28, 1970. Their marriage was a tremendous success. He adored his two daughters, Sheolie and Dinali. Their home was an abode of peace, love and affection.

Denzil zealously guided and fashioned their careers and today Sheolie, after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Public Health, is presently a third year medical student at the George Washington Medical College, while Dinali is a physician attached to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. They are both married to professionals.

Denzil was an unassuming person, never given to ostentation and bragging. His integrity was beyond question and he adhered to a code of professional rectitude. In retirement his life revolved around the family and religious activities.

Denzil was a wonderful friend who reached out to his friends, particularly in times of distress. With his demise I have lost a dear friend. I thank God however for the gift of Denzil’s friendship. I thank God for his life. I will not say farewell because I know we will meet again. May the turf lie gently over him and may he rest in peace.

Rex Fernando

The Sunday Leader Dec 23 2007

Srilal Perera

Thirteen years have passed since that fateful day my friend Srilal died - senselessly struck down by a bomb just two days after his 27th birthday, in yet another incident of political violence in our country.

As I write this, a myriad of incidents flash across my mind. I met Srilal when he entered the Law Faculty with me, from which point onwards we developed a strong and lasting friendship. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would have to end in such an abrupt manner, leaving only memories of this special human being.

Srilal was one of the bright students of St. Joseph's College, Colombo who got double promotions. As a result he was the youngest in our batch at the faculty. I remember how he used to gently tease us about our ages. It is ironical to say the least, that he had to be the first to go; ahead of all of us.

The untimely demise of his father, the late H. Joe Perera who was the president of the Colombo Court and also the first chairman of the Western Provincial Council, prompted Srilal to enter the Law Faculty and also enter the political arena at a tender age of 22. Sadly his entry into politics ended in his death at a young age of 27 years, leaving behind a family that was recovering from the loss of a husband and a father.

He was driven to politics as he felt that he could not abandon his father's constituents of Colombo North. He was also driven by a deep conviction that he would make a difference even at a time when politics in Sri Lanka was reduced to a mixture of profit and power to those who were engaged in it. Perhaps it made sense, that he, whose childhood ambition was to be a priest, chose this role in life. He had a deep-seated need to do something meaningful and contribute to society in a more significant manner than just being a lawyer.

He was no average politician either. He was honest. He entered the Colombo Municipal Council at the age of 23 years and polled the highest in Colombo north outdoing many senior politicians. At the age of 26 years he led a delegation to Manchester, England to represent the Colombo City at an environmental conference.

Srilal always acted according to his conscience, never letting his judgment be swayed by external pressures. Further, he felt acutely the sufferings of others. I recall an incident where he gave the gold chain he was wearing to a poor man who wanted to buy a boat, without a moment's regret. That was Srilal - large hearted and generous, even willing to give away his last hundred rupees to a person in need.

However his dedication, honesty, integrity and compassion for fellow human beings which were in-built in his character, have been reduced to virtues to be recollected.

Viewing the short span of your life in retrospect Srilal, if you could have described it, I feel that these words of St. Vincent Millay would have been the most apt:

"My candle burns at both ends it would not last the night. But ah! My foes and oh! My friends. It gives a lovely light."

Yours was truly a beautiful life my friend; and those of us who were fortunate enough to really know you, and feel the warmth of the glow you exuded would carry your memory within us, for the rest of our lives.

A Friend

Sunday Times Dec 23 2007

We always knew you loved us dearly

Vernon Samaradiwakara

On November 27, 2007 it was six months since you left us; a husband and father par excellence, a man of great qualities and a strict disciplinarian – this is how we could describe you, for these qualities you instilled in us have made us successful today.We might have thought that you were too strict towards us, but today we feel how right you were and miss you so much. Although a silent person towards the latter stages of your life, the void you left behind now echoes in our ears.

A moment of the day does not go by without at least one of us remembering you. We never needed a repairman to carry out any repairs in our home: You did them to perfection. Your favourite place in the house was a stool you used to keep by the entrance to the garage, where you sat and went into deep thought. No one could read your thoughts. Today that stool is still at the entrance of the garage, but stands alone, only a memory.

You used to like it when Gehan and Dhanushka visited you. Gehan used to be your “help” in the garden where you spent most of your time. Dhanushka kept you entertained with his naughtiness, which you loved.

The day before you died is a day that will always remain in the minds of all of us. We visited you in hospital and there were tubes and machines all around you. When we bid you goodbye that evening, you raised both your hands, as if to say “I may not be here tomorrow”. Normally on other days you used to look at us until we reached the door of the hospital ward, but on that day you turned your face to a side, as if you could not bear to see us go.

Although it is more than six months since your death, it is difficult for us to come to terms that you are no longer around. The difficult times we encounter are erased completely and we feel that it is you who are protecting us and guiding us in our day-to-day activities. You never openly expressed love, but we always knew that you loved us dearly; it was spontaneous.

We'll always remember
That special smile,
That caring heart,
And you being there
For Mama and us
Through good and bad times,
No matter what.
We’ll always remember
You Dad because
There will never be another one
To replace you in our hearts,
And the love we will always
Have for you.

By Wife, Son, Daughters, Sons-in-law and Grandsons

You were our life and light

Rehan de Silva

Golden memories and silver tears are all what is left with us after one year since you passed away. I can’t imagine that such a long time has elapsed; it was like yesterday when I got a call “Rehan has passed away”. There was only one Rehan, it could not be anyone else.

Even as I tried hard to absorb this sad piece of news I remembered thinking at that moment that his death could not have been health related. Untimely death usually provokes feelings such as "shock" and "disbelief". Shock and disbelief sooner or later give way to acceptance of death as inevitable; the grieving becomes less and less and then the dead are allowed with less and less frequency to disturb one’s memory.

I cannot convince myself that I too will allow the memory of this loving human being, my loving little cousin, to walk this traditional path to oblivion, for he was different in ways that I cannot describe. It is customary to say nice things about friends and family who have passed away, but I wouldn't be glossing over anything when I say that Rehan was loved by everyone, that he didn't have a single enemy.

He never spoke ill of anyone. He never held a grudge and would embrace without a shade of negativity even those who did him wrong. He was a passionate Sri Lankan, who cared for others, a man whose one passion was being with people, entertaining them and keeping them happy. He never carried the burden of ill-will or jealousy, never thought of himself and preferred the pursuit of companionship over accumulation of wealth.

He taught us the worth of being ourselves and to be there for people when they need you, unconditionally. He was full of fun, energy, he loved being with family and never wanting the party to be over! He always had time for his cousins. Yes I idolized him. Though he was younger than me he was like an older brother. Thank you for the memories of every time we’ve spent together.

Rehan left behind his parents, and his family who love him and miss him dearly. Rehan, I wish you were still here. I love wrestling buddy. Rest in peace and I'll see you in Heaven one day.

"There is no death! The stars go down
To rise upon some fairer shore;
And bright in Heaven's jewelled crown
They shine forever more

Although REHAN is no more his name will shine like a star in the hearts of all those who closely associated with him.

Always remembered by Christine Hettiarachchi (Ungini Akki)

The Father of Medicine is no more

Prof. R. S. Thanabalasundrum

Our Father of Medicine is no more. Yes, Professor R. S. Thanabalasundrum was the father of medicine for many of us who studied under him at the North Colombo Medical College (NCMC). This eminent and humble physician who served humanity for over half a century left us on November 15.

The only true medical statistic seems to be that there is one death for every human being! Facing death, of course would not have been challenging to him, for here was a man who knew death very well; for he was a man who gave life to beings with feeble pulse. Professor Thanabalasundrum was a humane person. He practised medicine for the pure love of science and humanity. This he did passionately almost until the very day he passed away.

I recall following this great man during my professorial ward rounds, absorbing not only his astute words of medicine, but also his dialect in between the lines. I distinctly recall him pointing at a patient in the Ragama Hospital and saying that this was an example of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. It was a phrase he often used.

I guess that was a patient with poisoning. He checked our wits and directed us to see patients as complete human beings, not merely as a body, but as one with a mind of his/her own. For him every person was, not just a ‘case’, not just even a man or a woman, it was a father, a mother, a daughter or a son. His bedside manners were exemplary. He relied more on clinical judgment than sophisticated technology to diagnose disease.

I consider it a privilege to have done my last medical appointment as a student with him (as well as my first with Dr. Nonis, an equally learned physician). Professor Thanabalasundrum was a brilliant alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon who graduated with First Class honours. Though he went onto specialize in Medicine, he knew every aspect of the healing art. It was indeed a rare achievement, especially six decades ago, for any medical student to obtain distinctions in all his final year subjects. Young Thanabalasundrum did this with ease. He got distinctions in Medicine, Surgery and Gynaecology & Obstetrics. His postgraduate performance in England was no less a success.

His love for his motherland was also one for emulation for young Sri Lankan doctors of today. After being conferred the Fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians in England he came back home promptly to serve his people.

Professor Thanabalasundrum was considered one of the youngest Consultant Physicians who served Ceylon in the mid 1940's. Among the hospitals he served were the General Hospitals of Jaffna and Colombo and the Teaching Hospital, Ragama. Thanks to the insight of other eminent professionals such as Dr. Heennileme, Dr. Ratnavale and Dr. Aloysius of the NCMC, he became the Professor of Medicine of the North Colombo Medical College in 1985. The loyalty of Prof. Vishvanathan, Competent Authority of NCMC after it was nationalized and the foresight of Prof. Carlo Fonseka, the first Dean was instrumental in Professor Thanabalasundrum continuing at NCMC, Ragama till 1995, even after the process of change from NCMC to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya had begun.

During his medical life, Professor Thanabalasundrum has cared for people from all walks of life; from pauper to president. In 1998, he received the honour of Deshabandu by the President of Sri Lanka in recognition of his mammoth service to the nation. I would like to suggest to the alumni of the North Colombo Medical College to let us get together and help establish a ‘Professor Thanabalasundrum Memorial Scholarship’ at the Kelaniya Medical Faculty. Let us try to partially cover the educational expenses of needy students during their five-year career in Ragama.

By Hemamal Jayawardena

Sunday Times Dec 16 2007

Ours was a model sister-brother friendship

Nalin T. Wickramaratne

Nalin Wickramaratne was born on December 17, 1950 as the elder child of the late Malathie and George Wickramaratne and would have been 57 this year but he did not live to pass that milestone. In the afternoon of November 25, he dropped his two daughters at classes, returned home and went to take a shower in the bathroom and the next thing we knew, was that he had collapsed dead! Needless to say, that the entire family and all those who associated him were devastated by this reality of the impermanence of life that Lord Buddha preached to us.

To his wife Devika, he was a dutiful husband. To his daughters Bhagya and Asangi, he was their best friend and confidant. He was the strength behind every activity they engaged in, whether it was in school, in their studies or in sports. It was his pleasure to spend as much time with them as was humanly possible.

The void left by his sudden death cannot be expressed in words but the training and understanding he gave the family will pull them through this traumatic experience. Nalin was my elder brother by two years. He was not just a brother to me but my closest confidant and friend until his death. Ours was an extremely close bond of absolute friendship and understanding no matter whether it was during a period of trial or happiness.

We were fortunate to have had parents and an uncle who inculcated sound human and moral values in us and taught us the value of service to one's self and to those around us. From the time he and I were 8 and 6 years old, we have worked together at shramadana camps to help the socially deprived communities such as Rodiyas, Kinnerayas and Veddahs when our late maternal uncle D. Ariyananda Abeysekera started the Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka with his first work camp in 1958 at Kanatholuwa, a Rodi village.

Our holidays were mostly spent in such villages helping others with our small mite. It is from such a small age that we were made to understand the inequalities of suffering, life and society as well as to learn to be considerate of others less fortunate than us.

Our late mother, a school teacher, gave us an ongoing training and education programme of different and varied types of social problems and our education in life was not merely restricted to book knowledge. This is something that both my brother Nalin and I cherished throughout our lives and for which we are/were ever grateful. Many are the times when the two of us would sit down to chat and discuss the value of the training we received at the hands of our elders.

Nalin as a child was by no means "a saint" -- innumerable were the mischievous episodes between the two of us but those helped us to strengthen our bonds of friendship and understanding as we grew into adulthood. Ours was a relationship of understanding and friendship which I sincerely hope other brothers and sisters will also learn from.

In his professional life, as was amply exhibited during his funeral, he was able to rise above petty relationships and become a leader to all those who he worked for whether they were his superiors or his juniors. He left an indelible impression of efficiency, high moral standards and justice among all those who worked with him both at Ceylon Tobacco Company and at Triposha and the reactions of the staff were a spontaneous show of respect which he commanded rather than demanded.

There is no doubt that his sojourn in Samsara will be short and that he will attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

By Ramani D. Wickramaratne

Celebrating a life lived to the fullest

Sam de Silva

Sam de Silva, Bappa to us, passed away after 80 eventful years following a short terminal illness. We celebrate the colourful and wonderful life of a man who was widely known as 'Aravinda's father', but vehemently and jokingly protested by him saying that Aravinda was in fact Sam de Silva's son!

Yes, his greatest achievement was creating the Sri Lankan cricket phenomenon and our only truly international icon Aravinda. I have yet to see a father pursue his life's ambition of turning his son into a world class cricketer with so much zeal and devotion. While my aunt, Loku Amma wanted to make Aravinda study to become a 'professional', Bappa on the other hand, after a prediction made by Mr. Abu Fuard, that his little boy will one day become a great cricketer, relentlessly pursued it to make his dream a reality. After arguments with Loku Amma regarding the future career of their son, finally Loku Amma caved in to see Aravinda becoming the professional international cricketer we are all so proud of.

Sam de Silva with son Aravinda

During the years that Aravinda was at D. S. Senanayake College, Bappa became part of the College landscape! After work, he came straight to college and watched Aravinda practise. From either the music or art room I would know his presence by his trademark loud voice and laughter. After discussing future strategy with our cricket coaches and often enjoying a chat with Mr. Alles at the principal's bungalow, the father-son duo would set out for home in the engulfing darkness. This was their routine for the rest of Aravinda's school life.

During this period Bappa as the president of the Parent-Teachers’ Association rendered yeoman service to our fledgling seat of learning. He was either Sam or Uncle Sam to all at DS. Equipped with an analytical and razor sharp mind combined with legendary public relations skills, he became an indispensable companion and advisor to our college. We remember with gratitude the significant role he played in acquiring 4.5 acres of land from SSC for our playground. His close association with the late Sir John Kotelawala and members of the SSC made this gargantuan task a reality. Also his immense network of contacts and the font of goodwill he was able to garner, made him a ‘must have’ member for all fundraising activities.

Bappa moved with the highest and the lowest in the land with equal ease and was able to put at ease any person who came in contact with him. This I see as one of his greatest attributes. He was deeply sensitive to people's suffering and never turned his back on a poor relation or friend in dire need. His nieces and nephews fondly remember how he gave them a hand to come up in life during trying times.

These grateful nieces and nephews rushed to his bedside, even coming from overseas after hearing their beloved Loku Mama's illness. As an active member in the Lions and SUROL he got deeply involved in the upliftment of the downtrodden. People close to the family will recall how he looked after the family retainers, gave them in marriage, built houses for them and looked after their offspring. Most importantly he got immersed in social service activities without any fanfare, some times even unknown to his wife and children.

When our Archchi was alive, Bappa was more a son than a son-in-law to her. Addressing her lovingly as 'mummy', he devotedly attended to her property matters and got involved in settling disputes. I clearly remember accompanying them to resolve a property matter where some persons were claiming ownership to one of Archchi's paddy lands. The party who were claiming ownership appeared miserably poor. Seeing these folk bappa whispered to Archchi, ''Mummy how can we go to courts with these wretched people? Shall we let them have this land? At least it will help to feed a few empty stomachs''. Archchi who herself was compassionate and benevolent promptly nodded in agreement thereby allowing a poor family to enjoy the fruits of her land. Standing behind Archchi and observing the unfolding events I had learnt my first lesson in conflict resolution!

Bappa was indispensable at parties to get things going! Friends and relatives waited expectantly for the arrival of Sam and Araliya to open the dance floor with their jive and baila dancing. They were always late for functions as dear Loku Amma had her own standards for punctuality and poor Bappa had to fabricate fanciful stories of excuse! I fondly recall how our grand-uncle, the late Sudana Rodrigo, waited impatiently for Sam and Araliya to arrive and get his 31st night dance started at the Barbaryn Reef Hotel. It was Bappa who would get everyone on to the dance floor, not sparing even Archchi, for a night of dancing and making merry.

This was a man who enjoyed life to the hilt and spread laughter and happiness wherever he went. Bappa adored children and children in turn adored him. He would go to a group of children and entertain them with tricks and sometimes toss them up and perform various acrobatics to the consternation of the parents.

When I told Mahari, my daughter that her dear Bappa Seeya was ill and that he will not be with us for long, her eyes became misty and she wanted to tell him how much she loved him. She reminded me how Bappa carried her lovingly and showed her around Aravinda's 'mini museum', which is a collection of all his trophies, medals, cricket gear and memorabilia carefully set up by a proud and adoring father. He allowed her to handle and take photos of that epoch-making cricket bat, which was instrumental in bringing us joy and euphoria during those memorable days of 1996!

The greatest blow to him was when his beloved son-in-law, Vasanth met with an untimely death a year ago. I was told that he was inconsolable and following which became introspective, reticent and found solace in the Dhamma. The last time I saw Bappa was in July when I came home for a family reunion. I saw him in his pristine self at our family home in Panadura, which was reverberating with music and laughter after a long spell of silence. It was great to see him dancing and singing. Watching his youthful energy and demeanour, never did it occur to me that this was my last encounter with this wonderful human being who played such a significant role in our family.

However, this is how I shall remember him and I am sure this is how he would have wanted us to remember him. Goodbye Bappa, may your journey through Samsara be short, smooth and joyous. I have no doubt that during this journey your fellow travellers will be entertained by your eternal humour and zest for life!

By Dr. Thushara Rodrigo

His was a life of love and concern

Emil Balasuriya

'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.' Emil kept his tryst with Christ and was called to the nearer presence of the Lord on July 2 with Riolene and children standing right round his bed. He would have been a septuagenarian on July 20, had he lived.

He was a doyen in the airline business starting his career with Air Ceylon. He was one among the six selected by the late J.R. Jayewardene who was the Minister of Aviation at that time to launch Air Lanka. He had a meteoric rise from a cub trainee airline recruit to the position of General Manager at the time of retirement.

He was trained in British Airways and other prestigious airlines covering a wide gamut in the airline business. He served as manager representing Air Ceylon in Italy and Bangkok and representing Air Lanka as manager in Japan and London. He was much sought after for his know-how and expertise to solve knotty problems in the airline business.

Emil was an absolute martinet. He was a fearless, outspoken administrator who stood for fairplay. He hated injustice and refused to compromise with it. There was no ambivalence or hypocrisy in him. He always called a spade a spade. His services were recognised when he was feted at a grand banquet a few months before he passed away.

Emil had a genial temperament. His honesty and integrity, his modesty and sober habits, his concern, compassion and generosity to anyone in need, his consideration for all, his hospitality which knew no bounds -- these were some of his attributes. I had known Emil for well over four decades and have yet to come across such a stupendous personality, so outspoken and so independent in thought.

He always kept up the good name of his alma mater St. Aloysius College, Galle, being a brilliant student in his time. Emil was in the college choir being blessed with a melodious voice and whenever we met -- Emil, Denzil and myself -- we delighted in harmonizing both Sinhala and English songs. His death has left a void and robbed us of a genuine friend.

Emil's magnanimous nature was richly rewarded by having a loving wife for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Riolene nursed him devotedly giving him relief from pain and discomfort caused by ill health. He leaves his wife, two endearing daughters, two loving sons and son-in law and two lovable grandchildren. May his family find strength and solace in his memory for his was a life of love and concern.

By Lylie Peiris

Nation Sunday Dec 9 2007

Wing Commander Anthony Maurice Fernando

He left an indelible mark

It is with profound sorrow that I pen this appreciation on the demise of Wing Commander Anthony Maurice Fernando who breathed his last on November 16 in Brighton, USA. He left an indelible mark in several fields of activity in the Sri Lanka Air Force and Royal Oman Police, which he enriched and adorned with great competence and grace.
A dear friend, he left behind a void which never can be filled. His greatest attribute was his love and respect for all people and his patent humility and simplicity.

Denzil was born on July 11, 1939, the eldest in a family of 11. He was brought up by his parents in a deeply religious and disciplined environment. From his childhood he was exemplary in his performance whether at home or school.
He received his education at St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota and St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. On successful completion of his GCE Advanced Level examination, he chose the profession of arms as his calling and enlisted in the Royal Ceylon Air Force as a flight cadet on April 27, 1959. On completion of his initial flying training and being awarded “wings,” he was promoted as Flying Officer in August 1961.

Excelling in his flying and administrative duties, he was promoted as Flight Lieutenant in 1965. Apart from his superior flying skills, his superiors identified in him the essential requisites of a trainer. He was selected to pursue a qualified instructors’ course at Royal Air Force Tern Hill in 1961. On graduating as a qualified flying instructor he was nominated for a command and staff college course at the same institution, evidently grooming him for command.

Given his performance in varied positions of flying training and in command of flying squadrons, he was promoted Squadron Leader in 1971. During his illustrious career, he served as a flying instructor, standardisation officer and acting commandant of the Air Force Academy China Bay while commanding the Number 2 Squadron.
He was later appointed Officer commanding the Standard Examination Unit and Command Rating Examiner and also as acting Base Commander. He was promoted Wing Commander in 1976.

On completion of 21 years in service, he retired on April 30, 1980. He later joined the Royal Oman Police as an Air Operations Officer. While in service he was decorated in recognition of his services and awarded ‘The Oman Peace Keeping Medal,’ ‘10th Anniversary Medal,’ ‘Glorious 15th National Day Medal’ and the ‘Order of the National Emblem.’
Denzil married Premanie on December 28, 1970. Their marriage was a tremendous success. He adored his two daughters, Sheolie and Dinali. Their home was an abode of peace, love and affection.

Denzil zealously guided and fashioned their careers and today Sheolie, after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Public Health, is presently a third year medical student at the George Washington Medical College, while Dinali is a physician attached to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. They are both married to professionals.

Denzil was an unassuming person, never given to ostentation and bragging. His integrity was beyond question and he adhered to a code of professional rectitude. In retirement his life revolved around the family and religious activities.

Denzil was a wonderful friend who reached out to his friends, particularly in times of distress. With his demise I have lost a dear friend. I thank God however for the gift of Denzil’s friendship. I thank God for his life. I will not say farewell because I know we will meet again. May the turf lie gently over him and may he rest in peace.

Rex Fernando


He rendered a great service to the nation

It was saddening to learn of the demise of a patriotic, charismatic, illustrious, fearless and friendly gentleman and politician with sterling qualities and agriculturist, planter and first air pilot of Ceylon who came to Ceylon as a solo air pilot from London Airport after his studies in England. He was also a great sportsman, excelling in motor - racing.

James Peter Obeysekara hailed from Batadola Walawwe, Attanagalle in the Gampaha District. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo 7. He excelled in his studies and entered Cambridge University London, England for his academic studies.
He excelled in his studies and got though the B.A. (Cantab) with Honours and M.A. (Honours) and qualified as a Barrister-at-Law too. As he was interested in motor mechanism engineering, he qualified in aeronautical engineering and obtained an air pilot licence from British authorities.

The Obeysekara family dynasty hails from the Royal Portuguese family. His ancestor, Fernandez, who belonged to the Portuguese Royal Family in Europe, came to Ceylon then as Captain of the Royal Portuguese Navy to Galle Harbour to inspect the activities of the Portuguese administrators in Maritime Provinces of the entire southern province of Ceylon then.
He fell in love with the resplendent island on his inspection visits and decided to stay. He looked out for a fertile large land in Kathaluwa in the Ahangama area of Galle District. He then constructed a walawwe, which was known as Atadahe Walawwe, since he grew 8,000 coconut plants there.

He then wanted to change his name to a Sinhala name. He met a Buddhist priest known as the Koratota Chief Priest and wanted to change his name as ‘Your Leader.’ The Chief Priest, considering his nobility, named him ‘Obeysekara,’ which means ‘Your Leader.’
He married a noble lady of royalty from the Kodagoda Walawwe of Seneviratne Dissanayake, who migrated from the Kandyan Province. He settled down in Kathaluwa Atadahe Walawwe and brought up very illustrious children to serve the nation and country for generations.

S.C. Obeysekara (Jnr) entered Royal College, then Colombo Academy, Colombo 7. He excelled in his studies and entered Cambridge University, London for higher studies in law.
He qualified as a Barrister-at-Law and came back to Ceylon to practice law. He bought large extents of land in Gampaha and Colombo, and planted coconuts which were enjoyed by many generations later. He entered the Legislative Council and State Council to serve the nation under British Colonial periods 1796/1947.

His descendants – Sir Foestor Obeysekara, Sir James Peter Obeysekara, Sir Donald Obeysekara, J.P. Obeysekara (Jnr), Fedrick Wimaladharma, Obeysekara P.C. Danton Obeysekara, Asoka Obeyasekara, Indrajit Obeysekara and Stanley Obeysekara (Attorney-at-Law) – are all Cambridge Blues who excelled in studies, boxing and other sports.

J.P. Obeysekara (Jnr) also rendered great services to the nation and country politically, economically, socially, culturally, educationally, agriculturally, industrially, health services, administratively, judicially and also militarily.
Since the demise of late S.W. R.D. Bandaranaike, founder of SLFP and Prime Minister, of Ceylon 1956/1959, there was a great vacuum in the Attanagalle electorate of the Gampaha District, which was filled by him by contesting the Attanagalle electorate at the 1960 March parliamentary general elections, which he won.
He won the 1960 July parliamentary elections too under the leadership of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. He was appointed as Deputy Health and Finance Minister.

J.P. Obeysekara married a very outstanding lady from the Dassanayake family, known as Shiva Dassanayake Obeysekara from Dassanayake Walawwe, Mirigama.
I came to know J.P. Obeysekara very well when he was contesting the Attanagalle electorate and visited my mother’s home at Veyangoda to get my support. Our deepest sympathies to his beloved wife, children and relations. May he rest in peace.

– Capt. L.B. Lanka Jayaratne, Irangani Senerviratne, B. Jayaratne, Weligama

The Sunday Leader Dec 9 2007

Lyd De Alwis

On November 22, 2006 one of the world's last great icons of wildlife conservation passed away quietly and unknown to most.  For many people who knew him professionally Lyn de Alwis symbolises the various achievements and benchmarks he set in the national and international zoo and wildlife conservation forum.  For the people who knew him personally Lyn leaves behind a gulf that will never be bridged and a yearning nostalgia for an era that will never come back. 

For most people not surprisingly Lyn de Alwis was known as either the Zoo Director or the Wildlife Director or director of both since he was the only person in Sri Lanka who held both these two positions simultaneously.  But Lyn was much more than this.  Chief among his achievements are what he had done to further wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka as well as globally.

It would not come as a surprise to know that he was also a good friend, colleague, parent, husband, advisor and mentor.  Among his professional achievements Lyn provided the leadership for the Department of Wildlife Conservation as well as the Dehiwela Zoo to boldly step into areas where they had never ventured before. 

Long before our neighboring  Southeast Asian countries, Lyn with the help of the World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institution led the Wildlife Department to conduct scientific research which brought Sri Lanka to the forefront of the international conservation forum. 

Lyn was the Director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation from 1965 to 1969 and from 1978 to 1983. During his directorship in the 1960s Lyn managed to annex the Wilpattu and Yala intermediate zones into the Wilpattu and Yala National Parks.  During the same time he also established special elephant control units to attend to the increasing human elephant conflicts in the Hambantota and Anuradhapura regions.

In 1970 he got an amendment made to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance to include jungle corridors for the free movement of elephants between wildlife reserves.  In 1978 he got a cabinet paper passed to establish one-mile wide buffer zones to wildlife reserves.  In addition during his tenure the Department conducted the first capture and translocation of elephants. The first pocketed elephants were captured using traditional noosing methods in the forests of Bata-ata and Hungama. 

In 1979 a further 18 elephants pocketed in the Deduru Oya region were relocated to the Wilpattu National Park.  His noteworthy contribution during his second tenure at the Department of Wildlife in the 1980s was the designing of a system of protected areas for the Mahaweli River Development Project. 

This Herculean effort resulted in the establishment of the Maduruoya, Wasgamuwa, and Somawathi National Parks and the Minneriya, Giritale and Victoria, Randenigala, Rantembe sanctuaries. 

During his earlier tenure in the 1960s Lyn had taken the initiative to declare the following sanctuaries: Lahugala Kitulana Sanctuary in 1966, Maha Kandarawa Sanctuary in 1968, Madhu Road Sanctuary in 1968, and Bundala Sanctuary in 1969.  Today the Lahugala Kitulana Sanctuary is a National Park and Bundala is a national park as well as one of Sri Lanka's most important RAMSAR wetlands.

As the Director of the Zoo, he established the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a unique concept, which has now become an internationally known institution drawing thousands of local and international visitors annually. Additionally Lyn established the Zoo Development Fund and the Zoo Welfare Society for the zoo staff. 

Lyn designed the Singapore Zoo as well as the Night Safari establishing benchmarks in modern zoo development.  As the Chairman of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG), Lyn paved the way for the international conservation forum to gain access to countries such as Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Vietnam that were closed to the outside world.   Lyn himself personally penned and edited the newsletter of the AsESG, which later became the journal GAJAH. 

It was a great loss for Sri Lanka the day Lyn passed away.  For the hundreds of people out there who knew him  - they lost a colleague, a friend, a relative, a peer or a contemporary.  For his immediate family - they lost their patriarch.  For me personally, I lost a mentor, advisor and a friend. 

It is so unfortunate that Sri Lanka did not value nor appreciate Lyn for what he has done for wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka as well as for what he could have continued to do for the country.  Lyn was a monument as well as a foundation stone of Sri Lanka's conservation forum and he will continue to be so through the people whose lives he has touched.

Ravi Corea

President and CEO

Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Published with the courtesy of Gajah, official journal of the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group

Sunday Times Dec 9 2007

A leader of his generation the country missed

Anil Moonesinghe

Anil Moonesinghe represented all aspects of the social democratic political life of our times. His life and work was a complete picture of the public aspirations of a political leader. He was well accomplished in almost all spheres and dimensions of public life and intellectual ability. Truly, he was a unique political personality in the post-colonial history of our land.

I disagreed with him and I was shattered when he left the Lanka Sama Samaja Party to join the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. But I could understand why he did so, listening to his reasoning. The democratic and progressive bloc represented by the several alliances and fronts of the centre-left had been taken for granted. But the birth pangs of this formation were not easy. Anil bore the brunt and pioneered the idea inside the left.

He often asked what the use of being a commander was without an army. But I cannot yet reconcile with our (LSSP's) role in a centre-left cabinet dominated by an equivocal leadership, unless it was a limited strategy which it was not. Anil underscored the need of developing a left tendency within the bloc strong enough to have an impact on the policies of the government together with mobilization of the people around their demands and expectations, and thus move on with progressive reforms. Anil never failed to be in the thick of such struggles.

His youthful days in Britain absorbed the left programme and the Marxist ideology as the worthwhile purpose of life. He dived into the depths of the labour movement and the debates of the left. He believed that the revolution would blossom out of the movement of the masses demanding reforms and participating in the process. For this he advocated the need to be entrenched in the midst of the progressive forces without being in revolutionary isolation.

He walked the streets of London in the freezing winter mornings taking the party paper from door to door. He returned to the island as a young Sama Samajist with a vision and as a qualified barrister. He was never content with public speaking without joining the people in arduous tasks and political action. He believed more in real life and action to advance the cause than spend time in theoretical expositions. An impatient Anil would do it himself - any task even before the comrades came along.

He was romantic and nurtured idealism but never lost the bearings of the practical approach. He introduced a lifestyle quite new to the Sama Samaja Movement. A simple and down to earth man, he shared with his people, any, and all circumstances, of hardships. He taught us the frugal way and exposed us to the splendour of nature, when he promised us a comfortable night and parked his vehicle on the bund of the Tissa Wewa to take out a folding bed for a good night's sleep.

He was emotional and laughed merrily as much as he wept with his heart for the joys and grievances of his people and comrades. He was well exposed to the Western culture but he was firmly rooted in his cultural heritage. He took pride in being a grand nephew of the anti-imperialist Anagarika Dharmapala.

He was quick to find the vacant areas of Sinhala consciousness in the Sama Samaja Movement and he tried to infuse that element into the party. But this was resisted as chauvinism. He was committed to the hilt in defending the rights of minorities and even welcomed Tamil national consciousness inside the party. He believed that the two nationalisms could be fused whilst others thought that a common nationalism should be invented.

As a minister or a chairman he demonstrated the way to harness the worker's enthusiasm in raising productivity and efficiency. He was a role model as a minister or chairman. He was out on the streets meeting with the public and sensing their mood. The constituents from his distant electorate never failed to find warm hospitality in their MP's home. He shared with them whatever he had.

The "Bolsheviks" in the party looked down on these kind traits of Anil as a popularity quest. He dared to do anything in furthering the cause of social reforms and, for this, he braved dangerous encounters. He built up a formidable trade union in the corporations and cooperative sectors within a short time. For this, he travelled to all corners of the island and his weakness was motor vehicles and the joy of tireless driving.

His debating skills as a Parliamentarian and later, his prowess as Deputy Speaker, were distinguished. The deep commitment to democracy within socialism was manifest in his passionate opposition to Stalinism and dictatorship. For him, democracy and democratic rights were sacred.

Anil was endowed with the rare qualities of leadership, strength of character, vision, commitment to social democracy in actual practice, a heart warming concern for the poor, national pride mixed with a conviction of internationalism and a unique capacity to face challenges. He was eminently suited to be this country's leader of his generation to take the country in a left of centre direction.

By Vasudeva Nanayakkara

A life decorated with flying colours

James P. Obeysekera

My friend JPO passed away at the age of 92. James was my dear friend from the age of five. We joined prep school together, rode the first bicycles, fitted with solid tyres and no brakes. To stop you had to peddle backwards. At Royal College, James was an athlete, a talented tennis player, and a rifle shot. He won the Herman Loos Rifle Cup in 1933. James was annoyed when reference was sometimes made to his parents, when asked to stand on the form with the words "Arise Sir James".

James left school in 1933. Of our 60 class mates, only James and Clive De Mel managed to get admission to Cambridge and Oxford. When James arrived at his College in Cambridge, he saw a bearded pot-bellied man whom he thought was the hall porter. He asked him to help him carry his luggage to his room. James was horrified the next day, when he met his tutor. He was the same pot-bellied man he had met the previous day and true to British tradition he said nothing.

At Cambridge, James organized sports car racing for the undergraduates, and converted an abandoned air field into a race track. He qualified as a pilot at the University Flying Club. When war broke out, the Royal Air Force invited him to join as a pilot, but he declined and served as an observer of enemy planes in the Air Force.

When the war was over he sold his collection of sports cars and purchased a single engine airplane to fly back to Ceylon. His father was worried he would crash and wrote to James "Be careful when you fly over the Alps”.

His epic flight route was, however, down south through Arabia and India. I was delighted to receive him at home the day after he landed in Ceylon, and recounted our old days together. James flew his plane over Colombo. When he repeatedly flew over Ladies College, his girl friend, pointed up to the aeroplane, and told her class mates, "That's my boy".

In Ceylon he was a keen supporter of motor sports. He built his own Cooper Special racing car at home. James installed the first Intensive Care Unit within the operating theatre complex in this country. Of our 60 schoolmates, only five are still around today. We used to meet every year the day before the Royal Thomian match. Sadly, our dear friend James has left us. May his soul rest in peace.

By A.T.S. Paul

She lived her long life helping many

Margaret Perera

My aunt Mrs. Margaret Perera passed away in November last year at the ripe age of two months short of 97 years. She was my late mother's sister. Born in 1911 to the well known Wijesuriya family in Mahawila, Panadura, she was the third in a large family of three boys and five girls. In terms of personality, capability and resourcefulness she was the most outstanding female member of the family.

My aunt married K.A. Albert Perera, the proprietor of the well known bakery and confectionery establishment, Perera and Sons Ltd., in 1931. It was a happy and colourful married life with considerable foreign travel at a time when overseas journeys were somewhat rare.

She was very loyal to her husband and even when she disagreed on a particular issue, supported the stand taken by him. They called each other "wasthuwa", meaning treasure, which became a matter of great amusement among friends and relatives with some of them referring to her by this term of endearment. They were an extremely close knit couple and attended to social and religious matters together, as well as family events. On one occasion someone seeing her husband without her had remarked, "Albert you look lost without her. You are not complete without her." Her husband was fond of repeating this story many a time, I am told.

The Pereras at that time (1940 to 1968) had a considerable number of friends including well-known doctors such as Dr. P.R. Anthonis, the late Dr. Noel Welikala and the late Dr. G.R. Handy. She made use of her friendship with them to help relatives and friends suffering from various ailments.

Her association with her doctor friends was so close that she herself had the ability to prescribe remedies for common ailments. Some 40 years ago, when I had a severe back pain, she told me to take a painkiller called Butasolidin. Later when Dr. Handy asked me what I was taking for the back pain, I replied that I was taking this tablet as suggested by my aunt and that I was feeling a little better. Excellent diagnosis, he said, and told me to continue with that drug.

My aunt, affectionately called Margie, had a very high sense of social obligation and took great pains to fulfil such duties as attending funerals, visiting the sick and participating in weddings and religious engagements. She was known to many well known people including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and top professionals. Yet she had the humility to move freely with the less fortunate members of her extended family and friends.

A standard joke in the family circles was her strong inclination to attend the funerals not only of those known to her but the family members of those people. In one instance, when she was asked why she attended a funeral she said that the deceased was a close relative of a relative of her son-in-law, but we later came to know that the son-in-law himself had not attended that funeral. However, it must be said that not only her attendance at funerals but her presence sometimes more than once during the funeral period was most appreciated by the people concerned.

Her husband the late K.A. Albert Perera passed away in 1968 at the age of 71 but she survived for 38 years thereafter. All the members of the Wijesuriya family had long lifespans generally exceeding 75 years and some surpassed 90. She sometimes joked that whatever the Wijesuriyas may have lacked they certainly enjoyed long life.

After the death of their husbands, many widows get into a shell. They are unable to lead the life they lived with their husbands and find it difficult to stand on their own feet. But my aunt was made of sterner stuff. She continued with her social life and was invited to many social activities such as weddings, birthday parties and other events as well as religious events.

I became close to my aunt especially in the latter part of our lives. Although there was an age disparity of around 25 years we talked on many occasions of cabbages and kings. In 1967, I built a house on a land sold to me by my uncle Albert situated close to his residence. This facilitated our close association and many were the times she came to my home for a friendly chat. If I was about to leave to buy something for dinner I would inquire whether she would accompany me and she would gladly do so. After the death of my mother in 1990, I treated her as my mother and even before that her children sometimes referred to me as her adopted son.

Apart from the loss of her husband, my aunt faced another tragedy in the death of her only son and the youngest of her children, Sarath Kodagoda, a very active member of the Sinhalese Sports Club, at the comparatively young age of 55 in 1997. She did not usually reveal her true emotions and faced this great loss with courage and fortitude.

She led a simple life and was fortunate not to face any financial difficulties. She was well looked after by her children who knowing her fondness for getting about placed a vehicle and a driver at her disposal. During the latter years her memory faded to some extent. However, she had no serious aversion to this disability. Often when given a message by telephone she would frankly admit that her memory is poor and request that the message be given to another in the household.

In her last days she was confined to home and later to bed. During that time I visited her almost daily and sat by her bedside. When I generally inquired about her condition in her last days, she always replied, "I am alright". But on the last occasion I did so she said, "I do not feel so good" and a few hours later she was dead. She was fortunate to pass away peacefully in her own house and on her own bed (shared earlier with her husband and later only by her over a long period of time) without the indignity of tubes, oxygen supplies and other paraphernalia to prolong her life deprived of the previous colour and activity.

May this grand and gracious lady, always helpful and considerate and loved by many, realize early the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

By Rajah Kuruppu

Nation Dec 2 2007

Lyn de Alwis,

Conservationist, Environmentalist par excellence Courtesy Gajah, official journal, IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group

On November 22, 2006, an icon of wildlife conservation, passed away quietly and unknown to most. For many people, who knew him, professionally, Lyn de Alwis symbolises the various achievements and benchmarks he set in the national and international zoo and wildlife conservation forum. For the people who knew him personally, Lyn leaves behind a gulf that will never be bridged and a yearning for an era never to come back.

For most people, Lyn de Alwis was either the Zoo Director or the Wildlife Director or both, since he was the only person to hold both positions, simultaneously. Chief among his achievements are to further wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka as well as globally. Lyn provided the leadership for the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) as well as the Dehiwala Zoo. Long before South and Southeast Asian countries, Lyn, with the help of the World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institute, led the DWC to conduct scientific research, bringing Sri Lanka to the forefront of international conservation. Lyn was Director DWC from 1965 to1969 and from 1978 to 1983. During his Directorship in the 1960s, Lyn managed to convert almost all the intermediate zones into National Parks, i.e., in 1967 and 1969, the Wilpattu West Intermediate Zones into the Wilpattu National Park and in 1969, the Yala Intermediate Zone into the Yala National Park. During the same time, he also established special elephant control units to attend to the increasing human-elephant conflicts in the Hambantota and Anuradhapura regions. In 1970, he got an amendment made to the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance, to include jungle corridors for the free movement of elephants between wildlife reserves. In 1978, he got a Cabinet Paper passed to establish one-mile wide buffer zones to wildlife reserves. In addition, during his tenure, the Department conducted the first capture and translocation of elephants.
His noteworthy contributions, during his second tenure at the DWC in the 1980s, were the designing of a system of protected areas for the Mahaweli River Development Project.

As Zoo Director, he established the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a unique concept even at the time. Additionally, Lyn established the Zoo Development Fund and the Zoo Welfare Society for the zoo staff. Lyn designed the Singapore Zoo as well as the Night Safari. As Chairman, Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG), Lyn paved the way for the international conservation forum to gain access to countries such as Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Vietnam that were closed to the outside world. Lyn personally penned and edited the newsletter of the AsESG, later becoming the journal GAJAH.

It was a great loss for Sri Lanka, the day Lyn passed away. For the hundreds of people out there, who knew him - they lost a colleague, a friend, a peer. For his immediate family – they lost their patriarch. For me, personally, I lost a mentor and a friend. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka did not value nor appreciate Lyn for what he had done and could have continued to do for its wildlife conservation. Lyn was a monument as well as a foundation stone of Sri Lanka’s conservation forum and will continue to be so, through the people whose lives he has touched.

Ravi Corea
President, CEO Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Wing Commander Denzil Fernando

The cruel hand of fate snatched Wing Commander Denzil Fernando from our midst, an officer and gentleman par excellence, admired by his peers, respected by his subordinates and all who knew him. He passed away in Brighton U.S.A. on November 5, 2007. His family and friends; are yet baffled by his untimely death and overwhelmed by a profound sense of grief.
“Death, ruthless death, how fast you throw fatal darts on those whom we adore”

Uncle Denzil, a contemporary of my father while serving in the Sri Lanka Air Force and later in the Royal Oman Police; was a close friend of my father and our family. We associated closely with his family and I knew him since my childhood. This appreciation is with a deep sense of gratitude, while being deeply saddened by his demise. When my father and mother were completely shattered, consequent to a motor traffic accident in which I sustained serious injuries and was lying between life and death for days; Uncle Denzil and Aunty Premanie were a tower of strength and comfort. My parents were virtually devastated and overcome with despair, but Uncle Denzil continuously rekindled their faith, imploring them to trust in the Almighty. Until his untimely demise, he meticulously followed up my recovery and rehabilitation. While in the Royal Oman Police in the Sultanate of Oman, Aunty Premanie and he showered us with hospitality and kindness. My sister and I enjoyed Aunty Premanie’s delicious meals and the company of his daughters Sheolie and Dinali. Denzil was happiest in the tranquility of his home with his wife and daughters.

He was a rare personality, whose exemplary and ethical conduct and religious convictions, left an inedible mark on me. The hallmark of his character was his patent simplicity, modesty and religious piety. He was my ‘role model,’ the perfect human being. He inculcated high ethical and moral values in his daughters and guided their academic pursuits. Sheolie who obtained a degree in Public Health from Harvard University, is now a third year student at George Washington Medical School, while Dinali is a physician at the prestigious Mount Sinai hospital in New York. Though I knew Uncle Denzil’s achievements, it was only when I attended his memorial service at St. Theresa’s Church that I realized his impressive record in the Sri Lanka Air Force. The eulogies so eloquently delivered by Wg. Cmdr. Roshan Biyanwila and Wg. Cmdr. E.H. Ohlmus, portrayed his impressive service record and admirable personal qualities. Listening to the significant and remarkable record of achievements, I found it difficult to understand his simplicity and humility.

While Aunty Premanie lost an adored devoted husband; Sheolie and Dinali an affectionate mentor and friend. My father and our family lost an irreplaceable friend.

He left us cherished memories which will linger forever. Those of us who now feel the impact of his loss must derive inspiration and comfort from the legacy he left behind.
(From the tree of life each leaf must fall…
the green, the gold, the great, the small…
Each one in God’s own time, He will call…
With perfect love, He gathers all.)
May he rest in peace
Roshantha Fernando

Sam de Silva: the quintessential gentleman

Defining the quintessential noble is never easy, but Sam de Silva makes it so.  He was, to me, the embodiment of all that is noble and good in a human being. I first got to know Uncle Sam through his son, Aravinda, and I mean Aravinda my friend and not the cricketer. Uncle Sam and I quickly established a close rapport and he remained one of my closest friends until his demise last week. 

My friendship with Uncle Sam was so strong that I used to spend most of my Friday and Saturday evenings with him back in the old days.  This often prompted Aravinda to make fun of me, wanting to know how I could spend my Fridays and Saturdays with someone much older than me: even his son found it difficult to comprehend the bond we shared.  Sam had the unique ability to relate to people of all ages, from all walks of life and, more importantly, he always stood by his friends, particularly in times of crisis.
It is said that the best time to figure out who your friends are is when the chips are down. Well, that’s exactly when Sam was always around. You could count on it – he was always there when you needed someone!  I once went through a very bad time and, without my even asking him, Sam gave me his vehicle to use until I got my own. From time to time, Sam would come around to borrow the vehicle and it was only much later I learnt that his reason for doing this was to fill it up with petrol.  That was just one of the unique qualities that made him so special.

Sam was extremely proud of his two children. When I visited him the Sunday before he died, from the way he spoke with me, I knew he had already made his peace with destiny; he was ready to accept the inevitable. He told me how happy he was about what he had achieved in his life and proudly said he had produced a son who was the best batsman in the world and a daughter who was competent enough to hold her own anywhere. I recall how before each match that Aravinda played, recognising human frailty, Sam would go to Bellanwila, asking for divine assistance in the task his son was set to accomplish. I would often accompany Sam on these occasions.  It was Sam who, as a father, helped Aravinda to understand and utilise his true potential to the fullest.

Sam believed that in life, all one had to do was to be brave and the rest would follow. He was a dedicated Buddhist and remained true to the intrinsic tenets of Buddhism all his life.  I went to see him again on Tuesday, little knowing I would never see him alive again. He held my hand for a long while. In my heart I knew he was saying his goodbye, but even then, I still hoped against hope that it was not true. My mind said I had to accept it but my heart did not want to. How does one accept that one of your closest friends must leave you for pastures unknown, that the unassuming must pass into the unknown?

Sam was a self-made man – he set many goals for himself and unerringly achieved every single one of them.  Sam de Silva was a popular personality not because he was Aravinda’s father but because he was a rare human being. He always went that extra mile for people, was always able to walk in their shoes. His time management was unique. He exuded tremendous energy, had amazing endurance; better still, helping people was his raison d’etre. 
His two grandchildren, Sathya and Sampras comprised the proverbial light of his life; he adored them and remained very proud of every little thing they accomplished. 

Sam celebrated life; he loved the joy of life and living but remained in essence a simple man. When I was Aravinda’s flat-mate, I once heard them having a huge argument, with Sam screaming his head off and it was all because he was trying to convince Aravinda that he wanted a small car and not the Volvo that Aravinda had got him. If Sam lacked anything it was patience, but his sterling qualities more than made up for it.

Sam was every man’s friend and the crowds who flocked to pay their last respects to him testified to this– from the trishaw drivers, supermarket cashiers, to the corporate giants, world renowned cricketers and the man on the street, he was known and loved by all.

When the epitaphs have all been written about this man among men, one will surely remain, and I’d like to quote E.B. White on John F. Kennedy: “It can truly be said of him as of few men in like position, that he did not fear the wind nor trim the sails, but instead challenged the wind itself to improve its direction and cause it to blow more softly and more kindly over the nation and its people.”

You will be greatly missed, Uncle Sam. May your gentle soul rest in peace.
- Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Elina Jayewardene: Born to guide, comfort and command

Elina Bandara Jayewardene is no more. Born Elina Rupasinghe, she married Junius Richard Jayewardene and despite being the First Lady from 1978 until President Jayewardene retired in 1989, she led her life in a truly characteristic, simple unassuming fashion. The writer has known the Jayewardene family from childhood and it can be confidently said that Aunty Elin, as she was affectionately called, has, in the history of our nation, inspired much genuine affection and respect in the hearts of the people.
To have known her is undoubtedly to have loved her. But even to those who have not had the privilege of associating with her closely, as I have, she has through the years become a symbol of serenity, simplicity and sincerity, which together form the very essence of humanity.

The inner glow and radiance which always lit up her face was proof that she was a person who felt intensely for people. This is evident in only a truly good person who spends much of her time in helping people in need, and always found time for others.

Elina Jayewardene was a person who also showed that it was possible for wives of politicians to be impeccably elegant in their dress whilst retaining their simplicity. In her service to the people, she had an almost solemn sense of profound dedication to any cause that she believed in. This was one of the qualities responsible for bringing her to the pinnacle of power and influence. She was living proof that a genuine person who sticks to her beliefs and principles can be a major influence in the making of a nation’s history.

Through the inevitable tides of President Jayewardene’s political life she stuck firmly by his side, giving him the strength and inspiration he required to reach the height of success.

As in the old saying, “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” I am certain, President Jayewardene in retrospect would have been the first to say that almost every great triumph and every great success he achieved was, in great measure, thanks to his choice of partner until the end.

She spent a lot of her time in the service of the less fortunate. She had done so long before she became wife of the first elected president of Sri Lanka, unheralded and without pomp and glory.

She was unflinchingly loyal to old friends, finding time to visit them all. She would always be available to see anyone who wanted to see her in her home, Braemar, which has always been a hallmark of delight to any visitor through the years.

Although it has been said many times in the past, I say it again – a perfect woman, nobly planned to guide, comfort and command.
Aunty Elin, you are no longer in our midst but you will always be remembered with love and affection and your memory will remain in our hearts till we meet again someday in that land beyond – Goodbye!
– Bryan Nicholas

Sunday Times Dec 2 2007

My father was a lovable character

Bertie E. Wijeratne

My father, Mayadunnage Bertie Edward Wijeratne, who was born on June 1, 1935 and died on December 1,1994, hailed from a low country family whose origin was Sedawatta, Kelaniya. Thathie being a member of a family of planters followed the footsteps of his elder brother after completing his studies at St. Thomas', Matale creditably. He was a courageous person and took bold decisions when required.

Bertie E. Wijeratne

Rigorous training under Europeans made him quite knowledgeable and hard working. His superiors found in him the makings of an efficient planter and without any hesitation recommended and transferred him to larger plantations from time to time. He became a planter at a time when there existed tough competition to join the trade. I was told that from his young days, he was keen, sincere and dynamic and mastered the techniques of all aspects of tea and rubber planting and manufacture. It did not take much time to prove his capabilities to the different managements he worked for.

After a short period of four to five years, he was successful in taking charge of larger plantations extending over thousand hectares of tea and rubber. During his time, a majority of estate workers were Tamils and he found it quite easy to work together in harmony and look after their interests while producing the best results. He was fluent in Tamil and he was quite close to the Tamil people and they loved him very much.

He gave top priority to the well-being of the downtrodden labourers who were trampled by the Europeans at every turn. Thathie's kindness and large-heartedness brought him fruitful results in the many plantations he managed. His lady love (my mother) was from the land of gems – and also from a well-known family in Ratnapura -- the Delgodas.

Thathie was a happily married man with three children -- two daughters and a son (myself). As a loving husband and father, he was proud of his family and was delighted to see that they were second to none. At the time of his death, of his three children, only one of my sisters was married. My youngest sister and I were not married. Today all three of us are married and I wish that he had been with us today to see his eight beautiful grandchildren, who, I am sure, would have made him the happiest grandfather ever.

To his brothers and sisters, Thathie was their darling and they were proud of him. He was prepared to sacrifice anything for the sake of his brothers and sisters. This rare quality was embedded in him from his schoolboy days. My Thathie's sudden and untimely demise created a vacuum that can never be filled. For our family, tragedy struck like a bolt of lightning leaving the ship rudderless midstream at the mercy of God.

He had carefully planned out his life to be put into effect soon after retirement. But alas, all hope was lost and shattered and our poor family was left with no one to guide us. As the old saying goes what man proposes God disposes. Thathie was a God-fearing man who never missed his morning prayers before setting out for work every day.

At the time of his death, he had more than forty years of experience in planting and was a well-recognised Visiting Agent for so many large plantations in the private sector. The vast areas he has replanted in many plantations that he was managing in the low country would undoubtedly bear testimony to the invaluable services rendered by him to the industry and the country at large.

May he attain Nibbana.

Son, Haren

A year on and I miss you even more, Daddy

Bryan Paul Senanayake

Three-hundred and sixty-five days have gone by since you left me forlorn, and yet it feels like yesterday that I heard your voice and held your hand. There hasn’t been one single day, not one, that has passed without a thought of you, Daddy. There is so much I long to tell you or just be beside you, as you sit in your armchair watching the sun go down.

When I look into our daughter’s eyes, I can’t help but think how much you would have loved her and how much you would have enjoyed being with her. She already knows so much about you, how much you loved rugby, your travels and zest for life. I was going through your many dozens of photographs the other day, and it made me smile to see you smile in every one of your travels across the globe.

I know you are still smiling, because you are with Our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. Something shut within my heart the day you left, Daddy, and the pain is still there.… I know it will only subside, when I see you on the other side… and what a glorious day that will be, Daddy.

No one can fill the emptiness I feel in my heart without your physical presence but I know that your spirit is with me and I pray that you will always be with me. If God would grant me one power, just to turn back the pages of time, Oh! What I’d do just to hear your voice and hold you one last time.

I can easily refute the cliché, ‘time heals’ … because with each passing day, I miss you more.

With all my love,
Your daughter,


Sahanaya touched by a First Lady

Elina Jayewardene

Those who were fortunate to have met Elina Jayewardene feel a sense of loss after her demise. This extraordinary lady who conducted herself with simplicity, dignity, poise and humility was a great source of strength to me in the formative years of Sahanaya.

Since my first meeting in 1982, I have had the honour of working closely with her in relation to the development activities of the National Council for Mental Health. This was the time I was struggling to establish a community mental health service through the newly established National Council for Mental Health (Sahanaya).

Mrs. Elina Jayewardene

She had heard of my initiatives in the development of mental health from J. W. Subasinghe and Dr. Sathis Jayasinghe and invited me to her home to discuss my plans. During the discussion, she patiently listened to my views on prevailing problems facing people and my plans to develop the mental health services. At the end of the discussion, she not only expressed her fullest support for the project but, to my surprise, handed over a substantial sum of money which she had earmarked for a worthy charitable project.

Since this initial encounter, Mrs. Jayewardene worked closely with us for more than ten years to support the development of Sahanaya as its founder patron.

During this period, she maintained a keen interest in Sahanaya activities and was our greatest supporter. She visited the Sahanaya premises on a number of occasions and was associated with several of its activities. In 1985, she supported our requests to secure a plot of land from the Urban Development Authority and subsequently was associated with the late President Jayewardene in laying the foundation stone for the construction of the first phase of the Community Mental Health Centre in Colombo.

Her association with Sahanaya gave a high visibility to mental health as many people who respected her came voluntarily to help us in different ways. Subsequently in the late eighties she was associated with the laying of the foundation stone for the second phase of the building which was completed in two years.

Her commitment and dedication towards mental health development gave us great inspiration and strength. She was a great advocate of mental health development and watched our activities from a distance. She never imposed her will or made use of her position as the chief benefactor; instead she listened to our problems and continued to help whenever possible.

It was rare to find someone of her stature come forward and support the development of a field which did not attract many benefactors or sympathisers at the time. It is a great tribute to Mrs. Jayewardene that subsequently many others have followed her example and have been associated with the development of mental health activities in Sri Lanka. Sahanaya and the rest of the mental health development movement in Sri Lanka owe a great debt to this noble lady for her commitment and dedication to a worthy cause.

By Nalaka Mendis, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colombo, President, National Council for Mental Health (Sahanaya)

The taste of his life from post to meals

Kanagasabai Vivekanandarajah

Among my several cousins, Vivekanandarajah better known as Vive stood out from the rest since he was the only son of my father’s only brother. But as fate would have it, he succumbed to a rare illness, termed Motor Neurone Disease, in Cochin, India on October 18, having been hurriedly flown from Canada for specialist ayurvedic attention.

Vive first attended St. Anthony's College, Wattala and then Wesley College, Colombo before he joined the Post & Telegraphic Department as an inspector. He rose to the rank of D.I.T. within a short period. It was as D.I.T Mount Lavinia that he carved a name for himself. With his calm, cool and easy manners, he earned a wide circle of friends and customers. His humanistic attitude towards his staff and his ability to mix with people from all strata in society made him the most popular and sought-after officer in the department.

It is at this time of his illustrious career, he was urged by his wife and in-laws who had migrated to Canada after the 1983 riots to join them. He was sad to leave the department in 1987 on premature retirement, leaving behind friends, customers and the country he loved very much.

Having settled down in Toronto with his wife and only child, he was soon running an agency post office named Royal Bank Plaza before venturing into the catering business in 1993, utilizing the technical expertise of his wife Kamala, a home science graduate. He named the catering centre “Raja Ram” coining the end of his name with that of his son Ramesh.

Raja Ram catering service caught the local market of Toronto and was soon a craze among expatriates from Sri Lanka and South India. The catering service bloomed into a large profitable concern with hundreds of employees and was soon to become a challenge to other leading hotels and food centres. No Sri Lankan wedding function or get-together was complete without their expert catering services.

Vive, as he was in Mount Lavinia, became a popular figure in Ontario. Immaculately dressed at all times, he was a benevolent figure caring for the needs of his employees who adored him in return. He was the godfather of my two daughters in Canada and a tower of strength in their lives.

A few years ago, he made a sudden visit to Sri Lanka with his wife and was in Colombo meeting all his friends. He also visited his native place Karaveddy, met his long lost relatives and paid homage to local temples, including the Nagappooshana Amman Temple in Kayts.

He leaves behind his beloved wife, loving son and his only grandson, little Gauutham. I miss him dearly. May he attain the supreme bliss of Moksha under the feet of our deity Thatchanthoppu Vinayagar.

By A.R.S. Mahalingam

I remember, I remember, my beautiful cousin

Srimani Athulathmudali

Srimani Athulathmudali, wife of Lalith Athulathmudali, was probably how she came most to the public eye. But Srimani born De Saram of the illustrious De Saram clan, which boasts the first Maha Mudliyar of Ceylon among many other achievements, was to my mind a True Jayewardene Woman.

Srimani Athulathmudali

Her mother, two grandmothers and great grandmother were Jayewardenes -- descending from Mudliyar Don Adrian Jayewardene, the Thamby Mudliyar as he was called over 200 years ago when he lived his colourful life. Twinkling toes and a mischievous smile are my first recollections of Srimani, my cousin.

Cabinet Minister, UN employee in Geneva, Tap and Ballet dancer and horseback rider were subsequent roles after and during a childhood lived in different parts of the country with her police officer father, Fredrick, and gentle beautiful mother, Ivy.

Married to Lalith, she revisited the corners of her country and got to know her own people better. The assassin’s bullet did not take away only her husband, marriage and family life but also her free spirit. When she left this world later at an age of less than sixty, part of her was already gone. All that was left was that wonderful child Serela and members of her family to comfort her in this world.

My beautiful cousin, may you rest in peace with your husband and family who have gone before you. We will miss you for the rest of our natural lives on earth. May the God you loved so much bless you.

By Prasanna W. Jayewardene

Love never dies

Elmo Benedict

I remember with sorrow that parting day
A heart of gold stopped beating
As mild as a flower you were in this world
Your kindness and humility
Deep devotion of love and sacrifice
God’s precious gift to me and my family
The gates of memory never close
As time takes away the edge of grief
Memory turns back every leaf
For love never dies
To be in God’s keeping is surely a blessing

By Lourdslin Benedict

My shining star, my hero

Harold Herat

Harold Herat was synonymous with clean politics and earned the distinction of being called ‘Mr. Clean’ by the media. He was my hero and will remain so; the one I like to have as my role model. I wish to follow his ideals throughout my life because at the end of the tunnel my father will be waiting for my mother, sister, brother and me until we unite as one family again in the presence of God.

Harold Herat

My father set high ideals for me to carry through to the end. I have just started life in his glow and will try to abide by them to the best of my ability.

He had a simple loving attitude towards the people he served. They sent him to Parliament for 23 years, ensuring his victory at every election.

He stood by them to the end. He rose to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Constitution, Deputy Minister Finance and many more, all posts he held with a clean, clear conscience. This makes me feel proud because no one can ever point a finger at him. This was the best legacy he left behind for us.

He abhorred violence and dirty politics. His heart lay in the welfare of the people who too are shattered by his loss.

It is three months, precious father, since you left us but you will remain in our hearts for ever and ever. Words do not come easy to say what you have been to me but you remain my shining star, my hero.

By Parveen Herat

Sunday Observer Dec 2 2007

Sam de Silva: the quintessential gentleman

Defining the quintessential noble is never easy, but Sam de Silva makes it so. He was, to me, the embodiment of all that is noble and good in a human being.

I first got to know Uncle Sam through his son, Aravinda, and I mean Aravinda my friend and not the cricketer.

Uncle Sam and I quickly established a close rapport and he remained one of my closest friends until his demise last week. My friendship with Uncle Sam was so strong that I used to spend most of my Friday and Saturday evenings with him back in the old days.

This often prompted Aravinda to make fun of me, wanting to know how I could spend my Fridays and Saturdays with someone much older than me: even his son found it difficult to comprehend the bond we shared.

Sam had the unique ability to relate to people of all ages, from all walks of life and, more importantly, he always stood by his friends, particularly in times of crisis.

It is said that the best time to figure out who your friends are is when the chips are down. Well, that's exactly when Sam was always around. You could count on it - he was always there when you needed someone! I once went through a very bad time and, without my even asking him, Sam gave me his vehicle to use until I got my own. From time to time, Sam would come around to borrow the vehicle and it was only much later I learnt that his reason for doing this was to fill it up with petrol.

That was just one of the unique qualities that made him so special.

Sam was extremely proud of his two children. When I visited him the Sunday before he died, from the way he spoke with me, I knew he had already made his peace with destiny; he was ready to accept the inevitable.

He told me how happy he was about what he had achieved in his life and proudly said he had produced a son who was the best batsman in the world and a daughter who was competent enough to hold her own anywhere.

I recall how before each match that Aravinda played, recognising human frailty, Sam would go to Bellanwila, asking for divine assistance in the task his son was set to accomplish.

I would often accompany Sam on these occasions. It was Sam who, as a father, helped Aravinda to understand and utilise his true potential to the fullest. Sam believed that in life, all one had to do was to be brave and the rest would follow.

He was a dedicated Buddhist and remained true to the intrinsic tenets of Buddhism all his life. I went to see him again on Tuesday, little knowing I would never see him alive again.

He held my hand for a long while. In my heart I knew he was saying his goodbye, but even then, I still hoped against hope that it was not true. My mind said I had to accept it but my heart did not want to.

How does one accept that one of your closest friends must leave you for pastures unknown, that the unassuming must pass into the unknown - Sam was a self-made man - he set many goals for himself and unerringly achieved every single one of them.

Sam de Silva was a popular personality not because he was Aravinda's father but because he was a rare human being. He always went that extra mile for people, was always able to walk in their shoes. His time management was unique. He exuded tremendous energy, had amazing endurance; better still, helping people was his raison d'etre.

His two grandchildren, Sathya and Sampras comprised the .proverbial light of his life; he adored them and remained very proud of every little thing they accomplished. Sam celebrated life; he loved the joy of life and living but remained in essence a simple man.

When I was Aravinda's flat-mate, I once heard them having a huge argument, with Sam screaming his head off and it was all because he was trying to convince Aravinda that he wanted a small car and not the Volvo that Aravinda had got him. If Sam lacked anything it was patience, but his sterling qualities more than made up for it.

Sam was every man's friend and the crowds who flocked to pay their last respects to him testified to this - from the trishaw drivers, supermarket cashiers, to the corporate giants, world renowned cricketers and the man on the street, he was known and loved by all.

When the epitaphs have all been written about this man among men, one will surely remain, and I'd like to quote E.B. White on John F. Kennedy: "It can truly be said of him as of few men in like position, that he did not fear the wind nor trim the sails, but instead challenged the wind itself to improve its direction and cause it to blow more softly and more kindly over the nation and its people."

You will be greatly missed, Uncle Sam. May your gentle soul rest in peace.

Krishantha Prasad Cooray.

Island Mon Nov 26 2007

Mr. Vijitha Weerasinghe, Educator

Be careful to leave your sons well
instructed rather than rich,
for the hopes of the instructed are better
than the wealth of the ignorant.

I do not hope to compete with the flood of heartfelt and much better-written appreciations that have no doubt preceded my own back home in Sri Lanka as well as abroad wherever Royalist diaspora reside. Yet despite the delay (due to the demands of academia, the one excuse Mr. Weerasinghe might have accepted for my tardiness), I am compelled to add a somewhat younger voice to the chorus.

When I first came into the great presence as Primary Schooler, Mr. Weerasinghe was the Deputy Principal of the Middle School at Royal College. My generation will forever associate the inner sanctum next to the Navarangahala with Mr. Weerasinghe’s imposing presence. In those days of fear and uncertainty, Mr. Weerasinghe’s office was the natural sanctuary to which our fathers instructed us to retreat at the slightest hint of disturbance. He would know what to do.

As we graduated to the Middle School and became involved in school activities, we began to look forward to visiting Mr. Weerasinghe’s office, remarkable when you consider that even today a visit to the Principal’s office can stir up as much foreboding as any other emotion. The familiar greeting, “Come in, Putha, come in” stayed with us forever more; I find it hard to comprehend that I shall not hear it again when I poke my head around the corner at the Royal College Union office, knuckles poised to rap on the door.

I was never fortunate enough to have Mr. Weerasinghe as a classroom instructor. My generation learnt more from Mr. Weerasinghe by how he carried himself; from how he dealt with the widely varying teachers, students, Principals (he ended up being called a “father” to more than he may have cared to acknowledge) and Old Boys who came to him; and from the subtle, insightful advice he gave us when we came to him for approval and guidance in the many activities he oversaw.

Mr. Weerasinghe was a firm believer in the purity of the immense duty educators performed. We all know what a deep and lasting bond he had with Royal College. “I have been with Royal for all but the first five years of my life,” he once told me with the greatest pride as I interviewed him for The Royalist newspaper. It is no overstatement to say that he became an Institution within the institution. He became a trustee of all that was great at Royal College, an oracle even, to whom so many turned for guidance, inspiration and reassurance. No man was greater than the school and Mr. Weerasinghe did not hesitate to say so, firstly of himself, and certainly to anyone who had the temerity to behave otherwise. “Scholars need not change Royal,” he once told me, “it is Royal that should change the Scholar,” placing the burnish of a complete and rounded education on the abundance of youthful talent that Royal is fortunate to have pass through her hallowed gates.

In the decade since I left College I continued to visit Mr. Weerasinghe in his little office at the RCU whenever I could, and encouraged my contemporaries to do the same. Apart from occasionally chiding each other gently, the one for his continued smoking habit, the other for the “fancy dress” attire of t-shirt, jeans and sandals in which he went to “work” as a software engineer, we spent many an agreeable half-hour chatting in his office. (Indeed, I took to dressing so much better when dropping in on Mr. Weerasinghe before work that my teammates could soon tell whenever I had been to College!) As Old Boys now separated by only a desk and a few decades, we swapped tall tales and discussed topics Mr. Weerasinghe would never have dreamt of discussing with the schoolboy of a few years ago. I will always cherish those candid tete a tetes; I condole with those who were unable to find the time in their busy lives to steal such moments for themselves.

Two scrolls hang on the stage backdrop in the College Main Hall. For those of us not fortunate enough to have learnt the Classics, these were always far more mysterious than “Disce Aut Discede.” Mr. Weerasinghe was of course the one person who could be expected to know their meaning. I still recall how his face lit up as, teacher to the last, Mr. Weerasinghe held forth for a good few minutes as I furiously scribbled down notes on a little notebook that is today one of my most treasured possessions. “Labor Omnia Vincit” – Work Conquers All. “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat” – He Who Deserves it, Shall Bear the Prize. Royal sentiments indeed.

An epoch has passed. Preserving institutional knowledge has become a primary occupation for leaders in all forms of organizations. We can view the inscriptions I just quoted as mere etchings in a forgotten language, in an institution that does not suffer for lack of colourful etchings on its many walls. On the other hand, we can consider them to symbolize the greatness of a school that for many decades, one man represented for many of us. We can choose to honour his memory by redoubling our efforts to achieve for Royal College the greatness that she deserves and preserve in her the best in all of us, just as “Vijie” Weerasinghe and a memorable few invested so much of themselves in her that the very walls ring with the echoes of their voices. I cannot conclude any other way than with the brief but powerful valediction that I first saw used by Mr. Weerasinghe himself,


J.C. Ratwatte, Jr.

Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Nation Sunday Nov 25 2007

Kanagasabai Vivekanandarajah

Among my several cousins, brother Vivekanadanrajah, better known as Vive, stood out from the rest as my only blood-cousin since he was the only son of my father’s only brother, but, as fate would have it, sadly succumbed to a very rare illness termed Motor Neuro-disease in Cochin, India on October 18, having been hurriedly flown from Canada for specialist ayurvedic attention.

Having initially attended St. Anthony’s College, Wattala and later Wesley College, Colombo, Vive joined the then Post and Telegraphic Department as an Inspector and rose to the rank of D.I.T. within a very short period. It was as DIT in M1ount Lavinia, that he carved a name for himself by his calm, cool and easy going manner, earning a wide circle of friends and customers comprising of high ranking Police officials, diverse political personalities, as well as laymen of little means, from all walks of life. His humanistic attitude towards his fellow staff, coupled with his flair to mix with any strata in society, made him the most popular and much sought after officer in the department. It was at this time in his illustrious career, that pressure was brought on him, by his wife and in-laws, who had earlier migrated to Canada en block after the 1983 riots; which had taken a heavy toll on their wealth and other assets. They had been leading a contended easy way of life for ages at Wattala, but wanted him to join the rest in Canada. He was simply devastated and sad to leave the department in 1987 on Premature I retirement, leaving behind a host of friends, a heap of customers and the country he loved very much, to join his kith and kin overseas.

Having settled down in Toronto with his wife and only kid, together with his in-laws around, he was soon running an agency post office named Royal Bank Plaza, before venturing into business in the form of a catering outlet. Utilizing the technical expertise of his wife Kamala, a home science graduate of no mean repute, he named the catering centre ‘Raja Ram,’ coining the end of his name with that of of his son Ramesh, he successfully inaugurated the centre in 1993. Raja Ram catering service caught the local market in Toronto and was soon a craze among the vast populace of expatriate Sri Lankans and South Indians. The catering service soon blossomed into a large profitable concern with hundreds of employees and its service was soon to become a challenge to other leading hotels and food centers. No Sri Lankan wedding functions or get-together tamashas, or birthday parties were ever complete without the expert catering services rendered by Raja Ram.

As in Mount Lavinia, Vive became a very popular figure in Ontario as well and was a leading light at all the functions attended by Sri Lankans. Immaculately dressed at all times, in spick and span attire; he was the envy of the local gatherings. He was a benevolent figure as well, caring for the needs of his employees who adored him in return. In fact, he was a godfather to my two daughters in Canada, looking after them and caring for their needs. He had been a tower of strength in their lives and they are now bound to miss him more than they miss me.

A few years back, he made a sudden visit to Sri Lanka in the company of his wife and was in Colombo meeting all his past friends, before leaving for his native place Karaveddy, where he paid a visit to all his long lost relations with gifts. He also went about paying homage at all the local temples in the area and the Nagapooshana Amman Temple in Kayts, thereby deriving self-satisfaction and peace of mind before leaving the island.

He leaves behind his beloved wife, loving son and his only grandson little Gauutham, a real replica of the grand old man, but the little one is yet to come to terms with his irreparable loss. So are all the in-laws and the employees of Raja Ram, in losing a loving, understanding generous kind hearted employer. Since my father’s demise, a quarter century back, this is a personal tragedy and I shall miss him dearly.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Moksha at the feet of our deity Thatchanthoppu Vinayagar.

A. R. S. Mahalingam

Sunday Times Nov 25 2007

Uncle Nage and memories of a fairy castle

~ Maruthappah Naganathan

Mon Repos -- "My Rest" in French -- was the name of the sprawling, gracious house located at number 11, Bethesda Place. Number eleven, was, for most of their married life, the home of Muruthappah and Malini Naganathan, whom my sister and I knew affectionately, as Uncle Nage and Aunty Marnie.

Just sitting at my computer to write, my mind races back over the decades to a time when two little girls would sit on a stone garden seat under a tree in the shadow of the high brick wall that separated our home, number 13, from Mon Repos. Through the grill in the wall, we were fascinated by what seemed to us, a glamorous, fairy castle in a magic fairy tale land on the other side of the wall.

Uncle Nage was the youngest of nine children. He was an old boy of Trinity College, Kandy, a rugger lion. He pursued his accounting studies in England and was one of the first Ceylonese to qualify as an accountant in Britain. He was a favourite amongst his nieces and nephews, and, as the years went by, his grand nieces and grand nephews, many of whom we met at Mon Repos. Others we knew by name, because they were so often, and so affectionately spoken of. Having no children of their own, Uncle Nage and Aunty Marnie had a large family of "adopted children", consisting of nephews and nieces and their children and close friends' offspring, and -- in the case of my sister and myself -- neighbours' children.

Uncle Nage was a quiet, gentle, unassuming man, who adored his beloved wife: she was his "Tootsie". His eyes would follow her as she emerged in some lovely new ensemble, perfectly coordinated from the jewellery that adorned her ears, neck and arms, to the pretty handbag and matching footwear. Aunty Marnie would fly around the house like a colourful, busy butterfly, and he would half-heartedly chide her for overdoing things. Aunty Marnie would respond by calling him her adorable Teddy Bear and telling him not to fuss.

My best memory of Uncle Nage is of him relaxing behind a newspaper out on the patio, clad in shorts and "bush" shirt. Whenever we approached - my sister and I, the paper would be lowered onto his lap, the day's news momentarily forgotten, as, with a twinkle in his eye and that endearing smile, he admired the latest youthful fashions we sported, and asked us about whatever we were currently involved in.

Any important family function at our home, no matter how quiet or intimate it was, would have to include Uncle Nage and Aunty Marnie. The Naganathans were the only non-relatives at my engagement and homecoming. Uncle Nage was always a gentleman and a gentle man. He was quiet and soft spoken and content to leave the chatter and the sparkle to his beloved Tootsie. They did everything together.

I see, in my mind's eye, Aunty Marnie and Uncle Nage setting off for the pola armed with "mallas" on the weekend - or out to a play or a concert. I remember how radiantly happy they both were at their 25th wedding anniversary celebrations. I remember taking my fiancé over to "Mon Repos" before anyone else had met him and the look of joy on Uncle Nage's face that told me how happy he was to see me happy; and I remember how delighted they both were to hold my twin baby girls in their arms.

Three and a half years ago, on my last visit to Sri Lanka, I attended Uncle Nage's birthday party. The fairy castle of my treasured childhood memories had been sold and Uncle Nage and his Toots now lived in a condo building. The faces were the same - the tastefully decorated table with the scrumptious bounty set out on it was the same, but the darling Uncle Nage of my girlhood was far away. He looked at me and smiled that gentle cherubic Uncle-Nage smile and said, "I haven't seen you in a long time - you live in Canada, don't you?" It was a fleeting moment of recollection and recognition and then it was gone. My heart ached for the remembered days and for Aunty Marnie.

Aunty Marnie's letters over the past few years have been full of how her days were spent in tending to and loving her "adorable teddy bear". She bore her tender burden cheerfully and fulfilled her duty of caregiver with gentle love, compassion and heartfelt joy - the joy of serving a beloved soul-mate. Theirs was a love that was above the mundane and the mediocre and it waxed and burned ever strong in sickness and health, for better for worse until death did them part.

Dear Uncle Nage, you will never know how much knowing you and Aunty Marnie meant to a young girl. You will never know how much those long lazy evenings out on the terrace lifted her out of the dullness of everyday things to laughter and fun. Thank you Aunty Marnie and thank you Uncle Nage - you will always live in a special, quiet, hidden place in my heart.

By Sonali Sinnatamby, Canada

Mother Lanka loses an illustrious daughter

~ Elina Jayewardene

Elina Jayewardene (nee Rupasinghe) passed away on November 17, 2007 - barely a month before her 95th birthday. I never failed to meet and greet them on September 17 and December 15, the dates on which the late President and Mrs. Jayewardene celebrated their birthdays.

Lady Elina Jayewardene

I do not wish to elaborate on the late President Jayewardene and his unmatched academic, professional and political success. To state that, as the saying goes, Mrs. Jayewardene was the unseen strength behind his incredible success is certainly not an over-assessment. However, she shunned public limelight and kept as low a profile as she possibly could - fulfilling her duties as wife and being a loving and devoted mother to her only child, Ravi.

It is with a deep sense of nostalgia that I reflect upon her life through my association with her son, Ravi - a friendsip that began when I was ten years old. Ravi and I received our education at Royal College, Colombo. I travelled with Ravi to school and back in his car. Our friendship, which blossomed throughout the entirety of our academic careers, brought about a close relationship between the two families.

Mrs. Jayewardene carried the mantle of "First Lady" of our nation with distinction, decorum and aplomb. She was a charismatic and modest person who, despite her gentle manners, possessed a strong personality. Mrs. Jayewardene was the founder and driving force of the Seva Vanitha Movement, the beneficiaries of which are numerous. Absolute honesty and hallowed ideals are extremely rare in any person, however much you search. But, Mrs. Jayewardene stuck to her ideals, set high standards and believed in truth and, thereby achieved her goal in serving the needy. Sri Lanka has lost one of her illustrious daughters - a modest, amiable, yet humble lady.

As a human being, Mrs. Jayewardene rated high as a woman of honour, integrity and discipline. Her greatest attribute was the love and respect she had for people, be they rich or poor, adult or child. She impressed me as a person with immense humility. Evidence of her popularity and the deep affection people had for her were clearly and amply visible from the large number who came to both "Braemar", her residence, and the cemetery to pay their respects.

Her light may be extinguished but her sprit will live on in her family members - they are special people who will continue to make her proud. Words could never describe Mrs. Jayewardene adequately, however much I may try. She was a colossus in her time. I will miss her, but never forget her, as she will always have a special place in my heart.

She was, without doubt, one of a kind - a lady in every sense of the word. God bless her!

By Clarence Welikala

A model to all wives of politicians

~ Elina Jayewardene

The demise of this gracious lady who was once our First Lady has left a void that can never be filled. She was the epitome of incomparable dignity and impeccable elegance; an inspiration to all wives of politicians. She was a tower of strength to her husband and he never failed to pay her a tribute. She had quiet strength, never failed to give him good advice, but was content to be in the background, backing him to the hilt, but never flaunting herself in a flamboyant fashion.

Late Mrs. Jayewardene

Born as the only child to extremely wealthy parents, she was educated by governesses and not sent to school. Perhaps this had contributed to her being an extremely private person. Despite her lack of formal schooling, she was well read and could converse on a wide variety of subjects.

I had the privilege of getting to know her when I was very young and so many happy memories of times spent with her are there in the recesses of my mind. I recall being chaperoned to my first dance by the Late President and Mrs. Jayewardene. She was very kind to me. She was there for anyone she was fond of. We shared a love for dogs; to us dogs were pets and not watch dogs. They were to be petted and cuddled and to be part of the family.

I recall an occasion when we attempted to make milk wine together; neither of us had done it before. The efforts were disastrous and her son, Ravi, came into the kitchen and said it smelt like an arrack tavern. Ravi too, has inherited the trait of shunning publicity from his mother and never flaunted or made use of his position as the late President's son.

Later on, after my marriage, there was an attempt spearheaded by an upcountry politician who is no more, to influence President Jayewardene to replace my late husband as an UNP organizer, saying we were Dudley Senanayake loyalists. When my husband went to meet the late President, he told him, "You owe your appointment to Mrs. Jayewardene. She came up to me as I was leaving the house and told me to see that you get the nomination."

A woman of strong principles and values, she had a deeply ingrained sense of justice and hated injustice. She never hesitated to tell her husband what she thought was honest and fair in judgment and was deeply aware of the difference between right and wrong. Again, when attempts were made to try to influence President Jayewardene against Ranasinghe Premadasa, she stood firmly behind the latter and resisted any attempts to dislodge him from becoming the President. This sense of loyalty to those she cared for, to her husband and politically to his party, right through her life was one of her most lovable qualities. She was always fond of the present UNP leader, and being a private person herself, understood him and his natural reserve… She would get very angry when she felt he was unfairly criticized.

Today, the Seva Vanith Movement, is made much of by many. The work still goes on, but with a great deal of publicity. There are few who are aware that this was her brainchild. She was determined to do something for women working in government service and for their children. She worked privately on the late President and he set the wheels in motion.

I was just a Deputy Minister's wife, but she wanted me too, to be on the committee of seven that helped to draft the constitution, choose the motto and the logo. Later on, I was on the working committee too; she headed the committee with dedication, discipline and was always forthright in her decisions. It was a pleasure to work with her and we started crèches, English classes, helped out in hospitals and so on.

The first Ministry of Women's Affairs was started at this time too, and I have no doubt that President Jayewardene did so at her urging. The Peter Weerasekera Home for Children was one of her favorite charities, and I too helped out with raising funds for it at her request - an act for which she never failed to thank me and show me her appreciation in numerous ways.

She is one who is respected by all; from all walks of life and from all sides of the great political divide. Even when her husband was President, one or the other of them would often answer the phone, and always had time to lend an ear when needed. The late President would always come to the door with her to see visitors off. This kind of old world courtesy is lacking now and we are the poorer without these people to whom courtesy and good manners were a way of life.

Elina Jayewardene was one of a kind and there will never be another quite like her. A real lady in every sense of the term. 'A perfect women, nobly planned, to guide, to comfort and command.'

By Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne

Island Mon Nov 19 2007

Madam Elina Jayewardene
by Prematilaka Mapitigama

Gilbert Leonard Rupasinghe, Notary Public, prominent planter and entrepreneur and his young wife Nancy Margaret Suriyabandara, who was expecting her first baby, whilst sight seeing in Italy had visited a picturesque and charming hamlet called Eline. They were so enthralled by its serenity and its scenic beauty they decided then and there to name their baby to be born after this hamlet. On 15th December, 1913 a baby girl was born and she was named Elina. She was the only child in the family.

As was the custom in the Kandyan region in those days to add the name ‘Bandara’ to male children besides their other names, in the low country, too, among elite groups it was customary to assign 'Bandara' even to females. Mrs. Rupasinghe, too, was accordingly known as Nancy Margaret Suriya Bandara before her marriage to Mr. Rupasinghe and their daughter also came to be known as Elina Bandara Rupasinghe.

Elina, the only child in this aristocratic family, did not attend school, but was tutored at home as was the custom of families of the elite of the day. She was tutored in English, Sinhalese and Pali and also in Accountancy, Stenography and Music. By 193, she was an accomplished young lady with all necessary attributes in education, caste, creed and social status.

She was also heiress to enormous family wealth. As the most eligible debutante at the time, she was also the most sought-after by prospective mothers-in-law, who longed to welcome her to their hearth. But Leonard Rupasinghe had laid down certain stipulations in selecting a bridegroom for his daughter. Among the many suitors, the the young up and coming barrister son of Mrs. Agnes Jayewardene, Junius Richard Jayewardene, better known as J. R., was accepted to be her partner in life.

They were married on 28th February, 1935 and settled down at 'Vyjantha' in Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, the 'Mahagedera' of the bridegroom, which now houses the Jayewardene Centre. Their only child, Ravindra Wimal, was born here on 22nd April, 1936. After three years at 'Vyjayantha', they shifted to Ward Place building their own house after demolishing the old house 'Braemar', which belonged to Elina's father. The new house, designed by an architect, was to be their home ever since, and the name 'Braemar' from the old structure remained. J. R. preferred to live in 'Braemar' rather than at his official residences, as Prime Minister and Executive President, which he used only for formal functions and official duties.

Elina never took an active role in her husband's political affairs, but was always the driving force and strength in behind his illustrious career. She was his loving and faithful companion throughout their long married life. It is said that after a tiresome day, studded with many problems of public office, he always loved to come back home, where he found solace, comfort and affection.

President Jayewardene, recalling his married life, admitted that Elina's co-operation and affection have always been the driving force behind his life. Before breathing his last, he summoned his Secretary and stated that after his death, everything at Braemar should be done according to her wishes. It was indeed a fair indication of the depth of his devotion and love he had nurtured throughout his married life for a woman who meant so much to him.

The major portion of the properties of the Jayewardene family was what Elina inherited from her parents, and she encountered no obstacle in disposing of them according to her own wishes. Manelwatta in Bollagala, Kelaniya, a prime coconut estate of over forty acres, was donated by her to the Malwatta Maha Vihare. Dharmaloka Vidyalaya, which caters to a vast student population in the area, is established on a land donated by her father. Numerous blocks of land in Dehiwala, Attidiya and Bellanwila, which belonged to her, have been transferred to those who reside in those lands.

Elina had over one hundred widows on her pay roll, who visit her regularly on an appointed day to receive their donations, which no doubt went a long way to keep their home fires burning. She makes this an occasion to have tea with them and have a chit chat with the old ladies.

Once she received a letter from a schoolgirl in Gampola, who had written to say that she was the daughter of an estate labourer, and had only one school uniform, which was discoloured and worn out, and that her father could not afford her a new dress.

Elina promptly made arrangements to dispatch material for five school uniforms through the then Government Agent, Kandy, . S. M. Tenakoon. Having delivered the material, the Government Agent, enclosing a letter of thanks from the girl, wrote back to say that the girl thoroughly deserved help as correctly perceived by the First Lady.

Elina could move with the elite, both local and foreign, and at the same time mix with the poor.

Notwithstanding her position as the First Lady of the country, she had neither critic nor competitor. Her generosity, decorum and true appreciation of humanity endeared her to the young and the old, the rich and the poor alike.

We salute her as a worthy daughter of Mother Lanka.

Memories of a gentleman who wasn't an officer

I first met my father-in-law to be outside the rear entrance to Katunayake SLAF base in 1981. I was among a group of Grade Eight students including his eldest son, Rohan returning from Minuwangoda when we accidentally ran to him. We were on our way back home after selling some raffle tickets in aid of Maris Stella College, where we studied, when we met him. He promptly invited us inside the base, took us to a Non-Commissioned Officers mess and treated us with soft drinks. None of us had been to a security forces base although Rohan used to talk about a lot about the life inside an SLAF base, particularly the Astra cinema where the latest English movies were shown.

We called him uncle as we never thought of asking his name. In fact, I got to know his name years later. Eliyadurage Camillus Soysa who held the rank of Sergeant at the time of his retirement in 1982 after serving the SLAF for 23 years, was 'Camy' or 'Soos' to his friends and 'Camy aiya' to some of his relatives. To his grandchildren, he was 'ape seeya'; a good and an honest man who never hesitated to say what he felt were right.

Had he lived, he would have been 70 on November 18th. Incidentally, his third month remembrance fell on his birthday. Diagnosed with cancer early this year, he waged a short battle before succumbing to the cruel disease. For him, there was no hope of ever recovering from the deadly disease.

After retiring from the service where he was attached to the Military Police, he worked for a private security firm before joining a construction firm which took him to several parts of the country. Once I travelled with him to Vavuniya on a hired Canter taking a consignment of timber to SLAF base at Vavuniya. This was in the early 90s, a few years after I was married to his youngest daughter, Dila. We shared a bottle of old arrack and a plate of kotthu on our way to Vavuniya via Anuradhapura. We were like friends. I never felt he was my father-in-law. We shared a bottle of arrack with a plate of pork which was his favourite dish. He loved pork with scrapped coconut and white rice and was never hesitant to eat and drink freely despite constant warnings by the family and doctors he used to consult from time to time.

We thoroughly enjoyed his amusing stories about life at Maris Stella College where he excelled at athletics, with 400 meters as his pet event. There were many stories and the one I really liked was his coming home from China Bay after the birth of one of his children. He used say, "As I walked across the airbase, I met this Tamil officer who was about to take off in a MiG fighter. He wanted to know where I was going and directed me to hop in as he was about to take off. I landed in Katunayake and walked away after profusely thanking him."

Another story was the one in which he called the then Minister Denzil Peiris, 'Yakko' as the politician was entering the airbase at Katunayake. As a Military Police officer assigned to the main guardroom, he had seen the politician, who had been with him at Maris Stella College, entering the base and had inadvertently addressed him thus "where the hell are you going, you devil."

Although the officers at the scene had been flabbergasted, Peiris had walked to him and shared a light moment with him. I could go on and on about his life in the air force.

I vividly remember him joking about how he picked up a bouquet of flowers from a florist while on his way to his wedding to Eva in February 1965.

A few years ago, we visited Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee where we had the opportunity to visit the Trincomalee navy base and China Bay. He was thrilled to visit China Bay where he served years ago. As we shared a bottle of arrack and plates of wav maalu, my father-in-law said that it would be his last visit to the North-East. He strongly believed that he would live until my son, Devinda who is his eldest grandchild was old enough to marry. It was not to be, but he really enjoyed Devinda taking a keen interest in athletics. Until illness forced him onto bed, he used to ride his precious motor cycle to Maris Stella College grounds to see Devinda in action. This reminds me of his decision not to acquire a licence. For over three decades he rode a motor cycle without a licence. Although police had stopped him on numerous occasions, he wasn't charged even once.

He used to bring chocolates, apples and little toys for his grandchildren and a bottle of arrack the day he received his monthly pension. He wasn't a rich man but an honest and respected man. Perhaps, he was one of the few men who didn't manipulate accounts to buy himself a car despite involved in construction, which I believe is one of the most corrupt professions today. He looked after his children with his salary and subsequently his pension. Although he practically didn't save any money, he didn't leave the world indebted to anyone. And that, I believe, was perhaps one of the most important traits of a man who led a transparent life. He wasn't selfish. A case in point was his decision to hand over a part of a small plot of land to one of his sisters who lost her husband at an early stage.

I remember the Chief Incumbent of the Walanagoda temple telling me years ago of a move by the Catholic Church to build a Church at Walanagoda, a predominately Buddhist village was fraught with the possibility of triggering violence. The monk said that Soysa mahattaya was a goodman. He wouldn't want to cause trouble and please ask him to come and meet me. He earned the wrath of some people as they felt his heart wasn't with what they thought was a Catholic cause.

He was a man with liberal views. Even when he got to know my affair with his daughter he never raised the issue with me. There were so many things at his Walanagoda home which reminds us of him. Some of his shirts and pairs of shorts he would never wear again. His funeral was more than a funeral. It was bidding farewell to years of dreams, memories and love. But it wasn't a final goodbye to a dear old man who was never a burden to his loved ones. But it was more in the nature of a send off to a spirit that will dwell in our midst forever.

Having a drink at his home would never be the same again!


The Sunday Leader Nov 18 2007

Major D  Chapman

"One of a kind," Major D.V. Chapman to us Benedictines was. Douglas to his friends "Chappie" to us students was a perfect gentleman, teacher, cadet master and confidant. Students of St. Benedict's College from the mid 50's to the mid 70's had the privilege of coming under the influence of Major Douglas Chapman. No student, teacher or Rev. Brother who attended college during this period would forget him. His name would be one of the first an old boy would mention when reminiscing about their time in school.

Maj. Douglas Chapman lived by what he taught us. He spoke after careful thought yet with authority and his conduct both in and outside school was exemplary. We often thought that "respect cannot be demanded but earned" was coined for him. Maj Douglas Chapman was our English Language teacher in the '60s. His command of the language, turn of phrase and approach to teaching has been to our advantage. Those who came under him during the time St. Benedicts College was into cadeting speak glowingly of his leadership abilities.

"Chappie" was a stern disciplinarian, did not tolerate tardiness nor sloth. He stood upright and walked ramrod straight and was always neat and tidy in his tussore pants and cotton shirts. His military bearing was such a delight to observe. He was punctual to a fault and some of us did set our wristwatches by following his schedule.

Unfortunately for St. Benedict's College, Major Douglas Chapman left our shores, following his children, to Australia. He never forgot to visit St. Benedict's on the few occasions that brought him back to the island. We often hear from the OBU branch in Australia that it was Major D.V. Chapman who was marketed by them to ensure a large gathering for functions organised by them.

Adieu Sir, thank you for the values you inculcated in us. May the turf lie softly and eternal peace be upon you. We will remember you always.


Chandra Bowatte Ratnayaka 

The silent grief that threatens to spill over refuses to convert my thoughts into penned words for writing an appreciation for this lady, it is a heartbreaking duty. Yet I feel I must write, mostly to console myself and also in celebration of a life well spent.

In life's brief journey, we meet so many people but only a few leave strong impressions and help mould our own lives and to become better people. While some are celebrated for their individual achievements, some shine through their silent yet sterling deeds. Aunty Chandra fell into the second category.

There are so many things I could write about this gentle, loving lady, but I remember her best as an embodiment of motherhood-gentle, caring, loving and always there. It is in the absence of such people that we understand what an integral part they have played in our lives and put so many little things into proper place to make life better for us.

I have never heard a harsh word escape from that forever smiling lips, no shrill tone of voice or a face that would bear anger. Equanimity sat so well on her and etched her beautiful face with an eternal smile. It is this loving smile that we would now have to miss.

Happy to work from behind the curtains, she did much sans the customary pomp and pageantry associated and remained the strength behind her three children. Never the noisy one, she lived gently as did her late husband Kolitha. I do know as a fact, her interest to continue life's trying journey ebbed away with the sudden passing away of her husband. Together they made an exceptional pair, committed to serving others silently and living according to the word of the Buddha.

As I write this appreciation, her smiling face flashes before my mind's eye, how she would stand at the door with the widest possible smile in welcome and how she would cluck about like a mother hen around her adorable two grandsons, Krishen and Kavisha.

As years advanced, she was totally consumed by her interest in religion. She would often tell me that she had queued up at life's departure lounge, ever since her husband's death and was simply waiting for her name to be called. What we did not know was that her call would come sooner than later.

Her children, grandchildren and her religious work kept her busy as well as happy and she was full of joy following a recent acquisition of a meditation chamber which she shared with a friend.

Aunty Chandra's meritorious acts like those of her husband were unsung, unpublished and done without any media blitz in true testimony of their Buddhistic living. Her passing away, I feel was typical of the lady. She left such gentle footprints on life's way and like a whiff of wind simply passed into the world beyond.

Living in an era in which people callously tread on other people's feelings and are driven by selfish motives, hers is a life worth celebrating. She never hurt anyone knowingly and did her best to live according to her faith. It is also sad that her ilk - that unique gentle breed is being rapidly replaced by a less generous and materialistic one. She and her late husband represented a vanishing breed of people - a breed that this society needs to have in order to learn from their shining example.

Aunty Chandra was not just a lady - she was once, twice, three times a lady and was the embodiment of motherly love and concern and would be remembered for that. For those who have known and loved her, her loss would create a huge void. And that loss certainly cannot be confined to her immediate family or friends for she touched so many lives in her own quiet way and left an indelible impression on others who came to know her.

As the old Chinese saying goes, a little bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives the roses. Blessed was I to have known her and to have had her life's fragrance touch my life which shall remain with me forever.

May she attain Nibbana!
Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Nation Sunday Nov 18 2007

Quentin Israel: a true ‘Trinity Spirit’

I was deeply grieved to hear of the demise of Quentin Israel, ex-member of staff at Trinity College Kandy, my alma mater. He was a wonderful humanist and an invaluable asset to the College. Quentin coached rugby at Trinity for many years. Those were great years when the team enjoyed many successes and toured abroad. He was a charismatic man of many parts, with an outstanding personality.

On a personal note, he was my mentor, not in rugby but in my involvements with the Trinity College Literary Association (TCLA). He was extremely helpful during my short stint as Assistant House Master at Lower Ryde House in 2001/2002. He was the kind of man who was ready to sit down and discuss any problem, with a fine capability of reaching equitable solutions. As a researcher on international mediation and conflict research, I can appreciate Quentin’s qualities as a listener and a man who cared about people.

An outstanding scholar, Quentin was a real Athenian in both physical strength and his outstanding level of scholarship in many areas. He spent hours in the College library reading and re-reading Western Classics, literature and international affairs. A meal with Quentin was like reading an informative and interesting book, and I always looked forward to discussing various topics with him. He was also a man with a true ‘Trinity Spirit,’ seen only in a handful of my TCK colleagues.

A familiar scene unfolds before my eyes while writing this, from age-old memories at Trinity: when I was about 12, I used to walk up to school on the road that leads to the Chapel, and every morning, Quentin would walk up from Alison House to the Chapel, totally empty at that fresh and misty hour of the morning. He would go right up to the altar, bend before God portrayed on Paynter’s paintings, and say a quiet prayer. Quentin was an extraordinarily kind-hearted man, and an exemplary Christian.

Quentin was a man of high calibre, who always carried himself well. I am reminded of the rivalries and criticisms raised against him during his stay at TCK. Quentin always faced such situations with remarkable sang-froid; he made such attacks a fine opportunity to showcase his genuineness. Quentin’s views on such issues, expressed over meals in the College Dining Hall still echo in my mind.

Lanka has lost one of her illustrious sons, and Trinity has lost a man who deeply loved Trinity and devoted the best part of his life to her. I have lost my mentor and senior colleague, and the man whom I appreciated the most out of all TCK staff members I have ever known during the 15 years spent there as a student and a teacher.

I extend my sincere condolence to the Israel household at this moment of grief.

Chaminda K. Weerawardhana
University of Paris

Sunday Times Nov 18 2007

She served the nation in her own quiet way

Tribute to Elina Jayewardene

Elina Bandara Rupasinghe was born, as the one and only child of the well known planter, entrepreneur and Notary Public, Gilbert Leonard Rupasinghe and Nancy Margret Suriyabandara. The couple while expecting the first baby had visited Italy where they had come across a picturesque and charming location known as Eline and the couple, impressed with its serenity, had decided then and there that their baby would be named after this location. A baby girl was born on December 15, 1913 and she was named Elina.

Lady Jayewardene

It was the custom in the Kandyan region to add Bandara when naming males, yet in the low country too, among the elite groups, it was customary to add Bandara even to female names. Elina’s mother was accordingly known as Nancy Margret Suriya Bandara and the daughter Elina Bandara. Born to an aristocratic family of the day, inheriting enormous wealth and properties, she never left home to attend a school, but was educated in the higher echelons of the society. Her tuition included English, Sinhalese and Pali. It is also known that in addition to the three languages, she studied Accountancy, Stenography and Music.

By 1930 Elina had blossomed into a beautiful young lady. Second to none in beauty and all other aspects of caste, creed, social status and wealth etc., she was sought after by the parents in the highest echelons of society, who wanted to bring Elina to their household, of course along with her fortune. And with sheer determination and enthusiasm, Agnes Jayewardene succeeded in her efforts to become the mother-in-law of Elina.

It is said that Leonard Rupasinghe, Elina’s father, in his last will had stipulated certain criteria for the purpose of selecting a bride groom, and young Attorney, Junius Richard, eldest son of Agnes Jayewardene was found to be the most suitable bachelor, and he married Elina on February 28, 1935.

After marriage, the couple settled down in ‘Vyjayanthi’ in Dharmapala Mawatha, where now stands the Jayewardene Centre. Their one and only child, Ravindra Wimal Jayewardene was born there on April 22 1936. After three years of marriage, they shifted to Ward Place, where they built a new house in the old site of ‘Breama’. The property belonged to Elina’s father. The name ‘Breama’ stayed on.

The young lawyer, never left the shelter of ‘Breama’ throughout his journey to the highest post in the land, to his death,. Madam Jayewardene in her last will has willed to donate this property to the Jayewardene Centre, to be used for public purpose.

She was proud of her husband and the saying goes that she was the unseen strength behind his unmatched success. She never got involved in his political or public life, but always lovingly and faithfully managed the homefront where a tired husband could find love, peace, comfort and solace.

President Jayewardene once looking back on his married life had admitted that Elina’s guidance, cooperation and assistance had always been a driving force in his life. President Jayewardene before breathing his last summoned his Secretary and declared that everything after his death should be done according to the wishes of his wife.

A major part of the properties of the Jayewardene family was inherited from her parents and she disposed of them according to her own wishes. Manelwatte in Bollegala, Kelaniya, a prime coconut estate over 40 acres was donated to the Malwatta Maha Vihara while the Dharmashoka Vidyalaya catering to a vast student population in the area was established in a property donated by the Rupasinghe family.

Apart from these, Madam Elina had over one hundred widows on her monthly pay roll. They visited her regularly to receive the monthly donation. Lady Jayewardene always made it an occasion to treat them with sweetmeats and tea.

Once, Lady Jayewardene received a letter from a schoolgirl from the Gampola area. She was the daughter of a poor casual labourer of a nearby estate. The girl had said that she had only one school uniform which was discoloured and worn out. She said that her father had no means to get her another. Lady Jayewardene made arrangements to dispatch material for five uniforms through the government agent of Kandy, S.M. Tennekoon. Having delivered the parcel, he wrote back, enclosing a hand written note of acknowledgement from the student concerned, that hers was a very deserving case as very correctly perceived by Mrs. Jayewardene, the first lady of the country.

Madam Elina Jayewardene was a modest and humble lady, decorous in manner and conduct. She was undoubtedly a true and worthy daughter of Mother Sri Lanka.

Prematilaka Mapitigama, Secretary General of the J.R.Jayewardene Centre

Eminent physician dies

Eminent physician, Prof. R. S. Thanabalasundrum who had been practising for over 60 years died peacefully on Thursday morning, at his Horton Place residence. He was practicing almost until the end.

An illustrious Alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon; Prof. Thanabalasundrum graduated with a First Class obtaining Distinctions in all subjects, viz., Medicine, Surgery and Gynaecology & Obstetrics. He proceeded to England for his Postgraduate Studies and was conferred a Fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians and a MD. He was the youngest consultant physician in Sri Lanka in the mid 1940s and served in the General Hospitals of Jaffna and Colombo. In 1985, he was appointed Professor of Medicine, North Colombo Medical College and held this Chair up to 1995.

In 1998, the National Honour of Deshabandu was conferred on Prof. Thanabalasundrum by the President in recognition of his meritorious service to the Nation. His wife pre-deceased him. He leaves his three children: Suchetha, Sumangala and Sudharman.

Legendary icon of industrial research and the CISIR of yore

Freddie Laurentius

They laid to rest the mortal remains of a much loved scientific personality just weeks ago. He had celebrated his 90th birthday in August with his daughter Darshani and family, and his few remaining friends. He was an icon of the then CISIR, and one of the original pre-independence-day scientists in Industrial Research. The irrepressible Minister Philip Gunawardene had labelled him and those of his era the “Balfour Boys”. It was because the original Industrial Research laboratory (IRL) was founded by the colonial civil servant D.H.Balfour and the IRL was the nucleus of the post-independence organization, the CISIR.

CISIR, founded in 1955 by the government of independent Sri Lanka on the advice of the World Bank expert Dr Francis Godwin, who became its first Director, had grown to be an apical Research Institute by the 1970’s. When Dr. A. Sundralingam became the institute’s first national Director, Mr. Laurentius succeeded to the critical position of its Chief Research Officer (CRO). He remained as CRO for more than a decade and a half before he finally was made Director of the Institute in 1975.

Fittingly he was at the helm of the CISIR when the Institute formally celebrated its 21st anniversary. He had guided its destiny, and its research, under a variety of Directors with varying attitudes, policies and of course the range of idiosyncrasies that go with people. When in the 1960’s new policies by Phillip Gunawadene as Minister in charge and Dr. Lakshman G. Ponnamperuma as Director, brought in new staff and a number of young researchers, Laurentius was their guide, philosopher and friend. He was a good manager, and affectionately referred to even by the younger non-scientific staff as “pappa”.

Laurentius was by his training a chemical engineer, and in addition, possessed a post-graduate diploma in management. He was, unfortunately, several times overlooked for the post of Director, and although this deeply disappointed him, he took his bad luck with the philosophy that befits a man whose dedication to his institute was exemplary. His main research interest in the latter years was, in the technology for the processing of coconut milk, and he worked in this area with singular interest. Otherwise too, he was genuinely interested in the work of all his research colleagues and that ranged from industrial microbiology, through chemical technology and natural products, to rubber technology, tea, electronics, and electrochemistry.

One could see him come in early in the morning, immaculately clad in starched white trousers, tie and long sleeved shirt, sporting his characteristic cigarette at the end of a long cigarette holder, and thermos flask in hand. He had a brisk walk, and a cheery manner, and greeted everyone as he ventured along the laboratories and pilot-plant sections. After his “rounds” of the institute, he would settle in his office at the front of the building, with his “hot cuppa tea”, poured from his thermos, and ready for any industrial clients who may have had appointments for the day.

Laurentius was a man with a wide range of interests, such as reading, music and the arts in addition to his industrial research. We enjoyed conversations with him and even had heated arguments on a variety of issues. One salient feature was that he would graciously acknowledge his own faults and shortcomings.

Following his retirement from the post of Director in 1977, he lived a quiet life enjoying the company of his family and friends. He continued his interest in the CISIR and was one who along with the writer never understood the authorities’ insistence on changing the illustrious name of the CISIR.

2005 saw the fiftieth anniversary of the CISIR, and the newest state-of-the-art laboratory of the institute, now the Industrial Technology Institute or ITI., was housed in a building which was named, the “S.F. Laurentius Building”. Mr. Laurentius and his wife Florie, were present on the occasion, and hugely enjoyed the day. He greatly appreciated the gesture of the present management, and particularly that of Ministers Tissa Vitarana, and, Sarath Amunugama, who stepped aside themselves, and invited Mr Laurentius to open the building and Laboratory by officially cutting the ceremonial ribbon. It was so nice that he felt that his services were singularly appreciated.

Mr. Laurentius was one who made a great contribution to industrial research not merely with his own work, but also by the benevolent managerial skills he used in facilitating the work of the rest. He was quick to encourage and even demanded explanation for any trespasses by others with a stubborn ferocity. Yet he was swift in apologizing for any errors of judgment that he himself had made. He was a rare soul and his just reward was not in riches but in the endearment of those who worked with him

He is one who worked for his fellow-beings and has earned a heavenly repose.

By R.O.B. Wijesekera

Memories of a short, sweet life will always linger

David Ponnaiah

It is nine years since the passing away of my dearest school mate David Ponnaiah. David was genial, kind, tall and handsome, a fellow with a true Thomian Spirit about him. It is amazing how it seems like yesterday since we last met after A/Ls. He always believed that if you avoid saying or doing anything rash, behave responsibly and with caution, people will love you and you will be much sort-after.

This was the mantra of his short, sweet life. Yes indeed at 20 he was a much sought after young man, full of energy and life, without whose presence our group found a void. He was fun loving, always joking, laughing, and teasing but always caring. David ‘walked the talk’. He behaved very responsibly, was never rash, always cautious, and most of all believed in making peace among all groups. He made everyone laugh and forget the grim realities of life. He was a true inspiration for me.

David had a great passion for teaching and taught younger students in his spare time at school and at home. He was fond of animals and cared for them too. Most of all he cared about his close friends. His peace-making venture among two rival groups made him pay the price with his life. Memories of him as a school chum and friend will always remain.

By Adheeb Thaheer

Numbers were his forte

Luke Mohan Wisidagama

George Bernard Show once said "You may be younger in years, but older in hours if you have lost no time". The sudden demise of Mohan on August 13 was a grave loss for St. Peter's College, Bambalapitiya, where he had been a reputed Maths master for over 25 years. He was a simple person with an avalanche of knowledge in Maths. He helped many a Peterite achieve high marks in Maths with his exam-oriented teaching skills. He was only 53 years old at the time of his death.

Mohan was the only son of late Mr. Wisidigama, a reputed veterinary surgeon attached to the government service who had also held many consultancy posts overseas. With his debating skills, he used to shine at any gathering when subjects such as education, politics or current affairs were discussed.

Mohan was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo and he leaves his only sister who is a Consultant Anaesthetist at the National Hospital.

May his soul Rest In Peace!

By S.G.A.

LakbimaNews Sunday No 18 2007

Veetus Germain Fernando

It was on October 2, that I received the shocking news about the death of my brother Veetus Germain Fernando, fondly known as V.G. He was both my beloved brother and friend. V.G was the second in our family of ten and he opted to live in our ancestral house after the demise of our parents so that he could look after my unmarried sisters.

V.G was educated at St.Benedict’s College, Kotahena and at Holy Cross College, Kalutara. After leaving school, he joined the then much coveted government service in 1955. He worked in the ministry of Defence and External Affairs and finally at the Presidential Secretariat and retired in the early nineties. His life after retirement was not rosy. He underwent a difficult operation for lung cancer, and survived. He received a major blow when his wife passed away.
The passing away of his wife was made more difficult for him as his two children were still in University. However, his unquestioning faith coupled with unflinching devotion to God, never failed and the two children passed out and they are both doing very well in the State service.

Thereafter, he lived happily and just about a year or so ago he became ill. This time he was suffering from a stomach ailment. Yet, he had immense faith in God and was deeply religious. He hid his grief and was resolute. Along with the rigours of adjusting to normalcy his attempt proved futile in his fight against the ailment. He tried to find solace by reading religious books, magazines and papers. He would be seated in his easy chair with reading material strewn all over. He had a rich sense of humour and related stories about his past experiences from the state service. During the vast span of nearly four decades in the government service, there were nearly a dozen or so chairs on our front porch and as often as not they were filled with friends, visitors or relatives listening to him.

He leaves behind his grieving children Shani, Dylan and daughter-in-law Muditha. We very dearly miss him, which is a void that cannot be filled. As for me, the love and affection and the sweet memories will linger on. I do hope my brief appreciation would help in small measure to bear his loss with fortitude. May the good Lord grant him eternal peace!

Vivian Fernando

Wesley Muthiah

The passing of Wesley S. Muthiah soon after his comrade and colleague Sydney Wanasinghe, takes away from their circle of friends, two men who gave so much without expecting anything in return. Wesley passed away in July, in London a few months after Sydney departed.
Having joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party as a young labour officer, Wesley migrated to London and took up teaching. He remained one of the loyal and staunch supports of the Left movement in this country. As remnants of the once powerful LSSP and the CP regrouped within the Lankan Diaspora worldwide, Wesley remained one of the key persons that helped to consolidate and develop the solidarity of the Left that rose above the ethnic divide. Though a Tamil from Jaffna by birth, he remained to the last an all Lankan internationalist.

In celebrating the life of Wesley, we naturally remember Sydney Wanasinghe. This genuine comradeship of two teachers gave us one of the few lengthy and sustained combined efforts in recent times that have left a lasting impact. One hardly thinks of them as Sinhalese or Tamil. They rose above the ethnic divide. They were Samasamajists to the core and remained Samasamajists, rising above narrow party loyalties. The sectarianism, frictions and fragmentations that wrecked the Left movement didn’t seem to touch them. Their commitment was evident in their relentless hard work, using their own resources. They never pursued after power, position or wealth. They have left behind enough material to enrich our recollections and to derive inspiration from the historic events of the past. The young Socialist Publications constitute a legacy left behind for posterity out of which hopefully a new, just and peaceful Lanka will emerge. For these services to the Left movement many of us remain eternally grateful. A meeting organised by the Social Scientists Association (SSA) to celebrate the life, work and dedication of Wesley Muthiah was held at the N.M. Perera Centre recently. This meeting was chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana and speakers included D.E.W Gunasekera, Dr.Carlo Fonseka, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Selvy Thiruchandran, Sirithunga Jayasuriya and myself.

Silan Kadirgamar

Nation Sunday Nov 11 2007

Vijitha Weerasinghe: A truly remarkable human being

I cannot think of a greater vocation than that of a dedicated and committed teacher. Vijitha Weerasinghe was one of those of that noble profession, whilst giving it a new dimension. There was almost every thing a good teacher has to have in Mr. Weerasinghe of Royal College, who departed us recently.

I made his acquaintance as the Sectional Head of Royal College, when I was in Grade 10 in 1971 and since then, I had the good fortune of being in touch with this great man. In fact, I am still wondering whether he was a man or more than that. I have heard some teachers in College saying that “Viji”, as he was affectionately known, is a God living amongst us. Knowing you very well Sir.... one cannot contest that saying. You were a gem of a man, a glittering personality, who always accepted things as they came by. Your noble, gentle, kind and compassionate ways worked with 99% of the students, leaving only 1% for somebody else to deal with.

Your commanding personality, intellect, ability, brilliance and understanding were a rare combination. You always stood for others and I personally know, how you saved some of the students who were in deep trouble in their personal lives.

In the week my son was born, I met Mr. Weerasinghe and told him, “Sir, I have a son now and wish to make him a Royalist.” I further told him that I don’t like to hoodwink the school I studied in, by submitting fabricated documents nor have the capacity to buy a Colombo 7 house. Having said that, he wouldn’t give me the opportunity, at the expense of another Royalist’s chance. He made a note of my professional background. Next week, he calls me to say that there is an Automobile Club in College and asked me to help them. With my employer’s permission, I spent one and half hours every week with the members of the Automobile Club of Royal College, instructing them on the subject. This helped me immensely, to admit my son to Royal College, through the old boy’s category. Of course, I am just one out of thousands of Royalists who have received such assistance from Mr. Weerasinghe.

This wonderful personality had time for everyone. To me, he remained the same delightful person, at times hilarious but, never malicious. That is why he became a legend at Royal College.

Sir, have a nice and pleasant journey; we pay our tribute to a truly remarkable human being.

K.R. Pushparanjan

Final farewell to one of Royal’s most illustrious sons

The sounds of the Last Post struck by a bugler of the Royal College Cadet Band heralded the final farewell to one of Royal’s most illustrious sons –Vijitha Weerasinghe, affectionately referred to as Viji.

The casket containing his mortal remains began to slide on the rollers and into the crematorium chamber, after which the doors automatically closed. All the old boy mourners present, joined by the Principal of Royal College, Upali Gunasekera, members of the staff, the present young Royalists and even their parents, broke into the Royal College Anthem in harmony, with music from the cadet band.

They lustily sang the refrain and with the sounds of “learnt of books and learnt of men and learnt to play the game” resonating through the air, the words epitomised the very values that our late guru imbibed in us – his charges.

A few minutes previously, when the cortege with his remains entered through the gates of the General Cemetery at Kanatte from the Elvitigala Mawatha entrance that day (November 3), a thin drizzle broke out like a blessing, depicting the proverbial mal warusawa (rain of flowers).

Later, the first whiffs of smoke emanating from the chimney of the crematorium indicated that the fire was engulfing the casket within the chamber. As if by some hidden signal, the skies opened out at this very moment, shedding a giant heavenly tear for this genial and greatest of Royalists who had spent three score and 13 years in the service of his alma mater.

“They don’t make giants of this calibre any better!” So it was with Viji, who was a colossus and legend of our times. Personally, it was my privilege to have first come under his tutelage in 1959, a year after I entered Royal College. The greater joy was when, many years later, my two sons also passed through his hands at Royal when he was Deputy Principal.

September 17 was a very special and significant day. It was Viji’s birthday and it was on this day that he became an octogenarian. Coincidentally, it was also our present Principal, Upali Gunasekera’s birthday.

The Royal College Union (RCU) had laid out a simple, yet wonderful party in celebration for the dual ‘birthday boys,’ with Gunasekera turning 46. As I entered the RCU premises, I peeped into Viji’s room. He greeted me with his perpetual smile and said, “Hello Branu,” to which I replied, “Sir! I came here not only to wish you but also to kiss you on this birthday,” which turned out to be his last.

Having lived a full life of eight decades, he did not have any regrets. To grow old does not take talent or ability, rather the idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. This he demonstrated amply by his very actions. He was a storehouse of knowledge and it was my good fortune that we were able to carry a column by him, entitled ‘Down Memory Lane,’ in issues of the RCU newsletter when I was Editor of the Royal Times. Thus, I was able to chronicle for posterity, his days as a student both at Royal Primary and College, a teacher, the Deputy Principal and thereafter, in successive issues of the bulletin.

Viji displayed tremendous courage to the very end. He was the eternal fighter, not wanting to give up even in the last stages. During the final days at the ICU of Asiri Surgical, he survived a cardiac arrest, a heart attack, kidney failure, and a punctured lung, besides other complications! These were as a result of a fall on that fateful Sunday morning of October 28.

As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end,” and so it was that after such a gallant fight, the warrior breathed his last on October 31, around 1:15 pm. He died the same way he lived – at peace with the world and his fellow beings.

In one of the many chats I had with Viji at the RCU office, I recall these words which still keep echoing in my ear. He once told me, “Branu, remember that the elderly usually don’t have regrets for what they did, but rather for things they did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets. So make sure that you have no regrets later on in life.” Golden words indeed, which I shall carry to my grave.

To have known Viji has certainly enriched my life. His demise is an irreparable loss to Royal College and the old boy fraternity. His wife Gladys has lost a wonderful and loving husband, his children a caring and dedicated father, their spouses a dear father-in-law and his grandchildren a doting ‘seeya.’ Farewell, Sir! May your journey through Sansara be short and devoid of obstacles and in the fullness of time, may you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

– Branu Rahim

Sir A.W.M. Ameer – a humane person, unassuming and friendly

Six years have passed since Al-Haj Deshabandu, Sir Abdul W.M. Ameer left us, but his presence is still felt strongly when we are engaged in our day to day activities. He is still remembered very much among his friends and well-wishers in Sri Lanka and abroad due to his outstanding simplicity and friendliness. He was fondly called “Abdul” by his friends in Europe and the U.S.A.

Being a close friend of the late Dr. T.P. Amarasinghe, barrister and educationist of our country, Sir Ameer, along with him, was instrumental in promoting Sri Lankan culture in the U.S.A. in the early ‘50s both of them, together with some others founded the English Speaking Union in Sri Lanka to promote the English language among Sri Lankans.

He had travelled widely on business as well as to attend many international meetings and conferences. He was the founder of the International Islamic Institute in 1966 and rendered yeoman service to humankind. Whenever dignitaries and professionals came from other countries, Sir Ameer, unfailingly, welcomed and hosted them in his own hotel (Hotel Ranmuthu) and introduced them to various communities, including politicians. As he was the most senior Consul General representing the Dominican Republic in Sri Lanka for nearly 43 years, he maintained good relations with diplomats and consuls in our country and abroad and this made him very popular among the diplomatic community. He was responsible for getting certain privileges for the honourary consuls during his tenure as Dean of the Honourary Consular Corp.

Sir Ameer founded the Sri Lanka-Latin America-Caribbean Friendship Society (SLLACFS). He was the President of the All Ceylon Moors’ Association, Vice-President of the Moor Islamic Cultural Home and the President of the Colombo Central Rotary Club. He was also a founding member of the Indonesian Hajaji Memorial Society. Through all these societies and associations he served his fellow-countrymen.

The Muslim community, especially from the North, cannot afford to forget Sir Ameer’s services rendered to them by founding the Refugee Relief Organization (RRO) when they were forced to leave their homes. He was a regular visitor to the refugee camps not only in the North Western province but also in the border villages of the East, to keep them away from the pinch of hunger. On these visits he took us along as well.

Hotel Omar Khayyam and Hotel Ranmuthu, of which he was the owner, became venues for many activities such as meetings and functions of all communities. He was very helpful to the associations of media men. He was instrumental in the formation of the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum which now counts members from all over the island.

Sir Ameer took a keen interest in national issues when the country was embroiled in ethnic violence. His sole vision was to create peace and harmony among all the communities in his country. He started a number of Quranic (Madrasa) schools in and out of Colombo.

As his successor and Honorary Consul, I have had the opportunity of meeting high officials in the Dominican Republic, who still treasure memories of the late Sir Ameer. I had the rare opportunity, way back in 1989, to be present at the function together with Madam Nayeema Ameer, at which Joaquin Balaguer, the then Dominican President conferred on Sir Ameer the Knighthood, the highest award of the Heraldic Order of Christopher Columbus, granted to those who have distinguished themselves for outstanding services to humanity and for meritorious services to the unity and development of the people of the Americas.

The late Sir Ameer was amiable and unassuming and always dedicated to his area of work and he was much benevolent towards all those who sought his assistance.

Being his son-in-law, I feel fortunate to be associated with him for nearly 15 years during which I learnt much from him which is still helping me in my work.
May the Almighty Allah grant him Paradise (Jannathul Firdhous)!
Habeebulla Bafalul
Honourary Consul for Dominican Republic

Sunday Times Nov 11 2007

She lived, loved music

By Marisa de Silva and Tahnee Hopman

Having held out till her jubilant choir ‘Voices in Harmony’ (VIH) returned on Wednesday, from the first ever Asian Choir Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia last week, bearing two Diploma Golds in the Mixed Choir and Folklore categories, Ruwani Seimon breathed her last knowing that she had fulfilled one of her many dreams for her beloved protégés. Teacher, mentor, mother and friend, Ruwani who committed most of her life to nurturing young talent and contributed much to the local music scene, died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer, leaving behind not just countless memories but more so a legacy of courage, dedication and perfection.

Born into a well-known medical family in Kandy (her father is renowned eye surgeon Dr. Reggie Seimon), Ruwani studied at Girls’ High School, Kandy and broke away from family tradition to pursue a career in music. Having returned to Sri Lanka after completing a B.Sc degree in Math and a Summa Cum Laude degree in Music from McMaster University, Canada, she put her entire being into her career as a choral director.

In 1996 she formed her own choir ‘Voices in Harmony’ which grew dramatically over the past decade to about 90 singers today.

In a career spanning 12 years, she trained the school choirs of St. Bridget’s Convent (SBC), Bishop’s College, Wycherley International School and Ladies’ College. She put together many a sell-out concert, the last of which ‘Spellbound’ presented by the Bridgeteen Choir went on the Lionel Wendt stage, just last month.

Music was always her passion. Whilst a student in Canada she had taken part in many University Broadway productions and formed the singing group ‘Tropical Breeze’ which sang all genres of music from classical to Baila. She was also a member of the City’s Opera Group in Canada.

Receiving the Zonta Award for ‘Performing and Creative Arts’ last year, she said “the award commemorated a life of service, as opposed to academic achievements”. Through her various shows, she had raised Rs. 1.8 million all of which had been channelled to service organizations such as the Soroptimists, Zonta, Sumithrayo and the Muslim Ladies Study Circle for their charity work. The mother of two young sons Danushka and Shevanga, Ruwani was courage personified in her gruelling two-year battle with cancer, to which she finally succumbed on Wednesday.

Colombo’s lively English theatre scene saw its fair share of Ruwani Seimon and this is how veteran director cum thespian Jerome L. De Silva remembers his first encounter with her. “Actually the first time I saw Ruwani was not as a singer but, rather, an actress. She was playing the role of Katherine in the play ‘When Shakespeare’s Women Meet’ in an Inter-School Interact Drama Competition which I was judging. The play was brilliant and it was brilliantly done by them, so much so, that they were placed a very close second and I even nominated her for Best Actress. I never made the connection between that Ruwani and the choral director Ruwani, until she told me much later on, at which point, I told her that I distinctly recalled her having worn a red dress as Katherine, to which she said that I had a brilliant memory.”

Graduation: Ruwani in Canada

“Unknown to many people, Ruwani and I were very friendly – in fact we were ‘phone buddies’. We laughed a lot together sometimes even going into hysterics. Ruwani told me that whenever she was feeling low she would call me up to either have a good laugh or cry together,” said Mary Anne David (Aunty Mary Anne), Director of the ‘Merry-An-Singers’. “Last night at rehearsal, we observed a two minute silence for her. She did so much in such a small space of time. She was one big, brave lady – a person I really admired.”

Her bark was worse than her bite, said well known playwright and director Indu Dharmasena, describing Ruwani as very talented and not 100% but 200% dedicated to her work. So much so, that it made her quite impatient with those who couldn’t keep up to her level of dedication. “Even though the best I could do when it came to singing was ‘speak’ the music, Ruwani somehow managed to make me sing, when I played the role of King Arthur in the musical Camelot in 1997,” said Indu.

Ruwani had continued working till the very end, so much so that Indu had even wanted to work with her on another musical but, unfortunately that was not to be.“Strength, courage and determination to fight whatever life throws your way, is the quality I respect and admire the most in Ruwani,” said Soundarie David, Music Director of Soul Sounds.

Vibrant, explosive and passionate, was how Michelle Herft, a former chorister of St. Bridget’s described her. “Her vibrant personality won many hearts. Her explosive nature made her unique and gutsy. Her passion for music and teaching made all of us who lacked one tenth of it, feel inadequate. She lived, loved and sang with incredible zeal and force.”

As a music teacher she had helped many a young talent blossom. Yes FM Super Star 2005 - Dilini Perera who jointly composed the song ‘Say’ with her teacher in 2004, has many memories of her. “How do you let go of someone who shaped your life? You don’t. You hold onto every memory of that person that makes you smile. You remember what it feels like when the curtain goes up and you see Miss Ruwani sitting there, like a proud parent, smiling like there’s no tomorrow. You remember the time she cracked jokes during mass and then pretended to discipline you when people started staring, you remember her courage and zest for life even when everything seemed to be in her way, and you remember her compliments, the ones that made you feel like you can achieve anything.”

President of the Bishop’s College Choir - Dmitri Gunatilake penned a heartwarming tribute to ‘Miss’ in the souvenir of their show ‘In the Spotlight’ staged in September this year. “A mentor, mother, friend, guardian and teacher she has been. Thank you Miss for everything you’ve done and sacrificed for us. As choristers we have learnt about unity, loyalty, self discipline and to go that extra mile and never give up. Thank you again…you are the best and you always will be.”

Winner of TNL Onstage 2006 - Sheranga Perera in an interview had this to say of her teacher, “She’s the best teacher to train an artiste. Not only does she train us vocally, she trains us in so much more. She’s always told her pupils to sing with passion and be dedicated, professional and punctual all the time. Her training enables all her pupils to be a cut above the rest.”

Some of Ruwani’s students both here and abroad have opened up a Facebook Group in celebration of her life, to post tributes and to share memories with each other. Kingsley Jayasinghe, Principal of Wycherley International School whose choir Ruwani trained for many years remembers her as extremely dedicated and devoted, a perfectionist. She was strict with her students, but appreciated for it because everything she put her hand to was completed to perfection, he says.

“We were more friends than colleagues. She was constantly despairing over my singing abilities – or the lack thereof,” Director of the Yolande School of Speech and Drama – Samantha de Soysa said, adding wistfully, “we had many giggles and good times together and a mutual respect for each other.” “She had the voice of an angel and now she’s gone back to where she came from.”

Just 17 and she’s no more

By Dhananjani Silva, Pix by Berty Mendis.

“Deandra is with the Lord…in a better place. This is what comforts us,” said a grieving father, trying to come to terms with the terrible reality- the sudden death of their loving daughter. Deandra Koch, a 17-year-old student of Royal Institute died after a motorbike accident last Sunday.

Deandra Koch

“My three children were returning after church from Dehiwela that evening. They were travelling on three different motorbikes- Deandra and her boyfriend Jason on the bike in front, Andre (Deandra’s elder brother) with one of his friends on the second bike, and my younger daughter Melinda with Jason’s brother on the bike behind. They had passed the Keells roundabout at Bellantara and were approaching the Pepiliyana junction along the main road when they suddenly found a ‘staff service’ bus coming from a gravel lane in front of them,” said Deandra’s father Roger Koch.

According to Deandra’s brother Andre, who was an eyewitness to the incident, the bike on which Deandra and Jason were travelling had hit the bus which appeared in front of them suddenly. Deandra and Jason were thrown off the bike on to the hard tarred road.

Passersby had then stopped a trishaw to rush them to Kalubowila hospital. Deandra’s younger sister Melinda, who went in the trishaw with her to hospital said Deandra was bleeding from her mouth and breathing hard at that time. Meanwhile, Deandra’s parents who were at home had had a call from Andre. “Dada, there has been an accident, two people are injured. Can you come to the Kalubowila hospital?” he had said. The father was told that Deandra and Jason had met with an accident but that they were both conscious.

After receiving emergency treatment at the Kalubowila hospital, Deandra was transferred to the National Hospital for further treatment but died the same day. The postmortem revealed that she had severe internal bleeding, injuries in the chest and that her lungs had collapsed. Jason suffered fractures on his shoulder, ribs and the leg and is still under treatment.

Deandra’s parents.

At her Nugegoda home last Wednesday, the family was still unable to think of a future without Deandra. On November 28 Deandra would have been 18 years old, said her mother Mignonne sadly.

Showing us the last painting Deandra had done, and the trophy she received when she was placed first at the all island speech and drama competition, Mignonne said her daughter was multi-talented and had shone in painting, speech and drama etc. “She loved to dress well,” she added, holding her daughter’s photograph close to her.

An A/Level student of Royal Institute, Deandra was studying psychology. “Initially she was interested in becoming a vet, but later, she decided to switch courses and do psychology,” her parents said.

Trying hard to cope with their devastating loss, the family spoke of their heartfelt gratitude to their friends and relatives who had been with them in their hour of need and the generosity of the trishaw driver who rushed Deandra to the hospital. “He refused the money that was offered to him and even came to the funeral parlour. We wish we had some contact with him,” they said.

He brought out the best in all of us

Viji Weerasinghe

Royalists of many vintages gathered last Saturday to bid a solemn and emotional farewell to Viji Weerasinghe, old Royalist, teacher, Deputy Principal and Advisor to the Royal College Union and above all, a loyal servant to Royal for nearly three score years and ten in what must be a unique achievement in its own right.

Vijitha Weerasinghe was ‘Viji’ to all and sundry at Royal. Generations of Royalists, now scattered across the globe will mourn his passing and remember a gentle school master who brought out the best in you without so much as a harsh word. Somehow, he had that in him.

Viji Weerasinghe

Those of us who were at Royal from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties encountered Viji when his teaching days were over: he was then the Head Master of the ‘O Level classes’. He was done and dusted with the chalk and blackboard, so we missed his prowess at Latin and his knack for teaching.

But those were the days. When L.D.H. Peiris was Principal; E.C. (‘Kataya’) Gunasekera was his deputy and Viji was third in command. This trio were starkly different in their ways but together they eked out a golden era for Royal in a decade where the school swept everything before them, be it in academia or in the sporting arena.

Peiris was an excellent administrator. He brooked no political interference in the running of the school. But, with his portly figure and gruff voice you wouldn’t run to him for solace in a hurry. Gunasekera, an icon in his own way, didn’t believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the child and no one sought an audience with him unless it was considered absolutely necessary. And then, there was Viji.

Always available, always approachable and always willing to hear you out, Viji was the one you went to, when something needed sorting out. And, we learnt later, that was also what a succession of Principals did when they wanted advice about any matter that concerned the intricacies that involved the various traditions at Royal, for Viji had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the school.

It is a tradition at Royal that only the Head of State is invited as the Chief Guest for the Prize Giving. And in those days, it was also a tradition that the names of prize winners were read out by Viji, who with his distinct diction ensured that long and tongue twisting surnames were heard clearly and correctly.

Viji saw through many changes at Royal as the school evolved in keeping with educational reforms that swept the country: the introduction of the Grade Six entrance examination, the amalgamation of the Royal Junior School and the eventual separation of the College into Junior, Middle and Upper schools.

Retirement in the eighties only strengthened Viji’s bond with Royal. He simply shifted office: from the Deputy Principal’s chair to that of advisor to the Royal College Union, a job he undertook with glee and did admirably until a couple of days before his death. Imagine the pleasure of old boys when, on returning to Royal some twenty years after leaving school to admit their children, they find that amidst a sea of changes at Royal there is one constant-Viji, in his customary whites, slightly thinner perhaps, but with that same cherubic smile and benevolent demeanour from when you knew him decades ago.

Viji shunned the limelight. So, it was something of a shock to him when a series of appreciations recounting his dedicated service to Royal appeared in the newspapers a few weeks ago to mark his 80th birthday. He was both embarrassed but also happy in his typically self deprecating manner that his contribution had, after all, not gone unnoticed. It was just as well: that was to be his last birthday.

Viji died in harness. If he had a choice in his passing, that is exactly what he would have chosen. In fact, when he was last taken ill, he was getting ready to ‘go to work’ at the Royal College Union! It is fitting that Viji had to leave this way; for a man who gave his everything to Royal, any other way would have been a travesty of fate.

For thousands of Royalists, Royal without Viji is unimaginable. It is something we would have to get used to. Viji Weerasinghe did not collect titles before his name or letters after it. He did not amass riches nor did he assume any positions of great power and prestige. He was a simple schoolmaster who spent his life nurturing generation after generation of Royalists into good men.

For that we are grateful as we say, ‘Thank you, Sir, and Farewell’. And we can do no better than to quote from Viji’s paraphrase when he was writing an appreciation of ‘Kadalay’, a gram seller who was a mascot of sorts for Royal for several decades. Those words fit Viji Weerasinghe himself to the letter: “This was a man; when comes such another?”

By A grateful student

Homage to a passionate Pedagogue

Viji Weerasinghe

'Beware the Ides of March' - almost sottovoce; but, then, a few minutes later - perhaps it was a few classes down the school month - as we sat, literally spellbound, in our fourth form English Literature class, 'Ducky' Weerasinghe would revert to his almost stentorian voice. Just after Mark Anthony's third disguised mockery of the nobility of Brutus - '..and Brutus is an honourable man' - in his belated funeral oration for Great Caesar, 'Ducky' would raise his beautiful, deep, almost sensuous voice and repeat Anthony's incantation and explain to us the subtle intention behind the strategy employed by that loyal Caesarian. An ordinary school lesson and a potentially boring class on an ostensibly heavy subject, unrelated to the contexts in which we were living in old Ceylon, would have been transformed into an almost magical theatrical performance.

Many years later I had the good fortune to see and hear the great Olivier perform Henry IV, Part I and the scene when Hal berates Falstaff for pointlessly asking for the time was made wholly intelligible to me entirely because of those wonderful lessons on reading and interpreting Shakespeare, given by a dedicated, educated, teacher who had devoted his life to the art of pedagogy.

I write these lines forty-four years after those halcyon days of fourth-form classes; but those lessons 'Ducky' imparted, not by diktat but by making his method speak through its electrifying effect upon naturally restless teenagers - we would have been fourteen and fifteen year olds - to capture their attention, remain etched in braided gold, in my increasingly frail memory. In my own many years of academic life, at Universities spanning many continents and in languages more varied than even we were blessed with in that once salubrious Island of ours, I have consciously sought to emulate the style, method and effect that I thought 'Ducky' achieved.

When he repeated those last few words Shakespeare made Caesar say, 'Et tu Brute, then fall Caesar', I felt one was being magically transported to the scene near the heart of the Roman Empire. Italy has been one of my homes for more than half my 'half-life', and during many an autumn twilight, when the eternal city is at its enchanting best, as I have sometimes walked its streets, 'Ducky's' voice seemed to echo from the walls that Caesar built and from the steps where he fell. Of course it is not 'Ducky's' voice that I hear echoes of; but reverberations of meaning imparted by teaching with passion that gave content and context where none could have been envisaged.

I am, by education, training and profession, an applied mathematician and an academic economist. By definition, at least due to the melancholy characterization given my subject by Thomas Carlyle, I purvey the 'dismal science'. Economics has become mathematical, at least in its façades. But its messages, when effective, require the poet's sensitivity and the artist's imagination to convince a sceptical public to accept. On those occasions, mercifully rare, when I have been called upon to make a public lecture, by definition calling forth a performance in the theatrical sense, it is to the message and the style that I learned from 'Ducky', all those forty and some years ago, that I still turn for succour. It has never let me down.

The passion for teaching that I have inherited from just one year of 'Ducky's' dedication to this noble profession was perhaps the most memorable of many pleasant remembrances of the Esprit de Corps that came out of the happy years at Royal. I salute the memory of 'Ducky' Weerasinghe, almost half-a-century too late, but with the gratitude that has matured during those same number of years, like a good wine, into something full blooded and fragrant.

May his noble soul rest in eternal peace.

By Vela Velupillai
John E Cairnes Professor of Economics
National University of Ireland, Galway
Research Professor
University of Trento, Italy
& Fellow of Giton College, Cambridge

Thank you for the sacrifices

Yusuf Ibrahim (Y.I.) Jafferjee

If Dad was living today, he would cut this out, photocopy it and pass it around his staff in the office. He was my biggest fan, because in many ways I lived a dream that was not to be his. My father, Yusuf Ibrahim Jafferjee, died on January 15, this year, two months after turning 80 on Poppy Day 2006. Many would say this was a ripe age to live to and passing away cannot be grieved. My father, though, was young beyond his years; and death, although for him a life-long fascination, was one that came too early.

My father lived a life of unfulfilled dreams. He could have been the proverbial poet. Instead of fathering two children and nurturing a flourishing business as one of the pioneers in the timber trade, he could have wandered the world and penned his poems for his and others’ pleasures. His writing was a mix of prose and poetry, often joyful, usually pensive and emotive, and sometimes caustic and blistering. He had a power of the written word that came to him young in his life, nurtured by the hours he whiled away at the library of St. Joseph’s College and the Public Library.

Among his proudest achievements that he carried throughout his life, was obtaining a Distinction in English at the S.S.C exam in 1945; which under colonial standards was no small achievement. I believe that his ability to quote flawlessly from poems read fifty, sixty years ago was a reflection of his passionate encounters with dead poets, as much as an impressive memory for detail.

His wit was also legendary. He had a gift for coining phrases of people, situations and circumstances that made eyes roll, faces flush and bring forth peals of laughter on many an occasion.

He had the talent, I the opportunities. And it was I who realised some of the ambitions he dreamed for himself. I disappointed him no doubt, and conflicts we had aplenty. Yet, my father forged ahead finding fulfilment, even happiness, in running his trade and watching it flourish. And in the end, being the family man he also essentially was, accepted what he could not change and loved us as we are. He sacrificed much, so that I could be who I am today.

By Your daughter

The voice still echoes in our ears

Derek Meloney

Derek Meloney, veteran broadcaster, radio DJ, news reader and TV presenter, passed away on October 16 from pneumonia at the age of 58 in Perth, Australia.

Derek joined the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation as a relief announcer for the English Services in 1977 and worked there until he left the country for Australia in the early ’80s. I was the technical assistant who worked with him on his very first shift on the SLBC commercial services live broadcast studio in 1977. Derek became popular among listeners and built up a huge audience within a short period. I can remember the amount of postcards and letters which he received from loyal listeners.

He used to come for the night shift from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. once a week. Those days the people-request programmes were popular among radio listeners. Derek prepared for this one-hour programme well in advance and wanted me to do my best. On his webpage he had made mention of me: “Thank you to Sisira Chandrasekera, the legendary operations assistant of the ’70s & ’80s and to the fans who termed the phase "Music Memories & Good Old Fashioned Meloney Magic ".

It was in 1962 when he first walked into the studios of Radio Ceylon as a 13-year-old schoolboy lucky to be picked for the Wesley College school choir that he made that first entry to one of the most famous buildings in the Indian subcontinent. This was Radio Ceylon, the home of some of Asia’s best known broadcasters. Livy Wijemanne, Jimmy Barucha, Shirley Perera, Mil Sansoni, Chris Greet, Leon Belleth and Nihal Bharetti to name a few. This was the place where he met "The Movie Man About Town", Jimmy Barucha; happy-go-lucky Greg Roskoskie, Gingernut Vernon Corea and shortcake Leon Belleth and the great Livy Wijemanne, the man whose voice was on air when Hillary and Tenzing received Radio Ceylon on their tiny transistor radio from atop Mt Everest.

After this brief foray, came an intense desire to be a part of this empire, filled with people who were fiercely possessive of their place of work and of the image it gave them. It was a few years later that he was introduced to the original "Mystique" of commercial radio Chris Greet.

Thus began Derek’s love affair with the microphone. He caught the eye of Hector Jayasinghe who was the head of the Drama Section of the SLBC, and so it was not long before he started attending the Corporation’s training institute down Jawatte Road. Soon he was on the way to becoming a guest producer English National Service and so followed the programmes Radio Quiz Club, Just For Fun, The Soul Searchers and Let’s Spin A Disc.

It was around 1974 whilst working for Lloyd's Advertising Services, he decided to apply for a position of relief announcer. To his amazement he was one of the lucky few, but alas his endeavours were all but lost, as the rules of engagement were that advertising agency staff were not permitted to work the commercial beams, a rule he found hard to accept. He was entirely out in the cold as his voice was now approved to present commercial programmes for clients of the agency he represented, his co-habitation with the station’s best known producer Harold Fernando was about to begin and so the commercial world of radio saw Derek Meloney team up with Leon Belleth to present programmes.

It was the beginning of the advent of "Music Memories and Good Old Fashioned Meloney Magic". By this time he had caught the attention of Jimmy Barucha and Shirley Perera who reminded him that the day he left the agency he could return to the panel of announcers on the commercial beam. This was incentive enough for him and in 1977 Music Memories And Good Old Fashioned Meloney Magic was heard on the commercial service on a regular basis.

He spent the last 19 years in Perth -- 15 of the last 19 years in the public service and part time broadcasting with the Overseas Service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He made the occasional appearance on the ethnic radio stations.
Whenever he came to Sri Lanka he did a spot of announcing and news reading at the SLBC. He was a faithful, sincere, dedicated broadcaster to the SLBC.

I lost a dear old good friend; the SLBC lost one of its best ever announcers and our listeners lost a great broadcaster. Derek although you are not among us, your voice is still echoing in our ears. I can remember the good old days we enjoyed so much working together as a team in Studio C. Although you are no longer with us your name will stay in our hearts and memories forever.

My dearest friend may you rest in peace.

By Sisira Chandrasekara, UK Correspondent for the SLBC in London

A dedicated combatant of rural poverty

Sarath Hewagama

My dear friend and colleague the late Sarath Hewagama, was both a commercial and cooperative banker, his preference being the latter, given his life-long affair with the village and the poor. Sarath had a clear grasp of the relevance of cooperatively-managed, rooted financial services in the battle against rural poverty and indebtedness, and he spent most of his working life as a dedicated combatant in this battle.

He got his opportunity when the local cooperative movement’s icon and Chairman of the People’s Bank, Vincent Subasinghe selected him to work as the bank’s agent with the task of guiding the management of the first Cooperative Rural Bank (CRB) established in the remote village of Menikhinna in the Kandy district.

In this brand new venture of the Bank sans the requisite previous experience to guide him, Sarath was very much on his own. However, given his strong sense of commitment he succeeded in winning the cooperation and support of Menikhinna’s civic leaders as well as its society membership.

In his style of management personal contacts were of the essence and he traversed the length and breadth of Menikhinna on a regular basis much like a talent scout identifying the skills, abilities and potential of those around and advising them also on project formulation and planning.

Due largely to his efforts and the rapport he established with the village leaders he made huge strides within a relatively short time, so much so that he was seen by his cooperative comrades as the very personification, of the legendary barefoot banker. Menikhinna, in due course, became the leader and exemplar of the growing network of CRB branches, currently 1608 in number according to the Central Bank, which span the country today.

Sarath’s unrelenting devotion to his work had its effects on his health, but he held on tenaciously because of his spirit and also of the love and care extended to him to the last by his beloved wife Indrani.

May be attain Nibbana.

By Ranjit de Livera

Island Sat Nov 10 2007

Edna Mendis nee De Mel

A golden heart stopped beating. Two hands were laid to rest. May gods will be done for He only takes the best.

A first cousin of mine dear Edna Akka has gone to her eternal rest. She had a wide knowledge of English and was a teacher of Wesley College Colombo. My cousin was a calm soft-spoken lady with a lot of charm. All the same she had a great sense of humour. Her late husband Hubert did a lot of church work and was the secretary for the home for the Aged Moratuwa.

Edna Akka herself was a religious lady and was a devoted wife and mother. She had 3 daughters two of them were twins. She had a magnetic personality with a cool and collected mind. Words are weak and fruitless to console her grieving family, nevertheless they should take consolation that their loved one is enjoying the measureless bliss of heaven and is resting her head on God's heavenly pillow.

Sleep on dear cousin!

Yvonne F. Keerthisingha

Island Fri Nov 9 2007

Viji Weerasinghe the living spirit of Royal

by Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

Viji Weerasinghe

The name Viji Weerasinghe remains etched in the memory of most Royalists who had the opportunity of knowing him, first as a teacher, then as a friend and later as a guiding light. No Royalist would ever permit another to speak or even mutter ill of him. There was religious fervor which was dogmatic and fundamentalist in nature attached to super teacher status he achieved. Even if there was nodding acquiescence when some, in a heated debate, scorned the idea Royal being the foremost educational institution in the country, there would a loud protest even from them if anyone would even dare say anything which would hurt the feelings they had towards Viji Weerasinghe. He was an icon of goodness to all those who were fortunate enough to have stepped into the sanctum sanctorum of Royal, an institutions that has made and changed the destiny of our motherland.

When I was in form 2, he was our English teacher. A subject I hated. A subject, which gave me so much pain and even brought tears to my eyes. To learn this awful language, so foreign to me, was something I loathed. My parents spoke in Sinhala, I was a gamaya who came from the deep South. In my village, only a very few could read or understand the language. At that time, when I was very young, there was so much confusion when the villagers received a telegram in English. Viji Weerasinghe instantly knew who the godayas were in his class. He cared for them, and showed them how to get rid of their inhibitions associated with the villagers’ ‘kaduwa’ mentality. The abridged version of Robin Hood was read by him. I still remember the incident when he asked me the meaning of ‘sward’ I said ‘Kaduwa’ the students had hearty laugh at me, as I had mistaken ‘Sward’ for ‘Sword’. But, he called me to his room and gave me and other godayas other books which were simpler than what was used in school. He reminded us that after all, Sinhala literature may not be the best in the world. He showed us that there are other great novels and short stories which were written and sometimes translated into English, written for the benefit of students learning English as a second language, in simple English so that we could read and at least understand the story.

Thereafter I did not sustain the same hatred towards the English Language. But, I never got good marks, I was below par compared to the others who hailed from Colombo. They were equally bad in their Sinhalese.

The next interesting episode was when we went to the Head Master’s room to borrow his car to collect advertisements for the Royal Thomian Souvenir. I never believed that as the Head Master of Royal junior, Mr. Weerasinghe would ever give his car keys to us, who were teenagers and never had the license to drive even a scooter. He had utmost confidence in his students. He taught us the art of living, confidence building, facing challenges and the world.

He used to remark jokingly at the ribald songs we sang at matches. These songs had so much originality and someone even remarked that we should publish a collection which will better the ‘rugby songs’ published in England. Weerasinghe never frowned or looked down upon the lyrics which would even put the great Sinhalese lyricist Karunaratna Abeysekera to shame.

I had to depart before I could finish my learning at Royal, in keeping with the College motto ‘Disce Aut Disce De’. I became a Lawyer. One day, I got a frantic call from Viji Weerasinghe requesting me to defend another institution which was almost sine qua non with the Royalist spirit, ‘Kadalay’, the gram seller who sold his wares near the entrance to Royal. When I was in the Kindergarten on one side of the entrance to Royal Primary was ‘Kadalay’ selling his gram and on the other side was ‘Balloon’, was selling his balloons.

I could not believe that Kadalay was to be produced in Court. I believe Royal lost some of its prestige when the education department decided to appoint non-Royalists as its principals. This principal was furious with ‘Kadalay’ who was drunk and cheering at some school match. Thereafter, there was an incident where he got involved in with the boys of the rival school. The Old Boys of both schools later had amicably settled it. The Principal wanted the law enforcement agencies to take Kadalay into custody and produce him in Court. Viji Weerasinghe wanted to intervene and settle this, but the principal wanted to charge and get rid of Kadalay forever. When I heard this, I was furious at this unwanted intrusion by an educationist who had no knowledge of the bond the Royalist had with ‘Kadalay’. I appeared for him and he was finally discharged. All those who shared a joke a cheer and even later at the Royal Thomian, as old boys who shared a drink with Kadalay, have achieved greatness and have brought so much credit to their Alma Mater. Viji Weerasinghe knew this.

The old boys wanted Mr. Weerasinghe to continue with his work even after his retirement, so that Royal would not be just another school. No one knew the great traditions of one of the oldest schools in the country like Viji Weerasinghe. His loss will be felt for years and may even tranform Royal into a different institution.

If there was ever a teacher who understood the spirit of Royal, he was none other than Viji Weerasinghe

(The writer is the Ambassador to Italy)

Viji Weerasinghe the living spirit of Royal

by Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

Viji Weerasinghe

The name Viji Weerasinghe remains etched in the memory of most Royalists who had the opportunity of knowing him, first as a teacher, then as a friend and later as a guiding light. No Royalist would ever permit another to speak or even mutter ill of him. There was religious fervor which was dogmatic and fundamentalist in nature attached to super teacher status he achieved. Even if there was nodding acquiescence when some, in a heated debate, scorned the idea Royal being the foremost educational institution in the country, there would a loud protest even from them if anyone would even dare say anything which would hurt the feelings they had towards Viji Weerasinghe. He was an icon of goodness to all those who were fortunate enough to have stepped into the sanctum sanctorum of Royal, an institutions that has made and changed the destiny of our motherland.

When I was in form 2, he was our English teacher. A subject I hated. A subject, which gave me so much pain and even brought tears to my eyes. To learn this awful language, so foreign to me, was something I loathed. My parents spoke in Sinhala, I was a gamaya who came from the deep South. In my village, only a very few could read or understand the language. At that time, when I was very young, there was so much confusion when the villagers received a telegram in English. Viji Weerasinghe instantly knew who the godayas were in his class. He cared for them, and showed them how to get rid of their inhibitions associated with the villagers’ ‘kaduwa’ mentality. The abridged version of Robin Hood was read by him. I still remember the incident when he asked me the meaning of ‘sward’ I said ‘Kaduwa’ the students had hearty laugh at me, as I had mistaken ‘Sward’ for ‘Sword’. But, he called me to his room and gave me and other godayas other books which were simpler than what was used in school. He reminded us that after all, Sinhala literature may not be the best in the world. He showed us that there are other great novels and short stories which were written and sometimes translated into English, written for the benefit of students learning English as a second language, in simple English so that we could read and at least understand the story.

Thereafter I did not sustain the same hatred towards the English Language. But, I never got good marks, I was below par compared to the others who hailed from Colombo. They were equally bad in their Sinhalese.

The next interesting episode was when we went to the Head Master’s room to borrow his car to collect advertisements for the Royal Thomian Souvenir. I never believed that as the Head Master of Royal junior, Mr. Weerasinghe would ever give his car keys to us, who were teenagers and never had the license to drive even a scooter. He had utmost confidence in his students. He taught us the art of living, confidence building, facing challenges and the world.

He used to remark jokingly at the ribald songs we sang at matches. These songs had so much originality and someone even remarked that we should publish a collection which will better the ‘rugby songs’ published in England. Weerasinghe never frowned or looked down upon the lyrics which would even put the great Sinhalese lyricist Karunaratna Abeysekera to shame.

I had to depart before I could finish my learning at Royal, in keeping with the College motto ‘Disce Aut Disce De’. I became a Lawyer. One day, I got a frantic call from Viji Weerasinghe requesting me to defend another institution which was almost sine qua non with the Royalist spirit, ‘Kadalay’, the gram seller who sold his wares near the entrance to Royal. When I was in the Kindergarten on one side of the entrance to Royal Primary was ‘Kadalay’ selling his gram and on the other side was ‘Balloon’, was selling his balloons.

I could not believe that Kadalay was to be produced in Court. I believe Royal lost some of its prestige when the education department decided to appoint non-Royalists as its principals. This principal was furious with ‘Kadalay’ who was drunk and cheering at some school match. Thereafter, there was an incident where he got involved in with the boys of the rival school. The Old Boys of both schools later had amicably settled it. The Principal wanted the law enforcement agencies to take Kadalay into custody and produce him in Court. Viji Weerasinghe wanted to intervene and settle this, but the principal wanted to charge and get rid of Kadalay forever. When I heard this, I was furious at this unwanted intrusion by an educationist who had no knowledge of the bond the Royalist had with ‘Kadalay’. I appeared for him and he was finally discharged. All those who shared a joke a cheer and even later at the Royal Thomian, as old boys who shared a drink with Kadalay, have achieved greatness and have brought so much credit to their Alma Mater. Viji Weerasinghe knew this.

The old boys wanted Mr. Weerasinghe to continue with his work even after his retirement, so that Royal would not be just another school. No one knew the great traditions of one of the oldest schools in the country like Viji Weerasinghe. His loss will be felt for years and may even tranform Royal into a different institution.

If there was ever a teacher who understood the spirit of Royal, he was none other than Viji Weerasinghe

(The writer is the Ambassador to Italy)

Sunday Leader Nov 4 2007


"God knows best".... That is a well-known saying, always on the lips of so many people, which I personally feel is the reason for all happenings in this universe. This is what comes to my mind when I think of my dear father’s death.

As the only child in the family, I got whatever I wanted in life from my parents. I always felt lucky all through my life until September 25, when I lost my father, my role model and my guiding star. My father M.J Majid, well known as "Jiggy" was loved by all. He was very fond of children and any small kid who visited our home got attached to him within a very short time.

He was a great cook and invited relatives to our home as if there was a party, though it was just a normal day. He loved to decorate the dishes and the table because he wanted everything to be perfect.

He had a great sense of humour, which always made my life enjoyable. As much as I used to call him "Dada" most of my relations also used to call him "Dada" since he was loved by everyone in the family. Dada along with my mother (mama) was the guiding star right throughout my school career and during my undergraduate and postgraduate days.

I am very grateful for all the help he gave me for it is because of him that I am in this position today. I still remember my trip to London with him for my graduation. He made it a point to make an overseas trip every year with the family. He also did not forget to make pilgrimages to the holy mosques in Sri Lanka especially in Balangoda and Kataragama. He also built a pilgrims’ rest in Balangoda for the use of devotees visiting the mosque there.

I have never seen anyone having so much of patience as Dada did. He would stand in queues for a long time without grumbling. He would never say a word even to anyone who tries to jump the queue. That is because he never wanted to hurt anyone.

Everyone says that I look like my dad. The most important occasion was my wedding day when I walked down the aisle holding his arm, to start a new life with my husband. His caring eyes never stopped looking at me even after my marriage. He not only took care of me but also my husband, and became the guiding star to my small family which included a baby boy later on. Dada loved little Aaqil so much that he too adored his grandfather (kake) in return.

But now he is gone, and I wonder why God had to take him so soon. During his last days I could not bear to see him lying in the hospital bed. I just broke down every time I went to see him in hospital and the worst thing of all was that on the last day he broke down on seeing me. May be he knew he was going to leave me.

I was not aware of how he handled his business at all. But now from what his business colleagues say about him, I feel so proud about my father. They valued the friendship and his business principles.

I could just go on and on about him, but words are not enough. In a few months I would be an Attorney-at-Law (Insha Allah), but regret so much that Dada is not with me to see my achievements and progress. He will continue to be my guiding star and I believe with all my heart that he is watching from above and protecting my mom and my family.

His blessings will always be there and his name will always be mentioned in all our prayers. His good deeds would definitely take him to a better place and that is truly evident by his demise during the holy month of Ramadan. God knows best. May he attain Jennathul Firdhouse !

Shihani Jayah (nee Majid)

Nation Sunday Nov 4 2007

Sarath Hewagama – outstanding cricketer and pioneer in banking sector

I am deeply saddened to hear the passing away of my beloved kalyana mitta, Sarath Hewagama, on September 19, 2007. True to his nature, he departed this world without much publicity and in silence.

Sarath Hewagama was an outstanding school-boy cricketer, who shone in the early 1950s. He was an outstanding banker and administrator par-excellence, who served at Sarvodaya, during the latter part of his life.

Sarath was a rare gem. He always played a ‘straight bat.’ He was always ready to help others. It is rather unfortunate that men of Sarath Hewagama’s caliber are very rare in the present society. He was born on July 30, 1933 and at the time of his death he was 74 years old. He was a devout Buddhist, and a dedicated social service worker.

My association with Sarath, began in the early 1951s, at Nalanda College, Colombo, when, I was in Grade 7. He was my cricketing hero. He represented the Nalanda Invincible 1957 Cricket Team led by legendry Stanley Jayasinghe. With his intelligent right arm leg spinners he mesmerized many opposing batsmen.

After leaving school he joined the People’s Bank and rose to the high position of Assistant General Manager and later served as the Secretary to the Board of Directors of the People’s Bank. He had a colourful and distinguished career at the People’s Bank. Very few people knew that he was one of the pioneers in Rural Banking and Rural Credit in Sri Lanka. His contribution to the banking sector was enormous.

Soft spoken and unassuming Sarath Hewagama was always ready to help others. He was loved by everyone and he too loved everybody. He was a vociferous reader. In spite of his very busy schedule and engagements, he also wrote a large number of thought provoking articles on various topics ranging from sports to banking.

Sarath Hewagama was a man of honesty and integrity. His demise is not only a big loss to his beloved wife Indrani and his children, but also an irreparable loss to everyone of us.
May his sojourn in Sansara be short and peaceful, May he attain Nibbana!

Premasara Epasinghe

Piyadasa Kondarange- man of many parts

Piyadasa Kondarange (JP), a former graduate teacher from Colombo Lumbini Maha Vidyalaya passed away four years ago, at the age of 70. A loving father of six children, Piyadasa served for over 35-years in the educational service as a senior teacher and principal in several areas of the island including Kurunegala, Gampaha and Colombo.

As an assistant teacher in-charge of sports, he was responsible for starting cricket as a game for the students at the Lumbini Maha Vidyalaya and also at Borella Susamayawardena Maha Vidyalaya. Later these two schools won the Championship several times in the All Island Cricket Tournament. Piyadasa was a social and a religious worker in Kalubowila and Dehiwala areas.

For nearly 40 years Piyadasa had been a teacher at the Kirillapone - Balapokuna Sadhu Dhaham Pasala and later the Vice Principal of the same school. He was also a member of the Colombo Pradeshiya Sasanarakshaka Mandalaya. He was a co-founder of Kalubowila Provincial Pensioners Union of which he was the General Secretary at the time of his death.

Later Piyadasa served as an Advisor to the Kalubowila Sri Lanka Community Vocational Training Organisation and also served as Manager of the Community Environment Protection Organisation at the Sri Sunandaramaya Temple in Kalubowila, Dehiwala. He was a life member of the Trusteeship Committee of the Kalubowila ¬West Funeral Benefits Association, and a life member and a committee member of the Alumni Association of Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies.

Those who knew Piyadasa Kondarange, will always remember him as an honourable gentleman. May he attain the bliss of Nirvana!

Hemantha Fonseka


 Nishanka Wijesundera

Nishanka, brother of Stanly Wijesundera,
A reputed lawyer who lived at Meewathura.
Always with a big smile to everyone
Friendly with big and small, rich and poor.

A loving husband to his wife Padmini dear,
A darling father to his three daughters.
A devout Buddhist very close to the temple
A leader and friend to all the poor people.

President of the Kandy Bar Association
Performed his duties to all his associates.
An unofficial magistrate at the court bench
Friendly atmosphere in courts he maintained.

One time an Ambassador in Australia
Performed his duties well and truly,
Left for good, his friends and everyone.
Goodbye, my sweet friend – goodbye.

Edward Wijeratna

Sunday Times Nov 4 2007

The Royal Legend is no more!

Vijitha Weerasinghe

Having celebrated his 80th birthday on September 17, amidst a galaxy of past pupils whom he had in no small way helped towards positions of eminence, the Royal Legend, our revered Guru, Viji Weerasinghe, passed onto yet another realm on October 31.

Barring the initial pre-school tenure, and a brief stint of a year at the Law College, Mr. Weerasinghe's entire life was devoted to the cause of Royal College -- first as a student, thereafter as a teacher who ended up as the Deputy Principal and finally as the Advisor of the gargantuan Royal College Union. Disconcertingly though, he took sick on October 23 also at the Royal College Union Office from which he never could recover!

Teacher par excellence, guide with an unmatchable value system, philosopher with a sagacious insight into life, friend with whom you could have a drink and an intellectual chat and gentleman to his finger-tips -- that was Viji Weerasinghe not only to this writer but to many thousands of Royalists who had the good fortune of making contact with him. I am also aware how successive principals of the school and many members of the staff relied solely on his advice and guidance in unravelling and solving many thorny issues.

He taught us English, he taught us Latin, he taught us the Classics but above all he taught us to become good human beings. Clad in immaculate white and with an endearing smile spread across his cherubic face, he opted to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every single student and helped by an unfailing and spot-on memory, he was able to ease the problems of many a pupil. In as much as he hated indiscipline he had the courage to believe in the adage that 'boys will be boys'. He strove at all times to instill the famous Royal traditions into the pupil fraternity and was most proud when individuals stamped their Royal class through multi-faceted achievements. His was a life devoted to the cause of Royal and his outlook or only ambition was to uphold and sustain the Royal values and Royal standards. He not only remained a thorough-bred Royalist but did also help to mould many incorrigibles to become useful citizens by instilling such Royal standards.

Indeed, Mr. Weerasinghe taught us of 'books and men and taught us to play the game' possibly more than any other. He was the Magister Magistrum at Royal College, Colombo. When comes another?

We will all miss you Sir! Personally, I am left bereft of my Guru to secure guidance in many areas including the Latino-English in which you were so perfect. The frequent chats with you not only helped me to continuously enrich the command of the language but also afforded me a new dimension within a stressful world constantly driven by selfishness and commercial gain. Your nobility in deed and word remained a guiding light and I remember with much gratitude the strength and support you singularly gave me during my stewardship as the Secretary of the Royal College Union to better manage difficult situations. Your robust personality will remain etched in my memory and I shall cherish every moment spent with you both as a student and thereafter. The warmth and love exuded by you necessarily overwhelmed me. Thank you Sir, for all your selfless efforts which to me are immeasurable.

I loved you in life and shall continue to love you during the rest of my life and shall by way of a constant measure, bestow merit upon you in the hope that we will once again be together in this Sansarik cycle. You as my Guru and I as the benefactor of your guidance and direction. You shall remain irreplaceable! May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!

By Nimal Dias Jayasinha

The importance of being Viji

The word "important" didn't exist in his lexicon. But the importance of being Viji was explicit on his students. He was so important to all at Royal that none could get along without Viji. He was everywhere with everyone that had something to do with the school extending over three generations. His importance told on many of us but not on him, for somewhere, sometime, he touched our lives to bring happiness and joy.

Viji Weerasinghe was born on September 17, 1917. His association with Royal spans well over 70 years, first as a student, then as a teacher and lastly as an administrator. He joined College in 1939 in the first form after spending his formative years at the Royal Preparatory School as Royal Primary was then known. He belonged to the Bradby era but his last two years at College ('46 and '47) were under Principal Corea. Except for two years when he was a teacher at St. John's Nugegoda, his entire life was spent at Royal. In the illustrious history of Royal College, we cannot think of anyone else who has served the school for such a long period and with such dedication and distinction.

His subjects were English Language, Literature and Latin. As a teacher and later as Deputy Principal one of his better attributes was his ability to relate to people from all walks of life and his unfailing memory to recognize his minions many monsoons later. He could recount events and anecdotes of the days gone by with such clarity that put many of us to shame as these events had long faded from our memories.

He remained true to his liberal philosophy and aimed to help young men discover and achieve their potential. He was unfailingly efficient, patient and helpful in answering countless queries put to him by Royalists of all generations. Viji in his youth was not only handsome, he was outstandingly intelligent, morally incorruptible and tirelessly hardworking. He was a remarkable man and a good judge of character.

Royal in Viji's time was a secular school absorbing children from all ethnicities. Although diluted to a certain extent, it still maintains its secularism thanks to teachers like Viji, Brunno, Thamba, Arasa and many others too many to mention here. Royal's rounded education was strenuous, one in which staff and boys were driven by the school's head and his urgent desire that Royalists should work hard, play hard and pray hard. In so far as it is possible to make adolescent boys live and think clearly, Viji's Royal seems to have succeeded.

Viji never abandoned Royal although he was sought after by many international schools which were willing to double his emoluments. Viji stood by Royal, which in turn, stood by him. Every principal whom he served, every student who passed his reign respected him more for his kindness and compassion than for his wisdom. He was a great listener who had the rare ability to turn a conversation of despair into one of merriment and laughter. Many of today's leaders, be it in politics, the professions or industry, passed through Viji's hands to reach the top echelons in their chosen fields.

Viji thought in advance of his times and like all who have vision, found himself at times a voice in the wilderness in conflict with tradition and prejudice. He loved men of strength, vigour, truth and duty. Insincerity and dishonesty brought forth his stern rebuke. He delighted in the company of his charges and joined wholeheartedly in their fun times. Viji was invited as the chief guest of our Group a few years ago and collectively we presented him with a plaque in recognition of the services he rendered to Royal. It aptly read.

"For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith, and trimmed its fire,
Showed me the high, white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze, and there aspire

Viji relished this plaque and proudly displayed it behind his seat at his RCU office but ironically, this plaque was damaged just a few weeks ago by water from the air-conditioner. This, in hindsight, could have been a premonition of the things to come! Viji will live with us forever etched in the corners of our hearts, loved by all, hated by none and we can only pray that this country be blessed with many more Vijis who can raise the standards of morality, honesty and integrity in her citizens.

To capture the life and times of this great man in such brevity, can only do little justice to him. Volumes will be documented in the days ahead by many Royalists to do that justice. Teachers of today should do well to study the life and times of Viji, for they would find themselves enriched with his qualities that are worth emulating, his kindness worth embracing and his virtues worth following.

"The Royal College Magazine (combined issue 1973-75) described him thus: "A gentleman of rare tolerance and understanding, he would always defend the underdog making allowances for faults and weaknesses. On many an occasion he has proved himself a bridge over troubled waters always striving to avoid ill-feeling and arriving at a compromise acceptable to everyone."

Viji Weerasinghe was a teacher par excellence, a man who taught books well to many generations to become men and true to our motto, he also taught us how to "play the game" of life. The history of Royal during the past 70 years or so is truly a tapestry that is Viji, and the little threads, all his students.

Goodbye Dear Sir to sweet escape. Royal shall march on as it did for the past 173 years, but the memory of Viji Weerasinghe in every Royalist's mind shall never fade. This then friends, is the importance of being Viji.

Old Boys of the Class of 56

With love from a granddaughter

Dr. Upali Weerasena

To many the word idol brings to mind the great personalities of men and women whose names are written in history. To me it brings back memories of my seeya; written in gold in my heart.

As I remember, seeya was always a cheerful person. He would spread his cheer to everyone around him with his captivating and friendly way of speaking. As many of his patients recall, half of their illnesses had been cured by the time Dr. Upali Weerasena had finished talking to them and started prescribing medicine.

Seeya was one of those unforgettable people who managed to stay young at heart oblivious to the years that passed. He never let his age become an obstacle to his lifelong fascination for travelling. Although he had visited many of the great cities on the world map, he still wanted to see more. I remember how excited he was when he returned from his trip to Europe only about a year before his death. At the age of 85, he was a far better driver than most twenty-year-olds. Although many people of his age retired from work years ago, he would still drive himself to the Co-operative Hospital of Galle where he worked as a senior medical officer for 22 years after retirement from public service.

To his grandchildren, he would tell many stories of the hardships and accomplishments of his long life. These provided us with encouragement and inspired us to realize our own dreams. He always took great pride in our achievements, the success of his children and grandchildren always being the greatest joy in his life.

He was a cherished part of my childhood. He never turned a deaf ear to our pleas to take us to the beach or to the park. I am sure that it must have bored him immensely to watch a bunch of little girls dancing around a sloppy sand castle that they built all through the last few hours while he had to just sit and watch. No matter how tired he was, he would always smile and say; “Yes, you can have a little bit more time”.

I am sure that all of his grandchildren, along with me wished that he had that little bit more time to watch us grow up and make him proud. Sadly that was not to be.

It was a gloomy morning about a year ago, on October 15, 2006 when he said goodbye to us forever. Although he left the physical world for a higher place that day, his memories will forever live in the hearts of those who loved him.
May he attain Nibbana.

By Navodya Kumarasinghe

Daily Mirror Nov 2 2007

4th Death Anniversary Anton H. Puvimanasinghe

A - Anton, dear husband/dada, you left us quietly four years ago
N - Nobody knows our heartache, for we miss you more and more
T - Today and every day we treasure every remembrance of you
O - Our lives have been blessed and enriched for having known you
N - Now we thank our God for the special gift of you.

Four long years without you have gone by
Since God called you to your Heavenly Home
On the morning of All Souls Day
The Second of November

I miss you more and more every passing hour
But I feel your presence with me
Every moment of the day
Helping me to carry on.

Thank you for your love and tender care
And all you did to make my life complete
During the forty-two-and-half-years
Of our Married Life together.

Waiting to meet you on that beautiful shore-


Yes, dear Dada/Grandpa
We are deeply thankful to God
For the wonderful years spent with you
Enriched by your love and tender care
Bountifully showered on all of us

We love you and miss you all the time
And wish that God could have
Spared you a few more years
To be with Amma and all of us

But He willed otherwise and
Took you away
To your Heavenly Home on
All Souls Day

Forever in our hearts -
Ashok, Shyamali, Shyami, Marishque and Marize

Sunday Times Oct 28 2007

Gallant officer and hero of many a battle

Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunge

Parami Kulatunge’s desire to follow a military career began at Trinity College, Kandy, when he was enrolled as a junior cadet in 1965. Within two years, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He joined the senior platoon in 1968. His leadership qualities, skills and talents were appreciated, and he was promoted as sergeant in 1970, and as C.S.M. in 1971 in the A Coy.

Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunge

Parami joined the army as a cadet officer on July 20, 1971 and was trained both at the Officers Training School, India, and the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa. On completion of training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Gemunu Watch on October 14, 1972.

As a smart young officer with great military bearing, full of energy, enthusiasm and dedication, he performed duties with remarkable results while deployed in the Jaffna Peninsula and Mannar District. During these tours of duty, he gained valuable experience in leadership, management and command responsibilities. His unique ability to understand junior soldiers’ mindset made him a highly respected and much-loved commander.

In later years, when the country faced a violent separatist insurgency, he led sub-units, units and formations successfully in battle. He commanded infantry companies, battalions, brigades and field divisions in the North and East throughout the war until he rose to the third highest position in the Sri Lanka Army — the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Between combat duties in the field, he held important positions at the Army Headquarters and the Joint Operations Headquarters, overseeing operations, training, intelligence, administration and logistics. He gained expertise required to be an all round professional military leader. His inborn charisma, accommodating nature, superior intelligence and smartness made him the undisputed choice for key appointments.

General Kulatunge attended many international training schools and events, the most prestigious being the United States Army War College where handpicked senior American and international army officers who are potential commanders receive one year graduate level education. He passed this course with outstanding results. He also underwent training in India, Malaysia, Singapore and Bangladesh and represented the country at high-level international military gatherings.

During his illustrious career, Gen. Kulatunge received several awards and decorations, the most important being the Rana Sura Padakkama for gallantry, and Uttama Seva Padakkama for distinguished service.

Gen. Kulatunge's untimely demise was a tremendous loss to the army and the nation. A great son of Lanka and dedicated soldier was felled by a terrorist attack while on his way to duty. The loss of this great leader, dedicated soldier and much loved human being would be felt far into the distant future. His inspiring, ever caring and loving demeanour would be long remembered by his comrades in arms, friends, relations and people of Sri Lanka.

"May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana"

By Lt. Col. Asoka Mudannayake S.L.C.C. (Rtd.) Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion S.L.C.C.

You were simply the best

Suren Wickremesinghe

I have been overwhelmed with sadness since I heard of Suren's untimely death in Singapore. The last time I met him was at his 65th birthday celebration on the 12th of January this year. It was not a big party, just a small group of close friends and family; he was his usual bubbly, effervescent self and little did I think that I would not see him again.

We spoke regularly on the phone and had the type of friendship that even if we did not meet, it was easy to pick up the threads and keep in touch over the phone. I was disappointed that he was unable to attend the publication of my book 'Fifty is Company' due to illness. He was one of the fifty personalities portrayed and called me soon after to tell me he had enjoyed reading the book.

The last time I spoke to him was early in September, soon after I had returned from a trip to England. He greeted me as he always did with a bright and breezy 'Hello sweetheart, nice to hear your cheery voice and your laugh." We chatted for a while but I felt his voice was rather weak, but didn't want to intrude on his privacy by asking questions. Suren and I had been good friends from our youth. His father and mine were both doctors and friends; his father was the leader of the Communist Party and our family had always been UNP. But that was a time when family bonds and background meant more than one's political beliefs and loyalties. I always enjoyed listening to him and learned a lot about communism by doing so.

Naturally, as the son of his father, Suren was a most loyal fan, who would play his part in all elections by canvassing for his father. His mother, too, who was British, had planted her feet firmly in the sands of time of our country's history by being the first foreign woman to win a seat in an Asian Parliament. Suren who was an artist and president of the young artists group in his youth, chose to go into architecture after job experience in motor engineering. It was while studying architecture in Moscow that he met and married Tanya, a fellow architectural student. They returned to Sri Lanka, first started a firm with some other architects and then formed their own firm, Tanya and Suren.

They have contributed to development here, in the field of architecture. Suren was very proud of the vast housing scheme they did in Hantane for the late President Premadasa when he was Minister of Housing. They went on to do a middle class housing scheme in Crow Island and have also done apartments, houses and a project in Hambantota for the Ports Authority. Although not a politician, Suren took a keen interest in politics.

Suren was a wonderful friend and has always been there whenever I needed advice or help; particularly after my husband's death, he was a pillar that I leant on. He was one of those rare beings who stood by his friends through thick and thin with steadfast loyalty. I think former President Chandrike Kumaratunga would endorse my words as he was a good friend to her too.
When he was President of the Eighty Club, he wanted me to be on his committee and was keen to make me a lady member of the Hill Club of which he was the President till his death. He would insist that I was his guest whenever I went there. Suren since his youth has always been one of my favourite dancing partners and during these last few years would give my ego a large boost by saying I dance like an 18-year-old. In Tanya he found his soul mate; they were on the same wavelength, two people who adored each other, who'd gone through it all together, who protected each other from the world. He enjoyed life, adored his children and his role as grandfather. Holidays were always family holidays in Matara or Nuwara Eliya.

He had both honour and integrity at a time when these two words seem to have lost their meaning. To Tanya, Maya, Sonia and Sashya and Surya, I would like to say that I will always be there for you as Suren was for me. Farewell Sweet Prince. You were simply the best.

By Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne

From professor to professionalism at Peradeniya Medical Faculty

Hiran Sri KirthiSingha

Hiran Sri KirthiSingha, former Professor of Surgery in the Peradeniya Medical School, died in Britain on October 1, 2007. The eldest of the three sons born to a well endowed Sinhalese family whose roots were both in Panadura and Negombo, Sri had his early education at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia. Soon after the end of World War II, he was fortunate enough to get one of the scarce passages that were available on the converted troopships to England. He had been accepted by Cambridge University for the Natural Science course, which was the precursor to a medical degree.

Following the pre-clinical course at Cambridge, he attended the clinical course at the London Hospital (now the Royal London) in Whitechapel Road. He qualified as M.B., B. Chir. in 1951, and having decided on a surgical career, obtained appointments in various London hospitals.

In due course he passed the Primary in 1954, and then the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1955. He broadened his surgical education by obtaining the post of Surgical Registrar, before returning to Ceylon. He visited England again in 1962 and followed refresher courses at St. Peter's and St. Paul's Hospitals and added the Cambridge Mastership in Surgery to his qualifications.

His first appointment in the Medical Department of Ceylon was as Resident Surgeon at the Colombo General Hospital, the only hospital attached to the sole medical school then. His contemporaries as Resident Surgeon were R.A. Navaratne and A. Gabriel. The duties of the Resident Surgeon were not quite comparable to his previous appointments. In Colombo, the Resident Surgeon was responsible for dealing with all surgical casualty admissions from 7. p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, while the consultants were responsible from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The idea of being part of a team was lacking, and the Resident Surgeons would operate on casualty admissions where patients were admitted under different consultants depending on the day of the week, but have no further responsibility after 7 a.m. If there was cohesion between the two persons responsible for surgical care, it was purely fortuitous. This was strange to KirthiSingha whose previous experience in England had been as part of a team headed by a consultant.

In due course, he was appointed as Consultant Surgeon at the Base Hospital in Gampaha, and later at the General Hospital in Kurunegala for a brief period, before he secured appointment as Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the newly established medical school at Peradeniya in 1965. Here too his tenure was of short duration as Professor C.P. de Fonseka, the first to be appointed to the chair, resigned in less than a year and KirthiSingha succeeded him in the post.

The following six years were the period when he moulded the character of the new medical school by an approach that was hitherto unknown in this country. Professor Senaka Bibile was the Dean of the new school and was largely responsible for the changes in attitude that were effected here. There was total cooperation from the staff in all departments of both university and the government hospital.

At Prof. Bibile's urging each of the clinical disciplines had regular meetings at the end of each university term of academic and clinical staff for discussion and setting out of objectives for medical education, and later to evaluate whether such objectives had been achieved. If not, what further options were to be pursued.

This was a fruitful exercise in developing a learning process for the students. The end result was an approach to encourage active student participation, rather than passive learning. The entire staff cooperated. Professors Lester Jayawardene in Anatomy, Watson and Jansz in Physiology, Tommy Wickramanayake in Biochemistry, George Tennakoon and Ralph Panabokke (Pathology), Arsecularatne in Microbiology, Bibile in Pharmacology, Macan Markar and Varagunam in Medicine, Aponso in Paediatrics, Harris Ranasinghe and Cleopis Jayawardene in Forensic Medicine, and of the General Hospital staff there were Drs Dharmasena, Dharmadasa, Kolitha Karunaratne, Ivan Ferdinands and D. Chanmugam, (Medicine), P.A.P. Joseph, Merlyn Kumarasinghe, Mylvaganam and Mark Amerasinghe in Surgery, Andrew Perera, D. Gunatilleke and Wedanda (Obstetrics), Weerasena and Talwatte (Radiology), Hamza (Paediatrics).

If the first graduates from the new medical school were a welcome addition to the profession, it was the whole-hearted cooperation of persons in various departments who brought this about. Bibile as the Chairman held the reins. The end result was a body of students who were outgoing and perhaps as well educated, if not better, than their peers , even if the facilities at Kandy were considerably less than in Colombo.

Prof. KirthiSingha was foremost in encouraging student participation. The door to his office was always open. Any student was welcome to speak to him at any time, and he discoursed on a wider range of subjects than just surgery. Medical ethics, the relationship of doctors with patients, and world affairs were all grist to his mill. He also simplified the teaching of surgery so that students had no difficulty in grasping the essentials of the subject.

The cult of personality was furthest from his mind. He invited members of the surgical staff at Kandy General Hospital to deliver formal lectures to the students. During the six years that he held the position of chief, he had developed an excellent relationship between students and staff so that the learning of surgery had become a pleasure. It then came as a surprise when in 1971 he resigned. No reasons were given. None understood the reason why. He then returned to England and began a new career in Genito-Urinary Medicine with a consultant appointment at Southampton.

However, it is for his stewardship in the Department of Surgery at Peradeniya where he achieved so much, and for which he will be remembered. He inculcated the concept of pride in being a Peradeniya man. He regarded the selected body of students at Peradeniya as akin to membership of the unobtrusively discriminatory clubs, and hoped that the manner and bearing of the man would stamp him (or her) as a Peradeniya graduate. That was the ultimate accolade that he trusted would be bestowed upon the students.

He was inordinately pleased that this unique quality of dignity and professionalism in the students of his time was achieved in no small measure. At Peradeniya, he, and his colleagues, were trailblazers. After a prolonged illness, bravely borne, he passed away at the age of eighty-one in a London Hospital in October 2007.

He will be missed by those privileged to have known him. He is survived by his wife Chrisanthi and two sons, Armin and Harin from his first marriage. We extend our sympathies to them.

By T. Varagunam, A. Gabriel Rudra Rasaretnam

Nation, Sunday Oct 21 2007

 Anthony’s last post

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray
How does one do justice to the life of a man in an appreciation with an imposed word limit? In a sense, appreciations are meaningless. The subject, after all, does not get to read it.
Appreciations tend to be more about the appreciating person than the appreciated. I know all this and still want to write about Anthony Fernando, not because he cared whether he left a mark or not during his brief sojourn on earth, but because I believe that certain examples need to be restated so those who come later can learn.

It is a way of making a fragrance linger, a little longer, even after the flower has ceased to perfume.
I met Anthony in the 1980s when he was in President Premadasa’s media team, but got to know him more intimately only after President Premadasa’s death. When Premadasa became President, Anthony was his Senior Assistant Secretary.
Anthony was a man of legendary capacities. He had the stamina and energy to work round the clock, one of the necessary preconditions to work with Premadasa, apparently.

I don’t know much about Anthony’s early life and this upsets me now. All I know is that he was a sportsman, having opened batting for Maris Stella College, Negombo. In fact he had been both News Editor and Sports Editor at the old Times.
Anthony possessed rare discipline and exuded a humility that was rarer still. Those in the inner circle of the President would confirm that Premadasa called Anthony quite often at 4 a.m. In fact, he used to call up several close trusted officials in this manner.

They were all, without exception, very efficient men. Like most of us, they too had friends, they too had enemies. Anthony was an exception. He was Mr. All Smiles. No enemies. Not even one.
As one of the ‘President’s Men,’ so to speak, someone who played a huge role in all the projects launched by Premadasa, and someone who had the President’s ear on a daily basis, he could have ‘made it’ as they say.

He didn’t. He was not into ‘big talk,’ he never bragged; he was always passing on the credit to someone else, down-playing his own contribution. And he died a humble, simple man, in modest circumstances. He took his work to heart and probably felt that the satisfaction derived from dedicated work was fringe-benefit enough.

When I was asked to start a newspaper, one of the first people I wanted to contact was Anthony. I had not spoken with him in several years and my inquiries revealed that he was not in the best of health.
I went to Ja-Ela to see him. He was, as always, cordial and helpful. Although he was working at the Interior Affairs Ministry, he promised to help in whatever way possible. That was enough strength for me, all things considered.

He surprised me a fortnight later, when he called over at my flat. He said he would join once the paper was launched and proceeded to give me a lot of invaluable advice. As promised, he joined us a month before The Nation was launched, and it was a privilege to have a man with such experience and proven capabilities on our team.
Although he was ill and growing weaker by the day, even then, being Anthony, he always reported for work, never complained and continued to offer suggestions to improve the newspaper.

He was enthusiastic and meticulously methodical; always full of ideas and bubbling with the enthusiasm of a much younger man. He never grumbled. Every Monday he would call and give a review of the previous day’s paper, pointing out errors and making suggestions for improvement.

Everyone in newspaper offices would remember Anthony as a quiet, smiling, generous man, who never interfered with others, and was ever willing to help. He obviously knew his days were numbered, but didn’t allow this fact to dampen his enthusiasm, always keeping his cool and never losing his charm.

He was a great inspiration to us at The Nation and Rivira, as he surely would have been to those who worked with him in all the places he graced with his presence.
In addition, he was a much loved father figure to the young journalists of The Nation and Rivira, they would all run to him with no hesitation whatsoever to ask for advice and ideas, or even to correct their spelling and it was always given to them with great joy and acceptance. Last Thursday, Anthony called and asked if he could do a column for The Nation. He wanted to call it ‘As It Strikes Me.’ I told him I would talk to the Editor and get back to him. The Editor said that Anthony could write it on a fortnightly basis. I will eternally regret the fact that I failed to convey this to Anthony.
I could put it down to ‘human error’ by way of absolving myself of guilt, but I am doubly ashamed because Anthony would never have done this to me had the roles been reversed.

He was always helpful and disciplined and didn’t let the fact that he had to undergo dialysis on a regular basis, leave any room for complaint. He was a friend and an exceptional human being.
He leaves behind his wife, Sriyani, son and daughter, all of whom would feel his loss more deeply than anyone else, but at the same time could be thankful for the privilege of being his wife and children.

To say ‘We will miss you at The Nation, Anthony’ would be to say nothing. Some people are like that. They leave and when they do, they rob us of words. Anthony was such a man.

Anthony Fernando:
A gentleman and journalist par excellance!

Anthony Fernando, well known Journalist, Press Officer and latterly Senior Assistant Secretary (Information) to President Ransinghe Premdasa passed away peacefully at his residence at the age of 65 years, exemplifying the non controversial and non turbulent life he led. Integrity and humility were essentially characteristic of Anthony.

Anthony was the third son of well educated and affluent parents; Dr. Luke Fernando and Mrs. Noeline Fernando of Negombo. Dr. Luke brought up his children in a culturally undiluted rural environment, principally as good Christians and secondly as dutiful responsible citizens. Anthony received his education at Maristella College, Negombo, and had a flair for languages, particularly English and Sinhala. He blossomed as a balanced, independent professional journalist beyond bribery in cash or kind.

As a sportsman, Anthony knew how to play fair and accept both victory and defeat with equanimity. Anthony joined the Times Group as a journalist and learnt his trade under the most respected Editor of the Daily Mirror, Reggie Michael. His progress as a journalist was steady and he rose to the position of News Editor of the Daily Mirror in the 1970’s.

I knew Anthony since 1979, when the then Prime Minister Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa invited Anthony to join his media team. We maintained an excellent official cum personal relationship for 28 years. It was a highly professional and disciplined relationship in his official journalistic capacity and an exemplary caring and sharing partnership in his personal life. In view of the insatiable appetite of Prime Minister Premadasa for image building, it was a challenging time for all of us at Transworks House. The Prime Minister wanted ceaseless publicity for the massive urban development, housing and village reawakening projects launched by him. The media team headed by his Press Secretary Evans Cooray and Press Officer Anthony Fernando proved equal to the challenges stipulated by Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Anthony wrote well and effortlessly in both English and Sinhala. He could also translate from English to Sinhala and vice versa. Investigative journalism was not his forte. He excelled in reporting, feature writing and interviewing dignitaries. He had a fantastic memory of people, events and sources of information which undoubtedly is a useful journalistic attribute. After his retirement from the Public Service, being an invaluable journalistic asset, he was invited by The Nation newspaper to function as a consultant.

Mr. Anthony Fernando was an unassuming, harmless and saintly character. As civil servants we were taught to comply first and complain later. In Anthony’s case he always complied and never complained. He knew how to win friends and influence people. Perseverance and application to detail were the hallmark of his success. He did not gossip nor did he denounce anyone. He was privy to state secrets, political maneuvers and even family quarrels of his bosses. Never did he breathe a word to the media or the outside world.

As members of the Prime Ministerial or Presidential entourage, we travelled on numerous official and state visits. He was a great travelling companion and reliable aide who meticulously made elaborate preparations to meet the numerous demands, high standards and time targets set out by Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa.

His only weakness was getting into office late. Anthony acquired the habit of coming late to office from his journalistic days. Whenever Prime Minister Premadasa questioned him on this, Anthony attributed it to his having to travel from Jaela by bus. So, Mr. Premadasa the shrewd strategist, immediately allocated a flat from Gunasinghapura, a stone’s throw away from Sucharitha. One day, Mr. Premadasa entrusted an urgent translation to Anthony and asked him to bring it to Sucharitha at 8.00 a.m. the following day. At 8.30 a.m. after repeated telephone calls Anthony had not arrived. So, Mr. Premadasa, in his inimitable style, went to Anthony’s flat and saw him running down the stairs. Anthony was excited. Mr. Premadasa asked him to calm down. Anthony made no excuses such as bad stomach or high fever, but it was the last time Anthony got late for his appointments.

Anthony was a loving and caring husband and father of two lovely children. If we had more of Anthony’s calibre, Sri Lanka will be a better place to live in today. May his soul rest in peace.
K.H.J. Wijayadasa
Former Secretary to the

Sunday Times Oct 21 2007

A man of courage he always stood up for what was right

~ Prof. S.S. Panditharatne

Professor Sobitha Sanjaya Panditharatne passed away two years ago, on 02/09/2005. He was an anatomist par excellence and brilliant administrator. He was the Professor and Head of Anatomy (and later Emeritus Professor) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. Apart from his contribution to undergraduate medical education, he was an external examiner for various postgraduate examinations. He was also the Registrar of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC).

Prof. S.S. Panditharatne

Throughout his career, he utilized his exemplary administrative and organizational skills and his ability 'to see beyond the horizon', to continuously improve systems and processes in the field of medicine. His contributions to the development of the Anatomy Museum and streamlining of the Sri Lanka Medical Council are noteworthy. He was hard working, honest and dedicated to his profession.

He had a strong concept of right and wrong and always stood up for what he believed was right. Perhaps, he was the only Registrar of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, who was shot at, for acting to safeguard the standards of the Medical Profession, which he held very dear to his heart.

Even those gun shots couldn't deter his determination to stand up for what was just and right. The multitudes of people from all walks of life, who attended his funeral, spoke volumes about his honesty, integrity and dedication and his remarkable ability to make a difference to people's lives.

On a personal note, I have a deep gratitude for this great human being. When I fell in love with his daughter in my first year of medical school 17 years ago, my well meaning friends warned me 'Pandi will dissect you alive'. The risk of being a living cadaver, did not merely arise from the fact that I had fallen in love with his daughter, whom he very dearly loved. It was the height of the Eelam War (to be honest I have forgotten the number, I, II, III or IV), she was a Sinhala-Buddhist from Colombo and I was a Tamil-Christian from Jaffna. By any permutation, believe me, it was a very bad ethno-religious combination to have, in our sadly fragmented motherland. It was bound to stir nests, hornets or other's.

Although, he had told his daughter that if she really wanted to marry me after she qualified, he would not oppose her decision, I really dreaded my first ever meeting with him. As his PhD-thesis was on neuroanatomy, I consoled myself that I wouldn't be at risk of dissection, as he may not find anything interesting between my ears. Contrary to my fear, at our first meeting, he was very friendly, kind and had a good sense of humour and made me feel very much at ease. Over the years, he was like a father to me - always loving, thoughtful and supportive. I had never, ever felt 'different'.

To those who had the privilege to be taught by Professor Panditharatne, he was a brilliant academic and teacher. To me, he was a wonderful human being and true Buddhist, who showed fairness, compassion and kindness, when I needed it most. I am sure that, if we have more human beings like Prof. Panditharatne on both sides of the ethnic divide, we will be able to overcome prejudices and hatred that have very sadly afflicted our motherland.

Death may have physically conquered Professor Sobitha Sanjaya Panditharatne two years ago. However, he is ever living in the hearts and minds, of all those he has warmly touched, throughout his life. I count myself very privileged to have known a kind, honest, hardworking, warm hearted and thoughtful human being, who had given me immense happiness and taught me so much, in such a short time.

May the Triple Gem bless his soul!
With deep gratitude and love,

By Edwin Chandraharan, (Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, London)

A man rich in humanity, compassion and commitment

~ Harold Herat

Deshabandu Harold Herat, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Minister of Justice and for six years the Minister of State for Finance, passed away on September 1 at the age of 76 years. He was the M.P. for Nattandiya from 1977 to 1989 and thereafter M.P. for the Puttalam District for another 12 years until 2001. A gentleman politician of the highest calibre, I came to know him when I was appointed as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance in 1990. From then until the conclusion of the general election in August 1994, I served as his State Secretary for four and a half years.

Harold Herat

I did not know Mr. Herat at the time of my appointment and telephoned my predecessor and University friend Mr. D. Wijesinghe, the present Secretary to the Cabinet. He told me that my new Minister was a congenial person and that he had already spoken to him about me and gave me his residence telephone number to contact him.

When I telephoned the Minister and introduced myself, he greeted me with the words, “I say your predecessor Wijesinghe gave you a thundering recommendation and said that you will be better than him.” I was deeply moved by this warm welcome and we spoke to each other as if we were long lost friends. I was also grateful to Mr. Wijesinghe for having recommended me in such glowing terms, which is not often done by fellow public servants.

At that time the Cabinet portfolio of Harold Herat was Foreign Affairs and he came often to the Ministry of Finance to perform his duties as the State Minister of Finance. Since the Prime Minister at that time, D.B. Wijetunga, was also the Minister of Finance, many functions of the Finance Minister were delegated to the Minister of State. There were a large number of important corporations, statutory boards and departments functioning under the Finance Ministry. Regular progress review meetings were held with the heads and senior staff of these institutions and these were chaired by the Minister of State. He took a great interest in the progress of these institutions and these meetings helped to keep them on their toes in respect of their normal day-to-day functions as well as the effective implementation of development plans.

Another task delegated to him was the approval of foreign travel of officers in the Ministry, and the Department and institutions under the Ministry. Mr. Herat adopted a liberal attitude regarding foreign travel since most of these visits overseas were financed under foreign aid programmes. So I was able to assure officers anxious about the approval of the Minister to proceed overseas that he would never stand in their way specially if backed by foreign funding. This was not the position in several other Ministries.

The two of us often travelled out of Colombo to participate in Presidential Mobile Secretariats conducted in various parts of the country during the Presidency of R. Premadasa to bring the Government closer to the people and attend expeditiously to their problems.

We became close working together in the day-to-day administrative work of the Ministry and in our travels outstation. After sometime he told me that it was a pity that we were always confined to Ministry work and not able to engage in small talk outside the realm of our official work. Just before a visit to Matara for a Ministry Mobile Service when the two of us were to leave one evening for the Weligama Rest House and the next day for Matara, he told me that we could travel together and have a good chat while going in the car. But as we reached Wellawatte on the way to Weligama he was fast asleep and woke up just before we reached our destination. I was later told by the family that he had the good fortune to fall asleep anywhere at any time.

I also accompanied him on foreign travel where he represented the Minister of Finance at meetings relating to finance. Some were annual meetings of the ESCAP held in Bangkok or other cities in Asia and the Pacific. A more important event was the annual Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conference which was held in the Bahamas in 1993.

It was a round the world trip, the first lap from Colombo to London, where we stayed privately with friends or relatives. Then to the Bahamas via America. After participating in the conference and a day or two in the Bahamas we returned to Colombo with a night stop over in Hawaii. His Co-ordinating Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Walter Perera, also often joined us in our foreign travels and regularly in the Presidential and Ministry Mobile Services.

During these travels, I was able to observe the character of Mr. Herat. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth to an affluent family, he never flaunted his wealth and lived a comfortable life but not too extravagant. His kindness and compassion to those in distress and happiness at the fortune and progress of the successful were noble traits in his personality. A man with a deep sense of humility he had cordial and friendly relations with public servants who worked for him treating all of them with respect and courtesy. He never requested a public servant to do anything irregular and exercised the powers vested in him judiciously and correctly. For this reason President Premadasa held him in high esteem.

After the assassination of President Premadasa, the Prime Minister, D.B. Wijetunga succeeded him as President and continued to hold the Finance portfolio. Thus, Mr. Herat presented the National Budget to Parliament on two occasions in 1993 and 1994. On those occasions we met often, sometimes at his official residence in Colombo, to discuss the Budget speech. That was perhaps the pinnacle of his political career. Being the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the State Minister of Finance was also an important combination but he was shifted from the Cabinet portfolio of Foreign Affairs to Justice in 1993. He was able to play a more active role in the Finance Ministry when the Minister of Finance became the President.

I well remember his last day in the Finance Ministry two or three days before the General Election in August 1994. Our office was located on the third floor of the Treasury building and when he was leaving I walked with him to the lift and wished him well having a premonition that it was the last occasion we would be meeting in the Finance Ministry. Thereafter, we were in touch with each other mainly by telephone since he was most of the time at Marawila. He had a grand birthday party a few years ago at the picturesque Colombo Golf Club where we met a large number of his old friends. I spoke to him about two months before his demise and knew that he was not well but did not realize that the end was so near. I am sorry that I could not see him in hospital in Colombo being not aware of it.

So a long, warm and fruitful association came to an end but I and other public servants who associated with him will remember him as a congenial, honest, upright and humble politician and great humanist.

May this good man with a heart of gold experience restfulness in death.

By Rajah Kuruppu

The fragrance of her love embraced us all

~ Anopama Hewavitarne

The images of grandparents endure in our hearts as soft shading water colour memories. As does my grandmother, Anopama Hewavitarne – a gracious, graceful lady, incomparable as her name – wife of the late Wimala Dhamma Hewavitarne and daughter-in-law of the late Dr. and Mrs. C.A. Hewavitarne.

The more I reflect upon Archchi’s life, her virtues appear larger than life, and I realize how much we took for granted when she was alive. Her warm, gentle smile as her soft-toned voice, always expressed welcome. Never a harsh word, she was a patient listener who gave her attention to whoever spoke with her. In a world weighed down with worry and stress, there was Archchi, ever ready to shower affection on us and give us time to heal from the bruises of the day. The serenity of her unhurried manner was a legacy of the golden age to which she had been born - an era of wine and roses, now vanished in the misty shrouds of the past. Even in these turbulent times of her last days, she never lost her tranquillity, and accepted the violence she could see around her as characterizing a different time to what she knew. And always, the serenity of her ways was reflected in the colours she chose to wear – her pastel-shaded sarees with captivating colour combinations were a joy to behold. We saw in her, hidden depths of endurance and strength, as she picked up the threads of life and moved on after Seeya’s death. Her patience and creativity came to the fore in her exquisite embroidery, the charming greeting cards, the impeccable candles and the colourful bon-bons she made. How she delighted in watching our kids scream with joy as they pulled the bon-bons during festive times. The fragrance of love that flowed from her gentle heart, embraced us all with the sweet smile on her lips.

As she lived, so she accepted death, gently, gracefully, graciously. She passed away in her sleep one year ago, leaving behind incomparable memories of Anopama, whom I had the good fortune to call “Archchi”.

May she attain Nibbana!


His foremost concern was his chosen career

~ LT. COL. W.A.S.P. Wijetunge RSP

One year has elapsed since the passing away of Lt. Col. W.A.S.P. Wijetunge of the 6th Gemunu Watch of the Sri Lanka Army, Regular Force, on October 6, 2006, in action against the LTTE at Panichchankani, Valachchenai, Batticaloa District, plunging everyone near and dear to him into a whirlpool of grief and a sense of irreparable loss.

He was my son-in-law, an exceptional and exemplary one. On the last occasion when he bid farewell to me, preparing to leave for base after a holiday at home, just two days before the fateful day, I recall with much feeling, how he expressed certain sentiments, in a subtle manner. On pondering on it now, I feel that he had a premonition of an impending tragedy. He was always genial, with a keen sense of humour, exuding an aura of camaraderie, in whatever circle he was in. To his parents he was a beloved and reverential son, to his brothers a tower of strength, to his wife an adored husband, to his little daughter, Ridmi and tender son Sachira, a devoted doting father, to his friends a dependable merry soul and to all who knew and associated with him a warm hearted human being.

Yet, his foremost concern was his chosen career in the army which he fulfilled with an ardent sense of dedication and devotion. Even as a youngster in his college days, he seemed to have made up his mind about this future career, and in due time he applied to join the Army as a Cadet Officer. When the call came for enlistment, he was already well employed, elsewhere. He relinquished it to realize what his heart was bent upon. His father too was an Army Commissioned Officer. Yet, his parents were on the horns of a dilemma, but after much deliberation they decided to bless his decision.

He enlisted in the Sri Lanka Army in 1991, significantly at a time when the LTTE threats were at their height. Of the 16 years of his service in the Army, for the most part, he served in turbulent areas, and was wounded too, in action. He was not daunted and voluntarily went again and again to areas of strife.

He participated in operations such as "Jayasikuru" in Jaffna and "Ranagosa I and II" in Vavuniya. He earned decorations such as the "Ranasura Medal", "Deshaputra Medal", "Purnabhumi Medal", "North East Operation Medal", "Swarna Jayanthi Medal" and "Sri Lanka Army 50th Anniversary Medal" and last but not least the "Riviresa Medal" to honour his participation in "Riviresa" operation.

He started his Army career at a crucial and perilous hour and ended it paving the way for our remarkable triumph at Thoppigala. He has made his contribution to the cause of a united Sri Lanka. Had one looked into the innermost recesses of his heart, he would have seen embedded therein Shakespeare's words:

I do love
My country's good with respect more tender
More holy and profound than my own life

(Shakespeare - Coriolanus III iii 117)

May his journey through Sansara be short until he attains Nibbana!

By R.A.C. Rajapakse

Time has not healed the grief

~ Geethika Ranaweera

A bundle of joy as a babe
A soft-spoken obedient pupil in class
A very smart beauty as a teen
A devoted wife in life
Finally the best mother on earth

The vivid pictures of your short span of life
Haunt me day in day out with grief
They say that time is the best healer
But for me it’s the other way about Geethi

My aching heart full of pain
Weeps so badly in vain
To realize the impermanency of life
Takes time and to live with it for ever

Throughout the past two years
Your mother, family and sincere friends
Together invoked blessings on you
To attain the Bliss of Nirvana.

Your loving mother

By S. Ranaweera

LakbimaNews Sunday Oct 21 2007

Prema Ranawake-Das

From the time of birth, there is one thing towards which each and everyone of us will walk towards- that is death or passing away from this world irrespective of whether it be in childhood, youth or old age. However, the untimely passing away on October 17th 2007 of Prema Ranawake-Das, will shock and sadden alike, each and every person who knew her whether they be kith and kin, or friend. No words are adequate to describe the loss to family, friends and the nation as a whole.
I have known Prema since 1999 and I am ever grateful to the person who introduced me to this wonderful human being for giving the opportunity to get to know, appreciate and enjoy the company of a “larger than life” individual. To Prema, her driving force in life was her genuine understanding of the Buddha Dhamma, the principles in life which she cherished and followed to the last, her absolute love for Sri Lanka, our culture and heritage for which she “never batted an eyelid” to defend, irrespective of whom she was speaking to- be they politician, friend, foe or kith and kin until her untimely death.

During her lifetime, Prema worked in a UN organisation in Thailand after which she retired and spent her retirement in service to the down trodden, the country and Buddhism and animals (for whose wellbeing she wrote to the newspapers regularly). Her sensitivity towards the suffering of humans and animals was very touching. On a number of occasions she has told the writer that when her pet dogs died, she would go to the nearby Soysaramaya Temple and offer merit to the departed four-legged friends. She went to the extent of inviting Monks to her home to offer dane and offer merit to her departed canine friends. If and when she heard of any unscrupulous merchants transporting cattle for slaughter, one could be quite sure that Prema Ranawake-Das would be in the forefront, doing everything humanly possible, to save the lives of the poor animals.

Where ever there was a worthwhile cause which needed financial support, one could be rest assured that Prema Ranawake-Das was one person they could bank on, to obtain financial support. Unlike most people who put their pensions in fixed deposits and enjoyed their own lives, Prema was a person who used her retirement pension to help generously anyone or any project which would be for the larger benefit of society. Many are the instances where she has helped of which the writer is aware of. The amazing quality she possessed was that she never sought public appreciation or personal publicity.
In the true sense and meaning of “irreparable loss” Prema’s untimely death will leave a huge void which few will find easy to fill - such was the personality of this “larger than life” gracious human being. Soft spoken, unassuming and mild-mannered under normal situations, Prema would rise and roar like a lion in situations of injustice, discrimination and insult to the Buddha Dhamma.

We have truly lost a valuable friend. One wonders whether it was a medical mishap at the hands of those who attended on her at a very prestigious private hospital, that brought about this most untimely death? Or was it her samsaric karma? Whichever it was, the loss is irreparable. The writer offers her condolences on behalf of the friends who were close to Prema, to the immediate family who rallied round her during her illness.

May the Noble Triple Gem Bless Prema Ranawake-Das on her samsaric sojourn and may she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

Ramani D.Wickramaratne

Nation Sunday Oct 7 2007

Srimathie de Silva

The passing away of Srimathie de Silva at a time when it was least expected, has sent shock waves among all of us. She passed away on September 14, 2007, at the age of 73.

I will be failing in my duty if I do not pay this tribute to her as someone who has associated with her family for over several years..
The sad news about her death brought back memories of the beginning of my connections with her family. My first meeting with this fine lady dates back to the early ‘70s, where I met her for the first time at my good friend, Geetha’s home. Srimathie was married to Geetha’s eldest brother, Srikantha. Because of my association with this family, I gradually became very close to her. I heard her voice about half an hour before her death, and I feel that I have been suddenly robbed of someone near and dear, whom I have cherished over the years.

She was unwell for some years. She endured her sickness with fortitude and was never depressed. She had a positive attitude towards sickness with which she overcame every hurdle, and we took her for granted depending on her for various things.
It is with a very heavy heart and deep sadness that I recollect some past memories of this remarkable lady, Srimathie akka, as we used to call her who loved and respected very much. She was a dear friend and a mother figure to me for several years. I have the most pleasant and endearing memories of the support she gave me in every way, which will always appreciate. I will never forget how she used to go out of her way to help me to cope, whether it be a happy occasion, sickness, or even a death.

She was a soft-spoken, quiet lady, often deep in thought. Her personality was complemented by the chatty, outgoing personality of her husband Srikantha, with his fine sense of humour. Her sudden demise will be an irreparable loss to him who depended on her throughout their married life, and to her two sons for a loving and caring mother, as well as all other members of her family including everyone of us who had the good fortune to have known her. Loving and affectionate memories of her will live on.

She was an excellent administrator, duty-conscious disciplinarian, and took her work seriously. She had a keen sense of responsibility and wanted things done the proper way. She always believed in quality and only enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done. Her guidance and advice was readily available and those who worked under her had immense love and respect for her. She was a very knowledgeable person and displayed a wealth of knowledge in all areas. She was kind hearted and never hesitated to care for specially the not very well-to-do-relatives. She was an excellent cook and was well versed in the intricacies of the art. She was a voracious reader, who even when sick used to go through the newspapers.

Among her many fine qualities one is struck by her gift of understanding others. She had the precious gift of listening to people and respecting their views. These qualities had no bar to age or status and generation gap was never present.
She was also happy to be with their grandchildren Chanilka and Roshan. She often spoke about them.

Many a silent tear will be shed for her, as she was truly a genuine, caring wonderful person who touched many lives both rich and poor. She has left all of us very valuable memories which will not fade away with the passing of time.
Finally, in bidding farewell to you Srimathie akka, as a Christian I believe that you are not alone in that beautiful shore till we meet again.
May your soul rest in peace

Lilamani Amerasekera

Sunday Times Oct 7 2007

With him, we got what we saw, no pretensions

~ Dhulamba Sirimane

It was four years ago, on October 10, 2003, that our dear friend departed from us, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Dhule had his education at Royal College and represented his school in boxing and athletics. After completing his education, he joined as a creeper at Dambatenne Estate, Haputale, the only tea estate owned by Liptons at that time. He served at Dambatannefor quite a long time. With the nationalization of the tea estates, he was transferred to other tea estates. He then retired from the tea industry prematurely to pursue other business interests.

In 1992, he moved with his family to Hendersonville, North Carolina. During his entire life, from his schooldays and planting days, to his life in USA, he cultivated a wide circle of friends. His friends came from all walks of life. He was proud of his class, and kept in touch with his classmates, even attending the class reunion the year before he passed away. Haputale, being close to the garrison town Diyatalawa, he had close friends from all three forces. He chose his friends for the traits he liked in them without any prejudices or preferences for family status, financial status, caste, race or religion.

While in the USA, he made that extra effort to visit his friends scattered in the different states and in Canada. When he visited UK and Australia, he did the same. When time or distance did not permit him to visit certain friends, he made amends with a phone call inquiring about their welfare. Most of us miss his regular phone calls and picture postcards, with his unique sense of humour.

Dhule’s early departure deprived him of enjoying the company of his grandson Ashane, who is now one and a half years old now.“Dhule, we thank you for giving us the opportunity to be your friend. Whenever we, your mutual friends meet, we think of you and have a glass on the table for you.”

He is dearly remembered by his loving family. In Dhule, we got what we saw. No pretensions.


She lived a life of devotion

~ Nellie Louisa Abayasekara

Nellie Louisa Abayasekara (nee de Saram) was the daughter of J. Peter de Saram of No. 14, St Joseph’s Lane, Grandpass and of Mrs. Jane de Saram.

She was the third in a family of six, having out-lived them all. Her eldest brother was Paul de Saram. Next came her sister Mary who married a lawyer, Peter Caldera. After her came her brother Benedict de Saram and her sister Scholastica who married Dr. Richard Caldera and finally her brother Chevalier J.E.M. de Saram. Her father was a wealthy businessman and owner of the Grand Central Rubber Mills, Grandpass. She was a past pupil of Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena where she excelled in her studies. She displayed a talent for painting, piano playing, flower making, dressmaking and cookery.

In her early twenties she married D.S.L.P. Abayasekara, a lawyer who subsequently became a judge. Her 100th birthday was celebrated in a big way on December 6, 2005 and even at this age she had a fantastic memory and was alert and aware of people and things.

She was a devout Roman Catholic and was faithful to her God and Saviour. She was able to say her prayers almost to the end of her life. She was a kind and generous person who loved and was loved by her children, grand-children, and great grand-children. She leaves behind two sons and two daughters, J.D. Abayasekara (Engineer), C.E.G. Abayasekara (International Consultant Law & International Trade, Banking & Finance), B.L. Abayasekara and E.A.B. Costa nee Abayasekara (music teacher). All her children are doing well mainly due to her efforts and encouragement.

Wherever you may be, dear mummy, may God bless you. Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon her, may she rest in peace.


You gave us so much

~ Mala Liyanage

I’ve been spending sleepless nights thinking as to how I should pen my thoughts that are buried deep within me. It’s been a year filled with agony since you went away. Ever since you left us our lives have changed as well.

Mala Liyanage

Mummy, you provided us everything we ever wished for, most of all you gave us unconditional love, protection, warmth and support that we will ever be grateful for. You did every possible to bring sunshine to our lives. You dedicated your valuable life to both of us irrespective of the obstacles you had to go through. We were your world- you lived within that framework and have been an inspiration to us. Mummy, you always disliked the word “No” and never took “No” for an answer. You were a great support to many.

You taught us to be polite, kind, determined, grateful and most of all never to give up. At times there was so much determination and passion in your work that even your friends and business associates would stand aside and admire your courage. No matter how busy you were, you always made it a point to discuss the difficulties that we had in our new endeavours. You started life from scratch and reached great heights with remarkable achievements. I have never come across a courageous woman like you who was so down-to-earth.

There were instances when you hurt me but the very next moment you talked to me with so much love that I could not resist coming back to you.

You were a kind-hearted, down-to-earth person who was highly regarded in society. You were a successful businesswoman, social worker and most of all, a dear friend. I was three months pregnant when you passed away. I still remember that unfortunate day when you closed your eyes. Mummy, now I am a mother of an adorable baby boy. Remember you always wanted me to have a baby boy since you felt there weren’t many boys in the family.

I have been blessed to have what you wanted from me. I wish I could have had the privilege of you holding my son in your arms and blessing him. I still refuse to accept the fact that you are no more and believe you live among us. If I ever have to make a wish and if it is to be granted, it is to have you back in my life as my child, so that I could have the privilege of taking care of you.

Mummy, your passing away left a dark cloud in the hearts of those who knew you. You are deeply missed by all those whose lives you touched. I love you and pray you will be here with us again.“Mummy, may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana..”

Your loving Fazna

Your good deeds will remain with us

~ Augustus Wirasingha

There is a saying that goes, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I may not pass this way again.” How apt these words are when referring to the late Gusty.

I still remember him as if it were yesterday going about doing what came naturally to him. He went about in an unobtrusive manner doing good and helping those in need. The strata of society a person came from, the riches of a person, the race, religion or nationality of the person, were not his concern. All he looked for in a person was his character. A person’s sincerity, honesty, dedication and commitment to duty coupled with a sense of loyalty to country and employer were the characteristics that mattered to him. Once those conditions were met he would do his utmost to help him or her.

How soon the days have gone by. This year marks the 10th anniversary of his death. On October 5, a memorial Mass was offered at All Saints Church, Borella.

Gusty, you may have departed physically from our midst but you still live on in our memories. Your daughter Marlene is still with us and every year she has faithfully remembered you and this year is no exception.

You will not pass this way again. But the good that you have done, which you were fond of referring to as the “Bank of goodwill” and the kindness that you have shown to human beings will always be a reminder to us of what you have been and are to us. May you continue to rest in peace and enjoy eternity’s sunrise with Jesus.

Jerry Racstan

Sunday Island Sep 30 2007

Late R. E. Thambiratnam (1929-2007)

Thambi is no more. Though I refer to him as Thambi here (and so do I when I refer him to others) yet in his presence I always addressed him as "Mr. Thambiratnam" and despite his age, erudition experience and long acquaintance he called me 'Sir'.

This appreciation is a homage I pay to a rare lawyer whom I had known for over a quarter of a century. When I went over to the Jaffna Peninsula as a District Judge and Magistrate, Thambi used to appear before me both in criminal as well as civil cases. Though criminal cases were his forte he nevertheless used to appear in many civil matters too especially money and divorce cases. I once remarked 'Mr. Thambiratnam! I am sitting here as a District Judge not as a Magistrate'. I was trying to impress upon him that you cannot web stories around a civil judge. Pat came his reply "Justice is all about law and fairplay. Civil or Criminal Judges must act after hearing both sides." When I was trying to impute that I saw through his arguments which I was not inclined to accept he put me on the defensive attributing blame on me that I had made up my mind against his client without listening to him properly. That was Thambi. He feared no one. He had a ready repartee at all times. He expected no favours from any quarters. And I appreciated his fearlessness and uprightness. He was different from many other lawyers if not most others. He would not cringe. He would not pander to the vanity of Judges. He would not try to get benefits for himself by showering private benefits on Judges. He would not unnecessarily eulogize Judges.

He fought hard in Court and many a time he and I had verbal duels. But I respected him for his forthrightness, relevancy in his submissions and cogent precision in his articulation. His was a mathematical mind. It was sometimes later during those initial years that I came to know that he was a qualified engineer. He impressed me even when he first appeared before me in Chavakachcheri. There was no beating about the bush. Straight stuff. Logical arguments. Submissions necessarily leading to deductions in his favour. If you felt the opponent's case was strong then you had to be equal to your task. Otherwise you would for sure be moved by his persuasive pleading prowess!

Thambi's brother R. J. Selvaratnam used to appear day in and day out before me in Mallakam in criminal cases. Mr. Selvaratnam's daughter Mohanthi Peiris who is the first female Major General in the Sri Lankan Army and who heads the Army's Legal Division now, was a student of mine at the Law College, Colombo. Naturally Mr. Selvaratnam and I became close as time went on since his daughter's welfare concerned both of us. Of course our political viewpoints may not have synchronized!

Mr. Thambiratnam maintained a healthy distance so much so I called the elder brother as 'Selva' while I addressed the younger brother as 'Mr. Thambiratnam'. Thambi entered University of Ceylon at the age of 17 and by 21 years he had obtained an Honours Degree in Physics. Thereafter he worked at the Bank of Ceylon for one year as a Staff trainee. In 1952 he joined the Telecommunication Department and soon won a Commonwealth Scholarship to England where he passed out as an Electrical Engineer with Honours. He served the Department thereafter for ten years. He retired on the language issue.

While in England he married his doctor wife Miss Marie Palihakkara. Thambi did his LLB (London) thereafter and went back to England and completed his Barristers Exam with Honours. While in England he sat for the Patent Examination and passed it with Honours. Very few in Sri Lanka had at that time done this examination.

From late 60s upto mid 80s he practiced in the Jaffna Peninsula and was a much sort after lawyer at that time. Then he set up practice in Colombo and appeared in civil and criminal cases both in the original courts as well as in the appellate courts. Few lawyers attempt to do so. Even if they do so very few could conduct cases in all such courts successfully. Thambi was successful. The hallmarks of such successful lawyers has been that they are capable of mastering the nuances of the underlying principles of law, they are familiar with the working of the law in practice, with human foibles and with the predilections of judges before whom they appear. Thambi was confident that he could persuade any Judge despite language difficulties.

Thambi's only daughter is a doctor settled in England and is married to the son of a colleague of mine when I practiced in Hulftdorp. When Thambi's daughter was determined to marry a choice of her own Thambi turned to me to get information about the boy's family. Renga was known to me and naturally I had good words for him. The wedding went through. It has been a successful marriage.

Thambi's granddaughter has passed out of Cambridge University and is a Doctor of the medicine. His grandson has commenced the study of law after obtaining an Honours Degree in English.

Selva, Thambi and Sabha (the latter the youngest of the brothers) were three out of six brothers hailing from Tellipalai and Vasvilan. They all attended St. Patrick's College in Jaffna. They were fourth generation students of that hallowed institution.

Thambi passed away as a shining example of how a lawyer should be - amenable, resourceful, erudite, disciplined, persevering, unyielding where one's client's case is concerned, dignified and honest.

May his Soul rest in peace for ever!

C. V. Wigneswaran,
Justice (Retd).

Nation Sunday Sep 30 2007

Rev. Fr. Phillip Motha, the knowledge age worker

Fr. Phillip Motha’s impassioned plea to the Almighty was, for him to enter eternal life peacefully in his sleep, without being a burden to anyone. God faithfully answered His servant’s prayer during the early hours of August, 6, 2007.

“Impermanence”, preached the Enlightened One, over 2,500 years ago, “is a characteristic of every condition and situation we will encounter in our lives. It will change, disappear or no longer satisfy us”.

Unknown to most of us, unlike special people like Fr Phillip, the era of the amazing Industrial Revolution, which commenced in 1707, ended in 1989. The world is now only a mere 18 years into what is termed the enlightened age of the Knowledge Worker. The year 1989 is marked by many milestones, including our own Insurrection, the Tiananmen Square Student Protests and, above all, the fantastic transformation of the Internet’s glut of data and overload of information, into the WorldWideWeb (www). This transformation, and its hidden blessing, are described as “CT’s inherent ability to unleash vital human knowledge from the bonds of repression”.

Fr Phillip Motha (Uncle Phillip to me) realised the emergence of the era of information, knowledge and wisdom, as naturally as a duck takes to water. The industrial age is characterised by a, still very much prevalent, ego-driven society. By his life, Fr. Phillip was witness to the fact that the world was becoming slowly, but steadily, an unselfish and conscience-driven, global community, despite frantic manipulation by a desperate leadership still stranded in bygone eras of human development, over millennia of years.
To the writer and many others who had the good fortune to be spiritually or otherwise, directed and guided by this man of God, Fr Phillip is the epitome of the rapidly expanding groups of spirit filled believers, who are fully aware that “this strenuous search for wisdom, is a search for God, Himself.”

Fr Phillip enjoyed the rare privilege of receiving all 7 sacraments of Catholic Christianity. His wife pre-deceased him in 1997. During her terminal illness, he personally nursed and cared for Aunty Lily, in keeping with the vows of holy matrimony. For nearly 10 years, he even carried her in his arms to the car, to take her for Sunday mass. Before he celebrated Holy Orders at the ripe, old age of 78 years, Professor Phillip Motha, the layman, was a leading practitioner and consultant in the discipline of valuation. What’s more, he emigrated to Singapore, and engaged himself in many activities, including lecturing at Singapore universities. Singapore and many institutions and individuals in other countries around the world, benefited immensely from his generous sharing of his expertise in professional valuation. He reached the pinnacle of his profession as the Chief Valuer of Sri Lanka. Later, in his academic career, too, he rose to the top most notch as the Vice-Dean, Faculty of Architecture, National University of Singapore, a rare feat, indeed, for a naturalised Singaporean. Back in Sri Lanka, he spent the final and most fruitful four years of his life as a labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. At the time of his death, he was Spiritual Director, National Peace Movement, President, Society for Justice and Peace and Chaplain, Xavarians.

On August 11, 2007, Fr. Phillip was to receive a top award for having reached the zenith of his chosen profession, namely, valuation, at a grand event organised by the Old Boys’ Association of his alma mater, St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. However, five days before the occasion, Fr. Phillip was summoned to accept his ultimate reward, leaving his elder brother Uncle Britto, to receive the award on his behalf.

Dear Fr. Phillip, you knew that I am not prone to shedding tears, however sad or emotional, the occasion is. I know that you smiled broadly, when I could not keep back my tears that just flowed at our final, earthly farewell. Thank you for being a father to me and my wife, Ramani. Thank you on behalf of the many other families you adopted as your children. When 5 of my children were stricken with dengue at the same time, and I was at Nawaloka, after undergoing prostate surgery, your powerful prayers and personal presence, took us smoothly through our difficulties. Thank you for the privilege of sharing meals with you in our home (a home you blessed at every stage of construction, from foundation stone to house-warming Holy Mass). I will always remember, how you enjoyed that tablespoon of cognac you sipped to aid your troubling digestion. 1 was humbled by you refusal, point-blank, to stock even a tiny bottle of the stuff in your room, because you lived such a principled life. My children will always remember the times you spent with them, singing your favourite songs, accompanied by my two sons on guitar and Ramani on piano.

“There were times we shared intimately, the Grace and power of Jesus. We were disillusioned about the present ethnic crisis. But I know, that Fr. Motha was hopeful, because his self-surrender to the living Jesus was still rife. “Awesome words from the funeral oration by Rev. Fr. Noel Dias.

I know that the meaningful Kingdom Project entrusted to you, as a knowledge worker, and which you carried out with dedication and much love here on earth, will bloom and accelerate, because of the vantage position you are in now.
Your life made a difference in the lives around you. Others saw Jesus, in what you said and did. Rest in the peace of the Lord, dear Fr Phillip, till we meet again.

Valentine Motha

Sunday Times Sep 26 2007

As I turn back the pages of love

Llewellyn Kulasekere

I can hardly believe that a year has gone by since God called you to His heavenly home. I recall tearfully your stay in hospital when I was by your side day and night holding your hand till death parted us. I often wish God could have spared you for a few more years, but He knew how tired you were and that you needed complete rest.

I miss you more and more every day but God has given me the strength and courage to bear my great loss. Though you are no longer with me, I feel your presence guiding me. “Oh for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still.”

Memories are such a consolation and as I turn the pages of life, I thank God for all the blessings He bestowed on us during the 56 years of our married life. It is lovely to remember the happiness we shared, the thoughtful things you did for me, and all the special ways in which you showed how much you cared. Your kind and loving ways, your sense of humour, made each day brighter and brought such lasting pleasure.

Life has been so wonderful
Because of all you’ve done
And of all the gifts you’ve given me
Love has been the greatest one.
Until we meet in Heaven above,
I’ll love you all my days

Forever yours, Manel

He cheated death of its sting, and the grave its victory

Laal Bertram Wickramasinghe

The death of Laal Wickramasinghe early this month brought together an assemblage of family and friends, who while mourning his loss, celebrated his life and times by swapping their cherished memories, of this outstanding man.

Although fighting the ravages of illness, nothing could dampen Laal’s gallant spirits or his zest for life. True, some of that boundless energy and vivacity appeared to have been missing. But that was to be expected in the circumstances, in terms of terminal illness. Yet, his strength of character is exemplified by the fact that he did not allow his debilitation to interfere with his normal activities. He underwent the rigours of medical treatment with his usual good humour and without complaint.

Certainly, he had many low points along the way. But, somehow, he kept going, kept his dignity and learnt to get something out of just about everything. And throughout, his sense of wit was never far way.

Laal, was a man of many parts, a splendid family man with an ideal marriage and a wide range of interests. He was a warm, intelligent man who loved his family and friends. Laal had time for people and built many a rewarding friendship.

He possessed an original frame of mind, not the least conventional, and had a quixotic sense of humour. I remember from his earliest days, one of his charms was that he never seemed to change. Some men become pompous as they grow older and give themselves airs, but this could never be said of Laal. To me he remained the same delightful person throughout his life, always full of bonhomie. He was often master of a telling phrase and always entertaining, amusing and at times hilarious, but never malicious. For his family and close friends accepting the burden of his illness was an ordeal that they bore with undiminished spiritual faith and prayer. As such, Laal died surrounded by love from his beloved wife, Dagma, his children, his sons-in-law, his grandchildren and numerous relatives. He had heartwarming support from Dagma, who somehow managed to remain at his side throughout his prolonged illness, nursing him like a guardian deity while keeping the family going through unbearable stress.

In the same vein Dagma, a scion of the redoubtable Tissaaratchi clan, influenced by her robust Christian faith was sustained by the presence and prayers of her family and friends. Both Laal and Dagma Wickramasinghe moved in a truly remarkable circle similar to those affectionate family groups that always maintain an intimate sense of union. And that selective group was at hand when they needed them most.

Despite the physical discomfort and mental anguish of one condemned, Laal did not lead a diminished life. He was on guard to spare his loved ones the pain to the last against the numbing shock of the inevitable. In particular, even during the final stages the shadow of death appeared to be cheated of its terrifying sting and the grim grave also was denied its gloating victory. That is primarily because he had crossed the threshold of what most mortals fear most – to dread death. Astonishingly, right to the very end he had managed to conquer the phobia of anxiety.

Where others would have succumbed to self-pity and been reduced to crumpled, crawling wrecks, Laal was vibrant, sustained no doubt by his deep and abiding Christian faith. Yet, even at the worst of times the compassionate friends’ saccharin was not for him. His end was a classic saga, both sad and heroic. With characteristic courage he kept winning a little bit every day, flashing a benign smile followed by a reassuring word for those who turned up at his bedside.

There was always a simple directness about Laal that endeared him to most people. It was something to do with his combination of winning personal charm and vitality. In all, Laal’s life was one permeated with cheer and inspiration. Yet, it was a profoundly rich life with so much joy, happiness and satisfaction, the type of contentment that money can’t buy. He loved life and the joy of living. His world was certainly a decent and happy one. He had a genius for sustaining camaraderie. He was fiercely loyal to those he loved and cared for and his carefree hours were his most delightful ones.

Laal was an extremely keen traveller and did so often, holidaying abroad with Dagma. He felt they should have at least one trip booked annually. They were often our guests when we were domiciled in Singapore and Hong Kong and we looked forward to their visits. Still those of us who were close to Laal and Dagma, such as my wife Thelma and I, are dealing with a more personal loss, as we have always considered them part of our clan and we, theirs. The gracious Tissaaratchi sisters, Dagma, Rhona and Caryl, have for decades been my wife’s closest friends and confidantes and the sorority has endured through the years.

While I pen these thoughts about someone who I was proud to count as a very close friend, I have been pondering over what makes two people from quite different career backgrounds forge into such an inexplicable bond. I am sure it had to do with a shared sense of humour. And there was that complicity in which we observed the world in a similar way and perceived the same ironies and absurdities, as if life was too big a joke to be taken too seriously.

I remember attending his last birthday celebrations at his youngest daughter Chutie’s home. He was clad nattily in a colourful designer sarong with a matching kurta. I observed him purposefully making his way towards me trying to conceal a curled lip that betrayed the beginnings of an impish grin. Finally, accosting me, he gave his sarong a slight raise and said: “I am in a mood to indulge in parliamentary behaviour.” That set off the hilarity as he threw back his head and chuckled with unsuppressed glee.

In the end, I think the quality of an appreciation can be measured by how much it makes those who knew someone such as Laal feel as if they have lost something infinitely precious and how much it makes them aware that they have benefited from associating with a personage with such an admirable, sunny disposition. But, we are consoled by our special memories mostly those happy sunlit recollections of which we have had a disproportionate share. He was an important part of our lives and of our family, and we miss him.

By Gaston de Rosayro

He never sacrificed his principles for power

Harold Herat

With the demise of Harold Herat, the country has lost a clever lawyer, sincere politician and gentleman par excellence. The two families of Herats and Coreas have lost a kinsman who lived up to the family tradition of being honest and respectable, serving the people with every nerve and fibre of their being.

I remember vividly, Harold, the smart and promising young lawyer practising in the Chilaw Courts, visiting our home to sit with my father, his uncle, C.E.Victor S. Corea for advice on family and legal matters. The fact that my father had so much of affection for his grand-nephew and spent much of his time in guiding him in those formative years at the Bar was proof of the implicit faith he had that Harold will be an embellishment to the families.

Harold Herat

Harold sacrificed a lucrative practice as a lawyer when he took to politics following in the steps of his predecessors… C.E. Corea, C.E. Victor S. Corea, Sir Claude Corea, S.C. Shirley Corea and Harindra Corea all of whom were lawyers and one-time members of the legislature. He won the Marawila seat each time he contested and was Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Coconut Industries and also Deputy Minister of Finance in successive governments.

He was loved and respected for his honesty and sincerity and was referred to as Mr. Clean on posters plastered all over his electorate during election time. No one could point an accusing finger where his honesty was concerned. It was impeccable! People expected him to be on the National List and rightly so because he held important portfolios, never lost an election and had an exemplary character as a politician.

It is no secret that he was under immense pressures to cross parties, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “I have been a UNPer and I will remain a UNPer to the last,” he said when there was speculation and people were wanting to know what his plans were. That was what Harold Herat was made of .. solid as rock and judiciously following the dictates of his conscience. A remarkable gentleman, he never sacrificed his principles for power and position. He had it all in abundance at Mudukatuwa Walauwe from his childhood days and for him there was no novelty in getting into positions of power.

The unprecedented crowds that came from near and far to pay their respects at his funeral speak volumes for the love and respect he had earned. He always had time for the people and although a staunch Christian, he played a dominant role in furthering the cause of Buddhism in his electorate. This, the Buddhist clergy expressed in no uncertain terms in their orations.

The biggest tribute that politicians can pay to Harold Herat is by emulating his sterling qualities. There should be more of his calibre… dignified human beings endowed with refinement in speech and behaviour and above all, his steadfast commitment to stick to the values he believed in.

Harold Herat was an inspiration to all who knew him. It will be ever so difficult for Gwen and the children, Shamara, Avancka and Parveen to come to grips with the reality that the void created by his absence will be a constant reminder that the affectionate tower of strength behind the family isn’t there any more. But to them I would say that gentlemen like Harold don’t die… they pass on to a better place leaving behind footprints on the sands of time.

When some day one has to describe Harold Herat, let it be said that the elements were so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world that… This was a Man!

May you find eternal happiness with your Creator.

By Sri Sangabo Corea

Remembering a man of great vitality

Ranjit Sri Nissanka

Ranjit Sri Nissanka departed this world lonely and unsung in early July. It was sad to think that Ranjit, who was the toast of the Rugger Clubs in the 1960s, led a lonely reclusive life in his last years. For over a year, he was in a hospital with only an occasional visitor and very much confined to his bed as his one-time sturdy rugger legs could no longer support his yet sturdy frame.

On my visits to him, though lamentably infrequent, he did not moan and groan but accepted his condition with a quiet stoicism.
Ranjit was a charismatic person in his heyday and when he used to reminisce at “Yamuna” he spared no details. He used to enjoy all the good things in life, particularly in his rumbustious youth. On Royal-Thomian days I remember how his father’s old Riley car was packed with his flag -waving buddies who hero-worshipped him.

Ranjit related an incident which exemplified the nature of the man. His philosophy was “I don’t mess with you and don’t mess with me”. During a religious festival in Ranjit’s youthful days, an over-zealous policeman needled him and Ranjit responded in characteristic style and ended up in the Bambalapitiya Police Station.

The Inspector getting to know that the young man in his charge was the son of the redoubtable criminal lawyer, H. Sri Nissanka, K.C. telephoned the formidable father with some trepidation! The father’s laconic reply was – “good, keep him there.”
Notwithstanding this experience, Ranjit had some close Police buddies like Muni Gomes and Sivendran of Rugger playing fame. His other close friends were Jim Amerasinghe, an experienced yachtsman and senior planter and Mahen Dayananda of Tea Tang. My association with Ranjit goes back over 45 years when he worked as a budding Tea Taster for the well known Dutch tea firm, Van Rees, which then operated within Mackwoods where I was a fledgling Executive in the early 60’s. Ranjit cut a smart figure, immaculately attired in his trademark white shorts, white shirt and knee high white stockings.

There were many facets to his unorthodox personality. He felt strongly for the less privileged in his workplace or on his coconut estate in Potuhera (Kurunegala). He addressed them as Malli, Nangi, Seeya etc., and was solicitous of their various needs.
His death was sad. It was a brief, tearful goodbye to a generous and solid friend who belonged to a rare breed of men.

By Lakshman Samarasinghe

LakbimaNews Sep 30 3007


It was with extremely profound grief that I learnt of the demise of Sabapathipillai Illangaratnam after a sudden heart attack. I venture to write this appreciation to pay homage and tribute to a great cricketer, a thorough gentleman. He was an amiable, unassuming and a unique person possessing an exemplary character. He was a colleague of mine at the Bank Of Ceylon. More than a banker I knew him as a cricketer, as I too was involved in playing cricket at inter bank, inter district, inter province tournaments organised by the bank. After premature retirement, I became a free lance reporter. I used to meet Illange almost every weekend at Bloomfield. He gave his fullest support with regard to end of the day scores to be reported to a Sunday English newspaper.

Illange, as he is called by bankers, cricketers and friends, was born on 18th Dec 1947, a native of Irupallai in Jaffna. He has had his primary and secondary education at Hindu College, Ratmalana,where he excelled at academic studies as well as in sports, particularly in cricket. With his all-round sports and academic background, he had no difficulty in finding employment at Bank of Ceylon. Initially he was appointed as a junior clerk and was assigned to the largest branch of the Bank, at that time, the City office.

Illange loved sports and perhaps had sports in his blood. No sooner he joined the bank, he wanted to take part in sports and cricket was his favourite sport. As a youth of twenty he found it difficult to find a place in the cricket team, as there were many seniors who had already cemented their places. Owing to Illange’s talent as a pace bowler and good batsman, he soon managed to find a place in the team. Some of the seniors and contemporaries were Sumithra Fernando, Brindley Perera, Asoka Perera, Rex Silva, Baba Fonseka, A. P. C. de Silva,Sripal Silva, Paramanathan, Balasubramaniam, Ranjit Wijekulasooriya and K.D.C. Perera. The contributions made by Illange were enormous as an all-rounder and on a number of occasions Bank Of Ceylon emerged champions in the A Division cricket tournaments conducted by the National Services Cricket Association.

When Illange was performing, he became a sought after cricketer, and in the early seventies he was grabbed by Moratuwa Sports Club to play Sara Trophy cricket. It was a good opening for him. He was given the opportunity to share the new ball with Sylvestor Dias. The Moratuwa S.C. team was star studded with a number of players having good reputations. R.M.Fernando, a former Thomian skipper, Bandula de siva, Bernard Perera, Daya Sirisena, Stanley Fonseka and Ransiri Peiris were some of those who played along side Illange. However Illange found it difficult to travel to Moratuwa for practices, especially after work. In addition he had to neglect the home front having two daughters to look after. His luck changed and he was absorbed to Bloomfield C &AC, where his place was cemented as a fast medium pacie and as a batsman. During this period Illange was in peak form, perhaps one of the fastest bowlers in the national squad. He was selected to play in a One Day International against Keith Flecther’s English team, just after we had received test status. At that time he was probably Sri Lanka’s fastest bowler and most batsmen terribly feared to face him. Through his personal contributions and astute captaincy Bloomfield became the worthy champions.

For a few more years he played Division 1 in the Premier league and performed admirably. He started coaching youngsters and whenever if one visited Reid avenue, Illange was sure to be there. He was in the Executive committee of the Club for a number of years. He was made the club coach for Division 2 and then appointed the coach for the Premier Division side and a life member of the club before his demise. At the Bank Of Ceylon Illange worked during the past three decades or so at the most toughest department, called the Ginthupitiya stores. All stationery orders had to be placed and executed without delay. The smooth handling of the gigantic exercise to the net work of branches scattered island wide had to be astutely handled. Luckily for Illange he had a well trained and trusted staff that supported him wholeheartedly.

It was extremely unfortunate as Illange passed away just 5 months before he reached his 60th birthday. Had he lived upto the age of 60 the management and the staff may have accorded him the biggest farewell accorded to any member of the staff in the annals of the history of Bank Of Ceylon, for the yeomen service extended to the institution. He was one person who was known to almost every member of staff, personally or by name.

The sudden demise of my colleague SABAPATHIPILLAI ILLANGARATNAM is a rude unbearable shock to all who knew him. To his beloved wife Kalavalli and two daughters Gyathri and Abirami his demise is difficult. May the turf lie softly over him. After a special Pooja, The President of the Bloomfield A & AC Upali Dharmadasa, the founder of the club Shelly Wickremasinghe and members of the club, players past and present very appropriately unveiled a photograph of late Sabapathipillai Illangaratam at the Bloomfield pavilion on 20th September in the presence of his family members at a solemn ceremony. Sri Lanka’s first Test Skipper, Bandula Warnapura, a Bloomfield stalwart, played a big part in organising this function and valuable cash donations were made by the club, players and well wishers to Mrs Illangaratnam.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mount Lavinia

Nation Sunday Sep 23 2007

Goodbye Winston!

Veteran journalist and senior sub editor Winston Rodrigo passed away this week.
Winston began his journalistic career, at the now defunct Times of Ceylon and ended it at The Nation.
In between these two local editorials, he worked in Kuwait for 10 long years for a bank journal. Throughout his journalsitc career he was a sub-editor par-excellence and wrote the occasional article under the pseudonym W. Aiyar.
As a tribute to Winston we publish today his last article on The Peterite Singers and musicians of old.
He hails from a musical family and was a die-hard Peterite.
Winston, who was with us from the inception, was a ‘guru’ in the English language and a walking encyclopaedia at that.
His cupboard at office and his house at Dehiwela were full of books on all subjects. Ironically, at the time of his death, the last book he was reading was Ian Wilson’s “The After Death Experience.”
Winston leaves behind his sister Electa and her family.
During his 18 months at The Nation, he was regular at work and never complained and never missed an office get-together.
He adopted the office cat ‘Manju’ and diligently fed him with special cat food and vitamins he carried all the way from the supermarket.

Winston, we will miss you! May your soul rest in peace!

Sunday Leader Sep 16 2007

S. Illangaratnam

It was with profound grief I learnt of the sudden demise of Sabapathipillai Illangaratnam after a heart attack. I venture to write this appreciation to pay homage and tribute to a great cricketer and a thorough gentleman.

Illangaratnam was an amiable, unassuming and a unique person possessing an exemplary character. He was a colleague of mine at the Bank of Ceylon. More than as a banker I knew him as a cricketer, as I too was playing cricket at inter-bank, inter-district, and inter-province tournaments organised by the bank.

I became a freelance reporter after premature retirement and used to meet Illange almost every weekend at Bloomfield. At the end of the day he helped me immensely in reporting the scores to a Sunday English newspaper.

Illange as he was called by bankers, cricketers and friends, was born on December 18, 1947, and was a native of Irupalai in Jaffna. He has had his primary and secondary education at Hindu College, Ratmalana, where he excelled in academic studies as well as in sports particularly in cricket. With his all-round sports and academic background, he had no difficulty in finding employment at the Bank of Ceylon. Initially he was appointed as a junior clerk and was posted to the City Office, the largest branch of the bank at that time.

Illange loved sports and perhaps had sports in his blood. No sooner he joined he wanted to take part in sports activities, and cricket was his favourite sport. As a youth who had just turned 20 he found it difficult to secure a place in the cricket team as there were many seniors who had already cemented their places. But owing to his talent as a pace bowler and a good batsman, he managed to find a place in the team. Some of his seniors and contemporaries were Sumithra Fernando, Brindley Perera, Asoka Perera, Rex Silva, Baba Fonseka, A.P.C de Silva, Sripal Silva, Paramanathan, Balasubramaniam, and Ranjit Wijekulasooriya.

The contribution made by Illange as an all rounder was enormous and on a number of occasions, the Bank of Ceylon emerged champions in the A division cricket tournaments conducted by the Nationalised Services’ Cricket Association.

When Illange was playing, he became a sought after cricketer, and in the early ’70s he was grabbed by Moratuwa Sports Club to play Sara Trophy cricket, which was a good opening for him. He was given the opportunity to share the new ball with Sylvester Dias. The Moratuwa S.C. team was star studded with a number of players having a good reputation. R.M.Fernando a former Thomian skipper, Bandula de Silva, Bernard Perera, Daya Sirisena, Stanley Fonseka and Ransiri Peiris were some of those who played alongside Illange.

However Illange found it difficult to travel all the way to Moratuwa for practices, especially after work. In addition he had to neglect the home front having two daughters to look after. It was at this time that he was absorbed into the Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club, where his place was cemented as a fast medium pacer and as a batsman. During this period Illange was in peak form, perhaps one of the fastest in the national squad. He was selected to play in the One Day International against Keith Fletcher’s English team, just after we had got test status.

Illange was very fortunate to play alongside test players of the calibre of Bandula Warnapura, Lalith Kaluperuma, Jayantha Seneviratne, Anura Ranasinghe, Flavian Aponsu and Ajit de Silva. Illange was fortunate to have established a permanent place at the Bloomfield Club. He was appointed skipper of the club’s Division 2 team in the years 1993 and 1994. Through his personal contribution and astute captaincy Bloomfield became the champions.

For a few more years he played Division 1 in the Premier league and performed admirably. When he got to know that many youngsters were waiting for a place, he started coaching youngsters and whenever one visited the Reid Avenue venue, Illange was sure to be there. He was in the executive committee of the club for a number of years, He was made the club coach for Division 2 and then appointed the coach for the Premier Division side until his demise.

At Bank of Ceylon, Illange worked during the past three decades or so at the most toughest department called the Ginthupitiya stores where all stationery orders had to be placed and executed without delay. The smooth handling of the gigantic exercise to the network of branches scattered islandwide had to be astutely handled. Luckily for Illange he had a well-trained and trustworthy staff that supported him wholeheartedly. To be honest there was no one to take over his work as it was a tough assignment.

It was extremely unfortunate that Illange passed away just five months before he reached his 60th birthday. Had he lived up to 60 years the management and the staff may have accorded the biggest farewell accorded to any member of the staff in the annals of the history of Bank of Ceylon for the yeomen service rendered to the institution.

The sudden demise of my colleague Sabapathipillai Illangaratnam is an unbearable shock to all who knew him. To his beloved wife Kalavalli and the two daughters Gayathri and Abirami his demise is irreparable.

May the turf lie softly over him.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mt. Lavinia

Nation - Sunday Sep 16 2007

Captain Nadun Saminda Tilakaratne

Captain Galaboda Madduma Mudiyanselage Nadun Saminda Tilakaratne was seriously injured during a military operation in Toppigala area on September 8, 2007, died on admission to Polonnaruwa General Hospital.

Born on September 30, 1982 in Ratnapura, Saminda Tilakaratne was educated at R/ Siduhath Vidyalaya, and R/Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya up to GCE Advanced Level. After leaving school he joined the Sri Lanka Army as a cadet officer on July 5, 2002 when Sri Lanka was facing a serious terrorist threat. He was posted to the Gemunu Regiment on May 27, 2005 after passing out from the Military Academy Diyathalawa where he successfully completed his two and half year Cadet Officer Training. Later he followed the Young Officers’ Course, and the Radar Training Course. Captain Thilakaratne was a valiant and popular military official who commanded high recognition among his colleagues. He has been recommended for the award of Ranashura and Purnabhumi Medals and the Deshaputra award in appreciation of his valour and the dedicated services in the battle field until he laid down his life for the country.
May he attain Nibbana.

A.K.Karunaratne (RSP)
6th Gemunu Regiment

Neil Peiris

The passing away of Neil Peiris at a time when it was least expected, has sent shock waves among his numerous friends and has left a void that cannot be easily filled.

A scion of a very respectable family of Moratuwa he had his secondary education at Methodist High School Moratumulla, Moratuwa. He was brilliant in his academic activities and played cricket for the school, shining as a very good all rounder. After successful scholarly life he joined the Government Clerical Service. While attached to the Govt. Service he served the Trade and Commerce Ministry as the Personal Assistant to the then Minister. Following success at the Competitive Overseas Examination conducted by the Foreign Ministry he joined the Government Overseas Service and his first appointment was to Burma and then to Canada. After sometime he resigned from the Overseas Service and joined the Canadian Government Service as an Accountant and served the Canadian Government. for thirty years.

He returned to Sri Lanka in 1996 and the role he played along with me in the formation of the Past Pupils’ fellowship of Methodist High School is indeed magnificent and will be etched in our memories forever. He led an unpretentious and simple life and true to the teachings of the Bible was always ready and willing to help the poor and the needy and in the course of such acts, his left hand knew not what his right hand gave. He was married to Cora Van Cuylenberg and was blessed with a daughter. A dutiful and loving father he maintained brotherly relations with everybody he met. He was a devoted Christian. God gave and God took him away. He left all of us leaving only good memories behind.

May his soul rest in peace

Edwin A Fernando
Old Boys’ Fellowship Methodist High School Moratumulla Moratuwa

Piyal Weeraman

Piyal Weeraman is no more. After ailing for some time, he passed away on May 22, 2007. According to his wishes, his mortal remains were cremated on the same day at Borella Kanatta.
Piyal Weeraman hailed from a family of great respect in Weligama and he was living in Panadura. After he married Sunethra, they were living in Nawala. His only daughter Sanchitha and her husband are living in the States.

Weeraman started his career as a journalist at Davasa Group and subsequently he joined the Advertising Department where he served as the Advertising Manager and thereafter he was promoted to the post of Director Advertising and Business. Being a strict disciplinarian, he strived to inculcate a high standard of morality in his colleagues in the Advertising Department. Punctuality was strictly followed in the Department.

He was a dedicated, efficient, hardworking and a rare gentleman of impecable intergrity, refinement and unchanging kindness. He has helped many poor people and children. He was also a sportsman and an Ex President of the Orient Club, Colombo.
He was too the chief entertainer and performer at all office and family gatherings. He was very popular among advertising agencies. The Management of the Davasa Group recognised him as a person of high calibre. He received wide-spread recognition for his high sense of devotion to duty and made a renowned name in the Davasa Group.

May he attain Nibbhana
Jayantha Ameratunga

Sunday Times Sep 16 2007

Kind and courageous, he defended the man who killed a prime minister

Lucien Weeramantry

The passing away of Attorney-at-Law Lucien Gregory Weeramantry on August 17, 2007 has cast a gloom amongst the legal fraternity at Hulftsdorp and his wide circle of friends both in Sri Lanka and abroad. It is not my intention to write about his unmatched international achievements which I am certain many others more knowledgeable would record for posterity.

I write this appreciation to speak of Lucien Weeramantry the lawyer I knew at the Bar and nothing more. After I was called to the Bar in May 1959 I had the good fortune of instructing Lucien Weeramantry in my very first case which was the trial of the then National football coach in a cheque fraud case. Lucien, who was many years my senior, in all humility insisted that I refer to him simply by his first name and never add the prefix 'Mr' or 'Sir' when addressing him which is usually the legal tradition adopted by juniors at the Bar when addressing their seniors. This instantly endeared him as a lifelong true friend for many decades to follow.

Lucien was blessed with a pleasant face with an enigmatic smile which he used to the maximum in his court craft. He was courteous almost to a fault and his charming manners would encircle many a stoic judge who often had no option but to succumb to his pleadings on behalf of his clients.

His philosophy was ‘study the judge first, and then the brief’. I witnessed in amazement how this theory worked in my very first case with him. The judge in that case was an ardent lover of classical music. The accused in the case apart from being the national fooball coach was the leader of a famous orchestra in the country.

Lucien used this to good measure and during the course of his address in court repeatedly, almost ad nauseam, described the accused as “a musician of no mean repute” till he was certain that he had struck the correct chord in the judge’s heart. Then, and only then, did Lucien rest his case and his client was discharged.

A couple of years later, 1961 to be exact, fate decreed that Lucien and I should appear for the defence of three of the main accused in the country’s most sensational murder case, that of the assassination of then Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. Lucien appeared for the assassin Talduwe Somarama Thera and my clients were Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thera and H.P. Jayawardena, the 1st and 2nd accused respectively.

Being in almost general control of the defence it fell on me to retain a counsel for Somarama Thera, which was no easy task due to the political climate at the time. However, Lucien when approached by me had no hesitation in accepting the challenge and the dedication he exhibited thereafter in the course of the Supreme Court trial towards his client in the face of tremendous odds earned the admiration of all including the trial judge, T.S. Fernando, Q.C., who when addressing Somarama Thera before sentence of death was passed on him remarked, inter alia, “You have been defended by counsel, who has throughout these long and arduous proceedings exhibited towards your case a devotion which has been the admiration of everyone in this court. But having regard to the strength of the evidence against you, there has been, in my view, no counsel yet born who could have saved you.”

I do not think any court in this country, least of all the Supreme Court, has ever paid such a glowing tribute to counsel in a case. Lucien full deserved it.

In the ensuing appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, Lucien filed a petition setting out 60 grounds and argued it for full five days before a bench of five judges presided over by Chief Justice Hema Basnayake Q.C. which again had little success. But Lucien was a great fighter and a further appeal was presented to the Privy Council against the Appeal Court verdict.

Having obtained the services of eminent English Counsel D.N. Pritt, Q.C., Lucien and I prepared the necessary brief to be sent over to London. In doing so, I had referred to Somarama as the 'assassin'. When Lucien spotted this he was visibly upset and asked me to correct it to read “the alleged assassin”. Such was the devotion of the man to his client whose interest Lucien always held to be paramount. By this he also exhibited his control of legal phraseology.

Weeramantry’s book “Assassination of a Prime Minister” published in Geneva, Switzerland in 1969 is sufficient proof of the sterling qualities of Lucien wherein he details the reasons which prompted him to appear for Somarama at the trial. In his preface to the book he says, “The monk’s case was a very difficult one, but I felt that a lawyer should not refuse a brief because the case was hard, because the cause was unpopular or because the person killed was a prime minister. Every individual was entitled to the service of counsel and to a full and fair trial. I therefore agreed to accept the brief, subject to my being able to make suitable arrangements in regard to my other professional commitments.”

His sacrifice receives emphasis by the fact that the trial lasted nearly three months on a day-to-day sitting, 97 witnesses were heard and the proceedings ran into more than 3,500 pages of typescript.

Another moving moment which should not go unrecorded was when the day of Somarama’s execution drew near. Lucien telephoned me the day before the execution and wanted me to accompany him to the death row at the Welikada Prison to see Somarama for the last time. We went there the evening before the execution but our mission did not succeed as the authorities refused to grant us permission. Lucian, however, managed to convince the prison guards to at least inform Somarama that we had come to see him but was not granted access.

The sight of the hangman hurriedly going about the last minute preparations for the next morning's execution was too much for Lucien’s heart to bear and we left the prison in stunned silence.

Lucien Weeramantry was a gentleman to his fingertips. He was always well groomed and immaculately dressed and enjoyed the fruits of life to its full. He thoroughly enjoyed the life in court in the mornings as much as he did the evenings. He was one of Hulftsdorp’s most glamorous lawyers at the time I joined the profession. Nothing could worry him because he was always strongly in control of any situation. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

By Kirthisiri Jayasinghe.

Guru gedera and lessons in life my principal father taught me

Kavindra Piyadasa Amerasekera

Kavindra Piyadasa of Sekara Sewana, Gothatuwa, my beloved father died on July 15, 1963, yet he is etched in my memory. He led an exemplary life which still has a profound influence on the lives of his five children — Hemamaly, Swarnapalie (myself), Manoranjani, Chandragupta Jananatha and Deshabandu.

My father was well-built and pleasant looking. He was a school principal. He loved teaching and dedicated his whole life to his students. A strict disciplinarian, he groomed his children to face society. He retired after 40 years of service, but even after retirement he dedicated himself to teaching.

He built a small school adjoining our house because he wanted to teach the children of the village. It was free tuition, something unheard of today. Of his five children, three are teachers, including myself and he requested us to teach in his school, but insisted that no fees should be levied from pupils.

I must confess that we three as young people were slightly dismayed but complied with his request, as we did not want to hurt his feelings. He advised us that teaching free was a great merit, for “knowledge is the greatest wealth”.

As we matured, we felt the same. Our house was popularly known as ‘Guru Gedara’. My father looked quite young for his age. He used to boast that his good appearance and good health were attributed to teaching and that “a teacher never grows old, because he is always with the young ones and is always young in mind”. He would tell his friends in jest that he would be teaching until they saw his obituary notice in the newspapers.

He was a keen Sinhala scholar, writer and poet. He was awarded the prestigious title ‘Kavindra’ for the poetry book ‘Siyuru Sandesaya’. He often wrote Sinhala articles and poems especially to Sunday newspapers and I often recollect with a deep feeling of nostalgia how as a teenager, I would sit cosily in an arm chair in our verandah and enjoy reciting my father’s poems with gusto.A devout Buddhist, he was a loving husband, affectionate father and fine family man. My mother, Dharmalatha Gnanawathie, was a religious lady, full of practical wisdom. A school principal herself, she was the ideal wife for my father, and we were brought up according to Buddhist teaching and Sinhala traditional values.

My father was a voracious reader. He used to buy a book every month when he got his salary. My mother also followed his example and we had a good library at home. He even lent these books to the children of his school.

Two of his outstanding virtues were his simplicity and generosity. He believed that a certain amount of money was essential to lead a happy life, but he never wanted excessive wealth. An ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he led a simple life.

He had green fingers and had planted almost every kind of delicious fruits such as mangoes, pineapples etc., in his spacious garden. He kept only our share and distributed the rest lavishly among neighbours.

As I conclude this tribute another important incident flashes through my mind. I became the happy recipient of a prestigious gold award for excellence as an English writer, and it was because of the good habit of reading which he inculcated in me, since I was a small child.

My dearest father passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 75, leaving a void in my heart that can never be filled. I try to find solace in the Dhamma that all living things are transient but the foot prints he has left in the sands of time are indelible. They guide me forever. May he attain Nibbana!

By Swarnapalie Amerasekera.

The Island Sat Sep 15 2007

Eksath Liyanage

When Muhandiram Liyanage and Mrs. Liyanage named their four sons Teekshana, Eksath, Rasika and Udyoga, what they may have had in their minds was to name each one after a supreme quality of human virtues that would make them successful in life and also their lives a success. The four bothers, I believe, did live up to their parents' expectations and to date these four names are the best I have come across as having been used to name four brothers.

This appreciation is written in the memory of Eksath, who departed life a year ago. Eksath was the second of the four and the most ebullient too. We first met in the classroom of St. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia and soon became friends. To have struck a friendship that early in life, there must have been something common in us, I believe.

Eksath's school career was spent mostly at the College hostel. That was the brothers' second home as it was for many a Thomian. Unlike the others, he never participated in any sports but made up for it by contributing in his own way to the spirit and gaiety of hostel life. At that time this merrymaking did cross the limits of accepted behaviour coming into direct confrontation with the law enforcers of the school - the prefects. But the very cordial friendship the older brother Teekshana had with the prefects intervened and got the offender out of trouble with only a token punishment. An incident I remember well is how -he welcomed me to the College hostel. My father had accompanied me to the Copleston House dormitory and Eksath in his customary self walked up to him and said "Don't worry uncle, we'll look after him. You just leave him and go". The manner in which he said that was not very much to the liking of my father and to make matters worse, another friend walked up to him clad only in a short towel and said, "Don't worry uncle, we'll teach him everything what he needs to know as a hosteller". I still remember the apprehensive face of my father when he was leaving. As for the teaching, yes they taught me indeed. Not just theory but, with practicals too.

Eksath's relationship with the books was of cold war nature. He loved knowledge, gossip and was always well informed, but often wondered why examinations were necessary to test him. His abundance of knowledge of life was soon to be seen after he left college and assumed command of the flourishing business on the demise of his father. Soon the younger brothers joined him and then followed a period of life that perhaps will remain unparalled in the lives of most us. With plenty of money to throw around, earning by the hundreds of thousands he launched himself on a journey of partying, merrymaking, earning and spending. No occasion of fun was compete without him. His unique style of behaviour and an irresistible desire to poke fun at others unacceptable behaviour, gave us a peep into his sincere character. All this contributed unabated until we all walked the plank of marriage. The others willingly or unwillingly toned down, but Eksath I am afraid wanted to continue in the same manner. I know this was not to the liking of his dear wife and later the children. But then that was Eksath. He however, became a good husband and father and was elated at the success of his children at the examinations. Also later he retracted his opinion about examinations.

We used to meet very often the best being the time we had at the class get together and the hostellers get together. With his old hostel mates he just abandoned himself to the passions, nostalgia and great moments of life spent together. The younger bothers joined in equal passion. That they were so much liked by the others around was amply visible. Then the deadly disease struck.

He was in and out of hospital during the last two years. The occasional moments of remission he had during the time was enough for him to momentarily forget the disease and plan for the future. His sense of humour never left him and wit was now sharper than ever. At times even in the midst of pain he would say something that would send us into roars of laughter. He knew the disease was terminal and faced it with courage and fortitude.

Eksath's younger brother Rasika fell victim to the disastrous tsunami together with his sister - in - law. This single act robbed him of his usual exuberance and the loss of life and property subdued him both in spirit and effect. He never fully recovered from this shock and this perhaps sparked off the deadly disease too. To add a word about Rasika, the quintessential hosteller, we miss you too.

You may have departed our company my friend, but your memories are still fresh in our minds. The huge fun you accorded us all will be remembered with gratitude. Fifty two years is hardly an age to go, but what you did during fifty two years others might not be able to do in double that time. You lived my dear to the fullest when you were living.

These days the heavenly skies appear to be noisy. The torrential rains are an indication of some kind of hyper activity there. An unmistakable sign of your presence.

Why not use that absolute charm of yours and make some reservations - that is if they permit early bookings so that someday we can join you and continue from where we left. Until then good-bye my dear friend.

Parakrama Jayasinghe (Packy)

The Sunday Times Sep 9 2007

She saw through the glass of sham

Clare Senewiratne

"Dust to the dust! But the pure spirit shall flow
Back to the burning fountain whence it came,
A portion of the eternal…
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Throughout human history, in our own lives and our experience there have been, and we are fortunate indeed if we have in the least way associated with them, those "pure spirits" whose passing away into another dimension is an incalculable loss to us who are left behind.

Clare, my colleague in the absorbing, exciting sphere of journalism, my dear friend for over half a century, a woman admired, honoured, respected, recognized as gifted and respected for her courage and commitment, her zeal, her complete honesty and sheer forthrightness in every sentence she ever wrote.

The "written word", said the poet W.H. Auden, "doth long remain". I have met many people, both women and men, who told me, "We have preserved her fine Editorials in files and scrapbooks".

Clare wrote with a tang, with a pithy turn of phrase that could sting at times and when necessary and in a way that reached into the very core of her themes. She spotlighted human cupidity, insensitivity, the base, the shoddy and the false, also the fine things in life. She saw through the glass of sham and affectation very clearly and being a writer, she had the opportunity to courageously expose it all. She could never be influenced, nor could one "curry favour" with Clare, she was never impressed with a show of grandeur or power. She possessed, amply the power of the pen, far mightier than the sword. She despised cant and fawning, was scathing in her denunciation of it. She called a spade a spade even if, sometimes, it made some people uncomfortably squirm! She was an ardent champion of human rights especially of the rights of children and devoted much space in LANKA WOMAN to highlighting the violation of their rights.

Clare joined Lake House in 1950, the same year I did. That was its golden era, everyone and everything was larger than life. I have worked on practically every English newspaper published in this country for the past fifty years but I have never known editors of the calibre of those great and erudite men, who edited the Lake House newspapers at that time, who made the best of the abilities of persons like Clare. Soon she was editing the Daily News Women's pages, when Anne left to look after her growing family. Clare was also contributing columns to the Sunday Observer. CAMEO was much looked forward to by readers.

I was very young and I looked up to Clare as an older sister, a mentor and guide who always gave me sound practical advice and guidance. She had been a teacher for some years and had already found her feet. And Lake House, like all newspaper offices, was always a simmering cauldron of ideas, opinions, attitudes, activities, reactions, dominated by deadlines.

We both attended Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya where she had distinguished herself. Her name was on the Roll of Honour and in 1998 when, for the first time the past pupils of HFC and the school decided to honour some of its alumni with "Awards for Achievement", Clare was a worthy recipient. She always claimed it was the Award she most appreciated and she won many in her career.

By then she was the celebrated Editor of the popular tabloid, LANKA WOMAN. Few, except Anne, Delerine, Daphne, Beryl, Dr. Pam and myself realized what an onerous task was hers to ensure that every Wednesday LANKA WOMAN, bright, breezy, full of goodness was out on the news stands. Her own talent and flair gave LANKA WOMAN its special character, but Clare had the rare ability to spur her team to produce the best they were capable of, to inspire them to venture into creative writing as well as reportage. That is why Clare's LANKA WOMAN captivated its readers. Week after week for 20 long years and every issue as fresh, as different as a new day. She provided a tabloid that suited every age group, had something for everyone who read it and was of absorbing interest to every member of the family.

Her pungent wit was always lively. Her acid comments on the "goings on" all around us, politically, socially, pseudo-culturally were a delight to hear. She saw so well how the carousel was revolving at breakneck speed and would sooner rather than later collapse, be scattered into small pieces. It saddened her as it does all those of us who remain sane in a mad mad world. What she saw multiplying was man's sycophancy, the long rows of despicable torch bearers, the frightening manner in which the moral fibre of Society is being destroyed, the terrifying destruction not only of life in the theatre of conflict, but also of values and above all the perfidious corruption of the young.

Now you are gone to your golden glory there is no one left to talk these things over as you and I have done in all these years. But I take comfort from the poet's words and think of you as "still the same". I say with him, "you are not dead, but gone away". And remember that

"There is no death! The stars go down
To rise upon some fairer shore;
And bright in Heaven's jewelled crown
They shine forever more."

I have been enriched by knowing and working with you. Rest in peace; you have served your times and made the world a better place for your having been here.

By Maureen Seneviratne.

An expert on rice he worked with quiet efficiency

Dharmawansa Senadhira

July 7, 2007 marked the ninth death anniversary of Dr. Dharmawansa Senadhira. It was on July 7, 1998, that he was killed instantly in a freak road accident in Bangladesh, when "Sena" as we affectionately called him, was travelling in a bus together with a group of scientists, who had gathered in Dhaka, for a seminar/workshop to discuss technology for rice production in the flood plains of Bangladesh.

At the time of his death, Dr. Senadhira, was serving as a senior scientist attached to the International Rice Research Institute ( IRRI), Los Banos, in the Philippines. He was a renowned rice breeder with many years of service as the head of the then Central Rice Breeding Station, Batalagoda, of the Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Senadhira was an agricultural scientist who contributed immensely to increasing the productivity of rice in Sri Lanka, by breeding and introducing new improved varieties of rice in association with his team of scientists. This was accomplished through utilizing plant breeding technology and his inherent knack for rice plant selection from among the progenies that he generated. More importantly, in the process he also paved the way for building up of a team of rice breeders and relevant scientists at Batalagoda and other Rice Research Centres of the Department of Agriculture, who are carrying on with gusto, the good work that was initiated by him and his predecessor who was Dr. Hector Weeraratne, of "H-4" fame.

Sena was a simple person with humane qualities and was a popular figure at the Faculty of Agriculture (of the then University of Ceylon, Peradeniya) as well as at Mars Hall where he resided. Sena was a man of a few words, which were made to the point and he lent a quiet efficiency to whatever he did and as to be expected, he ended up with a second- class upper division B.Sc (Agri) degree in 1967. It was in 1976 that Sena earned his Ph.D in Plant Breeding from the University of Davis, California, after a three year period of post-graduate training. Subsequently, Sena rose up to be the head of the CRBS, Batalagoda (the present Rice Research & Development Institute-RRDI), and was in that position up to the mid-80s, when he joined IRRI as a Scientist in the Plant Breeding Dept.

Having joined IRRI, Sena did not distance himself from Sri Lanka. He made frequent visits to Sri Lanka and used to come over and stay at Batalagoda, providing the much sought after advice and guidance to the researchers. He also made use of these visits to meet his friends here. For those of us who visited Los Banos when Sena was there, I am sure happy memories of Sena's lavish hospitality at his home are forever to stay.

Sena's professional work was highly acclaimed here and abroad. He received a Presidential Award in 1982, along with his team of scientists (including his able successor, Dr. Dhanapala) in recognition of their contribution to rice research in Sri Lanka. Subsequently, he also was awarded the FAO CERES Medal, in recognition of his research work. In addition to a number of awards he received later at IRRI, Dr. Senadhira was also nominated for the prestigious Koshihikari International Award offered by Japan and this Award was bestowed posthumously in September, 1998.

Important scientific papers published by Dr.Senadhira were collected with the help of Dr. Dhanapala (former Director, RRDI) and Dr. Sumith Abeysiriwardana, then Director, RRRDI, in 2001/2002 and compiled by Dr. Nimal Ranaweera, then Addl. Secretary/Project Development, Ministry of Agriculture and myself, with the support of Mr. Stanley Senadhira, beloved brother of Sena. This document which is of much value to Agricultural Researchers in general and to Rice Breeders in particular was recently published at significant cost, by Stanley and copies have been sent (gratis) to important institutions, here and abroad, for their use, in memory of Sena.

I sincerely hope that these few lines on this simple but great man will rekindle memories of him in the minds of those who knew about him and also help others to have some awareness of him. May he attain eternal peace.

By Bedgar Perera

He did not bow down and we bow to his memory

K.C. Kamalasabeyson

Speech made by Nihal Jayamanne PC, President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka at the Bar Council meeting held on August 28 at the Bar Council Auditorium at a special reference to K.C. Kamalasabeyson PC – former Attorney General.

This morning The Bar Association of Sri Lanka remembers and honours the memory of a good and honest gentleman K.C. Kamalasabeyson PC, the former Attorney-General of Sri Lanka.

The constitution of the BASL reserves a special place to two gentlemen of the Official Bar. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General. The Solicitor General is the Receiving Officer at the Election of the President and the Secretary of the BASL. The Attorney-General traditionally presides over the proceedings of the Annual Convocation and inducts each year the newly elected President of the BASL.

Mr. Kamalasabeyson had presided over eight convocations during his long and illustrious career as the Attorney General of this country. I myself had the honour of being inducted by him in 2006 and 2007. Kamal and I were good friends for the last 40 years. Our friendship started at Law College where we were both Advocate Students. He was junior to me. I passed out in 1970 and he was in the last Batch of Advocates who passed out, before the fusion of the profession. In 1969 I contested the post of President of the Law Students Union and Kamal worked for me as did all the law students at that time from Trincomalee.

I won that election against N.R. Fernando, now Dr. Ranjith Fernando, a leading lawyer in the Court of Criminal Appeals. After I became the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka my friendship with Kamal was revitalized as we had to meet often as the heads of the unofficial and the official Bars.

We instinctively understood each other and there was a rare bond between us and that relationship helped to solve many problems. We worked together and discussed issues of mutual concern in confidence to safeguard the integrity of the Bar and that of the process of Administration of Justice.

He and I always acted with dignity and upheld the great traditions of the Bar. At ceremonial sittings of the Supreme Court when both of us had to make speeches, we always consulted each other so as to avoid repetition. It was important in this sad age of deteriorating standards for both of us to act sternly and diplomatically to contain the downward slide. And both of us achieved it.

Kamalasabeyson took over the office of the Attorney General at a difficult period in the history of our country. The invasion of politics and politicians into our everyday life which started in the early 1970s had grown to alarming proportions during the period of his office.

All issues were complicated and defiled by the sickening and the frightening miasma of politics. We pay homage to Kamalasabeyson for he withstood with courage and dignity this overpowering force. He did not bow down and we bow to the memory of that man who stood straight to the last.

I take the liberty of repeating a portion of my oration made at the funeral of my good friend Kamal.“It is not necessary for me to praise Kamal nor is it necessary for me to speak of his achievements. No doubt others will. Suffice it to state that Kamal was a very successful human being. My only regret is that this good man’s life was taken away so soon at the intellectually young age of 58 years. He could have contributed immensely to the progress of our country in so many ways, if his life was spared by destiny for at least a decade more. But then remember and have solace in the knowledge that –

The condiment in life is death.”
Gone, Gone, Gone… forever gone.
From what is,
To what never was,
But yet is,
And forever and ever shall be.

May his athma merge with that of the eternal.

The Sunday Times Sep 2 2007

Personal to Clare: With love from a niece

Clare Senewiratne

Much has been written about her, and will continue to be written about her professionalism, writing skills and the indelible mark she made on the world of Sri Lankan journalism, but few outside her immediate family knew who she really was. For despite being a public personality, Aunty Clare was a private person, and guarded her privacy jealously.

This virtual obsession with privacy was a reason why she strongly discouraged visits to her hospital bedside – except for a small handful of those close to her -- which was rather misunderstood by some. I was one of the privileged few, and each time she entered hospital she would ask Viraj if he had informed me. No matter how bad she had been feeling that day, she would gather up her strength to greet me with a strong ‘Renuks’ (her ‘pet’ name for me) and reach for my hand. Even on my last visit to her, when she was barely conscious, she woke out of her stupor to utter my name in as strong a voice as she could muster, before lapsing into semi-consciousness.

She was strong, forthright and decisive. Nothing and nobody could budge her from her opinion on any matter, once it had been formed, and woe betide the hapless soul who dared argue with her! Her ‘Personal from Clare’ editorials and the content of the Lanka Woman, which appealed to women and men of all ages, won her a loving and devoted band of readers, an achievement that few editors can boast of. Many were the letters and ‘phone calls that the ‘Dear Editor’ received, and many were the accolades. Her forthright and fearless editorials deriding corruption in the Government inspired respect among her readers, but had her family consumed with concern for her safety. Aunty Clare was ‘straight’ – in every sense of the word, and made no bones about it. I remember reading with some considerable amusement her exchanges with a group of gays on the subject of sexual deviations, on which she had strong opinions that went against the grain of modern permissiveness.

I was one of the very first models for Lanka Woman. I was at university at the time, and she titled my modelling debut ‘Sweet Girl Graduate’. Nobody could have been prouder of the ‘fan mail’ I received, and she insisted on publishing some of the letters!

Although I started my career as a journalist at Lake House, this was a line I didn’t pursue, preferring to veer off into the more lucrative area of public relations. Aunty Clare never argued with my choice of profession, but she did, at times, indicate that she would like me to contribute to Lanka Woman, an invitation that I, unfortunately, did not take up, pleading the excuse of a lack of time to write. Finally, she bearded the lion in her den and asked me if I would review ‘Evita’. Her praise of the write-up was lavish. She told me that it should be displayed as an example of a well written review. Aunty Clare rarely praised anyone, so praise from her was praise indeed, and I revelled in it.

Just weeks before she entered hospital, she ‘phoned home and, rather unusually, happened to reach me. She and I had a long long chat, speaking of matters close to the heart. She then told me that I had a command of the language and a way with words that few in my generation possessed, and advised me not to neglect this talent. This was the first time I realized that she had such a high opinion of my writing skills. We probably had more in common than we realised.

She inspired awe and respect wherever she went, particularly within the precincts of Wijeya. Whereas Uncle Nanda, who was the perennial nice guy, everybody’s buddy and helper, was always called hamu mahattaya, Aunty Clare would, more often than not, be referred to in hushed tones as ‘Madame’, and the service staff dared not thwart ‘Madame’ in any way and earn a sharp reprimand. Their strong presence at her funeral was a tribute to the ‘Madame’ they loved and respected.

Aunty Clare was never an overly demonstrative person, but The Family came first for her and she would down tools to fly to our side at the slightest hint of trouble, to take up cudgels on our behalf.

She was one of my greatest comforters and supports during the dark days of my life when I made the decision to walk away from a failed marriage, a decision that shocked and alarmed the family, which didn’t know quite how to cope with such an unprecedented situation. Her own life was not without trouble and tribulation. She weathered the storms by refusing to dwell on unpleasantness and unhappiness, blocking them completely from her mind.

She will always be a part of my happy and carefree childhood and girlhood, of long lazy Sundays at my grandmother’s home in Athuruguriya, where we children ‘skinned our hearts and skinned our knees’, exploring the wilderness, fishing for ‘guppies’ in the crystal clear streams, lighting fireworks, and sitting around at sing songs during gatherings of our close-knit family.

Our trips to the wilds of Yala, Wilpattu and Wasgamuwa are some of my most memorable. Ours is a family of nature lovers and Aunty Clare was at its forefront. The only times I saw her enthusiasm for wild life wane was when she encountered the outdoors indoor, at Wildlife Society bungalows infested with tree frogs and other creepy crawlies that sprang or dropped from behind picture frames and furniture, or gazed balefully from under toilet seats, poised to take a leap at the unwary.

In recent years, Mum and I would visit her at home on a holiday, and they would swap yarns until the wee hours. Those evenings were very interesting for us ‘young ‘uns’ as they gave us hitherto unknown and invaluable insights into life and the family. Aunty Clare enjoyed those evenings, and used to plead with us to stay just a little bit longer.

Aunty Clare’s one vanity, if such it may be called, was her hair. She would insist on regular visits to her hairdresser, and emerge perfectly coiffured, with nary a hair out of place. Her perfect dress sense and flair for colour made her an elegant figure at gatherings.

Hers was not a faith that was very visible. She rarely crossed the portals of a Church in recent times, but her faith in the Lord was deep, and she would draw on Him for succour and strength in times of need. When visiting her at hospital I asked her if she would like a cross for comfort. The blessed cross was a source of solace to her, and she would clutch it in her hand when in the throes of pain. The cross continued to comfort her and followed her to her rest.

She made her peace with her Maker. Goodbye and God bless you, Aunty Clare. May He grant you all the joys of His kingdom.
“Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still
.” – R.L. Stevenson.


My Seeya was a special person

E.P. Paul Perera

On August 15, we said “goodbye” to a great man who was my Seeya. He belonged to a generation that measured men by their honesty and their courage. My Seeya was a special person who quietly gave extraordinary time and ideas to politics. He brought to politics his distinctive insight so that politics could have a broader appeal, that it was not just about elections, but about the larger forces that shape our whole society.

He thought politics should be an integral part of our popular culture and that popular culture should be an integral part of politics. He worked tirelessly to uplift the poor; that they will have a better tomorrow. He fought many battles on behalf of the poor. He has told me many stories of how he worked for the common man.

He was the Seeya who loved us all, but who especially cherished Archchie, his five children and nine grandchildren, celebrated our successes, looked forward to our achievements and took strength and joy from our lifelong mutual admiration society. He took great pride and joy that all his grandchildren were climbing different ladders to achieve their dreams. He actively encouraged us to work hard to realise our dreams. He told countless stories of the hardships he endured as a young man. These stories were a great source of encouragement and inspiration to us all.

All of us will miss you Seeya.

God bless you Seeya, I, your fifth grandchild, will always miss the chats we had sitting in your verandah and will always love you and treasure your great wisdom. I was reminded of the following poem which consoles me in this hour of grief.

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there.
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.

By Chiara Perera

Family man with magnetic appeal

Jeremy Fernando

In our 29 years of married life, I learned values from Jeremy that are as unforgettable as the man himself. His family meant everything to him and he meant the world to us too. Jeremy was soft-spoken and unassuming, never hesitant to help a human being in need -- even people who were unfair to him.

A man of many talents, Jeremy sang particularly well. Blessed with a keen photographer’s eye, he derived delight from the wondrous colours of nature’s palette. His adept hands fixed his children’s toys as confidently as hi-tech gadgetry like television sets and computers. Even as he treasured his ‘family time’, he found relaxation in fishing and reading.

Jeremy spread sunshine wherever he went. Being the jovial and joyous person that he was, people loved being in his company, especially when he was in one of his entertaining moods. His magnetic appeal used to attract little children to him and he reciprocated by buying gifts for all who came his way.

In today’s world, some of Jeremy’s beliefs would appear quaint, like: a family should have just enough for its needs because, if there was an abundance of riches, the family could go astray.

Dadda, you were always there for us, ever so patient, our friend as much as our parent. It’s strange to realise that we will not have your reassuring presence by our side when we walk up the aisle. We know that you are now with Jesus, watching over us. We will treasure memories of the wonderful times we shared. But, despite those memories, Dadda, we miss you!

A thanksgiving mass will be held in loving memory of Jeremy at the Jesuit Chapel, Colombo 4, on September 4 at 6 p.m.

By Patricia and the children

The Nation Aug 26 2007

Manoj Arseculeratne

Although time flies by, months go by
You left us sometime ago
But you are always there by our side
And help us to bear the sorrow of losing you.

Those faint memories are painful
Remembering the good times we shared are treasured
You will always remain in our hearts
And will be a part of our lives forever,

It’s hard to think of a life without you
But we must be strong to carry on
Manoj, we pray to God to keep you by His side
Because we know, we’ll meet you someday in Heaven.

Your much loved ones.

Lesli Dahanayake

The passing away of Attorney-at-Law Lucien Gregory Weeramantry on August 17 has cast a gloom amongst the legal fraternity at Hutftsdorp and his wide circle of friends whom he had very intimately befriended over the years, both in Sri Lanka and abroad. It is not my intention to write about his unmatched international achievements of which I am certain many others more knowledgeable would record for posterity. I write this appreciation to speak of Lucien Weeramantry the lawyer I knew at the Bar and nothing more.

After I was called to the Bar in May 1959 I had the good fortune of instructing Lucien Weeramantry in my very first Case which was the Trial of the then National Football Coach in a cheque Fraud Case. Lucien, who was many years my Senior, in all humility insisted that I refer to him simply by his first name and never add the prefix ‘Mr’ or ‘Sir’ when addressing him which is usually the legal tradition adopted by juniors at the Bar when addressing their seniors. This instantly endeared him as a lifelong true friend for many decades to follow.

A couple of years later, 1961 to be exact, fate decreed that Lucien and 1 should appear for the defence of three of the main accused in the country’s most sensational murder Case, that of the Assassination of then Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. Lucien appeared for the assassin Talduwe Somarama Thera and my clients were Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thera and H. P. Jayawardena, the 1st and 2nd accused respectively. Being in almost general control of the defence it fell on me to retain a Counsel for Somarama Thero, which was no easy task due to the political climate at the time. However Lucien Weeramantry when approached by me had no hesitation in accepting the challenge and the dedication he exhibited thereafter in the course of the Supreme Court Trial towards his client in the face of tremendous odds earned the admiration of all including the Trial Judge, Hon. T. S. Fernando, Q.C., who when addressing accused Somarama Thero before sentence of death was passed on him remarked, inter alia, “You have been defended by Counsel, who has throughout these long and arduous proceedings exhibited towards your case a devotion which has been the admiration of everyone in this Court. But having regard to the strength of the evidence against you, there has been, in my view, no Counsel yet born who could have saved you.” I do not think any Court in this country, least of all the Supreme Court, has ever paid such a glowing tribute to Counsel in a Case. Lucien Weeramantry fully deserved it.

In the ensuing appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal Weeramantry filed a petition setting out 60 grounds and argued it for full five days before a Bench of five Judges presided over by Chief Justice Hon. Hema Basnayake Q.C. which again had little success. But Lucien was a great fighter and a further Appeal was presented to the Privy Council against the Appeal Court verdict. Having obtained the services of eminent English Counsel D. N. Pritt, Q.C., pro deo, Lucien and I prepared the necessary Brief to be sent over to London. In doing so I had referred to Somarama as “the Assassin.” When Lucien spotted this he was visibly upset and asked me to correct it to read “the alleged assassin.” Such was the devotion of the man to his client whose interest Lucien always held to be paramount. By this he also exhibited his control to legal phraseology.

Another moving moment which should not go unrecorded was when the day of Somarama’s execution drew near Lucien telephoned me the day before the execution and wanted me to accompany him to the death row at the Welikada Prison to see Somarama for the last time. We went there the evening before the execution but our mission did not succeed as the authorities refused to grant us permission to see the prisoner. Lucian however managed to convince the Prison Guards to at least inform Somarama that we had come to see him but were not granted access. The sight of the hangman hurriedly going about the last minute preparations for the next mornings execution was too much for Lucien’s human heart to bear and we left the prison in stunned silence.
Lucien Weeramantry was a gentleman to his finger tips, he was always well groomed and immaculately dressed and enjoyed the fruits of life to its full. He thoroughly enjoyed the life in Court in the mornings as much as he did the evenings. He was one of Hulftsdorp’s most glamorous lawyers at the time I joined the profession. Nothing could worry him because he was always strongly in control of any situation. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

R. Wickramarachchi

Lucien Weeramantry

This tribute to a media stalwart, who has made a significant contribution to the media, especially the Sunday Observer and Sunday Leader, will leave an impact which makes his memory linger in our minds.

Leslie Dahanayake, devoutly religious, intuitively gentle, unassuming in demeanor, loving, caring and generous and upright and with high ethical values, passed away on June, 24th after a brief illness.

Leslie entered the nursery class at St. Mary’s College Dehiwala and later joined St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. During a short period of the second World War he was at Gurutalawa, St. Thomas’.

He wanted to study law and studied Latin at these institutions. However later he decided that media was the inherent attribute in himself. Therefore after completion of his studies he started writing articles to various newspapers on different subjects. However, he had a liking to write on Buddhism.
Perhaps, on seeing the articles written by Leslie, who had a Doctorate too and possessed the essential attributes for an editor, the late D. R. Wijewardena of Lake House Group of Newspapers invited Leslie to join as Editor of Sunday Observer, the leading English newspaper at that time.From there he had been approached by Lasantha Wickramatunga, who seeing Leslie’s ability, requested him to accept the Editorship of the Sunday Leader, where he served until his unfortunate sickness. As he could not attend office and keep the Sunday Leader Editorship, he continued as a consultant until his demise.
Though he possessed a doctorate he never used it with his name. He was so unassuming and simple to the very core of his being. He always had a nod and a pleasing smile to greet anyone he met. He led an exemplary life.

I understand from his very caring, dutiful, loving wife that Leslie never feared death. He had known that it was time for him to take leave of his loving wife and children and other relations and friends.

He had no regrets in life for he had done his duty first by his family and then by the media, to the very best of his ability. He was a JP and helped the people who came to get services without any charge.

Leslie was a president of the Union of Journalism of Sri Lanka and was elected to the very prestigious position of the chairman of the Union of journalists for South-East Asia for a period of two years.

Leslie was cremated on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Religious rites were conducted at his residence by Buddhist monks. A very large and representative gathering, from all walks of life were present at his residence as well as at the cemetery to pay him their last respects.

A Sangikadana was held at his residence on Sunday the July 18th to confer merits on him. He was also a dayaka of several Temples at Dehiwala.
This late tribute from me due to the fact that I was out of the country during this period.

I would like to end this tribute with a quotation from the Buddhist scriptures:-

“Viyohi Vuppayogo Dukkho
Appiyei Sampayoga Dukkho”
It is sorrowful to deport from the loved ones. Equally it is sorrowful to associate with the not friendly ones.
Leslie was always friendly to all.
May he attain the supreme bless of Nirvana.

Kirthjsiri Jayasinghe
Mount Lavinia

The Sunday Leader Aug 26 2007

A priest and a friend - Rev Father Glen

When I first meet Father Glen, I was 14 years old. He came to our Ratmalana parish for Sunday Mass and instantly I abandoned my usual bored-eye-rolling-teenager attitude and sat up enthralled along with the rest of the congregation. His sermon that day, endeared him to me for the rest of my life and when my husband proposed to me, it had to be none other than Father Glen, who had to preside at our engagement.

Never having met him, I had no idea whether he would agree. So I wrote him a five-page letter explaining how and why I desperately wanted him — a priest I respected, to bless us. Within days I received an equally long reply from Father Glen not only agreeing, but also inviting me to visit. Thus began what to me was the most fruitful relationship I have ever had and most probably will ever have, with any member of the Catholic Church.

I went over to the beautiful, peaceful little house that houses the SUROL headquarters and we had a fantastic time — laughing and chatting for hours like old friends. When I left, I gave him a bear hug simply because he was the kind of person you couldn’t help but hug.

When Tony my husband first met Father Glen, Tony was not a practising Christian. I wanted us to receive communion together and asked Father if he would speak to Tony. One meeting later, an initially reluctant and sceptical Tony not only came back to the Church, but now, reminds me when I falter, of how Father Glen helped him renew his faith.

The day we got married, it was our beloved Father Glen who blessed us. His sound advice and of course funny and wonderfully sweet sermon ended with the words, "Rajni always calls me and says ‘"Father, its me.’ Now Me is going with him over the seas and I wish them both the very best although I will miss her nonsense." It meant the world to me.

He would often come home and share a meal with my family. Even after I left home, he kept in touch with them, making sure that all was well. He knew that our family was close and fitted in with such ease, that it was natural that we considered him a part of us. We all loved him and his infectious sense of humour, and will miss him terribly. It was a testament to the kind of man he was, that when I once asked his brother-in-law what would make a good gift for Father, he laughed and said "Its pointless giving him anything because if he has two shirts, he will give the new one to someone who needs it."

Staying true to his teachings, Father Glen never shied away from helping those forgotten and shunned by society and spent all his earthly life driving his trademark pickup around the country, making sure that the patients in the leprosy colonies, had what they needed and that their children went to school. Nothing was more important to him than being able to offer them what comfort and aid he could. This to him was what brought him joy and peace.

This, combined with his innate holiness, was what drew everyone to him. This was why his people loved him. Father Glen was an amazing man. No matter what trials he had to face, his faith never faltered. He preached with great conviction, of the love of God, of faith, peace, joy and hope.

He was not a priest bound by regulations or by age old traditions that hold no meaning. He was an intelligent man to whom quoting the Bible did not mean repeating the same sermon year in and year out or just quoting chapter and verse. He made every word he read from the Bible come alive.

However, he may never be beatified or claim the accolades handed out to others in his vocation. He was never chosen to become a bishop, or to be a representative in Rome, but his ambitions in life did not lie with pursuing higher positions in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It was not what he became a priest to achieve.

We are so sorry dearest Father Glen, that we were not in the country to bid you farewell. We wish we had been able to see you one last time and tell you how much you meant to us and to thank you for everything you did for us. We hope you knew how much we loved you and how terribly we will miss you. You leave us with a void that will never be filled by anyone, ever. No one will replace you. It simply is not possible.

You were a rare and wonderful gift from God and we were so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with you and be blessed by you. We had always hoped that when we had children, you would be able to baptise them. Now that will not be possible but we hope you will look down on us from your seat in heaven and say a prayer for us all.

Father, no appreciation, no eulogy in the world, could ever epitomise the kind of man you were, but I hope you read this with that ever-present glint in your eye and I hope you know that you meant the world to us.

With all our love, fondest remembrances and great big hugs.

Rajni and Tony Jayasekera

Dr. Cresenta Fernando

One of the sharpest minds of our generation

"When he shall die,

Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine,

That all the world will be in love with night,

And pay no worship to the garish sun." – Shakespeare

To those who knew him at S. Thomas’ College he was ‘C.L.,’ or ‘W.C.L.,’ Though the waves that lashed our shores on that infamous December 26th took him away, C.L. stands out for his remarkable achievements in his short life and the impact that he made in his journey through this world.

Our paths first crossed due to our mutual interest of debating. He was a debater who used logic to persuade the audience, as opposed to prose or raw emotion. The combination of logic and his caustic sense of humour delivered powerful arguments. He was also the quintessential bi-lingual protégé of the post-1956 era, being able to debate eloquently in both languages.

After completing his career at STC, he had decided to attend Brandeis University just outside of Boston. Named after an illustrious Supreme Court justice, it was a well known liberal arts school. Being outside his comfort zone he began to develop his academic interests that would define his future career and his personal interests from music to cooking. During those years he took every summer off and would come back to Sri Lanka and enjoy his family’s hospitality. Those months would be filled with trips to the corners of the island and leisure reading that he enjoyed very much.

Sometime later I joined him in the Boston area and our friendship grew as we would meet often and discuss music, Sri Lanka and everything in between. My first thanksgiving holiday in America was spent in the company of C.L. and his host family. Brandeis University had a rich tradition of partnering every new international student with an American host family. I spent that Christmas break with him and his roommates at ‘the quads’ at Brandeis. As befits a private liberal arts school it was an eclectic group of students from various backgrounds from across the world. The common theme was their strong bonds of friendship.

Attending his graduation in May 1996, it was apparent that he had continued his academic excellence and was given an award by the Economics Department. As part of the award, he made a speech to those that were gathered that day. I don’t remember what he said — what I do remember is how proud his parents were to see him achieve a level of success far beyond their imagination.

As our lives moved on, contact was limited to e-mails, phone calls and occasional visits. He decided to come back to Sri Lanka after finishing his graduate studies and began his professional career at the World Bank office in Colombo. In December 2002 during my visit to Sri Lanka we met at a friend’s wedding and caught up on where our lives were headed and he told me that he and Ariele were hoping to get married in the latter part of 2003. She was finishing law school in the US and he felt the time had come for him to settle down.

I was down in Colombo in December 2004 when the news came through that he and Ariele had gone to Unawatuna and got caught to the tsunami. It was after a couple of days that the awful truth dawned that while everyone in their party had survived, C.L. had not. He had slipped the surly bonds of earth and left a void that can never be filled.

CL’s achievements are not the credentials that hang on a wall; they are the relationships that he built with people from all over the world. The true measure of a life is not the years spent on this earthly journey but that their life meant so much to family and friends. Constatine Cavafy in his poem Ithaca attempts to transform the perspective of Ulysses odyssey from being about reaching a destination to a notion that life is about the journey. As I reflect on my friend’s life and his passing, one is reminded about these notions again and again.

"When you start on your journey to Ithaca,

then pray that the road is long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge…

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.

Without her you would never have taken the road.

But she has nothing more to give you."

His journey through this earthly life, albeit brief, was filled with adventure, wisdom and humour — and now, farewell!

Mangala H. Hettiarachchi

Sunday Times Aug 26 2007

He was indeed a giant of our times

K.C. Kamalasabayson

We publish here the eulogy by Attorney General C.R. de Silva PC at the funeral of former Attorney General K.C. Kamala-sabayson PC.

We are all gathered here to pay our final respects to the mortal remains of a shining star of the legal firmament who has been plucked away by the cold hand of death. K.C. Kamalasabayson the former Attorney General of Sri Lanka, affectionately referred to as Saba, received his early education at St. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, which has produced many illustrious sons of Sri Lanka who have left indelible impressions on the sands of time. Saba is one amongst these illustrious men.

Saba was an heir to a rich and full education, where his alma mater instilled in him a great value system. Some of the values that have impressed me most are his sense of justice, fairplay, integrity and his desire to treat everybody equally, irrespective of race, religion, caste, creed or social status. He always conducted himself from the sturdy platform of right and wrong. He knew no discrimination. Fairplay was his forte and narrow provincialism and ethnic considerations were his sworn enemies. In history, each individual makes his or her unique contribution.

Yet some contributions stand out as monuments, precisely because the individuals responsible do not fear to differ; they do not wilt at the slightest sign of divergence. Saba was such a personality. Saba was a great teacher, great lawyer and equally great administrator and above all, great human being.

As a teacher, he not only taught his students the principles of law, but also instilled in them the high standards that one should adhere to in the legal profession. As a lawyer, he maintained the highest professional standards. Generations of lawyers are grateful to Saba for the contribution that he has made towards the legal profession. He was indeed a giant of our times – indomitable in courage, steadfast in purpose, total in commitment, clear sighted in vision, irreproachable in character and yet simple in manner.

His entire working life as a lawyer was spent at the Attorney General’s Department. He was always a source of strength and encouragement to all the officers of this Department. He kept his doors opened to the entire staff of the Department. He empathized with their problems and his wide counsel was always greatly appreciated by anyone who sought his advice. If I may be permitted to strike a personal note, I have known Saba for over 3 ½ decades, an association which has its beginnings from our law student days. I have always found Saba to be a good friend always willing to help a friend in need. I have never heard him utter a harsh word and he always conducted himself with a sense of equanimity. The life of this gentleman Saba could be summed up in the words of the great Bard 'his life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to the world “this was a man” '. Saba your demise has caused irreparable loss to your beloved and caring wife Ramani, and your devoted daughter Vidya and the rest of the members of your family. This void can never be filled. I must remind Ramani, Vidya and the members of Saba’s family that all of us gathered here, share your grief and the cold truth of his loss dawns on us with each passing day.

Saba has lived a fruitful life, doing brilliantly well in his chosen field - the law. All mortals have to one day breathe their last. As Saba would say this is the inevitable reality. He has played a full innings and an excellent one at that. And finally before I conclude I am reminded of the famous words of Omar Khayyam “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, not all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it”. Finally in conclusion, my humble prayer to my great and beloved friend is “May all the angels in heaven sing thee to thy sleep.”

The village was where he always belonged

Vincent Subasinghe

Vincent Subasinghe was to me the embodiment of what a good man should be. Quiet and dignified by disposition, he was a man of unimpeachable integrity. He had a commanding personality and keen intellect. A socialist who lived by the principles of socialism, he did not believe in rabble rousing or slogan shouting.

I first came to know Vincent when I married his wife’s brother. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he was the son of a prosperous landed proprietor. Yet he was simple and humble. Essentially a villager at heart, he saw all around him the poor villagers for whom life was a struggle. It was his concern to make them self-sufficient and he endeavoured to do so by making them help themselves. He believed that co-operative effort was the answer and so he decided on a course of action that would make his village, Sandalankawa prosperous and self-contained.

Vincent Aiya was educated at Ananda College, Colombo in keeping with his Buddhist background. On completion of his education he went back to live in the village. He commenced the programme of village upliftment by personally contributing towards the rice milling project.

With the money received from his father he set up this rice milling project and got the farmers to do the pre-milling operations before bringing the seasoned paddy to the mill to convert it into rice for the consumers. He also established a coconut producers’ Co-operative Society in October 1939 which consisted of 13 small and medium coconut growers. Further, with the land and money received from his father he set up a copra drying kiln and fortnightly they were able to send one ton of copra to Colombo by bullock cart.

At Thotalanga (Kelani River junction) there had been a very good outlet for copra. The money thus raised was divided among the coconut suppliers (the land owners) after keeping 20% for the further development of the Society. In 1940 he helped to install a “Sekkuwa” (a bullock driven oil extraction system) and got the income of the society increased. He also started a centre to train village women folk in handloom textile production.

Thereafter, with the land inherited from his father and in collaboration with the Department of Education he established the Sandalankawa Central School, for he believed in encouraging people to help themselves rather than depend on charity.

His next plan was to establish a Multi-purpose Co-operative Society in 1940 – 1941, so that the villagers could get the best value for their skills and money. This included three sales outlets for household requirements. By 1950 a fully mechanised coconut based industry was established in Sandalankawa which included manufacture of coconut oil, desiccated coconut and husk extraction. The handloom mill was functioning by 1954. By this time the number of sales outlets had increased to 32 and this covered the villages around Sandalankawa. By then the membership of the Society had also increased to over 1000.

Healthcare was also a vital necessity for the village and in 1953 Vincent Aiya took the initial steps to start a co-operative hospital on a plot of land purchased by the co-operative society. He was able to get the services of a dedicated doctor, a couple of nurses and a matron for the hospital. This was a great relief to the villagers as the hospital charges were minimal and the patients’ family members could help during the illness. Later, an operating theatre was built where minor surgery could be performed.

My late husband was an anaesthetist and through him Vincent Aiya was able to enlist the voluntary services of a few surgeons from the Colombo General Hospital to commence doing surgical operations. The visits to Sandalankawa were enjoyable outings for the doctors who would attend to the patients and afterwards go for a river bath followed by a sumptuous lunch prepared by my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law was the ideal companion to Vincent Aiya and took great pride in her husband’s work.

With the passage of time the Co-operative Society was also able to build a cinema where the villagers could go for entertainment. The people of Sandalankawa had such faith in him that he was treated as the unofficial judge. When they had problems they would come to him fully confident that he would solve their problems fairly and equitably.

Once a Government Minister had asked Vincent Aiya thus: “You are always criticizing us. Why don’t you join us and help us do something.” Vincent Aiya gave thought to this request and decided to join the Public Service but told the Minister that he would do so only on condition that no one should interfere in his decisions and that no one should countermand his orders. The Minister agreed. At that time there was a move to open a new bank, the People’s Bank as a competitor to the Bank of Ceylon. Vincent Aiya was appointed as the first Chairman of its Board of Directors. He had an indepth knowledge of the Gramia Banking System in India and had visions of establishing a bank which would help the less privileged to save systematically as well as obtain financial assistance. He thought the People’s Bank was the ideal opportunity to achieve this goal.

He was popular among the staff and the executives in the Bank. After a lapse of time he realised that things were not moving as he expected. Therefore, instead of continuing to stay and create unpleasantness he resigned quietly and went back to the village where he belonged.

Vincent Aiya’s dedication to his fellow countrymen was an end in itself and not a vehicle in quest of power, money or position. His goal was the eradication of poverty, ignorance and disease, beginning with his village. After his death on August 23, 1985 the People’s Bank put up the quarters for the nurses of the General Hospital in Borella in his memory; a fitting tribute to a dedicated man and a great patriot. If we had more of such people this country would have been a paradise.

By Brenda Herat Gunaratne

He always saw that justice was done in the true sense of the word

Daya Udalagama

Death, that is inevitable and so common.
Visit me too as you must! but not before,
I accomplish what I am born for.
So that there is no sense of loss and tragedy
and most of all that there would be very little sorrow.

Two years ago on a sunny day in August, the Kegalle Courts complex was in session as usual. Around 11 a.m. a case was called at District Court 11 and Mr. Udalagama was rushing into the court room from another to appear for his client. As he stood up it became evident that he was in some discomfort. He collapsed.

The courts practically suspended proceedings for a moment but pin drop silence prevailed. Everybody present including the Judge was concerned about the health of the most eminent lawyer in Kegalle and a Doctor in the crowd started giving artificial respiration.

An unconscious Daya Udalagama was rushed to the intensive care unit and he breathed his last that night due to cardiac arrest. To say that the death of Daya Udalagama signified the end of an era of suave and illustrious lawyers in Kegalle, would not be an exaggeration altogether.

At 63, he was neither young nor old enough to die. It is not that he had unfulfilled personal obligations with his three children well set in life, two following in his own footsteps, and his wife well provided for.

It is just that his death deprived the Kegalle Bar in particular and the legal fraternity at large of an accomplished and versatile lawyer creating a void that is not easy to fill. Daya was a rich man in every sense of the word and with his demise his family, colleagues, associates and society at large lost a rich source of acumen, intellectualism and above all, a pervading influence.

Daya indeed was like a library with his acumen, intellect and talents. He may not have been the best briefed lawyer on a given day in the court house but yet he had the talent to tear the minute preparations of his detractors to shreds by focusing attention on the larger perspective of the issue involved. His success rate in cases was phenomenal but despite such an enviable record he was always ready to give an ear to a worthy cause and see that justice was done in the true sense of the word.

The lengths he went to, to liberate the Kegalle YMBA premises from the legal and social tangle it had got into could be cited as a recent example of his benevolence. Thanks to him today the Kegalle YMBA premises is brimming with Buddhist religious activity. Daya hailed from a family of traditional nobility in Kegalle which had made a name for gifting many an illustrious member to the legal profession.

His mother was that ever effervescent and charismatic Anula Udalagama who was bestowed with a ‘Sikhamani’ title in recognition of her indelible contributions to education at local and national level. His father was a leading lawyer in Kegalle in his day. Daya however always stood on his own merit.

The demise of Daya Udalagama is an irreplaceable loss to the legal profession.

By Palitha Senanayake

From mouth-watering dishes to many a funny skit

Ivy Fernando

She was the matriarch of our locality; the children on their way to school used to call her Ivy Darling – and a darling she was. Not like Chekhov’s Darling, but one that loved children passionately. Some of the tiny tots who used to wave to Ivy Darling to say ‘Bye’ on their way to school are now parents themselves. It was incredible how she kept her spirits up even though confined to a wheelchair for a score or more.

Her talents were manifold – be it organizing island tours, making mouthwatering dishes or acting in many skits during picnics. I was lucky to visit many untrodden ways of our beautiful island home by joining her tours. She was indispensable at Princess of Wales OGA picnics. Her friends still talk about how she appeared at a fancy dress parade and an old crocs rally as a latrine coolie – every minute detail of the costume and action was followed to the letter - the ekel broom, khaki shorts, dirty bucket with its horrible contents!

She loved us all and all of us loved her. It was heartrending for me to witness her last days confined to bed with The Eternal Footman hovering over her. Many a time I visited her bedside to say a silent prayer and say a word of comfort to Iona, her daughter and my cousin who looked after her with such devotion.

She even gave up her job to be with her mother towards the last days of her life. Shenu, Ivy Aunty’s grand-daughter was the apple of her eye. As I am their immediate neighbour, every day like clockwork I heard her farewell to Ivy Aunty before she left for work. “Noni I am going, God bless you!” It was really like a wake up call to me.

I had to go abroad for a short spell when Ivy was literally breathing her last. Both Iona and I felt that she would enter the portals of the Pearly Gates before my return. But somehow Ivy Aunty held on till I returned. Call it fate, call it divine providence or whatever – but I was there to bid her that last tearful farewell.

Ivy’s passing away left a void in the hearts of all those who had the privilege of associating with this great lady. But we are happy that she is not suffering any more.

By Mirelle

He served his country and alma mater

Dr. E.S. Thevasagayam

Dr. E.S. Thevasagayam, an outstanding product of St. John’s College, Jaffna passed away on August 4 after a brief illness. He was an erudite scholar, having obtained his M.A. from the Madras University, M.Sc from the University of California and Ph.D from the Woo Sok University Korea. He served his alma mater as a teacher and later as Principal, served his country as entomologist in the Medical Department and the Department of Agriculture. He served the Far East and the Pacific countries as consultant entomologist with the World Health Organization.

He had his primary and secondary education at St. John’s College and proceeded to Christian College Madras where he came first in the college and second in the University at the final of the B.Sc Hons degree examinations. He came back to his alma mater as a Zoology teacher. After serving the college for five years he joined the Medical Department and later the Department of Agriculture as an entomologist. The United Nations Civil Service attracted him and he joined the W.H.O. as consultant Entomologist serving for more than two decades in the Far East and Pacific countries. When he retired from the W.H.O., St. John’s College was facing a leadership crisis. The principal was assassinated and his successor retired prematurely due a to massive stroke. The ground situation in the North during 1987 was not at all conducive to anyone taking up the Principal-ship. Dr. Thevasagayam took a bold decision and offered his services as principal of the college.

He assumed duties on the first of January 1988. Just three months earlier the IPKF-LTTE confrontations had damaged most of the buildings and it was left to Dr. Thevasagayam to rebuild the college buildings. He set up a five year plan for St. John’s College during which time a new science complex consisting of laboratories and lecture halls and an administrative block and a Gymnasium were to be built. He found the funds for the projects from the old boys of the college overseas and from aid agencies.

The first building to come up was the science complex and before it could be completed fighting broke out in the North and all plans were suspended. During this period he went to U.K for a medical check-up and could not return to St. John's as intensified fighting broke out and transport to and from Jaffna was suspended. For three years he functioned as Principal from Colombo. During this period he never drew his salary, instead it went to a trust with the in-corporated Trustees of the Church of Ceylon.

Dr. Thevasagayam was a financial benefactor to the college. He established funds to help the needy members of the staff both tutorial and non tutorial. He put up two blocks of buildings, one in memory of his father, late Eliathamby who was a teacher at St. John’s and the other in his name. Both the blocks fulfilled a long felt need of the primary school.

As an administrator he was always available to students, parents and old boys. He had a soft word for everyone, but whenever he disagreed he had a firm but polite ‘No’. Transparency was the hallmark of his administration.

By S. Kanapathipillai

Daily News Monday Aug 20 2007

Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa RWP RSP VSV USP,Maj. Gen. Wijaya Wimalaratne RWP RSP VSV USP,Rear-Admiral Mohan Jayamaha RWP RSP USP

On August 8, 1992 at around 1000 hours a deafening blast took the lives of the three very senior Officers and seven others at Araly Point in Jaffna. They were returning after a reconnaissance mission. This was the worst loss ever in men to the country in general, and the Army in particular.

The late Major-General Wimalaratne was considered to be the best strategist/planner the Army had ever produced. He joined the Army in 1963 and was trained in a military academy in India.

In 1969 he returned from a jungle warfare training course in Malaysia and immediately got down to training officer cadets in the specialist art of jungle warfare.

He was also an expert on close quarter combat situations and was popularly referred to as the ‘kala kumaraya’ by his troops, due to his ease at surviving in such a dangerous environment.

During a varied and colourful career he raised and nurtured the 1st Battalion the Gajaba Regiment. Some of the officers went onto serving in the elite Special Forces and Commando Regiments and most ended up as Commanding Officers of their Regiments.

In 1987 he commanded 3 Brigade, which was the first in a two Brigade Op in the SL Army.

Towards the latter part in his career he progressed rapidly in the ranks and achieved the positions of Commander Security Forces Jaffna and headed Colombo Security during the southern insurgency, and thereafter the famous Operation Combine was formed.

He was known to be a daring warrior and sometimes used to call friendly fire near to his own positions, especially at times of close combat. On some occasions it is said that he suffered personal injury as a result of this.

His staying power and ability to deal successfully with most adverse situations helped in raising morale amongst his troops.

Late Lt-General Denzil Kobbekaduwa was better known to the public due to his charisma and gentlemanly conduct. He joined the Army as an officer cadet in 1961 and entered the prestigious British Military Academy in Sandhurst.

He was later able to motivate his troops by sheer force of personality and having the interest of his troops at all times. He was a team player but when the situation demanded it he would assume the role of leader as easily as a duck taking to water.

He had a distinguished record in the Army, where he was able to reach its highest levels and only his premature demise prevented him from reaching its Commandership.

He achieved two distinct goals. The first, was his role along with Late Major-Gen. Wimalaratne in Op Vadamarachi. The Sri Lanka Army at that time was on the verge of annihilating the Northern terras, when an unjust interference in our internal affairs prevented the destruction of a vile and murderous movement.

The tragedy today sadly is the consequence of losing that golden opportunity. The second achievement was his formation of the Rapid Development Force which formed the nucleus of the elite Special Forces Regiment. Today this Regiment stands out in almost every victory that the Army achieves.

He was also an extremely humane character and he assisted in the rehabilitation of victims in border villages and amongst the internally displaced persons, treating everybody alike without racial, religious or other prejudices. This was evidenced by the large number of civilians from the North and East, who came to pay their last respects.

The loss of these two specialists left a vast void in the Army and many debacles followed thereafter. However today we may be finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Those who served with them, some retired, but others currently in service, are turning the tide and a renaissance is in the making. The proverbial phoenix is rising from the ashes. Thus our departed heroes may now lie in peaceful bliss.

The late Rear - Admiral Mohan Jayamaha RWP RSP USP was the most senior Naval Officer in the chosen group and held the position of COMNORTH. He was an established specialist in Naval Operations and was a tremendous loss to the Navy and the country.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the setting of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them
Lest we forget
True sons of our soil may you attend the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.


Col HR Stephen, Col G. H. Ariyaratne, Col Y. N. Palipane, Lt-Col N. S. de Alwis, Lt-Comd A. Lankathileke, Lt-Comd C. B. Wijepura, Sgt Wickremeratne

The tragedy that took place on August 1992 at Arali Point, ensnared the above servicemen with the exception of then Corporal Wickremeratne who managed to survive sans limbs, despite his extensive injuries.

Caught in a tremendous explosion it destroyed a team that was handpicked by the late Lt-Gen Kobbekaduwa and Maj-Gen Wimalaratne to wrest control of Jaffna from the LTTE.

The rest of the team also consisted of individuals ready and professionally able to fight a ruthless enemy and were to be the vanguard to take us to that elusive peace and they were fortunate enough not to participate in this fateful recce.

They survived. One such officer was Wing Commander Sunil Cabral. Unfortunately fate decided otherwise to the above.

To the fearless sons of our soil, the silent majority will always be grateful, despite the advancing years and fading memories. You will never be forgotten.

Cry not for them dear patriots, they are not dead Only their bodies were consumed by flames, Grieve not for them dear patriots, They are alive amongst the great heroes of our land. True sons of our Motherland may you all attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.


Lt.General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Maj. Gen. Wijaya Wimalaratne and Rear Admiral Mohan Jayamaha/ SLN

Lt.General Denzil Lakshman Kobbekaduwa, General Officer commanding the Northern Province, Maj. Gen. Wijaya Wimalaratne and Rear Admiral Mohan Jayamaha of the Sri Lanka Navy died while on an inspection tour of Jaffna.

Being patriotic, fearless and loyal sons of the soil, their untimely deaths in August 1992 sent shockwaves throughout Sri Lanka.

Lt.General Denzil Kobbekaduwa who hails from Kandy was a Trinity Lion and was a great sportsman and a cadet.

He later played for Kandy Sports Club and captained the club to victory in the Clifford Cup finals.

He wanted to take to planting but ended up joining the Army as a Cadet Officer.

He was sent to Sandhurst and on return, he was enlisted in to the Ceylon Armoured Corp Maj Gen. Wijaya Wimalaratne was a very active officer in the Northern Province. He was a great asset to Gen. Kobbekaduwa. Maj-Gen. Wimalaratne was a product of Ryal College and really shone in his academic studies and sports.

He joined the Army as a Cadet Officer and was appointed 2/lieutenant in I/Bn.

Sri Lanka Army Infantry Regiment. Rear Admiral Mohan Jayamaha was the naval commander of the Sri Lanka Navy in the Northern Province.

He too was instrumental in containing and dealing a heavy blow on the socalled Sea Tigers.

Our deepest sympathies go out to their beloved families on behalf of the Matara District Ex-servicemens Association.

May they be reborn among us till they attain Nibbana in their journey in Sansara.

Netham Mana, Netho Hamasmi, Na me so Athta.
This is not mine, Is this me, This not the soul of mine. - Dhammapada.

- Capt. L. B. Lanka (Wilbawe), Jayaratne, and Secretary and Lieut/Col. Mahinda Suriyarachchi, KSV, president, Matara District Ex-Servicemens Association

K.C. Kamalasabeyson, PC

The death of former Attorney-General, President’s Counsel K. C. Kamalasabeyson in Chennai at the age of 58 after a brief illness marks the end of a distinguished legal and academic career. In fact his passing away is a tremendous blow to his family, friends, relations and all other associates.

Mr. Kamalasabeyson was one of the most polished, persuasive and hard working Attorney Generals of our times. His methodical and meticulous preparation of the work entrusted to him was indeed an exercise in unbounded patience, total dedication and also maximum assistance to the Bench.

When he walked into the Court he knew his brief like the back of his hand and what he did not know, was not worth knowing. His court craft was admirable and unmatched. Mr. Kamalasabeyson will go down in history as one of the all time greats of Hulftsdorf.

Many are the cases in which, by his clarity of thought, mastery analysis, mellifluous language assisted the Bench in clarifying and setting the principles of law relating to complicated cases.

Blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, enthusiasm, inspiring leadership and quickness of thought he attained eminence as a civil lawyer.

No field of human endeavour was left untouched by the swaying amplitude of his imagination, he encompassing sweep of his thought, the penetrating yet lucid felicity of his words and the indefatigable zeal of his actions.

No wonder he left an indelible impression in most of what he touched with rare dynamism and exemplary zeal.

Kamalasabeyson on completion of his secondary education at S. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia entered the Sri Lanka Law College and passed out as an advocate with first class honours in November 1971.

He apprenticed under G.F. Sethukavalar and was enrolled as an Advocate in June 1972. He joined the Attorney-General’s Department as a State Counsel on 1st August, 1974. Further he obtained his Master of Laws (Public Law) at the University of Colombo and L.L.M. in International Business Law from the University of London.

On March 1, 1996 he was appointed as Additional Solicitor General an account of his hard work and efficiency. He has appeared for the State in several extradition cases including Manik Sandrasagara and Benwell cases.

Furthermore, he was a visiting lecturer and examiner in the Sri Lanka Law College and also a visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo.

Kamalasabeyson was very popular among officers in the Attorney-General’s Department and also with his junior counsels for his good principles honesty and sincerity. Further, he was simple at heart, unassuming, straightforward, sincere, which were good qualities rare among other lawyers.

He was indeed an inspiration and guide to everyone in the Attorney-General’s Department. Besides, he had held the office of the Attorney-General at a critical and crucial period and discharged his responsibilities with unsurpassed distinction and unsullied honour.

He was always of the view that noble means, noble ideas, noble action would certainly have noble consequences. Besides, he rose above narrow parochialism regionalism, sectarianism and communalism.

In fact, he showed by his illustrious life how men is the midst of storm and stress of worldly life could achieve the full and perfect development of his personality. He was full of efficiency, industry and faith. Indeed he had leadership qualities to galvanise the support of diverse elements.

Possessed of a sparkling versatile genius he illumined any and every task which he undertook with an extraordinary sense of devotion, dedication combined with a unique organizing ability and a dedicated harmonising touch.

Further, he participated as chief guest in many of the literary and religious functions such as Kamban Kalaga Vizha, Colombo Tamil Sangam literary meetings and various other prize-giving functions held in schools and colleges.

Undoubtedly, Kamalasabeyson was literally a comet who blazed momentarily across our skies leaving in his trail a luminescence which the passing of time can hardly erase. He was a dutiful father, a devoted husband, a loyal and trustworthy friend, a professional of great ability and deeply religious servant of his maker.

Indeed, he was a colossus multi-faceted and multi-divisional personality who will be always remembered by all the communities and denominations for his work, worth and value. In bidding farewell to his noble soul, lets us all bow to God’s will be gratitude and May I say: “God night sweet prince and the flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.”

- Kalabhooshanam Chelvathamby Maniccavasage

Sunday Times Aug 19 2007

A rare jewel

Iranganie Perera (nee de Silva)

It was so easy to talk to Iranganie
Of others' problems and needs.
She had sympathy, compassion and willingness to help.
Quietly whole heartedly, she helped to successful conclusions. She carried on her parent's charity with other family members.
She was a true Samaritan.
And Samaritans are so rare today.
In this world of horror and havoc
It is wonderful to meet Samaritans.
They do not question the whys and wherefores.
Of needy, helpless, people,
They spontaneously help;
And in later years, in spite of illness,
Iranganie helped.
I will not enumerate the various deeds of Iranganie,
But just one -
A young taxi driver at my gate,
(A former pupil in my Nursery Class).
Was helped to buy his taxi by Iranganie (and two others)
And earns happily and prosperously today,
Iranganie’s nature and character
Needs no recounting from me –
She was a Samaritan,
Having known her from our young schooldays at Visakha,
And later going to her place for lunches with very old girls,
I have happy memories of our meetings.
I am happy I met Iranganie on this earth.

By Bona Ekanayake, Nugegoda

Always in our hearts and minds

Fazreen Izzadeen

Six years of grief will continue as I will never get over the loss of my darling daughter. Like a candle in the wind her little life was snatched by the angry waters, without showing any mercy and at a time we least expected it. I keep wondering why her life ended in this way and I believe I will never have an answer. The hearts of those who love her will always have a special place for her. She was not fortunate enough to see the face of her darling nephew who inquires about her, with a confused little mind why he only sees her as a picture and not alive. I am sure right now she is watching him growing up and had she been here she would have been such a help in looking after him and spoiling him.

At times my mind goes back to the happy childhood she had, petted and spoilt as the youngest grand daughter, niece and cousin by her loving grand mothers, uncles, aunts and cousins who loved her company all the time. She never refused anyone asking her for anything, and she was friendly and helpful at all times. She was a playful and jovial child, who could adapt herself to mix with children of her age as well as adults. She was adored by her friends, specially by those friends she helped even without our knowledge. She was always generous towards the poor and less fortunate.

Even though six years have passed, I miss her at every turn while attending to the household chores. At times when I attend family gatherings, her absence is felt by me, my husband and daughter as she would have been the live wire at all occasions. With tear filled eyes I think of her and at times I feel her presence, which consoles me to some extent to think that she is with me in spirit and protecting me all the time.

I miss her so much, always hanging on to me and depending on me for everything. Her father misses her playful and jovial ways and of course her one and only sister misses her all the time as they were inseparable and even shared a room.

Darling Fazreen you are always on my mind
A daughter such as you is rare to find
You will always be in our minds what ever we do and say
Till we meet again on that glorious day
We all love you darling and our ever sorrowing hearts have a special place reserved just for you. May God bless you and keep you safe in His arms and may you Rest in Peace.
Your everloving and ever sorrowing

By Ummiya – Lilanganie

Honest to a fault, happy with little

B.H. Barathi Peiris

It was with sorrow that I came to know of the passing away of my friend and collegue Barathi Peiris on May 18, 2007. My profound regret is that I could not pay my last respects to this selfless, sincere and cultured trade unionist. The fact is that I missed his obituary.

Barathi was from Keselwatta, Panadura and joined the Local Government Clerical Service a few years after the inception of the unified Local Govt. Service. He came on transfer to the Colombo Municipal Council in the early 1970s and that is where I first met him.

He was best known and remembered by the Local Govt. officers of that era for almost single-handedly setting up a new union to represent the clerical officers in the unified service displaying a degree of boldness and self-confidence in taking a different path from the beaten track.

Their burning issue was for a potent force to get the Appointing Authority to re-think their attitude towards a service, literally more closer to the public than the public service itself and still being marginalized and refused the recognition of their true worth as public servants.

Here, Barathi, who was seen as one holding left of centre liberal views and leanings towards the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, was an instant attraction. It is obvious that what inspired him to form a new union and name it the “Sri Lanka Local Govt. Clerical Service Union” was his closeness to the SLFP.

He was contented with being the General Secretary of this Union and let another be voted into the chair of Presidency. The new union contributed to take forward the service to what it is today--a full fledged wing of the Public Service proper. It is really amazing that Barathi handled the workload of General Secretary of the Union and still was cheerful and smiling all the time. So dedicated and devoted was he to union work, it was well into the night when he returned home daily.

In retirement he organized a Union of Pensioners encompassing retired public officers including those of the armed services and was its General Secretary. Honest to a fault, contented with little, he never exploited his closeness to the SLFP hierarchy to manipulate for himself promotions or favours.

Farewell dear friend, and may your passage through Samsara be happy and smooth and may you attain the Bliss of Nirvana.

By U. Wirasinha.

Sunday Observer - Aug 12 2007

Ajith Samaranayake:

A tribute

This tribute is written by Dr. Lester James Peries in remembrance of the 53rd birthday of late journalist Ajith Samaranayake which falls today. Ajith died on November 22, 2006.

With much spluttering of engine and tooting of horn the three wheelers would sweep into No. 24 (formerly Dickman's Road) like the famed 'Chariots of Fire'. Over the years this heralded the arrival of our brilliant young friend to our home in Colombo 5.

Unlike many Sri Lankans who would drop in with no agenda to darken the early morning sunlit hours with idle prattle, Ajith would phone and say, 'I'll be there in half an hour 'Ok'?

Of course it was always ok for me for I always knew our young friend would light up the darkening skies of our troubled days. - No one has left us quite so suddenly.

Who in the public life in this country be it politician, artist, dramatist, musician, dancer, film maker evoked such over-whelming grief, a genuine out pouring of sadness, such laurels in flower and words and poems for a life so young, snuffed out by the hands of fate that awaits us all.

An year has passed since he left us. Has it really been a year?

It has taken me that long to write a few words that can scarcely do justice to a master-craftsman of the English language. Would he really like us to mourn for him? Are there watering holes in Eternity?

Wherever he is he will be what he has always been, a younger generation's conscience, a spokesman on behalf of our embattled island home.

At his passing away, members of his tribe, his peers had no inhibitions to link his name to the greatest in the world of Sri Lankan journalism. H.A.J. Hulugalle, Tori de Sousa, Regi Siriwardena, Jayantha Padmanabha, Tarzie Vittachi, Mervyn de Silva et al. Had he been alive I doubt whether these encomiums, eulogies, panegyrics call it what you will, would really have meant much to him.

I have no academic qualifications to write a critical analysis of his style. But however inadequate my analytical skills may be some observations must be made.

In all his best writings Ajith combined lucidity, elegance and grace, grace as Hemingway said under pressure'.. as a combination this is a difficult style, difficult to cultivate or imitate but a gift possibly bestowed on the chosen few by the deities who look after the fortunes of the fourth estate, should there be any.

In the hurly burly of daily journalism, to keep to deadlines, journalists even the best ones are forced to resort, by the compulsion of time to use the cliche,, the hackneyed-phrase.

Ajith was no exception. Read any of his critical essays on Arts, Politics or his Profiles on our very important people and one would find him using the language of daily journalism. But by some mysterious process, even a cliche, reads as though it was re-invented, newly minted in a style that depended on the dignity and eloquence of simple prose.

To digress for a moment. Long long ago when I was young, a fanatical English teacher told me? 'Take this sentence from the Bible' God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light. Improve on it, of course I couldn't. Now I often think of Ajith; he may have performed the miracle; he may have improved on that peremptory divine pronouncement. After all the Bible did have some of the most inspired reporters in literary history.

The visitor

Over the years Ajith was one of the most regular visitor, to what used to be No. 24, Dickman's Road.

He would insist (not that there was any objection on our part) on bringing his three-wheel drivers and offering them seats either in the verandah or in the drawing room. I suspect at the beginning this was a challenge to our social conventions.

Neither Sumitra nor I bothered very much about it but we did feel sorry for some of the poor guys who looked thoroughly discomfited surrounded by paintings by my brother, the great artist in our family, Ivan Peries, seated on antique chairs which they suspected might collapse at any moment.

For his part Ajith would say, "I dropped in to borrow some books and have a good katha." Though I can't boast of an extensive library, I had some of his favourite author,smund Wilson, Cyril Connolly, the Letters and Diaries of George Orwell (I'm sure a kindred spirit) Walter Benjamin, Steiner, etc.

His favourites were critical essays rarely novels, no magic realism, no post modernist, structuralist stuff of which I had just a few from our four years in Paris. Strange he never picked a book on the Cinema. Ajith knew I never kept a little black book to record the ones he borrowed, nor did I badger him to return them.

I'd like to think he visited us not merely to borrow books but for our companionship, Sumitra's and mine. It was not intellectual stimulus he was after. It was, as I suspect a relief from it. He always appeared to be completely relaxed, perfectly at ease. He knew he was always welcome, the bar was open and though he often dropped in on his way home (after visiting his favourite 'watering holes') to his wife who always waited for him; it was always one for the road or'.

Though there was a considerable generation gap between him and me I rather think that what strengthened our friendship was his involvement in a number of lost causes on our behalf. The first I remember was his urging the Government at that time to take over our ancestral home in Dehiwela and convert it to a museum for Ivan's paintings and a room reserved for my films. It wasn't surprising that in 48 hours the building was demolished.

Another was a series of very powerful editorials that the State should construct a special archive to preserve our local films. Had he been alive I can just imagine his fury and horror at the news that the original master-negatives of "Nidhanaya" - the film voted by local critics as the best in the fifty years of Sri Lankan Cinema had been burnt.

In Sri Lanka gossip is the fourth major language after Sinhala, Tamil and English. In all the years I've known him I've never heard him gossip, never about his colleagues, never about his workplace, never about his bosses.

Occasionally he might hint about the many vicissitudes he suffered in the newspaper offices he worked, from the "Upstairs-Downstairs" Syndrome, but that too with a self-deprecating smile. He knew he had his enemies, those who exploited his weaknesses but that didn't seem to bother him unduly.

This was inevitable as his journalistic gifts, not merely the elegance of his style but the mature insight with which he analysed and probed in editorial and feature article our present discontent as a nation and a people where our multi-religious and multi-ethnicity should be our strength and not our weakness.

One has to admit though it is sad but true, that the real magnitude of his achievement came to be realised only after his death. It was not a surprise to me that the great Regi Siriwardena said he was his true heir and his last wish was that he write his obituary.

I still remember the last time he was here. We were in the office the shades of night were falling he had sipped his last one for the road collected his books one a bulky volume of Scott- Fitzgerald, the American author's incredibly moving letters to his daughter.

The books under his arm he walked out got into his three-wheeler which with much stuttering and tooting of horn disappeared into the night. Will we see him again. (Where are you Ajith, where are you?)

Sunday Times Aug 12 2007

A passionate leftist

Wesley Muthiah

Wesley Muthiah passed away last Saturday in London after a brief illness. Wesley was known to me for nearly 15 years. I met him first when I was working at the Social Scientists Association in Colombo in the early 1990s.

Wesley was born and raised in Jaffna town but at a young age he moved to London and started his career as a teacher. He was married to Tenecy Fernando from Moratuwa and they had two sons (Ninesh and Romesh) who married British Indians (Nina and Geetha). Wesley has one grandchild (Ravishank). In this sense his family can be designated as a multicultural and multi-ethnic family.

Wesley was a true comrade of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) dedicating his whole life for his political interests. I had a different idea of left politics before I met two personalities: Wesley Muthiah and Kumari Jayawardena. Under their influence, my political thinking began to change. I owe them for making me a different man but I will not be able to repay them.

Wesley was an active member of the intellectual wing of the LSSP. Prof. Carlo Fonseka described him as “A live blood of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party”. He has edited and published numerous politically motivated books, articles and pamphlets with his fellow comrade, the late Sydney Wanasinghe. To name a few “We were making history”, “The Bracegirdle Affaire”, “Socialist Women of Sri Lanka”, “Dr. Colvin R. de Silva”, “Two languages, one nation One language two nations”, “Case for Socialism”, “ N. M. in his own words as seen by others”, “Britain World War Two and the Samasamajists”.

All of his publications were on sale at a low price. He knew the cost of living in Sri Lanka and that people could not afford to buy books. Whenever Wesley organized book launches he asked me to come and help him out. His last book launch was at the Dr. N. M. Perera Centre in Colombo on Dr. Colvin R. de Silva. Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Vasudeva Nanyakkara, Batty Weerakoon, Raja Collure and other left leaders attended and were highly appreciative of Wesley’s contribution to the LSSP.

I still remember when I lived in London he offered me his residence to stay for many months. At that time I could not pay the room rent and his wife offered me lots of rations and frozen foods in his house. His house was a refuge for many Sri Lankans visiting London. I was one of them. He was supporting the upcountry Tamil community for many years, getting support from European friends and his family members for this.

Wesley we will remember you forever in our hearts. You were a father figure, teacher and very good friend of mine.

By Vidya Abhaygunawardena.

He had a nod and a smile for all

Leslie Dahanayake

It is with deep regret that I pen this tribute to one of the finest and veteran journalists of the present era. He was born at his mother's ancestral home in Wattala on May 23, 1925. His father hailed from a respectable family from Walasmulla. His father and uncles were all Mudliyars. Leslie started his schooling at the Nursery at St. Mary's Dehiwala and later entered S. Thomas', Mt. Lavinia.

After leaving school he took to law and was proficient in Latin. However, he was bent on journalism and started writing articles to all the newspapers on various subjects especially on Buddhism. He was invited to join Lake House by the late D. R. Wijewardene, the press baron. Then Leslie rose to become the Editor of the Sunday Observer. He trained many young men to become good journalists.

He later joined the Sunday Leader and worked there untiringly until his demise. During the last few years before his demise he functioned as a consultant to the Sunday Leader.

In recognition of his invaluable service he was awarded a doctorate, a title which he never used. He was an unassuming person, simple and kind- hearted and gentleman to his fingertips. He always had a nod and a pleasing smile for everyone he met, and he led an exemplary life.

On hearing that Leslie was sick I visited him at his residence in Dehiwala. On that occasion he told me that it was time for him to depart from his dear career as well as his loved ones. From his calm and cheerful disposition it was clear to me that he did not fear death.

He told me he had no regrets in life and nothing to repent since he had done his duty as a media man and his duty by his caring and dutiful wife who had lovingly looked after him through thick or thin.

Leslie was the President of the Union of Journalists of Sri Lanka and was elected to the prestigious position of Chairman, Union of Journalists for South-East Asia for two years in the late 1990s. He was an astrologer who predicted correctly. As the saying goes “Attanan Damayanthi Panditha” – The learned can control themselves well.

May Leslie Dahanayaka attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

By Budhaprema

The day the light of our home faded away

Cryshanthie Nilmini Wijewarnasooriya

August 5 marked the 10th anniversary of your sad and untimely demise recalling fragrant memories of our dear Nilmini. The light of our home faded away suddenly bringing grief and misery to family, relations and friends far and near. Although I feel that the “Call” was too early it was perhaps God’s wish that it was you who could fill that void in that far and distant land blessed with golden shores. The sweet memories of you shall linger in our hearts though we neither see nor hear you.

Could I ever erase that lovely past as a bundle of mischief, your sweet smile and chuckling voice that made us all happy.

As the years rolled by, you turned out to be a pretty civilized lady and a beautiful brilliant young scholar who won many an award at H.F.C. Kalutara. Later you were selected as the best Science student at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya and awarded the Ratnayake Memorial Shield for the best performance in 1984, entering the Colombo Medical College at an early age of 18 years.

As a student your cheerful and unassuming character won many a friend. As a student vocalist you played a prominent part in all cultural events at the Medical College. As a doctor you stood for duty and compassion. As a loving daughter and sister you discharged your duties to family members and were at their beck and call.

Your untimely death at the age of 32 is an irreparable loss to me, your father, two brothers and only sister. You were considerate and ever so affectionate even to the most helpless regardless of their status in life. You never drove a car in your life, flew in a plane or went abroad, but were deeply respected by everyone. You were devoted to your parents, enjoying and sharing the successes and sorrows to the very end of your life. Till we meet again to hug and kiss your lovely face with gratitude for your good deeds, enjoy what you richly deserve in Paradise.

So goodbye darling Nilmini. May the gracious Lord in his infinite mercy grant you eternal happiness and may you rest in peace.

By Amma, (W. S. A. D. Wijewarnasooriya).

With faith in God he lived a life so full

Francis Gomez

Francis who was with us in good times and sad and who had been in our family for the past 40 years, has now left his earthly sojourn and gone to rest with the Lord in a garden filled with sweet blooms. Francis was a God-fearing person and lived every moment of his life on this earth with first priority to his Maker, as his faith in religion was strong.

We can truly say that he never lost his cool even when problems cropped up which we found difficult to solve. He would say “Pray and leave it in God’s hands". Francis was more than a right hand to his wife Carmen whom he loved very dearly. She carried out his tasks to the letter.

To get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, he built for himself and Carmen a small apartment in Balangoda attached to the Convent where both of them would relax and unwind. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that Francis is no more with us to be there at our family gatherings, which he would attend faithfully.

During the past months his health was problematic, but never for a moment did we think his condition would deteriorate. During a few visits to the hospital where he was well cared for, he would speak jocularly, especially amongst the younger generation of our family.

It is not easy, especially for his dear wife Carmen to disperse the shadows of grief and sorrow. However, we must all remember that the chapter in his book has concluded and that Francis is now safe in the arms of Jesus.

By Anthea Muller

Nation - Sunday, Aug 12 2007

Wesley Muthiah – A true gentleman

Wesley Muthiah is no more with us from last Saturday. He passed away in London last Saturday after a brief illness. Wesley was known to me for nearly 15 years. I met him first when I was working at the Social Scientist’s Association in Colombo, way back in the early 1990s. Wesley was born and raised in Jaffna town but at young age he moved to London and started his career as a teacher. He was married to Tenecy Fernando from Moratuwa and they had two sons (Ninesh and Romesh) who are married to British Indians (Nina and Geetha). They have one grandchild (Ravishank). In this sense his family can be designated as a true multi-cultural and multi-ethnic family.

He was a gigantic figure in areas of his interests. He was a true comrade of the Sri Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) to which he dedicated his whole life for this political interest. I had different thinking of left politics before I met two personalities: Wesley Muthiah and Kumari Jayawardena. Under the influence of these great figures my political thinking began to change, rather shaped from capitalist to socialist ideas. I owe them for making me a different man but I will not be able to repay them.

Wesley was an active member of the intellectual wing of LSSP. Prof. Carlo Fonseka described him as “A life blood of the Lanka Samasamaja Party.” He has edited and published numerous politically motivated books, articles and pamphlets with his fellow comrade late Mr. Sydney Wanasinghe. To name few We Were Making History, The Bracegirdle Affaire, Socialist Women of Sri Lanka, Dr. Colvin R De Silva, Two Languages One nation One Language Two Nations “ Case For Socialism” “ N.M. In His Own Words As Seen By Others” “Britain, World War II and the Samasamajists”. All of his publications were on sale at nominal costs: he knew the cost of living in Sri Lanka and the general public cannot afford to buy books, yet he wanted more people to read this valuable intellectual outcome.
Whenever Wesley organise a book launch, he asked me to help him. His last book launch was at the Dr. N.M.Perera Centre in Colombo on Dr. Colvin R. de Silva. For this book launch Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Vasudeva Nanyakkara, Batty Weerakoon, Raja Collure and other left leaders attended and they highly appreciated Wesley’s contribution to the LSSP.

I still remember when I was in London he offered me his residence to my stay for many months. At that time I was not able to pay the room rent and his wife offered me lots of rations and frozen foods that were in his house. Sometimes Wesley was a fatherly figure to me. He and his family members are real human beings I have ever met in this world. His house was a refuge for many Sri Lankans visiting London. I was one of them. He supported the upcountry Tamil community for many years. He was getting support from European friends and his family members for this.

Wesley we will remember you forever in our hearts for being a father figure, teacher and a good friend.

Vidya Abhaygunawardena

Sunday Times Aug 5 2007

This great Major General is no more but his legacy lives on

Major Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa

Denzil Kobbekaduwa’s 15th death anniversary falls on August 15. He was killed in mysterious circumstance. In July 1983 when 13 solders were killed in Jaffna, Denzil was a Lt. Colonel. Denzil left for the UK in 1989. Whilst following a course he was summoned by the government in 1990 – to restore peace following the uprising of Sinhala youth.

Major Gen. Denzil Kobbekadu

He was sent back on a request by the British Government. He completed the course in a year and took over the 1st Division at Panagoda. During this period war broke out in the Eastern Province. General Wanasinghe ordered him to Army Headquarters and directed him to take over the Eastern Province with Minneriya as his headquarters. He immediately rescued the troops at Kiran under siege from the LTTE.

He then cleaned the suburbs of Batticaloa and conducted the operations of Kanchikudichiaru. During this period all police stations in the Eastern Province had fallen to the LTTE and Police personnel who surrendered were shot in cold blood and killed. While operations were being completed in the Eastern Province the LTTE overran Army camps in the Northern Province and the Mankulam unit was withdrawn.

Thereafter heavy fighting took place in the Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass and all over Jaffna. He handed over the Eastern Province command to Gen. Gerry Silva and took over the Northern Command from Gen. Stanley Silva who was posted to Panagoda.

He rescued the troops of Jaffna Fort under siege by the LTTE. He cleared the islands prior to the operations on Jaffna. At this time he had working for him Brigade Commander Wimalaratne – brilliant field commander (Denzil’s personal statement), Lt. Col. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka and Gaimin Gunasekera.

Maj. Gen. Kobbekaduwa stabilized Welioya, Vavuniya and Mannar in July 1991. (He led the biggest amphibious operations to rescue the Elephant Pass contingent (Major Sarath Karunaratne was in command). He established contact with the islands in Pooneryn and connected Elephant Pass for an invasion of Jaffna.

He was inspecting landing sites during this same operation to inject troops into the peninsula when he was killed.

By A civilian colleague

A tale of two people and their love

Travice and Beryl Peries

Now that I have a son of my own, I find myself thinking back on my own childhood, and beautiful memories of my grandparents emerge. I thought I would write this tribute as their birthdays are on July 25 and August 3. They would have been 97 and 99 years.

My grandparents were not rich people, but they left behind a legacy of love, which has guided and strengthened me over the years. I treasure all I learnt from them and have tried to live by the principles and values that I was taught and hope to pass them on to our son. They showed me by their example that happiness is the ability to make a bouquet with the flowers within one’s reach.

The two of them complemented each other and I learnt so much from their beautiful relationship. After my grandfather passed on, we came across his diary for that year where he had written down his goals. Heading the list was “Make Beryl happy”. She in turn used her many talents to create a happy home.

My grandmother was the gentlest person I have ever known. She was selfless in her love for everybody. Her life reflected Christ’s love. I enjoyed cooking with her and we had lots of fun tasting! Today I still use many of her recipes. She and I used to make our own greeting cards, which were meaningful though messy!

My grandfather instilled in me that I need only do my best. Winning wasn’t the aim, but he used to say, “Aim for the moon – at least you might hit some stars!”. He inculcated in me a love for reading. He encouraged me to read widely on many topics, to appreciate literature, art and nature. He would take me for singing classes and enjoyed hearing me play the piano. In sports, while encouraging me to be competitive, he also taught me to have fun! He fostered in me an independent spirit and helped me to value being a self-sufficient person. One incident in particular illuminates my memories of him. When my grandfather realized that we hadn’t seen fire-flies as we lived in Colombo, he went one night to Nugegoda by bus (as he had been advised not to drive by then), caught some fire-flies in his handkerchief and brought them to our home. Then, putting the lights off, he released the fire-flies. My sister and I were amazed by the sparkling fire-flies, and his face sparkled as he looked at us! This is one example of how he creatively exposed us to the wonders of life.

In their wisdom, our grandparents gave us all these “gifts” that money just cannot buy, that would last beyond their lifetime.

By Dayani Fernando

Doc with a simple magic cure

Dr. B.D.J. De Silva

On June 9, the uncrowned King of Maharagama and her greatest citizen passed away peacefully. Having known him for over 50 years first as a patient and then as a friend, it is my privilege to put on record some facts about the life and times of Dr. B.D.J.De Silva or Dr. Silva of Maharagama or Pat to his friends. In my 65 years, 40 of which were in the UK, I have not known another physician whose diagnostic skills are as good as our Dr Silva’s.

Not only was he spot-on in his diagnosis or perhaps because of it, his prescription of antibiotics and other drugs was minimal. His mixture and powder which cost just Rs.3 in the late fifties cured every ailment like magic. I have a sneaky suspicion that quite often they were placebos.

My earliest recollections of Dr. Silva in Maharagama was him riding a horse in town and on another occasion reversing his light green Hillman Minx car from the surgery to his home which was a fair distance away! Yes, he did have style right from the beginning. Dr. Silva treated my grandfather, my father, myself and my son. Could this be a record to have treated four generations of the same family?

My grandfather who died aged 93 was fond of Dr. Silva who addressed him as Seeya. I remember him visiting Seeya at home when he was seriously unwell and he had a big hand in keeping him alive to a ripe old age. The same comments go for my father who died at age 94.

My sisters and myself rushed to Dr Silva’s surgery for the slightest problem. On one such occasion my sister supposedly had a broken sewing needle tip circulating in her blood stream. The good doctor laughed her out of the surgery asking whether her needle had a motor fixed to it? As a teenager I had to leave school early on a regular basis suffering from double vision and a severe headache. Dr. Silva treated me with a phenobarbitone tablet and in a few months the problem vanished.

Once on holiday from the UK I was wheezy and had difficulty breathing at night. Dr Silva asked me not to bathe after mid-day and gave me a white tablet to take. True to form I was cured and I asked the doctor for the name of the tablet for possible future use. He said he cannot remember! Now I am sure it was a placebo.

“I say, you are a funny man. You do meditation in England and drink whisky when in Sri Lanka,” reprimanded Dr. Silva on another occasion. My sister of the circulating needle fame had boasted to Dr. Silva how I had a few drinks with my three brothers-in-law at her place when on holiday in Sri Lanka. The good doctor also remembered that I had taken up meditation when he visited me in England. I had no answer but silently cursed my sister.

Another outstanding feature of Dr. Silva’s practice was anybody could see him at home day and night. Thanks to the JVP gundas who tried to shoot him at home he had to abandon this practice.

I am sure Dr. Silva could not have served his patients for so many years with such dedication if not for the support of his beloved wife Doreen. Towards the end she sat by him all the time holding his hand. So Doreen this tribute is very much yours as well.

By Raja Mudunkotuwe

Sunday Leader July 29 2007

Dr. Terence Percivel Amerasinghe

To many people from different parts of the world, Dr. Terence Percivel Amerasinghe’s death is shocking and unbelievable. A truly committed warrior for world governance and world peace, Dr. Amerasinghe fired the enthusiasm of many world citizens with whom he came into contact, during his travel to over 80 countries.

He was the son of the late Mudliyar B.P. Amerasinghe and his wife Elaine of Mahara Walauwa, Kadawatte. He completed his schooling at St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena.

He was of Gray’s Inn, Oxford, Bar-at-Law and Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He was a visionary and a man with great energy and who never failed to inspire his admirers and followers into action. He was a friend to late Prime Minister, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the late Presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa. Although a product of the ‘old school’ he was able to adapt fittingly to modern times, holding the interest of youth with the content and humour of his discussions.

Dr. Amerasinghe was president, until his death, of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA); Universal Love and Brotherhood Association (ULBA), Sri Lanka Branch; English Speaking Union of Sri Lanka (ESU); Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child; Miyake Home for Children and the Graduate School of World Problems. Under the ESU, Dr. Amerasinghe pioneered a project 20 years back, to teach ‘spoken English’ in 48 hours.

Even at the age of 90 years, continuing with his global travels, he was a tower of strength and a guiding light to around 500 members of the WCPA worldwide. He was a strict disciplinarian yet kind and understanding, which won him the love, admiration and respect of others. I observed this first hand when I accompanied him to Tripoli, Libya, Athens, and Greece to attend international conferences in 2006 and March 2007. He has had cordial meetings with several heads of state. Living up to the words of Rudyard Kipling, Dr. Amerasinghe was able to move with kings and not lose his common touch. He never lost hope in his belief and pushed forward his great desire to establish one world government in order to bring about lasting world peace.

Above all else, he had time for anyone who wished to develop knowledge and understanding. He loved animals, nature and cricket. He was a great reader of historical and political books and had a remarkable memory, quoting chapter and verse from books and poetry. I had the wonderful privilege to have him as my uncle and from whom I have learned very much. He leaves behind his loving son Tilak and daughter Chitra.

I miss Uncle Terence very much.

Nalin Jayasuriya

M.G. Ignatius Ferdinandez

M.G.Ignatius Ferdinandez passed away peacefully on April 27. He will not be forgotten by the Josephians both young and old for his selfless service to St.Joseph’s College. "Ferdi Sir" was born in Beruwela. He first studied at the Roman Catholic Boys’ School, Polkotuwa and later at Holy Cross College, Kalutara.

After qualifying as a trained teacher his first appointment was to Beruwela Catholic School.

In 1957 he joined St.Joseph’s College, Colombo, when Rev.Fr. Peter.A.Pillai was rector and Fr.Joseph Jayasuriya was Principal of the primary department. Rev.Fr.Peter.A. Pillai O.M.I observing the talent of young ‘Ferdi’ gave him a place to stay in the college instead of travelling to school daily from Kalutara. This encouraged the young and ambitious teacher to reach great heights.

In 1964 he passed the B.A General at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura and was appointed as a teacher in the upper school. In 1978 he was made a sectional head. In 1983 he passed his M.A in Languages and from 1996 up to his retirement he was deputy principal-administration up to his retirement in 2003.

He held the following posts at college: Master in charge of rugger, master in charge of Sinhala oriental orchestra, master in charge of karate and wushu, master in charge of Bonjean House. He also held the post of general secretary of the Teachers’ Guild and was also a member of the board of administration.

Ferdinandez served his rectors faithfully beginning from the very Rev.Fr.Peter.A.Pillai O.M.I and ending with Rev.Fr.Victor Silva when he retired in 2003. Ferdi Sir was always smartly dressed in white. He was a good and friendly disciplinarian always with a smile. He played a part in all the events of the annual inter house sports meet assisting the late Joe Perera at the recorder’s table.

Mr.Ferdinandez was a devoted husband to his loving wife Ranjanie, a much loved father to his four daughters Iroshanie, Dinusha, Dilrukshi and Jamindri, and his only son Jeshan. He was also proud of his son-in-law, the Josephian cricket coach Harsha de Silva.

May his soul rest in peace.

Sir, we will always remember you with gratitude.


Sunday Times July 29 2007

You leave us with a void

Father Glen Fernando

When I first met Father Glen, I was 14 years old. He came to our Ratmalana parish for Sunday mass and instantly I abandoned my usual bored, eye-rolling teenager attitude and sat up enthralled, along with the rest of the congregation. His sermon that morning, endeared him to me for the rest of my life and when my husband proposed to me, it had to be none other than Father Glen, who presided at our engagement. Never having met him however, I had no idea whether he would even agree. So I wrote him a five page letter explaining how and why I desperately wanted him, and none other, to bless us. Within days I received an equally long reply from Father not only agreeing, but also inviting me to visit. Thus began what to me, was the most fruitful relationship I have ever had and will ever have, with any member of the Catholic Church.

I went over to the beautiful, peaceful little house that houses the SUROL headquarters and we had a fantastic time, laughing and chatting like old friends for hours. When I left, I gave him a bear hug simply because he was the kind of person you couldn’t help but hug. When Tony, my husband first met Father Glen, Tony was not a practising Christian. I wanted us to receive communion together and asked Father if he would chat to Tony. One meeting later, an initially reluctant and sceptical Tony, not only came back to the Church, but now, reminds me when I falter, of how Father Glen helped him renew his faith.

Father Glen, was the only Catholic priest I could relate to and was not only my priest but also one of my best friends. He was my rock and my strength. He became my first port of call for every problem, however trivial. No subject was taboo and I confided in him like I would in my closest friends. Whatever the issue, he would always start off with some witticism that would make me burst out laughing. I would often call him and say, “Father, it’s me” and he never failed to say, “Ah Me, now what have you done…?”

When we got married, it was a given that it would be none other than our beloved Father Glen who would bless us. His sound advice and funny and wonderfully sweet sermon ended with the words, “Rajni always calls me and says ‘Father, it’s me..’ now Me is going with him over the seas and I wish them both the very best although I will miss her nonsense.” It meant the world to me.
I would often refer to Father Glen as ‘Glennie Boy’ for which of course I got told off by both my mother and my husband. When I conveyed this to him, he merely burst out laughing and told me I could call him anything I wanted. In fact he even went as far as to tell them both on his next visit home, that most people referred to him as ‘Grandpa Glen’ and he preferred ‘Glennie boy’ to something that made him sound old!

He would often come home and share a meal with my family. Even after I left home, he kept in touch with them, making sure that all was well. He knew that our family was close and fitted in with such ease that it was natural that we considered him a part of us. We all loved him and his infectious sense of humour and will miss him terribly. It was a testament to the kind of man he was, that when I once asked his brother-in-law what would make a good gift for Father, he laughed and said “It’s pointless giving him anything because if he has two shirts, he will give the new one to someone who needs it.”

Staying true to his teachings, he never shied away from helping those forgotten and shunned by society and spent all his earthly life driving his trademark pick-up around the country, making sure that his patients in leprosy colonies, had what they needed and that their children attended school. He genuinely cared, working tirelessly to give them the hope they would not have had without him, never stopping to attend to his own needs even when he was ill.

He was one priest who never once made a distinction in his treatment between the rich and the poor. He always had time for everyone. I remember sitting on the steps of SUROL chatting to him one afternoon when an old man wheeled himself in. Father Glen jumped up, put his arm around his shoulders greeting and teasing him. The smile Father put on his face spoke volumes, and he left laden with provisions and strict instructions from Father on how to keep his wounds clean.

In a world where money and power take precedence, even over religion and God, Father Glen stood for truth and justice. He was unafraid and spoke out with passion for what he believed in. This, combined with his innate holiness, drew everyone to him. This was why his people loved him. His sermons, always relevant and in context, appealed to young and old alike. Often, even some of my non-Christian friends would wait outside the church to see if Father Glen was taking mass and if het was, go in to listen.

Father Glen was an amazing man. No matter what trials he had to face, his faith never faltered. He preached with great conviction, of the love of God, of faith, peace, joy and hope. Yet, he may never be beatified because his ambitions in life did not lie with pursuing higher positions in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. He was never chosen to become a bishop, or to go to Rome, but that was not what he became a priest to achieve. His choices, he would often say to me with a smile, as I raged at the injustice of it all, lay, with serving God and serving his flock. That is why regardless of the lack of earthly rewards he was bestowed with, to the people who loved him and followed him and to his Lord above, he always was and always will be, a saint.

We are so sorry dearest Father Glen, that we were not in the country to bid you farewell. We wish we could have seen you one last time and told you how much you meant to us, thanked you for everything you did for us. We hope you knew how much we loved you and how terribly we will miss you. You leave us with a void that will never be filled by anyone, ever.

No one will replace you. It is simply not possible. You were a rare and wonderful gift from God and we were so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with you and be blessed by you. We had always hoped that when we had children, you would baptise them.

Now that will not be possible but we hope you will look down on us from your seat in heaven and say a prayer for us all. Father, no appreciation, no eulogy in the world, could ever epitomise the kind of man you were, but I hope you read this with that ever-present glint in your eye and I hope you know that you meant the world to us.

With all our love, fondest remembrances and great big hugs

By Rajni, Tony and Mario

His laugh and smile still haunt us

Timothy Wickremasinghe

To write an eulogy about your own son is a difficult task. The task becomes so much harder when bitter memories fill your heart as to what happened on that fateful day last September. Timothy was in the prime of his manhood when death cruelly snatched him away in the company of two people he loved so much– his young wife and his sister.

The memories that still linger in our minds of the wonderful things he did in this short span of time only remind us that we are born to this world to die and that nothing is permanent. Death is irrevocable as we are well aware but when parents have to bury their children one tends to question the reason as to why some of us are unfortunate. Timothy was an exceptional son and a loving and caring husband to Chali, whom he adored. Chali was his first and only love whom he married when he was 22. His entire life revolved around his family, his home and his parents.

Reminiscing about Timothy’s early childhood and adolescence it is with a deep sense of emotion that I recollect how timid he was in College. His mother was his guiding light and strength. She spent the better part of the day in the precincts of St Joseph’s College so that she could be by his side. Probably this gave him both the courage and confidence to mould himself to what he eventually achieved during his short life. People who did not know him intimately would say that his self-confidence bordered on egotism. But to those who knew him, he was a unique, humble and exceptionally generous person, always ready to help those in need and willing to make sacrifices for others.

I was sometimes overawed at his generosity to those less fortunate than himself and the manner he treated those who worked for him. Whenever I had the good fortune of sending any workmen to help him at his worksites, they would sing his praises for months on end about the manner he treated them and at the sincerity of his generosity. He was a Christian in every sense of the word. His laugh, his smile still haunts me as if it was only yesterday. I cannot accept that he is no longer with us. Many times I have tried to dial his number only to suddenly realize that he is physically no longer a part of us. However, I feel that he is by my side guiding my destiny and watching over our family. Timothy was a devout Christian who believed in his creator and even with his heavy workload he found the time for his Sunday obligations in Church and spent time on behalf of the poor of the parish.

We Christians believe that we are born into this world for a purpose and once it has been achieved the Almighty calls us to be with Him. I believe that Timothy had fulfilled that wish within just three decades and this evil world was not a place for someone like him. My daughter, Natasha, who was his best friend and spent most of her time with him and his wife, lost not only a brother but a true friend who was the guiding light of the family.

My daily prayer is to thank God for giving me Timothy though even for this very short space of time for he taught me what love and generosity was by his own actions.

We little knew that morning
God was going to call your name
In life we loved you dearly
In death we do the same
It broke our hearts to lose you
You did not go alone
For a part of us went with you
The day God called you home
You left us beautiful memories
Your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you
You are always at our side
Our family chain is broken
And nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
The chain will link again.

So my darling son, it's goodbye till we meet again on that beautiful shore in Paradise.

Your ever grieving daddy,


Sunday Times July 22 2007

A born fighter who stood up for her principles

~ Kusuma Rajarathna

She was a teacher by profession, a doting mother and dutiful housewife. Politics was not a subject in her agenda. But it was a subject she could not avoid for her husband was a veteran politician and Member of Parliament. K. M. P. Rajarathna of Welimada is a name that no Sri Lankan can forget. He was a true son of our country who sacrificed so much even his seat in Parliament for the principles which he cherished more than his life.

Kusuma was his wife. She herself was a Member of Parliament. She entered Parliament as the member of Welimada and then Uva-Paranagama, representing this seat for 15 years. She was the first woman who gave up the prestigious post of being a Member of Parliament for the principles she upheld.

Kusuma hailed from the ancient kingdom of Kotte. Her father was Awis Perera, a respected Ayurvedic Physician. Her mother was Caroline Hamine. Kusuma was the second in a family of four. Her schooling began at Ananda Sastralaya but having studied up to her O/Ls she joined Anula Vidyalaya to offer Pali and Sanskrit for her A/Ls. Kusuma then entered the University of Colombo.

Kusuma met Konar Mudiyanselage Podiappuhamy Rajarathna while she was a student at Ananda Sastralaya. Rajarathna was a fair handsome youth from the cold climes of upcountry tea estates. He won the heart of the pretty damsel from Kotte. They met, fell in love, studied together and entered the Colombo University. They chose teaching as their profession. They married on August 24, 1950 and they had four children, Suhashan, Bhawanthi, Nalaka and Pramada.

Rajarathna had the good fortune to meet S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike while he was at the University. As the president of the students’ council Rajarathna invited Mr. Bandaranaike to deliver a keynote address. Their friendship was strong. Ultimately Rajarathna joined the SLFP and contested Welimada, his home town. He lost his seat as a result of an election petition. According to the unwritten law and custom prevalent at the time Kusuma was the next choice. While going from house to house canvassing for votes Kusuma learned politics the hard way.

Kusuma was a born fighter. Sri Lankan women, especially the women of the village were her main focus when campaigning. She carried on until her husband was eligible to contest. He contested Welimada. Kusuma was shifted to Uva Paranagama the adjoining seat. Both husband and wife won their seats. Kusuma was made a junior minister.

Welimada and Uva-Paranagama are electorates in the upcountry hills. Election campaigning was not what it is today. In the days gone by, candidates had to go from house to house canvassing for votes. I remember Kusuma the woman from the capital city going down hills amongst tea bushes on narrow stony path ways. The icy cold water of the streams acted as a soothing balm to the aching feet. Kusuma, soaking your feet in the cold water you spoke of so many things. Your plans to uplift the living standards of the village women. The children were your main concern.

Your husband was a radical thinker. He always stood by his principles. Once he started a fast on the steps of the Parliament building when Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the Prime Minister. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke was the Governor General. Your pleadings on behalf of your fasting husband went unheeded. You decided to go and meet the Governor General. I remember you walking in to the palatial mansion like a lioness. You were not afraid to speak. I was there when you presented your case. You always stood by your husband and the principles he upheld in his life. You gave up your seat upholding your principles. Both you and your husband gave up politics. You became a housewife devoting your time to your children. Your husband took up law. He became one of the outstanding lawyers of the country.

Kusuma your life was not a bed of roses. But you were happy and contented. You became more and more absorbed in the Dhamma. You never had your meals without offering the first meal to the Buddha. Next came your husband, then the family. Your end was so serene. You prepared the food. The offering was done as usual. Then you bathed, changed and lay down on the bed with folded hands. Thus you breathed your last on the morning hours of June 24.

Kusuma your name has entered the chapters of our history. May you attain Nibbana!

By Sriya Ratnakara

She dedicated her life for the rights of women in need

~ Asoka De Silva

Asoka De Silva, Executive Committee member of Women In Need (WIN), passed away on May 3. She joined the organisation as a voluntary befriender in the early nineties. Very soon Aski, as she was affectionately called became interested in the work of the organisation, which was wholly committed to the elimination of all forms of violence against women and children.

Her dedication and sensitivity to the cause were soon recognised and she was invited to join the executive committee. Aski loved hard work - half hearted effort was unknown to her. She totally immersed herself in the various projects carried out by WIN. Her sensitivity to the issues of gender discrimination and the actual suffering of women in situations of domestic violence brought out her qualities of patience, tolerance and sympathy. These great qualities happily blended in her character in which dedication and service formed the keynote.

As a lawyer, her analytical mind and legal knowledge helped to solve many a legal problem, which the victims of domestic violence were faced with. She worked with our team of lawyers who were instrumental in drawing up of the WIN constitution. Aski was a happy person, pleasant and witty with abundant laughter. At the Board meetings which she never failed to attend she was quick to see a shortcoming, but her ready wit and joyous laughter saw any difficult issue solved with ease.

Aski was a generous person. She gave her time, energy and personal wealth to WIN. She was in charge of the shelter for abused women run by our organisation. Aski took a personal interest in its running and made it a pleasant place for the victims who were given shelter, seeing to all their needs. Her generosity was aptly demonstrated when she spent large sums of money to help the victims of violence. The shelter was Aski’s pet project and it was efficiently run with Aski visiting it at least once a week. Aski enjoyed giving her time to cheer up these women and children.

Her sudden death uprooted from our midst, a lovable personality. Her understanding of human problems brought us together to work towards the goal of eradication of violence against women. She was too young to leave us. She has left a void difficult to fill. She was a special person who cared for others and gave her heart to what she believed in.

May she attain Nirvana.

By Savi and all her friends at Women In Need

You were my eternal love

~ Col. Fazly Laphir

You were my dream
of all times
you walked into my life
and convinced me that dreams come true
You believed
We've been together
Through the path of lives
You had hoped and dreamed
to be together
In all lives to come
I was everything to you
Knowing that
You were everything to me
You left…
Giving me a chance
To leave you
Nor to bid goodbye
My eternal dream
Absolute reality
One and only hope
My dearest, dearest,
Darling Fazly
I will love you more tomorrow
Than today

Your ever loving Ano

We’ll look at the moon and think of you

~ Francesca Victoria

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness…
Her children rise up and call her blessed
- Proverbs 31

Grandma was always gentle, kind, patient, caring, graceful, hospitable, generous, happy, loving, and dignified! Her life was a shining example of how life ought to be lived. By her actions, she taught us to treat people with kindness and forgiveness. She always kept confidences and only focused on the good in people. She was genuinely interested in the poor and the troubled, and gave unconditionally of her resources and time.

Grandma always seemed to have time for us, her grandchildren, too - to ask how we were faring and then listen patiently to our litany of childish problems. Her concern somehow made our worries melt away. She was an integral part of our lives – as we graduated from report cards to wedding cards.

We fondly recall her presence: those beautiful eyes, those soft hands, that sweet smell of powder and eau de cologne and, the rustle of her saree as she bustled about the household. We would drink our morning cup of ‘Grandma’s tea’ from wobbly silver tumblers. With the sunlight streaming through the window, we have marvelled together at the birds splashing in the bird-bath and twittering on the temple tree.

Grandma organised some memorable midnight feasts for us, at which we ate ice-creams and chocolates, and she enthralled us with stories filled with magic and mystique. Princes, princesses, fairies and a flying white horse featured prominently in them. In one particular story, the prince and princess got married in the end and Grandma attended their grand wedding. As a parting gift, she said, they gave her the blue enamel bangle that she used to wear!

She taught us action songs like ‘On The Good Ship Lollipop', ‘Animal Crackers’ and ‘My Ship Sails From China’ - and every song from ‘The Sound of Music’. Our family values and sense of morality were learnt from her -- like when she used to switch off the television whenever inappropriate content came on. And how she gently reprimanded us when a skirt stopped short of our knobbly knees... When we slept over, she would put chairs beside our bed to ensure we didn’t roll off… even after we became teenagers!

Grandma was like a shepherd, and we were her flock... She brought up ten amazing children. Then, she did the same to us – and, finally, to her 13 great-grandchildren. It brings us solace to know that she is now in the hands of the Good Shepherd from whom she drew so much strength.

Late at night, Grandma would say “Good night, God bless you” to each one of us and would retire to bed only after saying a prayer before the altar in the hall. She had unwavering faith in God. What sustained her during difficult times was prayer. "Lord Jesus,” she would pray, “hold my hand and walk through this world with me."

Once - at the end of our holidays - I was crying at the prospect of leaving. Grandma hugged me and said, “Whenever you feel sad, look at the moon and think of me - I will be looking at the same moon and thinking of you too.”

Thank you, darling Grandma, for all that you were to us and for all that you taught us about living! Until we meet again, we’ll look at the moon; okay, Grandma? Does it look the same from Heaven?

By Her 23 grandchildren

Sunday Times July 15 2007

He worked for the betterment of the upcountry estate people

~ P.V. Kandiah

The N.U.W. (National Union of Workers) was established by scholar V.K. Vallayan along with P.V. Kandiah and P. Perumal in 1965.
When Mr. Vallayan died in 1971, P.V. Kandiah was appointed the general secretary of the trade union. Mr. Kandiah dedicated nearly 25 years of his life to the N.U.W., guiding the organization with his knowledge and experience. He had a close relationship with other trade unions including the C.W.C.

When he was a General Secretary of the N.U.W in the ’80s, he visited many countries to participate in conferences to voice the grievances of the estate Tamils.

Mr. Kandiah was popular for his oratorical skills on stage, especially at May Day rallies. He spoke about the struggles of the plantation people and their need to be educated. He knew exactly how to manage and solve their problems. Planters regarded him as a calm person who was easy to deal with.

Mr. Kandiah contested in the very first Provincial Council election in 1988 and was elected as a member of the Central Provincial Council with almost 5000 votes. Until 1994 he was involved in many construction and renovation projects, allocating money for the development of urban and estate libraries and bus stops in several areas in Nuwara Eliya.

Mr. Kandiah had the courage to speak of the plantation population and their problems. In the mid-90s, he had a consultation with Mr. Thondaman to form a special alliance for the up-country people, called India Vamsavally Makkal Perani.

Unfortunately, this could not continue due to the unfavourable political environment. Mr. Kandiah’s desire was to bring all trade unions under one roof to overcome the suffering of the plantation population.

Under his political symbol “peacock” all trade unions including the CWC contested the Provincial Council election of the late nineties. Mr. Kandiah had a vision to create an educated society in the hill country. He encouraged youngsters to give priority to education. He was general secretary of the Parent-Teacher Society of St. John Bosco’s College, Hatton in the late eighties. He died in October 2005 after an illness of three years. The N.U.W. thus lost a trade union leader of vision and integrity.

By K. Sakthiyendran

His words and deeds will ring on

~ Fr. Glen Fernando

It is with a heavy heart that I write this tribute to Fr. Glen. We had known him for the past six years, but it seemed like 60, because he became a part of our lives and we were close to him. We first met him on our pilgrimage to Vailankanni and every August he went with us. I thank God and Aunty Mercy Kuruppu for bringing him into our lives.

I still have not encountered anyone who conducted the "way of the cross” as Fr. did. It was so meaningful and relevant to the times we live in, it was so full of life. On our return to Trichy from Vailankanni he never failed to buy something for his helpers at SUROL (Society for Upliftment and Rehabilitation of Leprosy patients). Our Vailankanni pilgrimage will never be the same without Fr. Glen. There was never a dull moment when he was around.

He reached out to the poorest of the poor and leprosy patients with total dedication, love and concern and the religious background was of no concern. Many social engagements were side tracked due to his commitment to his less fortunate flock. He was that modern day genuine good Samaritan. We saw true discipleship in him, truly rare in this era we live in. Whenever we visited SUROL he used to show us albums of leprosy patients under the care of the society. The love and concern he had for them were written all over his face.

He didn’t need a cassock to be recognized as a holy person, we could call him Father in every sense. The fact that he touched the lives of so many in so many ways was proved by the crowds that gathered in three churches to pay their last respects and to get a final glimpse of his mortal remains.

When he started officiating at the 12 noon mass at Sacred Heart Church at Rajagiriya, people thronged to listen to him preach the word of God. His homilies were meaningful and so relevant to the here and now, we never felt the time passing, also you would never find a nodding head if you happened to look around.

Before he entered hospital, on our way back from somewhere, we went to see him at SUROL. Since we did not have anything to take him, I bought some apples and when we went there the boy said that Father was in his room. When I spoke to him on the intercom he said that he was in office from morning and he came to the room to rest. I told him that we won’t disturb him and that I would leave the apples with the boy. Then at once he said in Sinhalese, “Oya Deviyanvahanse epa kiyala thiyana de mi karanne”. Then quite innocently I asked “ai Father?” Then he said “Ai minihate apple denne”. We had a good laugh about it and came home. That was one of the last jokes that he cracked with me.

It was a great shock to hear about his death. We can’t question God why he took him because he calls the best. May be he had another mission for him over there. A part of us too has gone with him. The vacuum left behind by him will be difficult to fill. At his graveside Fr. Pinto from Goa paid a tribute to him and said: “Glen, keep the Co-Pilot seat for me”. Yes, God willing we would all like to occupy that seat right next to him one day. Last Sunday, the 12 noon mass at Rajagiriya was offered in memory of Fr. Glen. As Fr. Xavier Pinto preached about Fr. Glen we could not hold back our tears. We lost a very dear Priest, Father, Brother, Friend and brilliant Preacher.

Our dear Fr. Glen is no more, his voice is still but he will remain in our hearts forever. May his soul rest in peace. Adios! Fr. Glen, till we meet on that beautiful shore.

By Suranganee Perera

She took us under her caring wing

~ Irene Wijesundere

It is with profound sadness that I write about my father’s younger sister. My mother, Brenda Abeysinghe Weerasekera died when I was only two years old, and my aunt (Nanda) who had a heart full of human sympathy and generous qualities took care of me and my brothers. We remember her with gratitude, how she acted as a mother single handedly, taking us under her wing, and bringing us up after my mother’s death. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude to what we are today.

On June 15, late in the evening I was informed that Nanda’s condition was failing, and immediately rushed to hospital with my wife, where there were several others too around her. A little later Nanda opened her eyes and inquired as to what we were doing without going to our homes.

I waited for a while till the others left, and went close to her and worshipped her. Immediately she responded, “Budu Saranai”. Nanda died on the morning of June 17.

As a mark of respect I promise you Nanda, that I will live life by getting closer to Lord Buddha’s teachings. May this great lady attain Nirvana.

By Dhammika

Success never eroded his simplicity

~ M.M.C. Wickramanayake

M.M.C. Wickramanayake, a legend who worked tirelessly to put Sri Lanka on the world industry map passed away peacefully in Kandy on July 6, 2001 on his 89th birthday.

The father figure of Sri Lanka's industry & commerce, Mr. Wickramanayake was among the first to recognize the potential of the garment industry, its ability to contribute to Sri Lanka's economic growth and generate direct and indirect employment. He was a pioneer in the knitwear industry establishing Sterling Jersey Co in 1953 under the brand name Kosala.

Born in Unanwitiya, he started his career in Kandy as a manager at his uncle's tobacco leaf business. His life exemplified an inspirational success story of a self-made man. As Chairman of Kosala Agencies Ltd. M.M.C pioneered importing re -conditioned cars to Sri Lanka in 1976. In 1978, his company became the first private permit holder to operate a private omnibus service.

They operated a Kandy-Colombo luxury bus. Under his stewardship and visionary leadership the Kosala enterprise diversified into varied sectors. He was founder director of City Stores Ltd., Silverdale Hotel Ltd., Sinhaputra Finance Ltd., Kandy Trading Company Ltd., Service Kandy Ltd., and Beehive Food Canning Ltd.

He was also the founder director and managing director of Kandy Ayurveda Pharmacy Ltd. from 1943 to 1987. He was the founder member of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry and its Vice President from 1963 to 1965 as well as Vice President of the Kandy Merchant Chamber from 1963 to 1973.

M.M.C. Wickramanayake’s achievements and success never eroded his simplicity and old fashioned charm. His death left a void which the country will find difficult to fill.

May he attain Nibbana!

By S. Wickramasinghe

Let us carry on the work of this great visionary

~ Prof. V. K. Samaranayake

Much has been said and written about Vidyajoti Professor V.K. Samaranayake, often referred to as the Father of IT (Information Technology) in Sri Lanka, who served the country and very particularly the Colombo University. My memories of him during my student days in the Physical Science Department of the Colombo University are of a young lecturer, both brilliant and approachable who worked for the welfare of all students. Whether it was through his work with the World University Service (WUS) promoting student welfare and social action or in bringing good discipline through his role as University Proctor, he always achieved the “impossible” for the benefit of the students.

I vividly remember how he gave me a “guided tour” through his computer centre housing the Data General Computer, explaining his role as operator, programmer and manager. That was him -- he did it all.

During his chairmanship at CINTEC (Computer and Information Technology Council), he initiated the project to develop the relevant laws and his contribution in getting them passed was appreciated by the legal community. Amongst many other initiatives, I wish to mention one that concerned banking. Around 1993 he initiated a discussion group for the creation of a common ATM switch. After two years, the bankers still could not agree on the modalities of operation and the project never got off the ground.

Professor Samaranayake requested me to take it over and carry on through a Central Bank initiative. A meeting scheduled for January 31, 1996, 10.30 a.m. was cancelled at the last minute as one of the key persons was unable to attend. At 10.45 a.m. that day, the Central Bank was destroyed by the bomb blast. So sadly a great initiative which could have benefited the country never happened due to no fault of the visionary who initiated it.

On that fateful day all the computers at the IT department of the Central Bank went up in flames and it became my responsibility to suggest to the management the action to be taken to recover fast. The senior officers of the IT department of the Central Bank discussed with our vendor and other IT professionals on the ways and means of long and short term recovery. I kept in touch with my guru, Professor Samaranayake who offered his valuable inputs. Finally it was decided that, as an interim measure, we needed to get similar equipment to the main frame we lost and rebuild our data bases from the tapes stored at the back-up centre. The Central Bank did not have space to set up these computers. Government tender procedures to obtain rented space would have taken many months which we could ill afford. Professor Samaranayake called me and said, “There is some space at the 1st floor of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) at the Colombo University, use it and just pay the electricity charges”. He took immediate action when necessary and obtained the necessary approvals subsequently. That is how he helped the Central Bank in its darkest hour.

I was very closely associated with him in the “Y2K” project. As Chairman, he worked untiringly; going from meeting to meeting, presentation to presentation, media interview to media interview always shouldering the responsibility. We are proud that Sri Lanka achieved “Y2K ready” status much before many other countries in the region or even for that matter, some developed countries.

He was a member of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) and found time to keep in touch with and support its activities. As Chairman of CINTEC, which was the highest policy making body in Information Technology of the Government of Sri Lanka, he obtained formal recognition for CSSL, by allocating a place on its board. He helped the CSSL by facilitating the training of student teams they presented for international competitions of the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) through his role in the University.

Professor Samaranayake obtained Cabinet approval for declaring an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) week in October 2006. The 2006 SEARCC conference was held in Sri Lanka during this period. As Chairman of the INFOTEL society Professor Samaranayake was the Chairman of the committee responsible for organizing the exhibition, conference, workshops etc. for this event. This created a milestone in uniting all ICT related organizations.

Many great people are never acclaimed until they die. This however was not the case with Professor Samaranayake. I still remember the 10th anniversary celebration of the Institute of Computer Technology, of the University of Colombo in 1997, held at its auditorium, later very fittingly named the Professor V.K. Samaranayake Auditorium.

Many reputed persons acknowledged the great contribution made by him. I was so happy to hear such praise about him that I sent an email to my good friend, his brother, expressing my joy at the things that were said.

The ceremony held to say farewell to him on his retirement from the University in 2004 was another occasion where his unparalleled contribution to the Colombo University was acclaimed by many eminent persons. The video produced secretly by his colleagues at the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), on this occasion, gave many of us an opportunity to pay a tribute to him.

None of us who attended the launch of the felicitation volume for Professor Samaranayake, “Partners in Progress” on June 4, 2007 could have imagined that we were in fact saying goodbye to him. His speech that day started with a Thank You to his late parents. He also paid a tribute to the late Professor Stanley Wijesundera, late Professor P.P.G.L. Siriwardena and also late Samanthilake of the UCSC. He ended by thanking his wife and two sons for their role in being his Partners in Progress.

To Samita and Nayana I would say – you should take solace in the fact that your father was very happy and proud of your achievements. To his beloved wife Sriya, I can only say that you should be happy of the life you had together, you were truly his “Partner in Progress”.

It is the responsibility of those that were inspired by his creativity, dedication and vision to jointly carry on his life’s work thereby paying a tribute he richly deserves.

By Nayeni Fernando

The Nation Sunday July 8 2007

‘To sir with love’

Tyrrell Goonatilleke

The colossus of the CID of our time has left us. Twenty years after retirement, he yet leaves behind a void so large that never can be filled. Tyrrell Goonatilleke was the finest police officer that I have ever met. While yet an Inspector, a superior officer wrote of him on his Confidential Report: “An ornament to the CID.”
He was one of the most, if not the most, controversial police officer, of our time. Having known and worked with him closely throughout my career, as one of his closest officers and friends, and having shared with him his triumphs and tribulations, I feel that it is my duty to write down for posterity, after his passing away (on May 27, 2007), my ringside impressions of this unique man. The future generations of this country, especially police officers, must know that there lived amidst us, a legendary character like this, in our country.

“The Black Diamond”
As a CID officer, he was both admired and feared by the entire Police Service. Some hated him, while some loved him. Many misunderstood his intentions, trying to understand him, on their own terms. He was a ruthless investigator. He set the same tone for the entire CID throughout its golden era that ended by 1978.
His ruthlessness in fact, was in pursuit of the truth and not in persecution of individuals. This is where he was misunderstood by most, particularly by the suspects and their families. His interrogation was so thorough, relentless, meticulous and incisive that no suspect could ever get away with anything less than the truth. He ensured every tenet of the concept of human rights was adhered to, long before it appeared in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

As much as he was admired within and without the police force for his integrity, he was hated for the same reason. His impregnable integrity was such that no officer senior, peer or junior to him nor a politician, however powerful, dared to suggest or prevail upon him to do anything improper.

Hard work
When it came to hard work, Tyrrell had no peer in the police. His capacity to work long hours and continuously was amazing. After office, he used to call investigation teams to his house at Nawala and sit with them through the night supported by numerous flasks of coffee, pouring over inquiry notes and sifting the evidence. Towards the early hours of dawn some of us who fell asleep in our chairs were jolted awake by his friendly chiding. Interrogating a suspect through the night till morning was nothing for him. He told us that his success was not because he was brilliant but because of his uncompromising hard work and devotion to what he did. And he challenged the entire CID to work as hard as he did. He said that we did not know how much our bodies were capable of until we challenged them.

Knowledge of the law
He was probably the policeman who knew the law more than any other officer in the police, at that time. He was particularly fond of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Ordinance. He loved to dig up obscure provisions of the Evidence Ord. and to exploit them innovatively. He told me what made him knowledgeable about the law. Once when he was a young officer in the CID and had consulted a Senior Inspector on some legal provision, the latter had looked at him contemptuously. Tyrrell had thereupon sat down and read through all the new law reports issued up to that date and kept himself updated thereafter even after he had retired. When he attended the Detectives’ Course at London Metropolitan Police, he had to study the English law. At the final test, he had scored the highest marks, beating the British officers.

The Mentor
To have worked by his side was an experience in itself. It was like following a practical course in a university. Watching him go through his daily tasks, even answering a telephone call and the follow up action thereafter, was education to me. How he dealt with superiors, colleagues, subordinates, the press, lawyers, friends; his appropriate sense of humour and fury, how he handled most tricky situations under pressure, were all learning exercises. Though he was the biggest man in the CID as Director CID (There was no DIG CID then), he occupied the smallest room which he had held as an Inspector. During his first hour in office, a red light was burning outside and no one could see him. Anyone passing his room at this time would only tip toe. This was the time he attended to all his urgent and important papers and made his important telephone calls. After that, the door was thrown open and the fireworks began!

He was highly commended for his work and integrity by the Supreme Court in many of his cases. A few of his famous cases were the Bandaranaike Assassination case, Anandagoda case (Adeline Vitharana), the 1962 Coup case, CWE gang robbery case, Kalatthawa Soyza’s case and later, the Rev.Mathew Peiris’ case.
Ahead of time

On the international scene, Tyrrell was a regular at the Interpol Conferences representing Sri Lanka. He headed several working committees, brushing shoulders with eminent chiefs of police overseas. Almost 30 years ago, in a prophetic move, he urged the World Body to adopt international police cooperation and legislation against the circulation of ‘black money’ and money laundering, which he described as the pipeline for drug trafficking, arms smuggling and for international underground crime. He said once that the IGP of Israel had told him on the way to one of these conferences, that the compendium of Police Departmental Orders of Israel had been modelled on the Police Departmental Orders of Ceylon.

New Scotland Yard was like second home to him, having worked with them in many cases. When I accompanied him to see his friend Jock Wilson who was then the Chief of the Yard, I saw for myself the high esteem in which he was held by them.

Time and again after his retirement I suggested to him that he wrote down his memoirs for publication. For, it could give a new dimension to the understanding of the dynamics of political and social behaviour during the most turbulent period of the last century, in this country. He said that it would embarrass a lot of people and their progeny. He did not wish to do that.

To sum up, we of the Sri Lanka Police could be proud that we had a man like him among us in our time. Indeed, I am privileged to have known him and to have been his ‘running mate’ during his most critical time in the CID. It was wonderful company. Perhaps, if I did not join the police, I may have missed him.

Thank you sir. Goodbye!

Ret’d Snr. DIG Gamini Gunawardane
(Writing from Australia)

Salute to a legend

Rev. Fr. Glen Fernando

It was with great sorrow that I received the news of Fr. Glen’s death. Although I was aware that he had been ailing for a while, I always hoped and prayed he would recover and would be with us for some time more. Unfortunately, it was not to be, the Lord called Fr. Glen home to his eternal reward, on Wednesday, July 3, 2007.

I first met Fr. Glen when I was a young teenager when he came to our little parish to preach a retreat, then a newly ordained priest. At the insistence of our parents, my brother and I reluctantly made our way to our church, sat down at the back expecting to be bored, giving only a perfunctory glance at the preacher. Soon our ennui turned to mild interest, and then we were all leaning forward listening enthralled as his voice reverberated inside the little church. He mesmerized the entire congregation; the old and the young alike, were hanging on to his every word. He spoke right into our hearts and minds and thereafter, we could not wait for the next day to listen to him. At that time I promised myself that if and when I do get married, I would want Fr. Glen to preach at my wedding.

We kept in touch when he returned to Ampitiya, and would meet up during the rare occasions when he came to visit our parish. A few years later when I was to be married, I reminded him of his promise to preach at my wedding. He even came a few weeks earlier to plan out the liturgy. The homily he preached at my wedding was talked about for years after by even non-Christians.

As the parish priest of St. Theresa’s he visited our homes for cottage masses. He was a great favourite with the kids and his humour, wit and the habitual twinkle in the eye never failed to draw people to him like a magnet. A few years later, when my husband was tragically killed, despite his heavy schedule of work Fr. Glen found time, nay created time to be with us to give spiritual support, especially to my two young children who were left bereft upon the sudden demise of their father. Fr. Glen was always available for the requiem services, to ensure that the children grew up with true Christian values and to offer invaluable advise despite having a million other things to attend to. His infectious laughter made us laugh in spite of ourselves, his innumerable jokes and the wealth of knowledge he imparted was invaluable, to say the least.

The resonant voice is stilled, the giant heart has stopped beating, the silver-tongued oratorio is no more. Yet his magnanimous heart will continue to beat in synchronisation with the pulse of those who loved and revered him.

We will truly miss this remarkable individual, a great human being who touched the lives of many and thereby were made better people for it. A fearless man of God who continued his work in the Lord’s vineyard remaining true to his vocation and beliefs despite the many obstacles in his way. He stood tall (literally), unobtrusively indulging in work shunned by others, namely, caring and treating the unfortunate ones ailing with leprosy. The thousands who filed passed his mortal remains bore ample testimony of the people who honoured and loved him for being the wonderful person he was. And the serenity that radiated from his face in death, only confirmed the knowledge that he is now indeed with the Lord. Let us pray for the repose of his soul, and surely he will intercede for us in Heaven just as he did when he was amongst us.

We salute the passing away of a legend.

May his soul rest in peace.


Sunday Times July 8 2007

From faraway Glasgow to the wilds of Bintenne

Alistair McNeil Wilson

It is with profound sorrow of unexpectation that I read the obituary notice that appeared in The Sunday Times of June 17, of my dear old friend Alistair McNeil Wilson, precious husband of Christine Spittel Wilson. He had passed away peacefully on Friday June 15 and in fulfilment of his wishes his body was interred in a private funeral held on the same day.

Through my past close association with the late Dr. R.L. Spittel (a pioneer surgeon and prolific author of our aborigines), while being employed in the Gal Oya Development Board (Gal Oya) from 1955-70 until his death in September 1969, I came into close contact with Alistair and his wife Christine Spittel Wilson. The Spittel family members have been my close affectionate companions. Whenever I came down to Colombo from Embilipitiya I never failed to pay courtesy calls on them at their residence in Colombo. Just as much as Christine was fond of me, Alistair was too. The last time I visited them was in early 2006. Whenever I came there, Alistair with his smile would greet me, “Hello Gamini, how are you and your contacts with the Veddhas.”

I told him since I am now far away from the Bintenna Pattu, after my leaving Gal Oya in the 1970’s, I had lost contact with them, but nevertheless I used to write articles when the occasion arose, about them.

Alistair’s home was in faraway Glasgow in Scotland. He was an Army Officer of Scottish descent and had served in Ceylon in the war-torn years of World War II. His assignment before the war ended in 1945, was as the officer commanding the troops in Diyatalawa and Nuwara Eliya. Because of his engineering qualifications gained in Scotland, he came to Ceylon and joined the Colombo Commercial Company as its Chairman till he reached the age of 55 years.

After Alistair’s retirement, he took up an appointment in Nairobi in East Africa under UNO, where he served from 1973-1993. Christine too lived there with him. She had ample opportunities to see enough of wild life in the parks like Serengeti and other such parks in Nairobi, where she amassed a mine of on the spot information of the fauna, flora and avi-fauna of Africa.

Wedding bells rang for Alistair Wilson, when he married Christine Spittel on December 11, 1944. In her autobiography titled ‘Christine a memoir (2007)’ she reminisces, “Alistair and I were quietly married at St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk on December 11, 1944. My parents, Vera del Tuto, the Matron of Honour for me and an Army Officer friend of Alistair’s were there. Afterwards, a small reception at Wycherly for a few special friends. Then we drove away to the hills where another friend offered her beautiful Nuwara Eliya home for our honeymoon. My parents were delighted. They loved Alistair deeply. There was something special about him.”

Christine Wilson needs no introduction at all, as she like her distinguished father Dr. R.L. Spittel, is an equally distinguished authoress. From her childhood, she travelled with her father, and after her marriage to Alistair, she accompanied Alistair and her father in their travels into the wilds of Bintenna Pattuwa, where they had even met the famed Tissahamy - the Veddah outlaw immortalized in Dr. Spittel’s fascinating books like ‘Vanished Trails’ and ‘Savage Sanctuary”.

Once in my discourses about the Veddah characters with Alistair, he recalled that just a few months before Dr. Spittel passed away in his ‘Wycherly’ home, Alistair had driven him and Christine to Bintenna Pattuwa as Dr. Spittel longed to see his beloved Veddah friend.

Alistair was very fond of recalling those Veddah trails and the Veddah characters. One poignant story, was that he had persuaded Dr. Spittel to erect a tomb for Tissahamy who died at the Badulla Government Hospital. It was duly fulfilled. That memorial stone stood there at the Badulla cemetery with the following immortal words inscribed on it – “Outlaw Tissahamy of Dr. R.L. Spittel’s Sanctuary Lies Buried Here". Its date is given as 26.09.1952. When I visited it in the 1960’s, the tomb was in its pristine state, but now I hear it is in a dilapidated state. I still have a photograph of the tomb taken by me in the 1960’s in my album.

Another memorable event was that Tissahamy in the last stages of his life was arrested and was in the remand prison in Welikada. Dr. Spittel had met him there. A photograph taken by Alistair where Dr. Spittel poses with his old friend Tissahamy too is among my souvenirs of Dr. Spittel’s Veddah characters.

Alistair and Christine enjoyed a blissful wedded life sharing each other's interests. Both of them were in a jovial mood at the launch of Christine “A Tribute to Christine Spittel” (2005) at their residence down Conniston Place, Colombo, it being a collection of tributes to her by her admirers, associates and well-wishers. I am privileged to say one of my pieces too was carried in it. The book was edited by the well-known author Carl Muller. Christine’s latest book launch was held at the Ceylon Dutch Burgher Union Hall. Alistair who was not in the best of health could not attend the ceremony.

Christine dedicated the book to Alistair. “With love this book is dedicated to Alistair my husband for 62 years and I thank him for his endless help and encouragement”. Christine’s tribute to Alistair is summed up in the words reproduced below.

For Alistair
Two shall be born the whole wide world apart,
And speak in different tongues, and have no thought
Each of his other’s being; and have no heed;
And these, o’er unknown seas to unknown lands
Shall cross escaping wreck, defying death;
And all unconsciously shape every act to this one end;
But one day out of darkness they shall meet
And read life’s meaning in each other’s eyes.
From Christine Wilson’s Diary, 1949

Reproduced from Christine Spittel
– A Memoir (2007)

My deepest sympathies on Christine’s bereavement and to their daughter Anne domiciled presently in Denmark with her husband.

By Gamini G. Punchihewa

A warrior for world peace and governance

Terence Percivel Amerasinghe

To many people from different parts of the world, Dr. Terence Percivel Amerasinghe's death is shocking and unbelievable. A truly committed warrior for world governance and world peace, Dr. Amerasinghe fired the enthusiasm of many world citizens with whom he came into contact, during his travel to over 80 countries.

He was the son of the late Mudaliyar B.P. Amerasinghe and his wife Elaine of Mahara Walauwa, Kadawata. He completed his schooling at St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena.

He was of Gray's Inn, Oxford, Bar-at-Law and Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He was a visionary and a man with great energy, who never failed to inspire his admirers and followers into action. He was a friend to late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the late Presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa. Although a product of the 'old school' he was able to adapt fittingly to modern times, holding the interest of youth with the content and humour of his discussions.

Dr. Amerasinghe was President, until his death, of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), Universal Love & Brotherhood Association (ULBA), Sri Lanka Branch, English Speaking Union of Sri Lanka (ESU), Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Miyake Home for Children and the Graduate School of World Problems. Under the ESU, Dr. Amerasinghe pioneered a project 20 years back, to teach 'Spoken English' in 48 hours.

Even at the age of 90 years, continuing with his global travels, he was a tower of strength and a guiding light to around 500 members of the WCPA worldwide. He was a strict disciplinarian yet kind and understanding, which won him the love, admiration and respect of others. I observed this first hand when I accompanied him to Tripoli, Libya and Athens, Greece to attend international conferences in 2006 & March 2007. He has had cordial meetings with several heads of state. Living up to the words of Rudyard Kipling, Dr. Amerasinghe was able to move with kings and not lose his common touch. He never lost hope in his belief and pushed forward his great desire to establish one world government in order to bring about lasting world peace.

Above all else, he had time for anyone who wished to develop knowledge and understanding. He loved animals, nature and cricket. He was a great reader of historical and political books and had a remarkable memory, quoting chapter and verse from books and poetry.

I had the wonderful privilege to have him as my uncle, from whom I have learned very much. He leaves behind his loving son Tilak and daughter Chitra (Canada).

I miss Uncle Terence very much.

By Nalin Jayasuriya.

Your memory brings us solace

Sheila A. Johnson - A tribute to a mother on her first death anniversary

She was a faithful wife and loving mother. Dear mother, one sorrowful and painful year has passed since you left us on that dreadful day, June 28 last year. 365 days is a long period of time but for all those who were dear and close to you it’s shockingly short.

Our home is no longer the one it used to be. The happiness and joy we all shared seems to have gone with your departure, the empty chair in our living room which you occupied still in its same place bears testimony to the vacuum your leaving us has created.

However, looking at it gives me the strength, courage and endurance to pass each day knowing very well that although you are not bodily present your spirit sits there. Unlike many I am blessed to visit and see your grave many times a month on my way to and from town. It gives me the opportunity to say a short prayer each time.

Almost three quarters of your 86 years on earth you shared as a faithful and dutiful wife with your husband and as a loving and caring mother to your two sons. You also had the rare opportunity of sharing 50 of those blissful years with your husband the late Thomas Newton Johnson, who was an outstanding gentleman and officer who served our country and the Sri Lanka Army as a Regimental Sergeant Major (Ceylon Engineers). I still remember with gratitude how you single handedly brought us up in our childhood days and thereafter the advice and guidance you gave us when we were in our teens. We salute you for making us what we are today.

Although sad, let's not forget those happy days we spent together as a family. All of us deeply appreciate what a wonderful lady you have been. This thought brings solace to our lives and gives us all what we need to forge ahead in life.

We pray today that some day we shall all be together as the united family that we were. Till we meet again Mother – goodbye.

By Linus Johnson.

A surgeon with a soft human touch

Clifford Misso

Dr. Clifford Misso passed away on June 4 in Melbourne, Australia, at the age of ninety eight. He had fulfilled more than the Biblical span by almost 30 years. Those who knew him closely and more so in that extended span, could vouch that till almost the last years he had led a strong, full life.

Dr. Clifford Misso was a surgeon with a soft human touch. He had a skill in his speciality and a mind that related to his patients, their feelings and fears, even often to their interests. This I know for a fact, for on three occasions he was the surgeon who operated on my father. I first met him at this time – though it was much much later that I came to know him better as a friend. He was one of the galaxy in the medical field in the fifties and sixties of the yesteryears in Ceylon - much consulted for his skills and recognized.

Dr. Misso left our shores with the general Burgher exodus, post Independence and emigrated to Australia, one would say for the sake of his family. They settled in the State of Victoria. There he faced a new way of life for many were the professional problems and adjustments he had to face initially. He accepted these as challenges and overcame them. I observed this when, in 1991, I holidayed in Australia. My father was no more – but remembering how Dr. Clifford Misso used his surgical skills to alleviate and make more comfortable, my father’s aging years, I wanted to meet him again, show my appreciation and give acknowledgement. So one evening having telephoned and arranged a date and time, I was driven by my brother to his suburban home in Beacon Street, Glen Waverley to pay a social call. We found our host, garden hose in his hand, watering his plants – something probably he would never have had the time or the necessity to do in Sri Lanka.

At that time Dr. Misso’s wife Verna was in a Nursing Home and his family had moved away. So he was alone. I vividly recall that evening and discovered not only the medical man I had earlier met in hospital rooms and beside his patients’ but a man with wider interests and a knowledge of the classics and history, archaeology, archives and with a profound philosophy of life.

We sipped sherry and nibbled on asparagus sandwiches which he himself had made especially for us, in a Sri Lankan-Burgher way, rolled in a cheese spread. The hours slipped by, so full, and interesting was the evening. I never saw Dr. Misso face to face as such, again.

From that visit however developed a mutual rapport – nay a friendship which spanned the years that followed. We built up a regular correspondence or he would post, or have a friend of his visiting Colombo, carry to me simple little gifts – a book, a novelty pen, even a tube of “whiting” eraser for my use in typing. Birthday cards, Christmas greetings, came regularly from him even though I was remiss at times.

At a certain point in my life when I was President of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon, Dr. Misso encouraged me to take up a social welfare programme which he in Australia was involved in. Words of advice, encouragement and commendation found a place in his letters.

The years went by and latterly the exchanges grew fewer and far between for Dr. Clifford had turned into his nineties and was beginning to get slower and feeble. He ended his days in the Cabrini Nursing Home in Ashwood, Melbourne. I close these memories with the words of a verse by Sir Walter Raleigh, during his last hours, found in his Bible, after his death :

Even such is time, who takes in trust !
Our youths, our joys and all we have
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.
But from that earth, that grave and dust,
The Lord shall raise us up – we trust

By Deloraine Brohier

Morning Leader Wednesday July 4, 2007ciation


In life you sometimes come across persons who live ordinary lives in an extraordinary way; by their exemplary lives with enviable personal qualities, they radiate admirable affection, kindness and gentleness, while they stand out in society. They make an impact on all those they associate and come in contact with. Such a person was Aunty Doreen who passed away peacefully on June 5.

I came to know Aunty Doreen when my only sister married the only son of Aunty Doreen, 20 years ago. Since this marriage our family closely associated her family and with every passing year our respect and admiration has grown steadily.

Aunty Doreen had her entire education at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya. She was proud of her alma mater and loved her school dearly. The Catholic environment and her education under the Familian nuns had a great impact on her life.

She married Kith De Silva in 1956 and over the years they abundantly and manifestly demonstrated what a caring and exemplary couple they were with compatible values of life and tastes. They both were devoutly religious, instinctively gentle, unassuming with enviable ethical values. They were blessed with a daughter and son whom they brought up with loving care in a conservative, disciplined and religious environment. Their home was an abode of peace, love and tranquility.

The hallmark of their make up was their patent simplicity, humility and modesty. Both Uncle Kith and Aunty Doreen were concerned about the poor and together they engaged themselves in various social service and Rotarian humanitarian projects. Uncle Kith was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Award for outstanding humanitarian work. Aunty Doreen helped him in her own way unobtrusively, particularly in the welfare of women prisoners.

Considering their care for the unfortunate I am reminded of the immortal words "People need people and friends need friends and we all need love for a full life depends not on vast riches or great acclaim. Not on success or worldly fame, But just knowing that someone cares, and holds us close in their thoughts and prayers."

When I sustained serious injuries in an unfortunate motor traffic accident and for days I was between life and death, my parents completely devastated and enveloped in darkness, disquietude and overcome by a kind of despair, Uncle Kith and Aunty Doreen continuously reaffirmed our faith imploring us to place their trust in the Almighty. Up to the time of her death she with loving compassion was very concerned about my recovery and rehabilitation. I will always remember with gratitude her kindness and concern.

Aunty Doreen was the kind of person who had the rare capacity to enjoy the little things in life always with a positive attitude. Whenever someone asks her "How are you? She would immediately reply with her endearing smile "Top of the world," and add "I won’t tell you how I got there."

Few months ago she was suddenly taken ill consequent to a fall. Even tormented at times by excruciating pain, she did not sulk. She did so for the greater love of her adorable husband Kith whom she adored and was continuously at her bedside and was doing everything possible for her recovery.

What was most characteristic her was her simplicity, charming and affable personality. She lived an exemplary life and was loved and respected by all who knew her and associated her.

Aunty Doreen is no more; she has answered the heavenly summons to appear before the Throne of God. We could only echo the words of Shakespeare: "Fear no more the heat of the Sun nor the furious winter rages; Thou thy worldly task has done, Home art gone and taken thy wages." Surely she has earned her eternal reward.

It is now left for those near and dear and many friends and relatives who feel the terrible loss, and the impact of her demise in some form or the other to derive inspiration and comfort from the legacy of the good she left.

This will help to keep the memory alive and help in some way console the inconsolable husband, grieving daughter and son and the two brothers who loved her dearly.

May her soul rest in peace.

Roshantha Fernando

The Nation Sunday July 1 2007

Doreen De Silva

One sometimes come across a person who has lived life in an extraordinary way. Such a person often radiates enviable qualities such as affection, kindness and gentleness, thus standing out in society. Such a singularly good person was Aunty Doreen who passed away peacefully on June 5, 2007.
I came to know Aunty Doreen when my only sister married the only son of Aunty Doreen 20 years ago. Since this marriage, our families came close and with every passing year, our respect and admiration for Aunt Doreen grew steadily.

This dear bereaved one had her entire education at Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya. She was proud of her Alma Mater and loved her school dearly. The Catholic environment and her education under the Familian nuns did markedly influence her life. She married Keith De Silva in 1956 and over the years they abundantly and manifestly demonstrated mutual caring and sharing. They both were devoutly religious, instinctively gentle, unassuming and with enviable ethical values. Doreen and Keith were blessed with a daughter and son whom they brought up with loving care in a conservative, disciplined and religious environment. Their home was an abode of peace, love and tranquillity.

Doreen and Keith always displayed the hallmarks of patent simplicity, humility and modesty. Both Uncle Keith and Aunty Doreen were concerned about the poor and together they engaged themselves in various social service such as Rotary’s humanitarian projects.
Uncle Kith was awarded the prestigious and enviable Paul Harris Award for outstanding humanitarian work. Aunty Doreen helped him in her own way unobtrusively, particularly in the welfare of women prisoners. Considering their care for the unfortunate, I am reminded of the immortal words, “People need people and friends need friends and we all need love for a full life depends not on vast riches or great acclaim. Not on success or worldly fame, But just knowing that someone cares, and holds us close in their thoughts and prayers.”

When I was seriously injured in a motor traffic accident Uncle Keith and Aunty Doreen continuously reaffirmed our family’s faith and implored us to place our trust in the Lord. Up to the time of her death Aunty Doreen was very concerned about my recovery and rehabilitation. I will always remember with gratitude her kindness and concern.

Aunty Doreen was the kind of person who had the rare capacity to enjoy the little things in life always with a positive attitude. Whenever someone asked her “How are you?” she would immediately reply with her endearing smile “Top of the world,” and add on “I won’t tell you how I got there”
Few months ago she suddenly took ill after a fall. Though faced with excruciating pain, she did not mourn and groan. She obviously had great love and consideration for her adorable husband Keith. He was continuously at her bedside and did all he could.

What was most characteristic of Aunt Doreen was her simplicity, her charming and affable personality. She led an exemplary life and was loved and respected by all.
Aunty Doreen is no more; she has answered the heavenly summons to appear before the throne of God. We could only echo the words of Shakespeare, “Fear no more the heat of the sun, Nor the furious winter rages; Thou thy worldly task has done, home art gone and taken thy wages.” Surely she has earned her eternal reward.
It is now left for those near and dear who feel the terrible loss, of her demise to derive inspiration and comfort from the legacy of good she left. This will help to keep the memory alive and help in some way console inconsolable husband, grieving daughter and son and two brothers. They all loved her dearly.
May her soul rest in peace.

Roshantha Fernando

Indra Silva

It was day one of the first term in 1978 at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. Thirty of us, 15-year-old Thomians were waiting with trepidation the arrival of the designated English master. Suddenly, without the slightest warning, walked in a beautiful lady who introduced herself as Indra Silva, our new OL English teacher. We were overjoyed to say the least.

Our ‘English Miss’ or “Miss” was what we called her. She became the talk of the college and had colleagues in other classes casting envious glances at our class.
Miss had a unique way of teaching. She definitely put us through a great deal of rigorous and routine stuff. But everyone once in a while she read out jokes and humorous stories and other interesting articles such as “The Definition of a Gentleman.” Once our class decided to play a practical joke on Miss. When Miss came to the punch-line of her joke, all of us showed serious faces with not a smile or a laugh from a single boy. Miss later used to tell us of her shock and bewilderment on that occasion. But this incident did not discourage Miss as she had such a store of interesting stories and continued with never a lapse. Later, a few of us who offered English for the ALs had the privilege of being taught further by Miss. The number of students who got through the AL English paper was ample testimony to the exceptional teaching skills of Miss.

After we left school, Miss emigrated to the USA with her family. On her regular visits to Sri Lanka, Miss never forgot to call us and enquire about our progress. We made use of the opportunity to get our friends together and meet Miss and Uncle, her husband, Oswin, who by then had become very much a part of our lives.
With the onset of the e-mail era, a great many messages between Miss and our group became very frequent with e-mails, ranging from the religious to the humorous, that zipped between LA and Sri Lanka on a daily basis.

Miss was taken ill on a visit to Sri Lanka and had to rush back to USA for treatment. This came as a shock to all of us. However, after intense treatment she returned to Sri Lanka in two years’ time which gave us the opportunity of hosting Miss and Uncle on her last visit to Sri Lanka. On this occasion Miss was at her charming best, chatting and joking with her extended family which included our wives and children. What a joyous and memorable occasion that last meeting was. She had an untimely death a year ago.

Miss is always in our hearts as an exemplary teacher, a sincere friend and a shining example of courage in adversity. Her strong faith in the Lord enabled her to bear with grace the pain of her illness. Miss will also be remembered by us for her refreshing sense of humour and her unfailing cheerfulness at all times. Miss, we miss you.

May her soul rest in peace!

Mithraka Fernando
Class of 78 of STC Mt. Lavinia

Felix Ranasinghe

With the demise of Felix Ranasinghe, former Deputy General Manager, Bank of Ceylon, the banking community in Sri Lanka lost an outstanding banker. He was also a gentleman and a fine human being who possessed a golden heart.

He passed away after a brief-illness.

I was privileged and fortunate to work under him for nearly 15 years at the Bank of Ceylon when he managed the Public Relations Division. He was a lover of sports and a team man; polite and kind.

Heartaches may fade away with time, but I will be ever mindful of dear Felix for his figure is indelibly etched within me.

Felix Ranasinghe was an outstanding and a brilliant product of St. Joseph’s College, Maradana. He entered the University of Ceylon during Sir Ivor Jenning’s era in the late 1940s, and obtained a BA degree. He was an erudite scholar in English and Latin, and had an encyclopedic memory.

He joined the Bank of Ceylon in 1952, and served this financial institution with distinction for nearly four decades. It was due to the commitment of such great men of Ranasinghe’s calibre, that the bank has today reached the “pinnacle of the banking industry in Sri Lanka.”

Felix was one of the most popular members of the staff, who moved easily both with top management and juniors and treated both alike. He was unassuming and always ready to help, thus assuming a fatherly figure and a role-model for young bankers like us. Even after he retired, I was often in touch with him on matters journalistic.

Felix Ranasinghe was a brilliant creative writer. He was also one of the wittiest men I have ever met. His after-dinner speeches and humorous anecdotes kept us in stitches.

His beloved wife Angela was the wind beneath his wings and she looked after him with love and care.

I feel quite short and insufficient in my eulogy of a person of the calibre of Felix Ranasinghe, for my words are as a mustard seed, where only a mountain of promise would suffice.

I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, children and their near and dear.

His funeral took place on June 4, at 4 p.m., at the Roman Catholic Section, Kanatte, Colombo 8.

Dear Sir, we will miss you and may our thoughts direct your rebirth in as remarkable a life as you blessed us all with.

Premasara Epasinghe

Lakbima News - Sunday July 1 2007

Squadron Leader Chintaka Ratnapala

Time dims the memory and with the numerous problems confronting us in our daily work-a-day, we as a nation generally tend to forget even extraordinary persons, once they pass the Great Divide. In turbulent times, with unprecedented loss of lives even the institutions in which they served, fail to appropriately perpetuate their memory. However, there are some persons by their exemplary lives and significant contributions, leave an impact and their memories linger in our minds .One such person is Squadron Leader, Chintaka Ratnapala who was snatched away on the threshold of his aviation career, ten years ago on June 14th 1997.
When Ranjit and I were serving the Sri Lanka Air Force in Diyatalawa, in the late sixties, our families associated with each other closely .Ranjith married Nirmala while at Diyatalawa and Chintaka was born on April 26th, 1968.

They were delighted with their first born, a boy, and brought up Chintaka with admirable care and affection., inculcating the finer qualities and values of life. Nurtured in a service disciplined environment, Chintaka grew up to be a pride to his parents with enviable personal qualities. Chintaka spent his entire childhood in an Air Force environment at Diyatalawa and Colombo. From his early days, Chintaka displayed an inordinate interest in aircraft.Nirmala recalls how as a child of just three or four years of age, she would make him sit on a small chair while she attended to the household chores.Chinthaka would continue to be seated on the chair playing by himself with his hands outstretched, simulating and imagining that he was flying an aircraft. This simple event in his childhood amply indicated his interest in flying and self discipline.

The only son to Ranjith and Nirmala, Chinthaka from his young days stood out as an obedient, god fearing child with exemplary qualities. His mother devoutly religious, gentle and unassuming and the father upright with high ethical values brought up Chinthaka and his sister Chatika in a conservative, disciplined and religious environment.Chinthaka acquired all the enviable qualities of his caring parents.

He received his entire education at D.S.Senanayake, College, Colombo. He was proud of his alma-mater.

On completion of the G.C.E Advanced level with impressive results, he joined the Sri Lanka Air Force as a Flying Cadet on May 17th 1988.After the initial Officer Cadet training, he successfully completed the Flying Course and was awarded the ‘Wings’ on September 14, 1989.

On his impressive flying record and all-round performance, he was selected for an advance flying course, which he successfully completed on April 26, 1990.His peers assessing his potential, performance and considering his balanced temperament, which is an essential prerequisite for an Instructor, young Chinthaka was selected for training as a Qualified Flying Instructor in Bangladesh. Successfully completing the course he returned to Sri Lanka in December 1996 and was later assigned the task of training young pilots at the S.L.A.F base at Anuradhapura.He had great satisfaction in this assignment while the trainee pilots had a great admiration for him.

Despite the hazardous nature of earlier assignments, he displayed an undaunted will and enthusiastically pursued every task he undertook with zeal. He flew on operational assignments and casualty evacuation missions ungrudgingly, sometimes without adequate rest, willingly helping his superior officers and fellow officers.
The tragic death consequent to the crash landing of the 51A Marchetti TP aircraft while on a training mission on 14th June, 1997 in Pahala Thalawa due to engine failure, is a mystery. Subsequent investigations established the indomitable will of this officer to save the aircraft at any cost.Chintaka was posthumously promoted Squadron Leader. To those who knew him, his death seems senseless. “Death ruthless how fast you throw fatal darts on whom we adore.”

A cruel blow to his loved ones and a life cut short, and yet to discerning others, there was a quality they recognized in this extraordinary fine young man and did not seem destined for a tainted world. While I am not adequately aware of his flying record and achievements, what I can state with certainty and vouch for is his enviable and rare personal qualities and his domestic life. An adorable son, and affectionate and loving brother he possessed fine qualities. Chintaka was a devout Buddhist, he practised his religion unobtrusively, he professed the Four “:Sathara Brahama” -Loving Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy and Equanimity to the maximum. The void that has been created by his demise can never be filled; the only consoling fact to Ranjith, Nirmala and Chathika is that he lived an exemplary life.

While it is difficult to bear and understand the loss, let us seek consolation and strength by pondering over the immortal words.“Life is a borrowing from God, it must be returned when He wants”. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana, may his journey be short and comfortable.

Mrs Indra Silva

It was day one of the first term in 1978 at St Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. Thiry of us, 15 year olds Thomians were waiting with trepidation the arrival of the designated English master. Suddenly without the slightest warning walked in a beautiful lady who introduced herself as Mrs Indra Silva, our new OL English teacher. To say we were overjoyed is an understatement.

Our English Miss or Miss as we used to call her until her untimely death one year back, instantly became the talk of the school which resulted in our colleagues in other classes casting envious glances at our class. Miss had a unique way of teaching. She definitely put us through a great deal of rigorous and routine stuff. But once in awhile she read out jokes and humorous stories and other interesting articles such as “The definition of a gentleman”. Once our class decided to play a practical joke on Miss. When Miss came to the punch line of her joke, all of us displayed serious faces with not a smile or a laugh from a single boy. Miss later used to tell us of her shock and bewilderment on that occasion. But this incident did not discourage Miss as her supply of interesting stories continued relentlessly. Later a few of us who offered English for the ALs had the privilege of being taught further by Miss. The number of students who got through the AL English paper was ample testimony to the exceptional teaching skills of Miss.

After we left school, Miss migrated to the USA with her family. On her regular visits to Sri Lanka Miss never forgot to call us and enquire about our progress. We made use of the opportunity to get our friends together and meet Miss and uncle Oswin, who by then had become very mush part of our lives. With the onset of the email era, communications between Miss and our group became very frequent with emails ranging from the religious to the humorous being exchanged between Los Angeles and Sri Lanka on a daily basis.

Miss was taken ill on a visit to Sri Lanka and had to rush back to the USA for treatment. This came as a shock to all us.
However after intense treatment she returned to Sri Lanka after two years which gave us the opportunity of hosting Miss and Uncle on her last visit to Sri Lanka. On occasion Miss was at her charming best chatting and joking with her extended family extended family which included our wives and children. What a joyous and memorable occasion that the last meeting with Miss was. Miss will forever remain in our hearts as an exemplary teacher, a sincere friend and a shining example of courage in adversity. Her strong faith in the Lord enabled her to bear with the grace the pain of her illness. Miss will also be remembered by us for her refreshing sense of humour and her unfailing cheerfulness at all the times. Miss, we miss you.
May her soul rest in peace!

Mithraka Fernando
Class of 78 of STC,
Mount Lavinia

Sunday Times July 1 2007

Her life was full of love and beauty

Bidoora Assan

We were all devastated by the news of the sudden and unexpected demise of Bidoora (affectionately called Biddi) on May 28 at her home at Elugoda, Peradeniya. A few days earlier she talked with me on the phone and her voice sounded strong and clear and sh seemed to be hale and hearty.

She was the daughter of Tunker & Dale ola Osmond, a well known Malay family. She possessed a pleasant and robust personality, genial and good-humoured at all times, dedicating all her efforts to the welfare of her young family of five sons and four daughters. She was also grandmother to 21 and great grandmother to six children. She was actively involved in preparing the dinner for the family and some guests when tragedy struck on that fateful night and she collapsed. She was 76 years old.

Biddi had her education at Little Flower Convent, Bandarawela and later at St. Anthony’s Convent, Dematagoda where she excelled in English Literature and carried away many prizes. At the very young age of 16 she married Jerry Assan of the Department of Agriculture who won acclaim as a brilliant musician, both as a performer and teacher par excellence. He was an Icon in the world of music. Among his pupils were University Professors and High Court Judges.

Biddi was delighted as she put her own talents to good use in music, dancing and singing backed by Jerry’s superb artistry on the violin and Spanish & Hawaiian guitar. In fact the whole family is endowed with this special talent in music and some of the children, Fuard, Rashmon, Rizmy and Munirah are following close on the tracks of their famous father in music teaching and performance.

Her husband, Jerry, predeceased her a few years ago and Biddi was beleagured with the daunting task of caring for her large family. However, she addressed herself to the task with indomitable courage and dedication. All her children are now in well established positions in life. Biddi was endowed with a jovial and cheerful disposition, albeit a strict disciplinarian when circumstances demanded. And she employed her multi-faceted talents in maintaining a beautiful home and garden, involving some mundane household tasks such as carpentry, rattaning of chairs, painting the bedrooms and running a poultry farm too.

Her forte was needlework and embroidery which she handled with dexterity and skill, creating many exquisite designs. She also excelled in the culinary art and was adept at turning out many delectable dishes which won the admiration of her guests. The Assan family endeared themselves to all sections of the community and earned their love and respect, not merely for their musical genius but more on account of their great humanitarian concern and service which they lavished on the indigent and under-privileged classes.

Biddi was also an avid reader and well informed. She had her own private library which contained many of the well-known classics which she read regularly before retiring for the night. The demise of this gracious lady is an irreparable loss to all her associates, friends, relatives and many others who knew and loved her. She is assuredly now in joyous reunion with her beloved husband in Allah’s Heavenly Kingdom.

By Bertram Samaranayake, University of Peradeniya.

Give me strength to move on

Sunil Perera

One long year just passing by
Since your innocent life – was brutally grabbed
By - cruelty to humanity.

It was like yesterday – we vowed together
For better for worse
For sickness ‘n’ in health
Till journey ends.

Many years we shared
With love ‘n’ happiness - forgiving and forgetting
With rays of hope
Filling our tomorrow.
One gloomy night
You were taken – never to return
Shattering all our dreams
Like the world end !

Dear Lord, you gave me courage
To hold back tears – and tell the world
Now give me the strength
To stand for Justice - and move on.

By Chitra

Raja loved peace, but was pushed towards war

Col. Tuan Nizam Dane

Colonel Tuan Nizam Dane, affectionately called Raja, of the 10th Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army, left us – like his fervent wish – to die with his boots on – on June 24, 1997. He sacrificed his today for our tomorrow at Periyamadu in Omanthai during the initial stages of ‘Operation Jayasikurui’ – perhaps the first highest ranking officer to be killed in that particular chapter of the conflict.

It is ten years since his demise but I still have to come up with an accurate phrase to describe the man he was. Dale Carnegie could be proud of this army officer, as in him, Mr. Carnegie could have seen the living embodiment of his famous book ‘How to win friends and influence people’. Raja had a special way of proving the accuracy of the book! It took him only a few minutes to make a friend even out of total strangers!

Raja was a dedicated army officer, loving husband to Eileen, dedicated father to his only offspring Romola and doting grandfather, even though for a brief period. During my association with him I have hardly seen him lose his temper, but angry he did get with me once. That was during a discussion, one of so many, about a solution to the country’s ethnic or terrorist conflict. I made the blunder of questioning him why he, being a Malay, should be fighting a conflict between two other races. My question was meant more to prolong the discussion, but he missed it for such. I vividly remember what he said, “This is our country. Whoever fights, it’s the future generation that will suffer. For their sake, for our children’s sake we should fight, if necessary. But, mind you, it has to be a political solution at the end.” How true? Are we any nearer to his hopes?

Raja Dane touched the lives of the elite and the normal alike. “Apey sir nitharama positive,” troops who served under him say. That phrase conveys several meanings. ‘Apey sir’, as far as the military is concerned, goes a long way. It makes Raja one of us, one who belonged to the troops.

The other conveyed his positive outlook to life. Time was of essence for him. Do it now, was what he always insisted on. This attitude sometimes drove me into compromising or embarrassing positions, which I can now laugh at as I want to forget my tears. Most of the time, he had an uncanny foresight, which on occasions saved his life. During one instance, while he was travelling by road to Batticaloa, something had made him to take a different and longer route from somewhere near Habarana. His driver had not questioned but followed instructions. They proceeded safely. But another vehicle carrying senior officers which followed the regular road was blasted with its occupants by a land mine. Many instances like these were related to me by Raja, so much so that his friends serving with him would ask him which route they should take to arrive safely.True to his Geminian character (not that he believed in astrology) he had many pokers in the fire at the same time. When I talked of astrology he would dismiss it as bunkum, but he would prod me for more! How else could a person opt to be a voluntary officer without joining the regular force? His urge to move, his liking for more space, what else? And that too, after sacrificing a teaching career and a comfortable office life at Mercantile Credit Ltd. He was with the 5th Artillery in Jaffna, Mannar, Gampaha, Colombo and Batticaloa. For sometime he served as secretary to the North East Governor, General Nalin Seneviratne. Raja was with Military Intelligence before he reverted back to his Vijayabahu Regiment, which he commanded until his death at Omanthai.

And while in the Army, he wanted to continue his legal studies as well! God only knows what else he had up his sleeve! He had a unique sense of humuor. A voracious reader and a perfectionist in English, he would throw chapter and verse at us. But now, without him, the discussion peters down to a somewhat prolonged silence followed by tears. He never talked about his military operations. It was like getting a feather from a tortoise if we asked anything of that. But once in a way he would provide us with that little ‘need to know’ bit. A man who loved peace, but was pushed towards war, that is as close as I could ever get. Anyway, he was fortunate to have departed fighting, a fitting end to a formidable character.

His was a career like that of Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Light Brigade’:
‘Not though the soldier knew,
Someone had blundered;
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.’
We will remember you always Colonel Raja Nizam Dane, and those who paid their supreme sacrifice in defence of Sri Lanka, our motherland.

May Almighty Allah grant Raja the bliss of Jennathul Firdouse.

By T.B. Singalaxana

A man ahead of his times

Dr. Amith Munindradasa

The nation mourned the death of Dr. Amith Munindradasa last month. While the portrayal of him as a ‘top defence expert’ was exaggerated to a point of controversy, Dr. Munindradasa was certainly not a run-of-the mill individual who could be stereotyped.
He was a practical engineer; an amazing theorist; skilful technician; wildlife enthusiast; ardent philanthropist; eccentric inventor; well-read scientist; passionate photographer; remarkable cook.; creative teacher; dutiful family man; humble soul and truly independent being.

From 2003-2006, he was the head of the Electronics and Telecommunication Department at the University of Moratuwa Faculty of Engineering. While being a frequent lecturer at the Institute of Engineers and the Arthur C. Clarke Centre, he was one of the pioneers who worked on the initiative of establishing a Nanotechnology centre in Sri Lanka. He was also one of the few academics in the country who had his work published in the internationally renowned science journal “Nature”. He was a member of two committees in the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, while playing an active advisory role for the Wildlife Conservation Department.

Even as an engineer, he could not be categorized into one specific field. He was well versed in the fields of nanotechnology, power electronics, mechatronics, astronomy and quantum electronics. This cross blend of expertise and the ability to benchmark his knowledge across technical and non-technical platforms made him an extraordinary engineer and an amazing human being. For example he combined his knowledge of electronics and acoustics with his enthusiasm for nature and pursued a completely different field of “Wildlife Electronics”.

Dr. Munindradasa’s broad approach to engineering was fuelled by the immense curiosity that he had for the simple things in life. As a child, little Amith would gaze at a glass bottle for a prolonged period of time and wonder why this strange material allowed light to pass right through it. After performing exceptionally well at the year 5 scholarship exam, Amith switched schools from Panadura Sumangala College to Royal College, where he further developed a knack for science and all things mechanical.

In 1985, he was selected to study Engineering at the University of Moratuwa. Even though he had a natural talent for mechanical engineering, he chose the field of electronics, which was a new and emerging field at that time. Unfortunately due to the chaotic political situation of the country, Amith had to wait until 1993 to get his first class honours degree in Electronics and Telecommunication. Even in his undergraduate days he was nicknamed “prof” by his friends due to the thorough in-depth knowledge he had with detailed things.

In 1995 Amith Munindradasa left for Liverpool to work under Dr. Gihan Amarasinghe, and to study for his Ph. D in semiconductors. Having performed well, Dr. Munindradasa was given the opportunity to stay at Liverpool which he refused due to his love for his country.

Yet, his life of research did not end there. Various simultaneous engineering research was prepared and supervised by Dr. Munindradasa, including a high-voltage electrical generator and a multi-phase-axial-flux-permanent-magnetic motor. He had also conducted successful research on high efficient white LEDs.

More than all the research done in theoretical and technical arenas, Dr. Munindradasa loved to concentrate on real life problems. His peers at the University of Moratuwa state that he worked hard to apply electronics into practical life. In his younger days he was said to have had a firm ambition to create diamond out of charcoal carbon. The mature Dr. Munindradasa developed somewhat more humble ambitions. To resolve the conflict between man and elephant he had designed a special collar for the elephants to get a small shock when in the proximity of a village. He had also designed a special siren which is only audible to elephants so that they stay clear of the village.

Wildlife fascinated Dr. Munindradasa. His natural curiosity and innate enthusiasm about life came to a peak when nature was involved. Once he had found two baby bats in the University and had adopted them until they were old enough to hunt on their own. In another instance, he had found a large python in his backyard and had gone to the trouble of bagging it and releasing it to the Sinharaja forest. He loved animals so much so that his friends say that he had a collection of spiders running around in his room.

He went on frequent expeditions to Sinharaja, Kumana, Wilpattu and Yala with his friends and undergraduates of Moratuwa, and at times did various kinds of projects including giving water to animals that were dehydrating in drought. His knowledge in wildlife was so thorough that his friends say that he can immediately identify a creature found in the depths of the Sinharaja forest. Dr. Munindradasa had even discovered several species (including the lankacornubatrachus – a frog species) endemic to Sri Lanka and has written numerous papers on them. Even before going to Israel he had spent the previous night writing a paper on an endemic species that he had just found.

Dr. Munindradasa was a natural animal tamer. Even in his school days he used to handle scorpions, centipedes and snakes with his bare hands. His friends were constantly awed by his uncanny ability to deal with even the toughest of wild animals. In one instance he had saved a friend’s life by his swift reaction to subdue a venomous snake encountered in the wilderness. He never feared nature or its elements and once said that human beings will not drown in water if they were not fearful of it. He showed it by floating on top of water without paddling or swimming.

In most of the nature expeditions he took with the undergraduates, he tried to pass on his knowledge and enthusiasm to the students. He taught the students to respect wildlife, and always have a clear perspective on “sustainable conservation”. He was one of the few conservationists who believed in a win-win situation between engineering and nature.

As a teacher, Dr. Amith Munindradasa was unique. Rather than asking them to memorize word to word, he always tried to promote creativity and analytical thinking among students. In fact, his question papers were filled mostly with design questions that were open-ended. He had even run into debates with the other University staff who argued that marking schemes should be in place to standardize grades.

The students of the University of Moratuwa fondly referred to him as ‘Anaconda’. Not because of any resemblance to the creature, but because he was an “Anayak” (a difficult person) and had a long “konda” (hair). But this difficult person, who gave intricately complex question papers, was one of the most dedicated and committed teachers that the students had ever seen.

As a teacher and as a human being, Dr. Munindradasa was a humble person. As his friends mentioned, he never introduced himself as a University lecturer. Even at an Army check point or an educational workshop, he simply introduced himself as a ‘teacher’. His humility was also expressed in the way that he explained the subtleties of technology to complete laymen. Rather than dismissing a person by saying the area was too technical, Dr. Munindradasa would employ a simple example to relate to the person’s knowledge level.

He was also one of the few engineering lecturers who was humble enough to teach a subject such as photography to the undergraduates. While the other staff members admit that they were not entirely keen to teach a non-technical subject, Dr. Munindradasa, who was an expert at photography since his undergraduate days, leapt at the chance of teaching something new to the next generation.

However, Dr. Munindradasa was not a teacher who was limited to his books. As a scientist he did not hide under research and theoretical issues. He was a practitioner of science. From his school days he repaired every ounce of broken equipment in his house. Whether it be some electronic equipment like a radio or television, a broken cane chair that needed weaving or a car engine that was severely damaged to the point of no return, he would raise it by pulleys in his own yard and fix it without giving it to anyone else.

For his son’s birthday last year, he had made a small electrical car fully equipped with a semi-gear and clutch system, that he himself designed and assembled.

Dr. Munindradasa was a doer rather than a critic. He never sought fame or fortune, and kept a very low profile. Yet he maintained a firm hold on his values and principles, speaking out only when he knew that he could make a difference.

Dr. Amith Munindradasa was simply an awakened and conscious human being who was ahead of his time. Within the 41 years he lived, he gave so much to the world that his untimely death would weigh heavily upon not only on those that surrounded him but also on the countless lives he would’ve touched.

By Ranga Kamaladasa

Sunday Times Jun 24 2007

We miss our beloved Miss

1st death anniversary of Indra Silva

It was day one of the first term in 1978 at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. Thirty of us, 15-year-old Thomians were waiting with trepidation for the arrival of the designated English master. Suddenly without the slightest warning walked in a beautiful lady who introduced herself as Indra Silva, our new O’L English teacher. To say that we were overjoyed is an understatement.

Our ‘English Miss’ or “Miss” as we used to call her until her untimely death one year back, instantly became the talk of the school which resulted in our colleagues in other classes casting envious glances at our class. Miss had a unique way of teaching. She definitely put us through a great deal of rigorous and routine stuff. But once in a while she read out jokes and humorous stories and other interesting articles such as “The Definition of a Gentleman”.

Once our class decided to play a practical joke on Miss. When Miss came to the punch line of her joke, all of us displayed serious faces with not a smile or a laugh from a single boy. Miss later used to tell us of her shock and bewilderment on that occasion. But this incident did not discourage Miss as her supply of interesting stories continued relentlessly. Later a few of us who offered English for the A’Ls had the privilege of being taught further by Miss. The number of students who got through the A’L English paper was ample testimony to the exceptional teaching skills of Miss.

After we left school Miss migrated to the USA with her family. On her regular visits to Sri Lanka Miss never forgot to call us and enquire about our progress. We made use of the opportunity to get our friends together and meet Miss and Uncle Oswin who by then had become very much a part of our lives. With the onset of the e-mail era, communication between Miss and our group became very frequent with e-mails ranging from the religious to the humorous being exchanged between LA and Sri Lanka on a daily basis.

Miss was taken ill on a visit to Sri Lanka and had to rush back to USA for treatment. This came as a shock to all of us. However, after intense treatment she returned to Sri Lanka after two years which gave us the opportunity of hosting Miss and Uncle on her last visit to Sri Lanka. On this occasion Miss was at her charming best chatting and joking with her extended family which included our wives and children. What a joyous and memorable occasion that last meeting with Miss was.

Miss will forever remain in our hearts as an exemplary teacher, a sincere friend and a shining example of courage in adversity. Her strong faith in the Lord enabled her to bear with grace the pain of her illness. Miss will also be remembered by us for her refreshing sense of humour and her unfailing cheerfulness at all times. Miss, we miss you. May her soul rest in peace!

By Mithraka Fernando

Memories aplenty of a young-at- heart uncle

Dr. Patrick Michael Theodore Fernando

Dr. Patrick Michael Theodore Fernando was the youngest of my mother’s five brothers. He was the most loved uncle by his many nieces and nephews because he was special, he was full of love, life and laughter and related best with the young ones because he was ‘young at heart’.

He was 67 years old at the time of his death and was the life of our family. He emanated love from his very being and he extended it not only to his immediate family but to the many little children he healed. This is why there were unexpected numbers both at his funeral service in Tasmania and at the Thanksgiving Service in Sri Lanka.

My uncle had accomplished many things in life, he had still more dreams to fulfil and we least expected him to be taken so soon, but God knows best and I guess God did not want him to suffer at all. I have very few recollections of his younger days, but I gained some valuable information from Uncle Jaycee’s, (my uncle’s closest and very special friend from schooldays and later at Medical College) tribute to him at the Thanksgiving Service we had, and also by listening to snippets revealed by various members of the family.

My uncle was the life and soul of every party, the mischievous one in school, always getting into trouble and doing all the naughty things my grandmother detested. He was famous for his trumpet playing and rocked the Royal-Thomian big matches in his day. I have heard that he and his trumpet were very much in demand for school events. My grandmother’s house was situated at Flower Road, so he would have been easily reachable any time the boys wanted to have fun. Out of the five of my uncles he alone made ample use of the location of the house to play the fool of all the Ladies’ College girls who went by and I am sure he may have been a heart-throb of many.

Combining mischief with steadfastness quite creditably, after completing his studies at Royal College, he was selected to Medical College in 1961. He had topped his batch at Medical College and passed out as a Doctor in 1966 with a Class. Later he specialized as a child psychiatrist in UK and took on the position of Tasmania’s very first child psychiatrist in 1980. He was listed in Australia’s Queen’s Birthday list of honours in 2004 and appointed as a ‘Member’ in the ‘General Division in the Order of Australia’ for services to Psychiatry especially in the field of child and adolescent mental health and to the community through social welfare organization and given the title OME. We were very proud of him.

I have many fond memories of this very special uncle, all of which I cannot pen in an appreciation, but one or two, I have to mention. I remember him teasing me on my first day at Ladies College, when I returned home tired after walking the few steps between my grandmother’s house and school. I must have said something to prompt him to tease me and say I will have to continue this task for the next 12 years. Quite a formidable undertaking for a five-year- old!

I also remember one of his Christmas presents to me was a doll that I named Greeny. Greeny became my favourite and went everywhere with me, played with me and even slept with me until he was replaced by a live doll the day I got married. I also remember Cookie, my grandmother’s cocker spaniel, who was brought in by my uncle against the wishes of my grandmother and expertly trained by two of my uncles. I can still recall how my uncle used to sing ‘How much is that Doggie in the Window’ to Cookie and get her to bark at the precise time. I also remember how Cookie got jealous of me when I came to live in Colombo because I was getting petted and not her. In the early 70’s my uncle went to UK to further his studies. Whilst in UK he met Aunt Sally, who later became his loving wife and life long companion for over 30 years. She too, got very close to the family and graciously allowed my uncle to “freak out” whenever he was with the family. Both of them migrated to Australia when Michelle was a baby and later Martin Fernando Jr. was born in Tasmania.

They visited Sri Lanka practically every other year while my uncle was in full time employment and my cousins were pursuing their studies. Both Michelle who is a lawyer and Martin who is a dentist cum a very successful DJ (strange combination but I believe he takes after the father) have done their parents proud. My uncle retired from state service a few years ago.

After his retirement, with more time to spare, my uncle and aunt have been visiting Sri Lanka quite frequently almost every nine months for short holidays, I enjoyed organizing his stay here and both Ajith and I enjoyed going on trips with him and the rest of the family. However the best trip was when my uncle, aunt, Michelle and Martin accompanied Ajith and me on our honeymoon!

At the conclusion of his visits, it became the practice that the family meets for dinner before saying goodbye. These dinners were fun events with Uncle Jaycee joining us and both of them making it a fun evening, narrating tall stories and jokes and ending with a sing-a-long. Each time it came to the goodbyes my uncle shed a tear because he was sensitive and he was afraid that he would lose another loved one in his absence. Little did we realize that last February would be the last time the family saw him alive and that we would have to say ‘Bye’ to him so soon.

He loved to announce very ceremoniously his proposed trips to Sri Lanka and I still have the email titled “Patrick and Sally will be Arriving” sent by him in February informing me to start making plans for his trip in July. Little did I realize that before that we would have to organize a Thanksgiving Service for his life. His demise has left a huge void in the family. We will definitely miss him in Sri Lanka and more so my aunt and cousins, in Tasmania, but life has to go on until we all meet again.

May he Rest in Peace.

By Charitha Ranasinghe.

A remarkable lady and a mother to all

Irene Wijesundere

Adieu to a soul so full of love and warmth

My feet on the sandy soil, I stood watching the blazing ball of red and gold, dipping, ebbing out of my sight and reach into the deep, deep sea. The horizon sprayed with golden rays now slowly fading and a curtain of darkness enfolding.

Here, now standing on the cold grey cement floor I watch that glowing sun, alas! Trapped in a wooden casket, hands thrusting shoving into a bowl of blazing embers. Then, rises a wisp of smoke, slowly ascending to the skies whispering a fond farewell –

There goes a mother, a soul so full of radiance, love and warmth. The sun has set - but for me a wishful, hopeful sunrise of another birth with you – Amma.

This appreciation is about my extraordinary mother who lived a rich and long life of 91 years. I believe that however expected the death of an elderly parent could be, the separation from the beloved is painful. Each passing day would lessen the grief, but the loss to my brother Ajita and me would remain indefinitely, after all these years together. Although we have lost a much adored person, her rich and rare qualities would be lovingly kept everyday, not only by us but by those who were close to her as well.

It is fortunate that we were able to have a very caring, loving and affectionate mother with us for so long, thanks to the excellent medical care, which she could have had no better, provided by my sister-in-law Anula, for which I am most thankful and ever grateful. My thanks also to my brother for all what he did, which was very much more than what I could have ever done for her.

Prior to her death her mobility was greatly reduced from the active life she led, and she was mostly confined to bed. However, when it came to an important family event she made it a point to be present, and would sit for long hours, not wanting to go home in a hurry. Even in bed she was always cheerful, well groomed and so full of life. Inspite of her condition her mind was alert, and she could even remember the telephone numbers of her constant callers without referring to the index.

To all those who came in close contact with her she left a lasting impression in their minds. I am sure they would agree that she was a remarkable lady with a large heart, fun loving and a mother to all. She was a rare jewel among our relatives and friends and above all a lady par excellence. Her kindness had no limits. She carried a special charm and her friendly personality endeared her to those who were fortunate enough to come in contact with her. She will be fondly remembered and cherished by many who knew her.

She loved her family and was a devoted wife, caring mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her life was full of love and affection to all concerned, and equally to her daughters-in-law with whom she was able to bond strongly, especially as she had no daughters, and for them I am certain there would never be another.

When her brother and sister-in-law died nearly 50 years ago, she took charge of their five young children, with the blessings of my father at that time, shouldering the responsibilities with courage and determination and was a mother to them and saw to their welfare, which only a few in this world would have ever done.

The last time my daughter Menaka flew down from the US and when she was leaving Archchi cried and said that she will never see her again, to which my daughter replied, “Archchi, you have told this to me each time I came to see you, and it will not be so.” This time unfortunately, happened to be the last.

When Menaka explained to her six-year-old son that Loku Archchi had passed away, his first reaction was, “ I am very sad as she was my favourite in Sri Lanka.”

She always loved to entertain and her home was an open house till the very last. She was generous and always gave to those deserving. She had a very sympathetic and understanding nature, especially with her domestic aides and the less fortunate. Towards the latter period of her life she did not forget the domestic who had been very faithful to her for years and who attended to her, administering her medicines on time and who was a tower of strength to her. She saw to his future well-being and amply compensated him. She was extremely happy that she was able to accomplish her obligations prior to her death, to show her gratitude which was a fantastic gesture. That was the concern and kindness she had for the less privileged.

The large crowd that paid their respects at her funeral and the number of expressions of sympathy that we are still receiving bears ample testimony to a wonderful human being who touched many lives. It was a good fortune for my brother and me to have had such affectionate and caring parents, to guide us on the correct path of life for which we are both greatly indebted.
No matter whether we are together or apart, fond memories of her abound, always close and forever cherished and she will always be remembered with deep reverence, undying affection and a huge debt of gratitude. We will also always cherish the pleasant and happy times we have shared throughout the years. She leaves us lonely and sad but proud, with unforgettable memories which will remain alive forever.

May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana which she richly deserves and we hope someday somewhere we will meet again.

By Shantilal.

Daily News Mon Jun 18 2007

Appreciation: Vidya Jothi Professor V. K. Samaranayake

DN Mon Jun 18 2007: My association with the Professor and of getting to know him was as recent as the year 1999, when an advertisement appeared in the newspapers for the recruitment of a National Y2K Coordinator and Coordinators in different sectors in the industry which could be affected due to Y2K problems. I applied for the post of Coordinator in the sector of Power and Energy.

At the interview I was questioned by the interview panel on various aspects of how Y2K could affect computers and computerized equipment during the rollover to the year 2000.

Before I left the room Prof. V. K. Samaranayake, Chairman Council for Information Technology informed me that he had gathered from my CV that both he and I have been born on the same day May 22nd 1939.

It did not take even 24 hours after the interview, when I was informed that I have been selected as the National Y2K Coordinator, (though I applied for the post of Coordinator Power and Energy) and to report immediately to take up duties on contract basis on this World Bank Project.

It was a tall order that had to be accomplished with two assistant coordinators and support staff within a small office space. A Planning Grant of US$ 100,000 had been received and I was entrusted to prepare reports to obtain the Implementation Grant of US$ 500,000 which will benefit fourteen government institutions.

Prof. Samaranayake reviewed the work carried out by us regularly and formed The National Y2K Task Force of which he was Chairman and we shifted our office to the spacious World Trade Centre.

The Preparation of The National Action Plans and National Contingency Plan necessitated close coordination of The National Y2K Task Force and Sectoral Groups who were all professionals.

The presentations on Y2K activities to various organizations, press releases’ interviews to the electronic and print media including arrangements made to conduct seminars, workshops and media conferences were carried out under the guidance and close supervision of the Professor.

At various meetings he used to inform those present that he and I were born on the same day. When such references were made, I informed that though both of us were born on the same day, that to me the Professor was more akin to be like my father. He had ingrained in him the fatherly attitude to all the staff and was liked by all.

Towards the middle of 1999 he left for UK to obtain medical attention for a heart by-pass operation. During the two months he was away he trust on me the responsibility of handling the balance work.

The rollover from 1999 to 2000 was a resounding success.

The finale of the Y2K activities was the design and operation of the Event Management Centre which was in operation continuously for threedays from 31st December, 1999... A commendation letter was received from Roslyn Doctor, Program Director, International Y2K Cooperation Centre. World Bank Washington D C 2037 on 16-08-1999 which I quote below.

“From this information Sri Lanka seems to be preparing itself well for Y2K. You provide excellent detailed information on sectors on your page, and our web page assessment will be changed publicly to reflect this in our next press release.”

The country Web Site Assessment posted in the IY2KCC web on 24-08-1999 listed Sri Lanka with 36 countries and was categorized as highly informative.

I presume this appreciation and tribute to a great scholar and teacher will be shared by the Y2K support staff who were at the CINTEC and other Professionals who were associated with the Y2K Task Force of which the Emeritus Professor was Chairman.


Sunday Times June 17 2007

Youth and energy gone in a moment

Rehan De Silva

It seems that whenever someone leaves us in such a sudden and harsh way, everyone says how special and unique that person was. In Rehan’s case, this was no exaggeration. He was a remarkable human being – a wonderful, giving, caring, playful person with a deep love for everyone. His death is a tragic loss to the entire family and his friends who loved him dearly. He was always full of energy. His smile could melt any sadness.

I feel honored to have known Rehan. He was my favourite cousin. My first memories of him were as a vivacious, charismatic, and extremely loving child who always had an enthusiastic, beaming smile that seemed to say, “Let’s go and embark on a new adventure!” He was always my fun-loving cousin.

We spent much of our early childhood together, and one of our favourite meeting spots was his place in Homagama. Wrestling, pillow fights, powder skating, sharing ghost stories and jokes were just a few of my favourite childhood memories of him.

Rehan grew into such a remarkable young man. He was the main organizer of all our cousins’ get-togethers. Through our late teens and twenties, we were living many states away and busy with our lives but we were always very near in our minds. The phone rang in the early hours of December 4, 2006 and the news was that Rehan had died in an accident. His death at 27 bears testimony that "the good die young". He was a gentleman, loved, respected and held in high esteem by all who knew him. I have never heard him speak ill of another. He always saw only the positive side of a person.

Twenty eight years ago, on June 13, 1979 God sent an angel to us who showered our lives with countless blessings and whose passing fills our hearts with unbearable sorrow. Rehan gave the world his joy and cracking laughter, his brilliance and integrity, his boundless courage, and his abiding compassion. Our precious and beautiful cousin Rehan is no more. Yet memories of him will linger.

I loved his individuality, his indomitable nature, and his enormous heart. To me he appeared to be a perfect human being with admirable qualities. Rehan, I still refuse to believe that you are no more and thoroughly regret not being able to salute you in your last journey, I take this opportunity to say not goodbye but “see you in Heaven”.

By Christine Hettiarachchi (Ungini)

He always thought of the other

Quinton Fernandopulle

Eighty years and four –
Indeed a very high score!
On the 1st of May he would have been eighty five.
13 days before God snatched him away – We do not know why?

We are only sad Papa could not watch –
Sri Lanka play the finals of the World Cup match.
He was one of the nine Fernandopulle brothers who kept wickets,
While for St. Benedict's they all played cricket.
An entire cricket team from one family – what a feat!
Never in the history of cricket will there be a repeat.

A loving husband, a caring father and a devoted papa he was to all,
Always there to help us whenever we call.
A devout Catholic who never missed Sunday Mass,
Without rosary and prayers not a day would he pass.

With love and concern he looked after his father and mother,
For all eight – he was a caring brother.
Never thought about himself – always about the other.
His presence at every funeral was a must despite any weather.

Goodbye Papa we love you so much,
From Heaven above we know you will keep watch,
And pray for all of us who are left weary,
Till some day we join you in God’s Garden of Glory.

By Your loving grandchildren, Chris, Revon and Elaine Fernandopulle

A livewire where ever he went

Ricky Price Coenraad (Ralph)

I am shocked and saddened by the untimely demise of my devoted elder brother Ralph, in Sydney on May 8, after an illness bravely borne for almost two years.

He was the second in a family of six children - three girls and three boys, born to the late James and Lena. His youngest brother Rex predeceased him 25 years ago. Having completed his education at St. Michael’s Colpetty, he joined the Basic Technical Training Institute in Ratmalana as an apprentice to follow a course in Motor Mechanism.

However, he left within a brief period and when he was just 17 1/2 years of age, he secured employment at the Mortlake Press of Whittall & Co, Colombo 2 (later Whittalls Group) where he was designated checkroll clerk and was entrusted with the task of preparing the monthly emoluments of the entire staff of the press. When he began his career, his handwriting was nothing to reckon with. With experience, his fist turned out to be excellent. Some of his contemporaries at “Mortlake Press” were Dodwell Van Dort, Albert Muspratt, Chris Wijeyesinghe, Shelton Davy, Denzil Nugara and T.D.K. Senanayake. He was also instrumental in getting me employed at Whittalls from July 1, 1960.

He married Brenda (Polly) on December 26, 1959. She is the daughter of the late Robert and Ena Diaz of Diaz Square, Hunupitiya. My brother was the bestman and she was the bridesmaid at her elder sister’s wedding and that’s how he met his future partner in life. It was love at first sight of course! They were a well knit couple and were blessed with two girls and a boy. His wife was a tower of strength, encouragement and inspiration and stood by him steadfastly, through thick and thin in all his endeavours throughout their married life.

He was an accomplished guitarist who used to strum his guitar whenever time permitted, and was also quite adept at playing a few other musical instruments. He was also the chief entertainer and performer at all our family gatherings, be it a birthday party, wedding anniversary or a get-together at Christmas time. He was quite witty too, especially when performing his famous cabaret “Marco Polo” which was one of the favourites which every member of the family eagerly looked forward to, together with other songs such as “Rasa ahara kawala” which ended up with Baila.

He left the services of Whittalls after a period of 23 years of unstinted service, to migrate to Australia. He did this mainly in order to provide his offspring with a sound education in English since international schools had not begun functioning at that time.
"Sleep on my darling brother sleep on till we meet on that beautiful shore."

By C.E. Coenraad (Vere)

He served humanity as an act of worship

Yogendra Duraiswamy

It has been eight years since his voice was stilled. As I light the “Moksha lamp”, I see his radiant smile lingering as a fragrant memory. I have become a pilgrim letting his beams of serenity and peace seep into me enrapturing my mind into silence.
With a smile on his lips and a cheer in his heart he stands on the radiant heights he has reached and whispers to me –

“I have thrown from me the whirling dance of mind.
And stand now in the spirit’s silence free
Timeless and deathless beyond creature-kind,
The centre of my own eternity.
I have escaped and the small self is dead;
I am immortal, alone, and ineffable;
I have gone out from the universe I made,
I have grown nameless and immeasurable.”

-Sri Aurobindo

We commemorated his wonderful life at a prayer meeting recently. He has passed into the eternal and the tears that I shed now are for the remembrance, the memories that touched my life endlessly becoming an integral part of me. These memories are of a life well lived and a thanksgiving to Ishwara for making me a part of his life.

Soon after Yoga passed away, I wrote his biography, “My Diplomat.” This was a heart-warming task. As I wrote, I felt closer to him, living once more in spirit through all those beautiful years together. I felt inspired as each chapter unfolded.Yoga’s whole life was a wonderful saga of faith and devotion - faith in himself and God and devotion to his ideals and spirit of service. With Swami Vivekananda his mentor, Yoga might have felt - “Faith sustains and strengthens one’s self and is a source of inspiration and support in times of despair.” It was this faith that helped him to do all that he sought to do. There were times when it was difficult to keep our faith and enthusiasm amidst the political whirlpool that had engulfed our native Jaffna since the 1970s. Sensing my frustration and helplessness he would bounce back saying, “Chin up.” He never let anything hamper our spirit or vision, nor let doubts erode our determination to do what had to be done.

Armed with faith and discipline he went ahead in life taking Naresh and me along with him. Our life together was grand and beautiful because we lived it honestly with dignity and decorum. Troubles came our way by hordes at times, as in the assassination of his brothers in 1987 and his brother-in-law two years later not to mention the destruction of our lovely ‘walauwa’ and deaths of nieces and nephews in the turbulence that gripped the North. But Yoga was always there facing them with equanimity steering us through difficulties.

He was indeed a man of integrity who stood by his principles fearlessly. The words of Saint Appar, “Naamaarkum kudi allom; namanai anjom” - ‘subject to none; I fear not even the God of Death’ gave meaning to his faith and fearlessness. Even in his later life though he was perhaps a little frail outwardly, he was tough and fearless inside and would not yield to pressure. “Your head will roll,” said the then President in Colombo when he refused to change the names of the Returning Officers at the District Development Council elections in 1981 in Jaffna. He did what he had to do and stepped down. His friends said that he had the courage of his conviction to stand up and be counted.

Yoga was an enlightened liberal who sought a resolution of the ethnic question within a united Sri Lanka to be achieved peacefully with justice towards all. In his tribute to Yoga, Father Tissa Balasuriya mentioned, “Yoga would present the Tamil point of view persuasively, always within the perspective of a single nation. Having had experience in the diplomatic service, he was very skilful in recommending fair compromise solutions that respected the aspirations and demands of all groups. He could do this as he had an alert mind and a warm heart that were attuned to listen and respond to all sides of a dispute.”

All the same he gave voice to his anguish to what was happening to his people and the terrible consequence of war on innocent civilians, entire villages being displaced, property destroyed and lives lost. The need, “to bring an end to human suffering, the destruction and the loss of lives,” was uppermost in his mind.

Having retired early from the Foreign Service, he had the wonderful opportunity to serve his people. As District Secretary for Jaffna - Kilinochchi, he endeavoured to resume work on the Mahadeva Causeway to facilitate the eventual conversion of the Jaffna Lagoon into a fresh water lake. He launched housing projects, new roads in the peninsula, he accelerated direct dialing facility and plans to rehabilitate the Iranamadu tank. He took steps to enhance bus transportation, improve boat service to the offshore islands, install a biogas plant and initiate small rural development projects on livestock, poultry, dairy, fisheries and coir.
Internationally, he was well known and a much admired personality. Whether it be at Bates, Bowden or Colby in the States, Al Hikma in Iraq, the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Durban University in South Africa, the United Nations Centre for Development Studies in Nagoya, the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines, or the World Conference on Religions for Peace and its Asian counterpart, he was highly regarded. The General Secretary of the Asian Conference on Religion for Peace from Tokyo wrote saying, “Yoga was one of the most outstanding and beloved leaders of the Conference - an ardent and faithful leader of inter and multi religious movement for peace based on mutual dialogue, understanding and co-operation. Based upon his long years of a diplomatic career, he was a religious advocate of reconciliation and collaboration among conflicting parties.”

Yoga was deeply sensitive and always found “something good in the worst of us,” seeking out positive elements in their lives. He always gave the benefit of the doubt to a person who could even have wronged him; this did give a special dimension to his contribution to service.

His entire life was based on values – values of truth, righteousness and integrity that he adhered to all his life This made him what he was; while opposing injustice and feeling deeply the pain inflicted on his community, he never supported violence. He was a visionary and worked sincerely and truly to translate those visions into reality. A deep sincerity infused his speeches and writings. His education, his career and deep knowledge of international affairs gave him the confidence to move freely with scholars and leaders in the political, social and religious fields.

The Ancient Order of Sikatuna was conferred on him by the President of the Philippines in 1974 - an investiture for a departing envoy who had served extra-ordinarily. In 1998, the President of Sri Lanka was to confer the title of Deshabandhu on him, but he politely declined to accept it given the suffering that had engulfed his people.

Yoga’s career as a diplomat, public servant and activist was a long and distinguished one crowded with achievements and service. He served humanity as an act of worship and to my mind he is the distinguished son of the distinguished father.

By Sivanandini Duraiswamy

Sunday Times June 10 2007

He inspired trust, confidence and reverence

M.G.I. Ferdinandez

M.G.I. Ferdinandez, the well known St. Joseph’s College master made his quiet exit from this earthly scene on April 27. On that Friday morning in his sleep he may have certainly heard the beckoning whisper from his creator above “Son it’s enough, come home."

It has been repeatedly reported that schools like St. Joseph’s, Royal, S. Thomas’ and Trinity had been throughout the years very fortunate in their choice of teachers.

The very first teachers of these few leading institutions in the island whether from here or abroad had been handpicked. They not only set high standards and traditions in their professions but they also left as their successors, men of sterling character, equally equipped to hold and pass on to generations of students the torch of “knowledge and virtue” of which they were exemplary models.

Ferdi’s 46 years of sustained, unbroken partnership with St. Joseph’s is a truly commendable achievement that bespeaks of deep commitment and loyalty.

After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Ceylon he was enrolled as a teacher to the Arts and Classics Section of St. Joseph’s College by that great Rector Fr. Peter A. Pillai in 1957. In 1962 Ferdi was appointed Master in Charge of College Rugby which he continued as till 1997.

During this era St. Joseph was able to produce some outstanding players who equally excelled for their alma mater, for their respective clubs and some of them represented the country with distinction. Anton Benedict (former Havelocks, Police and Sri Lanka Captain), Janaka Perera (Retired Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army and former Ambassador to Australia), Dr. Gamini Goonetilleke, Hiranjan Perera, late Rohan Jayatilleke (Former Solicitor General), Priyasad Dep (Solicitor General), Brian Obeysekere, Shiraz Fernando, Graham Ludowyke, Patrick Ranasinghe, Lalith Perera and Nishantha Bopearachchi were some of the few who excelled in the game during Ferdi’s stewardship in Rugby football at St. Joseph’s. Though he was an old boy of Holy Cross Kalutara, Ferdi was indeed a die-hard Josephian.

Being a strict disciplinarian, Ferdi ‘s presence inspired trust, confidence and reverence. Most of the students who were up to mischief melted under his guidance and advice.

By Supun Perera

He did his duty with no thought of rewards


It’s a long way from Mallakam in the North to Galle in the South, from student days to Government Agent. Sivanandan reached it in 20 years. This was an achievement.

Sivanandan led a life that was pure, simple and austere. His innate disposition for humility, drew him close to a life of religious devotion. A benign destiny rewarded his selflessness with vantage positions. In his official life he wielded authority, made an impression everywhere, leaving abrasions nowhere. His life and work always had a certain flourish.

Sivanandan graduated at a tender age and entered the Administrative Service. From such an office, the holder lives in the public eye. Sivanandan perceived this keenly.

Public service was to him a vocation. It came his way and he responded to the calling. All postings were seized by him as an opportunity to serve mankind. He approached the work with dedication and it did not take long for the people to realise his altruistic inclinations. His interactions as Assistant Government Agent, Trincomalee, Additional Government Agent, Amparai , Government Agent, Galle and Government Agent, Matara called for multi-lingual capability. He measured up to it, fully satisfying the people as well as their elected representatives.

When he was chosen as the first Chief Secretary to the Provincial Council of Sabaragamuwa, he found himself fully acceptable. Apart from linguistic ability, which made for easy communication and dialogue, he had the capacity for empathy. This quality, manifesting in concern and caring, endeared him to the people in no small measure.

Those who came to know Sivanandan were quick in becoming his associates. Association grew into many a staunch friendship. His superiors respected him, colleagues trusted him and his juniors emulated him. Sivanandan took it up as a sacred duty to nurture the young and to prepare them for responsible positions in later life.

Sivanandan’s services were availed of by successive governments for nearly 40 years. His work stations were over ten. At every place from the first engagement to the last, he left his mark. Not many would know that several plans which he pursued and executed commenced with his initiative, flowing from his own ideas.

The rewarding experience of self-fulfilment was his, when he saw the benefits accruing to the people. To a remarkable degree, he combined local experience with the benefits of foreign travel and placed his expertise at the disposal of the government. Not surprisingly, he was selected by then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to handle rehabilitation programmes in the North-East. With the change of government, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga handpicked him for the same assignment of Senior Advisor. She considered him an “ excellent officer”.

Sivanandan’s personal life was without blemish. With domestic happiness, he radiated peace and calm in public life. The equanimity of mind which he possessed to a high degree was derived from his understanding of life. Delving deep into the founts of Tamil literature, he had a good appreciation of karma and destiny. Frenzied acts for self advancement he always spurned. To him, providence and destiny were the dispensers of favours and rewards. Work with no thought of the fruits thereof, was his chosen path.

One may very well say that in Sivanandan, all the elements were remarkably mixed. His composure at all times together with his poise and charm brought to him a wide circle of friends. Many may be sad at his demise. He will be sorely missed, but a full life worthily lived will remain as adequate recompense.

By S.Sivathasan

Salute to a true and sincere friendship over the years

Sriyani Nonis

A true and sincere friend is a gift from God. A close, caring, sharing and enduring friendship is, indeed, a special blessing. I was fortunate in being so blessed for more than half a century, immersed in a wonderful association with Sriyani, my dearest and best friend since we were little schoolchildren.

I pen this tribute on a personal note to my friend, Sriyani, with a lot of sadness and deep sense of loss. It is two years since you left us. Or, is it that long? I’m confused. No, you have not left us; I feel your presence among us in spirit.

Everyone needs someone to turn to in good times and bad, especially difficult times; and for me, Sriyani, my trusted friend was always there like a beacon of light to turn to. She never failed me in all these long decades. She was a friend for all seasons. I appreciate it all the more when considering that she somehow found the time to nurture and keep our friendship alive at all times. There were many occasions when for years at a time we would be in two different countries, and yet, never lose touch. This was whilst having to attend to her large extended family, her numerous commitments as Chairperson of the Mackwoods Group of Companies, her religious, professional, charitable and many more activities.

How do you manage to fit in all the things you do, I would ask her and tease her that she must be having 48 hours in her day. She would acknowledge this with a charming, modest smile. Praise, publicity and adulation embarrassed her no end. At such times she would hide if she could. Such was her nature – so unassuming and simple to a fault inspite of her numerous achievements in life. “No time” and “too busy” were terms unknown to her.

Sriyani was a rare type of person. She had the capacity to enjoy little things in life. There was always the hidden little girl in her. This brings to my mind my last birthday card to her. It had a picture of two little dresses strung up on a line, fluttering in the wind, denoting our friendship from childhood, and inside, it read “I would not change anything”. She was absolutely delighted with it, asked me how I managed to get such an appropriate card, and happily showed it to family and friends. It took us right back to our lovely childhood and it made her immensely happy.

There are no perfect relationships, but ours was one friendship that was perfect, even legendary. Even as little kids, there were no quarrels or any malice between us. If we disagreed on something, it was always a healthy discussion and never an argument; the subjects we liked to chat about were legion. We enjoyed the same interests, be it a concert, the theatre, reading, music, holidays or travel.

Her hospitality was boundless and spontaneous. She took delight in getting a few of us friends together at a time over an informal lunch or dinner in her beautiful home. She was the rallying point, and gave all of us an opportunity to meet and exchange news. Her home was my home – it was always open to me come rain or shine. That world has crumbled and there is a vacuum that cannot be filled. I miss her no end.

As another friend said to me, “Don’t be sad. We are all in the queue. It is just that Sriyani was a little ahead of us.” I take comfort in this thought and shall not mourn her passing away, but will celebrate her life and thank God for it.

May she rest in peace, safe in the arms of Jesus.

By Moira Dayaratna

Sunday Times Jun 3 2007

Your fragrant memories will always linger on

Olga Ekanayake

My beloved wife Olga Agnes Ekanayake, passed away on March 5, this year after suffering several heart attacks even though she was given the best of care by the coronary care teams at Oasis Hospital and the Coronary Care Unit of the National Hospital, Colombo.

At the time of her death, we had been married for over 53 years and 9 months, having married in May, 1953 against the wishes of our parents, at that time. Olga was a teacher in a primary school in Athurugiriya and I was a public servant attached to the Divisional Irrigation Engineer’s Office in Kurunegala. After our marriage, we lived in Kurunegala during which time we had one son.

Following my transfer to the Irrigation Department Head Office in Colombo in 1955, Olga commenced working as a stenographer cum secretary in the Whittal Boustead tea firm. She was dedicated and highly conscientious and was held in high trust and esteem by the management. In 1957, on my being posted to serve in the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra, Australia, Olga together with our son accompanied me and in Australia too she was able to get employment as a confidential secretary in the Australian National University, Canberra. Her hard work and skilfulness were appreciated very much by her superiors and in fact in 1961 at the time we were to return to Sri Lanka, she was constantly advised by her superiors and colleagues to stay back and continue working at the University. Her popularity was not only confined to the University, but extended to the host of friends from Australia and from other overseas missions in Canberra.

On our return to Sri Lanka she was immediately taken back to Whittal Boustead and continued working there upto 1969 when she and our son accompanied me to Bombay, India on my being posted to attend to consular and administrative duties at the Ceylon Trade Commission. In India too, she gained a vast number of friends, including several officials and their families from Sri Lanka who transited Bombay on their way to other destinations. She never hesitated to prepare a meal for the officials, countrymen and others whom I hosted at home, and provided immense support for performing my representational duties.

Back in Sri Lanka in 1975 she worked as the Secretary to the Chairman of the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB) where she continued to serve until reaching the age of 60. After leaving the NLDB she served in two private sector institutions and last served in the Employers’ Federation office until 1997. Throughout her working life she always maintained very cordial relationships with all her colleagues, several of whom remain as close friends. She never hesitated to give advice to young staff members who requested assistance and also helped the staff in the lower grades sometimes financially and with clothing and food.

In our neighbourhood in Nawala too, she maintained good relationships with the neighbours and her kind and friendly ways were very much appreciated, by all who knew her.

She was also devoted to religion and while she went to pray at the temple on Poya days, she recited ‘gathas’ every morning on waking up and also at night before retiring for the night. She was courageous,dedicated and devoted and a loving mother who cared for her only son, his wife and our two grand children very much.

Olga, though you are no more in this world, your fragrant memories linger and I hope fervently that we would meet again in Sansara. I also pray that you would gain the supreme blissful state of Nirvana, soon.

By Loving Husband G.B. Ekanayake

With bubbling energy and passion, she dedicated herself to helping others

Bernadeen Silva

The sudden death of our dear friend and colleague Bernadeen Silva, three months ago, has left a void in the many lives she touched.

Bernadeen was an active member in innumerable social service, religious and professional organizations. She, with her bubbling energy and passion for the many causes she espoused, managed to rope in friends, relatives and even acquaintances to support her in her work.

Diligence, perseverance and absolute sincerity and integrity were the hallmarks of her work in any project she got involved in. She would not rest until the project was completed to the satisfaction of everyone associated with her.

She was a vociferous activist for social justice, good governance, free and fair elections, human rights, rights of women; the list went on and on. Being a devout Catholic she was actively involved in a number of Catholic organizations as well.

However, the most important of all was the time and energy she spent as a mental health activist, in the last 15 years of her life. She was an active member of the Communication Centre for Mental Health, and served for many years as its treasurer. She was a founder member of Richmond Fellowship Lanka, and served as its honorary secretary, until a few months before her death. She did a wonderful job but latterly she found that it was too much work for her and so she resigned at the last Annual General Meeting in 2006.

Although it was an honorary post she took it so seriously that it took up a lot of her time and energy. Many were the times she would admonish her fellow members of the committee of RFL, that they were not active enough in the activities of fund raising and supervision of the halfway home.

In the latter half of last year, her constant worry was that the building fund would be insufficient to complete the new premises at Bopitiya.

She tapped everyone she could think of for donations in cash and kind. It gave her immense joy to see the completion of her dream, when the new halfway home was inaugurated at the end of last year.

Until her last illness she drove herself all the way to Bopitiya at least once a week, to supervise the running of the home. In spite of the work load she would stop to chat with many of the residents who would gather round her. She would always find the time to even visit the kitchen and greet the kitchen staff, gardener and the household help. She endeared herself to all of them with her simplicity and genuine concern for their welfare.

Bernadeen is missed by everyone in the home as well as by the committee. Her beloved son Tilak and daughter-in-law Shanthini must feel her loss immensely. Our sympathies are with them and the other members of her family, in their sad loss.

We pray that Bernadeen may find eternal peace and happiness with the Lord.

By The Richmond Fellowship Board

He excelled as a good teacher, father and husband

Earle Fernando

It is with a deep sense of sorrow that I write these lines about Earle Fernando, a close relative of my wife who died on March 7 this year after a brief illness. He was 76 years old.

Earle was the son of late Hettiyakandage William Fernando of Moratuwa and Mrs. Elizabeth Fernando of Beruwela. Earle’s father and my wife’s father were brothers.

Earle’s brother, late Major Kingsley Fernando was my classmate and Dr. Oliver Fernando my wife’s affectionate cousin was a good friend of mine during the good old days when I was schooling. I came to know Iris, his cousin and she became my wife during the later years.

Earle was the master-in-charge of Sports at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa and a strict disciplinarian. My son who was a pupil of Earle had the highest regard and respect for him and always used to address him as “Earle Sir” and not Earle uncle according to the relationship.

I remember Earle was a bit disturbed when he had to retire prematurely from St. Sebastian’s College and when he met me, emotionally informed me that he was in search of employment. I was attached to Lake House then, and during the course of our conversation I mentioned that there was a vacancy in the Reading section.

He applied and was successful, but he had to work for a short period as he got an appointment as an English Instructor. Earle was a regular church-goer and never missed the daily morning mass at St. Sebastian’s Church, Moratuwa, travelling all the way from Lunawa on his push cycle till his health started deteriorating.

He never failed to visit me at least once a week on his return from church to have a chit chat over a cup of tea prepared by my wife which he really enjoyed.

Earle will rest in peace in the heavenly abode having performed his duties as a dedicated teacher, good husband, loving father, sincere friend and a worthy citizen of Sri Lanka.

I share with his wife Anesta, their daughter Suharshini and their son Savio, their deep sorrow and feeling of bereavement.

May he attain eternal bliss

By Lancelot Fernando

Sunday Times May 27 2007

She had the beauty and colours of a rose

Charmina Marlena - A tribute on her 1st death anniversary that falls on May 30

She was like a rose
A beautiful white rose
Or more like a red rose?

She was both…
And like a Valentine-rose too
With lovely rainbow hues

Each colour beautiful
On its own…
Creating beauty together

Darling Charmina
Bubbie, Bubbo,
Bubbo Amma

You were like these roses
With so many great talents
And so beautiful!

It has been a long year
Since you left us…
Princess, Cuda, Seneca

And all of us! We miss you so!
Your beauty, charm, elegance,
Mischief and much more!

We all love you, and hope,
That you are with Daddy and Papa
And above all our Lord Jesus!

By Sharlene

The last gentleman in journalism

Harold Pieris – Editor, Observer 1977 to 1989

Harold Pieris was as solid as the pillars of Lake House. Although big-made and bulky, Harry's strength was that of a gentle giant. His presence was a comforting one, for, although he worked behind the scenes, the skill he displayed in every field of journalism and newspaper administration made him as durable as the elegant pillars on which D.R. Wijewardene constructed his edifice.

When Harry joined Lake House, the old patriarch was gone but something of his benign avatar must have touched the future Chief Administrative Officer of the Editorial Department. For, although he started off as a journalist on the 'Daily News', Harry was for long years the chief executive of the editorial department ruling over a vast sub-kingdom of the Lake House empire. He was a close associate and confidant of Esmond Wickremesinghe, that political wizard and eminence grise of the establishment who established Lake House as the powerful tool of UNP propaganda.

An old Josephian, Harry joined the 'Daily News' as a sub-editor after graduating from the University of Ceylon. He also served the 'Daily News' as its News Editor but when I got to know him in the mid seventies as a cub reporter, he was the Chief Administrative Officer or CAO occupying the room next to the Chairman. In his long-sleeved shirts and baggy trousers, Harry was the embodiment of propriety. In him was the wisdom of the ages and he was the repository of ancient knowledge and newspaper folk lore.

He was the first Lake House man I met when I joined in May 1975. After handing me my letter of appointment, he dispatched me with a peon to meet the Editor of the 'Observer' W. Lionel Fernando who in turn handed me over to his Deputy Editor Philip Fernando (now domiciled in California) and the News Editor, the late Carlton Seneviratne.

Our paths crossed again when after the General Election of 1977 which was preceded by a strike at Lake House he was appointed as the Editor of the 'Observer'. He occupied that chair for 12 years and edited the paper during the entire J.R. Jayewardene Presidency.

This was no small achievement, for, on the other side of the editorial corridor, successive Editors of the 'Daily News' were finding that the coveted editorial chair of the Lake House flagship was becoming warmer and warmer to sit on. If Harry chose to write his memoirs that would have been quite revealing for as the closest Lake House associate of Esmond Wickremesinghe he was privy to all the manoeuvrings and Byzantine intrigues which were associated with Lake House in its capacity as a political king-maker, always an inflated notion but an illusion which the old Lake House loved to cling to. One of the most interesting periods in this respect was the mid-sixties when Esmond Wickremesinghe began a Sinhala newspaper 'Udaya' printed on the presses of Express Newspapers, the publishers of the 'Virakesari.'

The principal share-holders were Wickremesinghe himself, Dudley Senanayake and J.R. Jayewardene, the Prime Minister and Minister of State respectively at the time.

Harry was the handpicked Managing Director of the company which also produced a science newspaper in Sinhala. 'Udaya' was an intriguing project which brought a refreshing new whiff to the respectable mainstream Sinhala journalism of the day. The idea was to launch an anti-establishment newspaper suitably critical of the UNP Government of the day for it was perceived that the mainstream press was uniformly respectful towards and supportive of the Government. It was characteristic of Wickremesinghe that he should have started such a venture with the two most powerful men in the country at the time as principal shareholders.
'Udaya' was something of an enfant terrible of the times. Edited by Philip Fernando, it had some of the most colourful former Lake House writers such as Tissa Gunatilleke and the first Editor of the 'Aththa' Richard Wijesiri on its staff. Chintana Jayasena, that lovable imp who later went on to edit his own paper 'Columa', the Sri Lankan version of 'Private Eye' cut his teeth there.

Although his life was full of rich political experiences, Harry rarely spoke of them. He was a conservative, very proper man, a devout Catholic and a staunch Rotarian who organized every year the Interschool Shakespearean Drama Festival for Rotary. In fact, his last appearance in print was to pay a memorial tribute to old Lake House colleague Bonnie Fernando who was for many years one of its judges.

It was difficult to penetrate Harry's imperturbable mask but I feel that behind it was a man who felt deeply, although he never articulated his feelings. Certainly, he had a ringside view of political intrigue and skullduggery but he was never a cynical participant in them. If at all, he saw it as his duty to play his part.

Harry's finest hour was in 1978 when he figured in the now-famous breach of privilege case when he and Associate Editor Philip Coorey became the only journalists to be brought to the Bar of Parliament and tried by Parliament sitting as a court for the first time.

This is how the 'Observer' in its editorial of May 29 (the day of his burial) described the episode headlined: Harold Pieris in Parliament.

'Harold Pieris, the former Editor of this newspaper whose burial will take place at the General Cemetery, Kanatte this afternoon, had already reserved for himself a niche in the political history of Sri Lanka albeit by accident. As the Editor of the Observer in 1978, he along with Associate Editor Philip Coorey became the only journalists to be tried for a breach of privilege of Parliament by the entire House sitting as a court.

'The manner of his trial was a manifestation of the bizarre manoeuvring of the parliamentary system by the UNP Government of President J.R. Jayewardene which contributed no little towards undermining the people's faith in the democratic political system. The fact that this trial took place on the eve of Mr. Jayewardene assuming office as Executive President was no accident. It was a signal to the entire mass media that the Government intended to be tough with it.

'As it was there was hardly any need for such macho exhibitionism. The press was fulsome in its support of the newly-installed Jayewardene Government. There were no voices of dissent except for the Aththa edited with his usual panache by that maestro of Sinhala journalism, the late B.A. Siriwardene. Yet the Government felt it necessary to beef up the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act and the fact that its first victim was an Editor of the government owned Lake House was typical of the cruel cynicism of the regime.

'No piece of theatricals could have been more crudely contrived to advertise the muscle power of the regime. The day after the new Act was passed the Minister of Foreign Affairs A.C.S. Hameed got up in Parliament to complain the Observer had been guilty of a breach of privilege. The Minister said that the paper had carried a photograph of Jane Fonda and a companion on board a pleasure cruiser with the caption that Mr. Hameed was inspecting an industrial complex in South Korea. The correct photograph had appeared on the same page saying that it was Jane Fonda.

'Mr. Hameed's contention was that since he had to travel a great deal as the Foreign Minister this mix-up of captions constituted a breach of his parliamentary privileges presumably because the less knowledgeable citizens of the world might associate the Minister with Ms. Fonda.

'Pieris and Coorey were summoned before the Bar of the House the same afternoon. Lake House had instructed them to plead guilty although Pieris was not on duty that day and as Acting Editor Coorey had taken immediate steps to withdraw the papers once the mistake was detected (although some had gone into the streets before) and correct the mistakes in the next edition. An apology had been carried the next day.

What followed was an unprecedented spectacle in the history of Sri Lanka's Parliament. Member after member of the UNP parliamentary group got up to cross-examine Pieris and Coorey who were like the hapless Roman men thrown to the lions. It was finally left to the Leader of the Opposition A. Amirthalingam to interject in exasperation, "Let us put a stop to this. We are like little children trying on new clothes."

What impressed the observers of Parliament that day was the quiet dignity and absolute unruffled calm with which Harold Pieris faced his tormentors. Dressed in a white suit he sat calmly at the bar of the House answering all questions quietly.

By the dignity of his demeanor and the sobriety that was always the hallmark of the man he exposed the charade into which he had been dragged accidentally but with diabolical intent.

Although the most peaceful of men, his fighting qualities asserted themselves again in 1989 when he found the climate at Lake House more and more stifling.

True, Lake House had been administered as a Government-controlled newspaper from 1973 but by now the heavy hand of crude political interference and gross intervention was becoming unbearable. That was when Harry resigned with dignity.

Harold Pieris perhaps was the last gentleman in journalism. But, being a gentleman carries its own perils and pitfalls. He was sometimes over cautious, too much of a conservative. But he had his heart in the correct place.

He did not think it worthwhile to hit his head against a brick wall but he always lived by his own lights. Highly duty-conscious his death brings to an irrevocable end and rings down the curtain on the old Wijewardene-Wickremesinghe Lake House with all its journalistic virtues and political blemishes.

By Ajith Samaranayake, This tribute published in The Sunday Observer of June 01, 1997, is being reproduced to mark Harold Pieris’ 10th death anniversary which falls today.

Sunday Times May 20, 2007

Always there with a word of advice

H.P. de S. Thabrew

I called him “Thabu Aiya”. His sudden death on March 15 was a shock to all of us and his beloved wife and two daughters. Our friendship goes back 14 years. We were both in the Land Commissioner’s Department. Mr. Thabrew was a surveyor and I was Superintendent of Development Works in the same department. He also worked in Iraq and Oman as a surveyor and gained knowledge on the new methods of his trade.

Before our retirement from the public service, we worked under one roof at the Kalutara Kachcheri. After retirement he obtained his surveyor’s licence. When I was working in several departments on a contract basis, Mr. Thabrew did some surveys in tsunami projects in Beruwela area under CADRAP (Capacity Development Recovery Programme) in 2006-2007.

As a licensed surveyor, Mr. Thabrew did great service to the public. He was popular among the people even in faraway hamlets like Hadgalla, Kelinkanda, Neluwa and Yattapatha, which were the areas we both worked in when we were in the public service.

I met him for the last time on the 14th evening in his residence at Nagoda. At that moment, he was busy and told me that he was leaving the island for five days with his family.

He was in a good mood and we chatted for about 10 minutes. On the 15th morning I got the sad news of his death. He had passed away in Madras and on the 16th his body was brought back to Nagoda.

'Thabrew Aiya’ was a wonderful colleague, always ready with advice and encouragement. As a licensed surveyor he always did his duties to the satisfaction of his clients and did not go after money. Once when the District Judge of Matugama had appointed me as a one - man commission to inquire into the discrepancies that had arisen between the Pradeshiya Sabha and the public, he helped me and taught me how to take evidence from the public. I will miss his good advice.

He leaves his beloved wife Sreemathie, two daughters, brother-in-law, son-in-law, and employees. May your journey through “sansara” be short until you enter the supreme bliss of “Nirvana”.

By Mervin Lysander

An exemplary life that touched us all

Sisila Rathnayake

It is unfortunate that my friend Sisila Rathnayake passed away at a young age of 42 years. He was a fearless ruggerite and great basketball player, representing his alma mater Royal College, during the early eighties and winning college colours for both sports. He captained the college senior basketball team in 1981 and the Sri Lanka schools basketball team at the senior nationals the same year.

After leaving college he was employed in the mercantile sector and met his wife while being employed in Kurunegala. They settled down in Kurunegala in his wife's hometown.

Sisi, as we used to call him, was a loving husband to his wife Chithrani and dutiful and caring father to his two sons Livith and Senel.

Sisila touched the hearts of many by his simplicity and unassuming ways and was a dear friend to all of us. He will be remembered always for his gentlemanly ways.His untimely death has shocked us all. As the saying goes, "the good die young”.

Goodbye dear friend, yours was an exemplary life and we will miss you deeply but your memories will always linger.

May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

By M. Agalawatta

A true Buddhist she loved all beings

Ranee Gomes

In the Samyutta Nikaye, it is stated,
“All creatures have to die. Life is but death,
And they shall fare according to their deeds,
Finding the fruit of merit and misdeeds;
infernal realms because of evil works,
Blissful rebirth for meritorious acts”

On May 15, I saw smoke emit from the tall crematorium chimney at the General Cemetery, Borella. I was then reminded of the above verse. A vast gathering of relations and friends, the rich and the poor, the educated and the not so educated had gathered there to pay their respects to the noble lady of Fifth Lane, Kollupitiya, who had at the ripe age of 84 years passed away the day before.

Ranee Gomes (nee Wijewardene), wife of the late George Gomes, and a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. D.R. Wijewardene, had, to use the Christian phrase, "passed through the pearly gates to Heaven”.

It was my good fortune to be associated with her and her family in numerous ways, for over three decades, during which span of friendship we enjoyed each other’s company. As Chairperson of the age-old A.B. Gomes Trust, a Buddhist charity, she for several years guided me as the Trust Secretary to investigate and prudently donate funds for deserving Buddhist charities.

Something that always touched her heart dearly was caring for animals and pets. In fact, about 70 years earlier, there was a group of Colombo ladies who called themselves the “Dumb Friends League”, and two of the most active of them were the mother of Ranee Gomes and Lady A.E. de Silva. Ranee followed the footsteps of her mother. Annual donations to the Animal Welfare and Protection Society were made by the Gomes Trust, and also in her personal capacity.

She wouldn’t sit down at the table each morning to enjoy her breakfast without doing a “small tour” of her large and beautiful garden, to personally feed the dogs, the cats, the fish in the garden pond, the squirrels and the birds.

Ranee Gomes was always full of life and laughter. She was a good housewife and mother of three - Janaki Wijewardene, Rajitha Gomes and Shalini Hurulle. She had a large number of grandchildren who entertained her.

One day, I happened to enquire what she recalled as the happiest events of her life. She recalled her grandmother, the devout Buddhist and philanthropist of Sedawatte, Helena Wijewardene offering to the Buddha Sasana and the Buddhists of the world, the new Viharage - she built at the historic Kelani Raja Maha Vihare, where wall murals of Solias Mendis are to be seen. Incidentally, it would interest readers to learn that Solias Mendis, stood on scaffoldings for 18 years to complete his master work.

Another event that took pride of place in her life was when as a schoolgirl though being a Buddhist, she was appointed the Head Girl of Bishop’s College- a Christian institution. She was the first Buddhist to hold that office.

Ranee Gomes was the benefactor of the Wehergodella ancient temple at Sedawatte, the Gangaramaya in Colombo and the Potgul Vihare in Heenetiyana Minuwangoda.

After a brief illness she passed away on May 14.

Those who were dear to her know well what the Dhammapada states:

“Those who take refuge in the Buddha
Shall not go to the woeful doom.
After casting human life away
They will fill the world of heaven”

By Upali Salgado

Sunday Times May 13 2007

She kept everyone’s spirits alive

Rohani Jalil Abdeen (Doris)

Rohani Jalil Abdeen (Doris), former senior teacher of Bishop's College, Colombo, wife of Inthara Abdeen (Retired Asst. Superintendent of Police) passed away peacefully at the age of 56 on March 20 this year. The burial took place at Mabola Muslim burial ground, amidst a large gathering of relatives and friends.

In the past two years, when faced with a terminal disease, she proved her true courage and inner strength. She wanted to perform Haj next year. "That year" did not dawn. She leaves behind her children, Ishaq, Ishan, Ameena, grandsons Juward and Umar. The loss inflicted on her two daughters'-in-law, both Rehana’s and son-in-law Zaharan will be too deep to recover from. The memories she left behind are still fresh in the minds of her dutiful husband, dearly loved children, and the many loved ones who were too close to her.

She cared for her husband tenderly with a love full of meaning. Likewise, Inthara was close to her day and night, attending to her needs. She was never known to speak ill of another. Her College staff and students, friends, neighbours and relations will miss her radiant smile and laughter. She lectured in English and Economics to Chartered Accountants. An unassuming and cheerful lady, she always kept her family in the best of spirits. We are deeply grieved by her loss.

You are in our prayers Doris. You preserved the family harmony, unity and tranquility. Your friends were many, enemies none. The Janaza prayers spoke it all! We are indeed proud of you and we miss you Mama.

By Rehana Abdeen & B.I. Packeerally

A down to earth managing director

A.K. Nesaratnam

A.K.Nesaratnam known among his close friends as either "Nes" or AKN passed away at a private hospital during the first week of January this year at the age of 87, after a brief illness. I had the good fortune to work for him as his secretary for a brief period in the early eighties when he was the managing director of the Siedles Group of Companies.

Mr. Nesaratnam worked as a Superintendent of Audit in the Auditor General's Department which post he gave up on the language issue. He later became a live wire in the Siedles Group of Companies having held the post of Managing Director of the Group. Working close to him as his Secretary I observed that he had the least regard for caste, creed or colour. The many ex-public servants like me who found employment at the Siedles through him were more Sinhalese than others. As M.D. at the Siedles Group he moved with the big wigs of the private sector but was a down to earth person with a socialistic outlook in life.

Mr. Nesaratnam was a virtuous gentleman to his fingertips. He was a devotee of Sri Satya Sai Baba and was responsible for organising a branch organization of Sai devotees in Sri Lanka.

May he attain Moksha!

By V.K. Wijeratna

Law, politics and sports were all up his sleeve

C.R. Dias Desinghe

The recent demise of C.R. Dias Desinghe, better known as Chitty to his friends and colleagues was a great shock to me. My acquaintance with him dates to the 1950s. He belonged to a family of lawyers. His father Edmend Dias Desinghe and his two brothers Raja and Keerthi were all lawyers practising at the Kandy Bar. At that time it would have been a rare occurrence for four members of the same family to practise at the same Bar.

I am indebted to the Dias Desinghe’s for the support they gave me in my legal and political career. I recall with gratitude when I first contested Parliamentary Elections in July 1960, it was Chitty’s father Edmend Dias Desinghe who proposed my name as the SLFP candidate for the Senkadagala seat. He gave me all the moral support in my election campaign.

Chitty from the outset of his legal career showed signs of becoming a leading lawyer. As an advocate in addressing Court he was articulate and his eloquence could not be matched easily by his colleagues. He was one who was devoted to his profession and always worked hard for his clients. Hence he won the confidence of his clients and the respect of the Judges. I may not be wrong in stating that by the mid 1960s and the ’70s he had become a leading advocate. He not only had a lucrative practice in Kandy but was also sought highly in other outstation courts like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Kuliyapitiya, Gampola, Nuwara Eliya, Kurunegala etc. Apart from his active legal practice he was a keen tennis player at the Kandy Garden Club. He also excelled in Billiards and Snooker at the Club. He was the Vice President of the Club for a long time and later served as a trustee.

In the late 1970s Chitty got involved in politics. He was a strong campaigner for the UNP in the 1977 elections. The then Prime Minister J.R. Jayewardene appointed him as the Sri Lanka Ambassador to China in recognition of his capabilities and services. After he completed his term of office in China, he was appointed as High Commissioner to Malaysia. In both capacities he rendered yeoman service to his country.

On his return to Sri Lanka he served as chairman of several corporations – Leather and Mineral Sands. Subsequently in the late 1980s he resigned from these posts and contested the Central Provincial Council elections. He was elected as a member of the Kandy District in which capacity he served for nearly five years.

Chitty was married to Ratna Devi, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Don Peiris Weerasinghe of Nugegoda. He was blessed with a daughter and three sons.

May I convey my condolences to all his children.

May he attain Nibbana.

By Shelton Ranaraja

A statesmanlike judge who endeared himself to all

Justice P. Ramanathan

It was, I believe, 1993. The occasion was the Conference of the Chief Justices of the countries in the Asia Pacific region in Colombo and I was representing my Chief Justice. As soon as I, accompanied by my wife, entered the Colombo Airport on my arrival from India I was met by a tall, handsome person with a smiling face and friendly eyes.

As I learnt soon after, the imposing personality with the winning smile was none other than Justice Ramanathan, then a judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. It was a friendship at first sight and we became friends forever. To our added delight we met Mano his endearing and ever-caring wife, during our first dinner hosted by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The couple, devoted to each other, made a lasting impression on us.

As days passed, many facets of Justice Ramanathan's personality started unfolding. Although never in politics, he had a clear grasp of the political situation in the country and also in the world. He didn’t mince his words when expressing views on both and showed rare understanding and perception, in the analysis of the social, political and economic forces at work. His keen intellect and wide learning were manifest in the discussion on various issues, and he expressed his views emphatically though non-offensively. With all his attainments he was unassuming, courteous and respectful towards others and his suavity never left him, even for a moment, although the topics under discussion were controversial.

As a judge, he acquitted himself with distinction with statesmanlike handling of the cases before him, and endeared himself both to the Bar and the litigants. In my sojourns in Sri Lanka, I never heard any criticism of his judicial work. He was as popular in the social circles as in the legal world. His broad outlook, helpful attitude, friendly gestures and sportsmanlike spirit, which all came to him naturally helped him not only to become a popular judge but also a popular man.

The prestigious positions which he occupied outside his judicial career, only cast lustre on his many faceted personality-whether it was the governorship of the Western Province, the Chancellorship of the Uva Wellessa university or membership of the Permanent Council of arbitration at Hague. No wonder, the country honoured such a personality with the country's highest award Deshamanya.

Such persons are rare in any society. When people like us, his friends abroad, feel so much acute loss on his sudden and untimely departure from amongst us, it is not possible to guess the grief his countrymen must have suffered, when he took leave of them quietly and without warning. And how can we console his ever energetic wife Mano who always stood by his side like a rock, ever caring and ever inspiring him in all his trials and tribulations.

By P.B. Sawant Former Judge, Supreme Court of India

Sunday Times May 6 2007

A glittering personality he touched us all

Sinnathurai Kanagaratnam

Jaffna recently had to bid goodbye to one of her illustrious elder citizens Mr. Kanagaratnam known to one and all as ‘Pappaa’. He was a gem of a man as his name verily means, a glittering personality and had been with us for years far exceeding the biblical span allotted to man.

He had his early education at St. John’s College, Jaffna, before entering the Sri Lanka Law College. At St. John’s College he was an outstanding student, where he imbibed the noble quality of modesty.

This together with an innate desire to serve his people and friends, provided him with the base for success in the legal profession. Later he served as President of the St. John's College Old Boys’ Association for few years.

When St. John’s was in dire need to meet the pay of their staff during the takeover of schools, he rose to the occasion and reached out to his alma mater.

As an attorney-at-law, notary public, justice of the peace, unofficial magistrate and district coroner his tireless application to duty as a lawyer brought him success and recognition. He had the rare distinction of having been appointed as State Attorney within a decade of his entry to the Bar. His services were sought after by the Bank of Ceylon, Hatton National Bank and all the state corporations and departments that had offices in Jaffna.

He had a lucrative civil practice too. A few years ago, he celebrated 50 years at the Bar, a rare distinction. He also served as the Secretary of the Prisoners’ Welfare Association for more than 25 years.

Besides his professional duties at the Bar he was a long time Rotarian and past president of the organization. The spirit of service of reaching out to the community at large inculcated in him by the Rotary movement further enhanced his desire to help those in need.

He was the founder President of the Divine Life Society and a popular Chairman of the Northern Province Transport Board for many years. In short, he was a sincere advocate of all worthy causes. He had a rich voice, and enjoyed leading spiritual bajans at religious gatherings and festivities.

To his children, we offer our heartfelt sympathy and join them in their prayers for the Moksha of his soul in eternal glory.

By V.T.Sivalingam

Genuine human being with no hang-ups

Lucky De Silva

We were friends since our teens and with many fond memories of the life we had in Colombo, we went our separate ways seeking a better future.

The distance between us never did matter as we kept in touch over the years. Rohan Jinadasa had a reunion at the SSC in Colombo in the summer of 2005 and even though we had not seen each other for a few years, we met again, hugged and greeted each other as if time had stood still since we had been together before.

Words cannot describe the mutual respect and love we had for each other and how Lucky shared the same with all his friends. Rohan’s apartment was our base and for Lucky, whenever he came back from London or LA, that was his second home. He never moved away from the friendships that were established three decades ago.

Lucky was at the Seaview Hotel many years ago after which he joined the Shipping Corporation and sailed for a few years. He returned to Sri Lanka and joined John Keells before leaving for Los Angeles, USA.

As a friend he gave strength and encouragement to all of us and never had a mean bone in him. I remember the day we discussed my plans to leave Sri Lanka and he gave me his wholehearted support and offered any help I needed. Lucky touched many people’s lives. There was no fanfare about what he did. He was a genuine human being with no hang ups or hidden agendas. What you saw was what you got.

Lucky spent time with us in our home in Colombo and shared the same room with me on occasions. On one of our late nights returning home on my scooter, we had an accident near the cemetery. Both of us were barred from riding scooters until my mother got over it. He was very much a part of my family and knew everyone very closely.

My mother made sure he was comfortable and felt at home when he stayed over. He became Uncle Lucky to my nephews. My neighbours got to know him and the children would call out his name as he passed down the lane. He was accepted like a permanent resident in our home and our neighbourhood.

Looking back, we were lucky to be associated with Lucky. He was a wonderful human being. Anyone who met him took an instant liking to him.

Lucky moved to Los Angeles, made a great life for himself and married Dawn . They were blessed with two loving children, Dillon and Lorraine. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Lucky’s wife, children, his mother, sisters and younger brother. We will sorely miss him.

By Sri-shantha Malalgoda

A melodious entertainer

Manel Wirasinha

Though I knew Aunty Manel only as my dear piano teacher since 1982, my family’s connection with her family went back as far as the 1960s. Shelton and Manel Wirasinha had become close friends of ours at the time when my grandfather was the Government Agent, Galle and Uncle Shelton, the Principal, Richmond College.

I recall my grandmother fondly reminiscing about the numerous parties that she and Aunty Manel organised at the G.A.’s residence; and this is one of the many images that I associated with Aunty Manel even during the more recent past. She loved to entertain her favourite family and friends with the most exotic of dinners, particularly on her birthday and Christmas.

The memory of her as the centre of attention whilst she sat in the living room in her Nawala home, always well-groomed and adorning an elegant saree with a necklace of beads to match remains etched in my mind. All the guests who surrounded her in fun and laughter then, share my memories in sadness now and would surely agree that she was one unique personality – for Aunty Manel certainly had character.

However, Aunty Manel’s outwardly vibrant personality was accompanied by a genuinely in-depth love of two things: her family and her music. I believe her marriage brought together two opposites in harmony. Uncle Shelton was the typical classics scholar, calm and reserved, while Aunty Manel was the typical musician, passionate and fun-loving – yet, their commonality was the gift of teaching. He is still held in high esteem for having been a wonderful school teacher and principal and she has produced a number of accomplished pianists.

There is no greater vocation than that of a dedicated and committed teacher, and Aunty Manel was such a person. I will admit without an iota of hesitation that most of my musical achievements to this day have been entirely due to her. Whenever I won an award, my mother would say 90% of the credit was Aunty Manel’s, and it was absolutely true. She made me pursue more than one instrument, she made practising a pleasure. A natural talent I may have had, but healthy sense of competition and perfection to develop that talent and bring out the best in myself, she gave to me. For this loving gift, I am forever indebted to Aunty Manel. I am certain many of her pupils have the same sense of appreciation.

Sometimes from hilarious stories to delicious home-made goodies from the kitchen were also dished out at her music lessons. Students and parents alike enjoyed these afternoons. She openly voiced her likes and dislikes with perhaps a surprising frankness, but her honesty and kindness are to be remembered more. For it was not just in her teaching of music that Aunty Manel extended herself to others. She enjoyed visiting people, reaching out to those who were sick, and often, her Elephant House account would be spent mostly on gifts for others.

The most precious persons in Aunty Manel’s life were who she referred to as “my Shelton” and “my Dushy-girl”. She spoke of both with great pride, and most deservingly so. On April 22, 2007, she left one of them only to join the other, so there should not be much reason for regret. To the end, she had the love and care of her daughter and son-in-law as they looked after their beloved “mumsy”.

To the end, she had a faithful and loyal aide to assist her. She led a full life as well as a life full of life. In the language of music, her life was filled with exciting movements, vivace con fuoco, and she peacefully passed away on a pianissimo note. A quiet and dignified finale everyone wishes for. She rarely spoke to anyone towards the end, but was extremely happy to see me whenever I visited her – she would repeatedly kiss my hand and say “I love you”. I love you too, Aunty Manel. And I hope that just as you were always surrounded by music in this earthly life, heavenly music will continue the accompaniment in your eternal life.

With immense gratitude and fondness.

By Avanti

Sunday Times April 29 2007

Olga Elaine De Valliere

Only whirling mists of emptiness remain

An ode to the love of a sister.....!

Olga Elaine De Valliere

Into existence in an arid land, beyond the realms of death
Midst this miasmic fog they call life
Where the tentacles of self righteousness reach out
Darkly - with their touch of clammy death
In a world where love unfeigned has ceased to exist
In a world where your voice, your life, your love
Have eternally been stilled
Where my heart, my spirit, will reach out to embrace whirling mists of emptiness
Where my ears ne’er will hear again your voice - And the heart grieves -
Into this irreversible abyss sculptured into the spirit by death
A sister loved more than words can utter… has consigned me, ABANDONED....
And I know, herself, not without grieving, her aching heart knew
She’d not see me again fore’ it wrestled in agonizing pain against that final stillness
To beat again… but beat no more and drown into death’s ghoulish depths!
All’s over, all’s spent, all’s suddenly, frighteningly silent
And if in that eerie and empty loneliness,
Bereft of your love, your voice, your blessed unforgettably loving and tender touch
One happens to hear me sing… listen well for the smothered notes of plaintive melody
Lilting yet painfully linked by parenthesis of grief – some call them heartbeats
Turning melody into dirge that would go on sounding.... while the unseen tears
Invisible spears of pain, will trust relentlessly after each bow
For unbidden, inexorably erupt memories
Of laughter that was – once, ages ago it seems
Shared – that warm embrace on a birthday – the ever unfailing gift
From your heart so unfeigned and ne’er a shade of guile
Speak then if you will just once more.... Yea
Though my heart will rejoice and yet grieve.
Death? in the depths of whispering memories – an eternal flame!
No warmth in the loneliness of a cold night
Lo! What warmth ever came out of ashes in a cold urn....
My sister, an urn of memories underscoring life’s sordid travesties
Cause unbidden tears to sting behind night’s curtain of darkness
Or blur the beauty of a bright and pregnant dawn
With the vision of your achingly loved face
Memories of that sweetest of gentle smiles
Wreathed in love unfeigned, Always giving, giving
But we shared a secret pain that a world of sham
Knew not of its existence – its agonizing foreknowledge, fear?
That fate’s ugly hands would prevail
And so I could not be there to comfort nor strengthen you when you needed it most
But you knew.... and it might have been as painful for you as it was for me
And I wonder, did you hear my heart cry out as the blurring tears smothered
My heart’s goodbye to you, as it whispered “Thank you” for giving
So much.... always, at all times
Till you could give no more…

By Winston


Sunday Times April 22 2007

Amma, guide us from heaven and help us

Freda Fernando

By Sunil Fernando

It has been three years since she left us, and “went home” to the Lord. However, memories of the exemplary life she led in this world still remain vivid in my mind and in the minds of my two sisters.

Amma was an exceptionally good person, the type one cannot easily find, especially in today’s world. Though of quiet disposition, Amma radiated much love and affection to her family, relations and many friends. She possessed so much courage that my Thaththa on his death bed had told her, “I am not afraid to die, because I know you have courage”. Rarely did we see Amma losing her temper or in a “bad mood”.

As small children, my two younger sisters, Savithri, Nilmani, and I had an immense amount of love from Amma in every aspect of our lives. Amma saw us through our education, giving the best possible assistance and guidance always.

Even after the untimely demise of our Thaththa at the relatively young age of 45, Amma always did her best to keep us happy and content.

Circumstances compelling her to take up a teaching position in the Montessori of the Good Shepherd Convent in Kandy, Amma looked after all our needs. Apart from ensuring that we did our studies in a proper manner, she even encouraged us in furthering our talents, interests in life.

In particular, Amma encouraged me in my intense interest in music. She bought me a set of drums so that I could join a band in Kandy. Amma also encouraged both my sisters to follow the AMI Montessori Course which eventually enabled them to go to the USA for lucrative employment. The sacrifices she would have made to make all this possible for the three of us would have been immense.

Amma was a popular teacher in the Montessori class at Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy. She made many friends at the Sacred Heart Church at Katugastota as well as in the Curisillo Movement in which she was an active member. She was a loving and caring aunt to all her nephews and nieces, a great mother-in-law and a much loved and adored grand-mother. Amma was also a very loving sister to her late brother Selvin and sister Merlin and to her only surviving sister Lilian, at whose home she stayed whenever she came to Colombo from Kandy.

Amma was generous and always looked into ways and means of helping anyone in whatever manner possible, and this made her a happy human being, knowing that she had indeed made someone else’s life a little brighter and their life’s burdens lighter.

During our visits to Kandy after we were married, Amma always sent us back to Colombo, loaded with many gifts. Opening her cupboard, she always found something to be given to us and to others as well, which included the poor.

To all those who sought Amma’s guidance and advice in life, she was always available. I am aware that Amma’s advice has healed many a broken heart and eased many a troubled mind.

Amma was a devout Roman Catholic, giving priority always to God and to the church. Even on the eve of her sudden death, she had heard mass at the Sacred Heart Church in Katugastota.

I am confident that Amma is now with our Lord, her Maker, happy and content that she has found everlasting peace and rest in His presence.

We still miss and love you very much, Amma! Our only prayer is, “Please guide us from heaven and help us to always live the kind of life you lived on earth, because that will be the best tribute we, your three children could ever give you.”

A true patriot of Sri Lanka

Dr. Frank Perera

It is with sadness I write these words in memoriam for Dr. Frank Perera who was a mentor and colleague in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and above all a leader. Although we mourn his passing away, there is much to celebrate about his life.

Dr. Perera was a pioneer in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Sri Lanka. He trained at Guys Hospital in Britain and later at the Mayo Clinic in USA. He brought many ideas and a vision to help this new specialty take root in Sri Lanka.

In addition to his position as Physician-in- Charge DPM, he was also appointed to head a committee to lay the foundation for education of Physiotherapy in Sri Lanka. Dr. Perera was the founder of the School of Physiotherapy. We all can proudly say that here was a man who was dedicated to developing Rehabilitation Medicine in Sri Lanka and he went on to do so.

The Department of Physical Medicine in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s was a model department. The physical plant was well maintained, the equipment was of the highest quality, and the care given was without a doubt outstanding. The rich and the poor all came to our department and they were very well cared for. He maintained very high standards and expected the same from his residents, physiotherapists and the students.

I met with him many times when he visited his sister Phyllis in New York, as he also spent time with me in Chicago. He was invited to speak at my University on Rehabilitation Medicine in Sri Lanka, and he did an outstanding job at that meeting. Later that evening we were invited to dinner with many dignitaries at the University and the Medical Centre. I vividly remember that he was encouraged to apply for the position of Chairman of Physical Medicine at our University by the University President. In his low key manner he politely turned it down on the grounds that he had so much to do in Sri Lanka. He surely was a patriot.

The highlight of his career was when he was appointed the first president of the Asian Pacific League of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The confidence placed in him was further demonstrated by the request made by Dr. Sidney Licht of the World Council of Physiatrists to convene the First Annual Conference of the Asian Pacific League of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Colombo in 1970. He made sure every facet of the conference worked in unison. The scientific sessions were enormously successful. We had specialists of all types from all over the world presenting papers. Events were equally well orchestrated and the finale was a dinner dance held in Negombo where everyone who attended had a grand time.

He spent his later years more or less in solitude spending time with only the closest of his friends. While on his daily walks he would give professional advice to the poor people needing medical help. He was a generous man who helped the needy in his own way.

By Dr. Kumarlal Fernando

His life was a saga of dedication and sacrifice

Srian Perera

Srian’s family, friends and associates commemorated his fifth death anniversary on March 16, for it was on this day five years ago that Srian answered his summons of fate just after completing his customary exercises at a gym in England like a true sportsman which he has always been.

His untimely demise plunged all who knew him into a state of shock and misery. Srian with his brothers entered the hallowed portals of that premier Catholic educational institution St. Joseph’s College Colombo and excelled as a brilliant athlete whose splendid sprinting, an epitome of style and grace had to be seen to be believed. In 1961, Srian established two Public School records in his pet events, the sprints, which have remained intact ever since. In fact, he became the first Sri Lankan Schoolboy Athlete Under 16 years of age to cover the furlong under 24 seconds. He capped his colourful athletic career by captaining both junior and senior teams and ushered in, a golden era for St. Joseph’s in athletics.

In memory of a person who was recognized as an outstanding sportsman in his heyday, his family, friends and Old Joes Associations have created the “Srian Perera Memorial Fund for Sports” to encourage future generations at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. It is indeed heartening to note that this Trust Fund had topped the Rupees one million mark in the year of inauguration itself.

As a working planter too, he established a healthy rapport with his colleagues in planting and became the branch-chairman of the Ceylon Planters’ Society in Nuwara-Eliya and was once the president of a prestigious Planters’ Club in the central hills.

He was also appointed as a Superintendent of Police in the Volunteer Force and became the manager of the Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation athletic team. However, with the winds of change that swept across the plantations following the nationalization of estates, Srian decided to seek greener pastures with the welfare of his young family foremost in his mind.

Srian was successful in obtaining his degree in Businsss Administration in UK ‘while keeping the home fires burning’ and was a much sought after consultant then.

Srian married Thilaka, a science graduate of the University of Colombo. She was a tower of strength to Srian throughout his life. Srian considered the family as the heart of any civilization.

Srian showed sterling qualities of leadership. His life was indeed a saga of dedication and sacrifice and his achievements amply demonstrate his total commitment to a cause which he undertook with a profound sincerity of purpose. He has left an indelible mark creating a void that can never be filled.

As we commemorate his fifth death anniversary and celebrate his exemplary life, memories of him will linger on.

By Lalith

Salute to Royal’s Rugby ‘guru’

K.T. Thambapillai

On April 19, 1998, K.T. Thambapillai, the ‘Patron Saint’ of Royal rugby (1947-70) passed away. He was 88, still fit and agile. But in a cruel twist of fate he was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing by an errant bus driver.

In 1948 when Royal led by Ashy Cader with 14 freshers knocked the daylights out of Trinity to win the Bradby Shield, “Thamba” played a big role.

An Old Trinitian he served Royal for the right Royal reasons. 1998 was going to be a good year for Royal rugby celebrating its Golden Jubilee.

Mahes Rodrigo, a cricket and rugby legend from Royal and later for Sri Lanka had close ties with ‘Thamba’. He captained Royal in 1946.

“Bernard Anghie was the father of Royal rugby. Late Thambapillai continued his good work and helped Royal rugby to reach greater heights during his 25 years of dedicated service.

“I learnt much from him, on and off the field. He taught us that it costs nothing to live with honour and dignity. He firmly believed in what is right and stood by that principle.

“He taught us the simple things in life. For him the game and the school were indeed bigger than the individuals who played it,” said Mahes.

During that era Royal produced three of the best the game may have ever seen - Mahes Rodrigo, Geoff Weinman (a sports scribe who served the Times of Ceylon/Sunday Times) and Summa Navaratnam, a dazzling sprinter/ruggerite, a double international like Mahes.

From 1952, Royal never enjoyed a Bradby Shield victory. But with sheer determination ‘Thamba’ kept the Royal rugby flame flickering and in 1958 Royal won the Bradby under Dudley Fernando. With all humility ‘Thamba’ walked miles and miles, to give Royal rugby its rightful place.

The present hierarchy must revive his memory. His spirit will always remain in the hearts of those who came under his tutelage. As long as the Trinity-Royal Bradby Shield is played the late K.T. Thambapillai will be remembered.

By Bernie Wijesekera

Sunday Times April 22 2007The backbone of Sri Lanka’s physiotherapy is no more

Dr. Frank Perera

By Theera Fernando

Dr. J.E.F. Perera, popularly known as Dr. Frank Perera, was the physician-in-charge of the Department of Physical Medicine (General) of the General Hospital, Colombo from 1955 to 1977. The department was well maintained for the benefit of the patients and was considered as one of the best sections in the hospital.

He treated the rich and the poor alike and was always interested in maintaining standards to improve the quality of life of the patients.

He gave due respect to elderly patients. He would fondly address them as “Loku Unnahe”. His entire staff would then in turn follow his good sentiments in the same way.

He was the founder member of the School of Physiotherapy inaugurated in 1957. He was also the first Physician-in-Charge of the School of Physiotherapy.

He recognized the need to have a systematic training in physiotherapy to meet the country’s demands and undertook the task of organizing a physiotherapy course, which was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.

He was concerned about the welfare of his staff and established good relations with all. He even went before the Salary Anomalies Commission and successfully secured better remuneration for them.

Today, the physiotherapists who had the good fortune to have been his students and those who had the pleasure of working alongside him are engaged in successful careers in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia.

He held the post of President of the Asian Pacific League of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The first international assembly of this organization, held under his leadership in Colombo in 1970, was a great success.

Dr. Frank Perera is no more, but his good work and great ways will live on. The building of the school of Physiotherapy at 119, E.W. Perera Mawatha, Colombo 10, which he was totally responsible in getting the Department of Health to construct, stands as the monument that reminds us and future generations of his untiring efforts and his immense contribution to physiotherapy in Sri Lanka.

The School of Physiotherapy celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year and Dr. Frank Perera will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

On behalf of retired physiotherapists........!

To Earl Sir with love

E.N.S. Fernando

By Roger Wijesuriya

Earl Fernando, popularly known and affectionately referred to as ‘Earl Sir’, belonged to a breed of teachers who are fast dying out. He served St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa with great devotion, dedication and commitment as a teacher of English and science in the senior classes and as the Prefect of Games.

He was a teacher and man I will always remember with affection and gratitude. He was an all-rounder in every respect; not only teaching academic subjects and supervising activities on the sports field, but also instructing, inculcating and impressing on every one of us the principles of discipline.

A strict disciplinarian, he exerted his authority with firmness and gentleness, always conscious of the feelings of the individual.
We particularly enjoyed his English class, where he took great pains to teach the correct pronunciation and usage of what he always referred to as the ‘Queen’s English’. I remember one incident in the English class when he was having trouble with a particular student who did not seem to get it right. He finally in exasperation threw up his hands and shouted out, “Why can’t you get it right? You guys keep saying ball for bowl, and for bowl, you say ball.”

He was not the ‘specialist’, teacher of the type we have today who confines himself to the subject he teaches and the class room only. Earl Sir walked all over the school during the breaks and after classes interacting with students.

He also made it a point to keep in touch with our parents as most of us lived in Moratuwa. Earl Sir found the time to drop in occasionally at our homes.

He was laid to rest not far from the college and although we won’t see him out on the streets any longer, his spirit will be felt within the portals of the college he loved so much.

A birthday tribute to a loving mother

Florence Elaine Gunawardena

By Your ever sorrowing daughter

I remember everything about you, amma,
Your voice, your smile, your touch,
The way you walked, the way you talked,
The way you nurtured me, meant so much.
I remember the words of wisdom you said to me,
That I use on life’s roadway
All the things you did for me,
I remember them on your birthday

You are gone from me now,
But one they can't take away,
Your memory resides inside my heart,
And lights up my darkest days...

Sunday Times Apr 15 2007

A wonderful mother who did so much

Winnie Roslyn Samaranayake

By Preethi

It is 23 years since my mother passed away and today April 15 is her 85th birth anniversary. As time passes we begin to realize her value more and more. She had diabetes and hypertension and passed away peacefully on February 25, 1984, from a severe stroke.

She had taught at Christ Church Girls College, Baddegama where she had studied but had given up because my father wanted a housewife. She was good at drawing, art, handwork and sewing. She used to sew dresses for all of us and my father was very proud of her. She did a lot of hand embroidery too.

She used to plant vegetables in the back garden and flowers in the front garden. She had planted lime and even pepper. I can remember we got prizes for the best kept home garden for a few consecutive years when we were in Galle. All this was done in a rented house.

She used to make delicious meals for us. Some of my cousins still talk about the tasty dishes she used to make. Whoever came to the house was never sent away without being given even a simple meal.

I am the eldest of four daughters. She helped me a lot when I was leaving the country in 1973. When I had my two sons she helped in the confinements and also when they were born she helped in every way she could because my husband could not be present as he was working abroad at that time.

Now my sons are grown up and we realize more and more the value of my mother. Both my sons are doing quite well in life and are exemplary citizens of the world.

She was a true Christian. My father was from a Buddhist family. My mother attended to all the Buddhist activities although she was a Christian.My father took her to church for Easter and Christmas. She won the hearts of all the maternal and paternal relations. I think this was due to her extra kindness.

As my father was a teacher we lived mainly in rural areas where a majority of the people were Buddhists. My mother helped many needy people in any way she could. She helped the neighbours in numerous ways. This was witnessed by the large gathering that came for her funeral.

She lived the life of a good Hindu

Thilagawathy Kandasamy

By Thunnaalai S.A. Masilamany

Thunnalai Ponnamthoddam Thilagawathy Kandasamy died on March 13, this year at the age of 82 due to a terminal illness.

She hailed from a respectable family from Thunnalai Vadamardchi. Born as the sixth of ten children of Mr. and Mrs. Sellammah Arumugam, she was sent to Thunnalai Mission School and later to Kasinather Vidyalayam for her education.

During this time Cupid wanted her to seize the hands of S.S. Kandasamy, a talented Government servant belonging to the Poet Ramanather family of Thunnalai. They married in Jaffna in Thunnalai Ponnamthoddam walawu and shifted to Colombo and were blessed with three sons and four daughters. The sons were educated at Hartley College, Point Pedro and the daughters at Vada Hindu Girls College and Methodist Girls’ High College, Point Pedro.

Mrs. Thilagawathy lived a practical life of Hinduism. She was a devoted wife, beloved mother, affectionate sister, dutiful daughter, sincere friend and neighbour to those who embraced Hinduism and to other God-fearing people. She contributed educated children to Sri Lanka and made a noble contribution to Hinduism in practice.

She was loved and looked after by her children. Two affectionate younger brothers who are left behind out of the ten children and who used to call her “sinnakka” miss her very much. May she reach the feet of Lord Shiva in heaven!

Happy Birthday Thaththiyo!

By Lakmali Livera Seneviratne

March 30 has always been a special day to us. It’s your birthday Thaththi. This was the first one you were not with us, to accept our wishes, hugs and kisses. I remember your last birthday; it was quiet, yet rich with memories.

Do you know how much we miss you Thaththi, your singing when you enter the house after work, your kisses to all of us before leaving to work? You would never leave the house without kissing all of us. Although your two grandchildren scream, laugh and play, the house is very quiet.

You gave us a lovely childhood, adventurous holidays, wild parties and cricket matches in Nuwara Eliya. As teenagers and adults you never denied us anything. You hardly did anything without Ammi’s consent. To you, we were your little kids who loved bacon and eggs and iced coffee. I always think of how you made us laugh, how you carried us on your back and crawled on the bed. I sing the same songs to my little children now. I remember how you used to sing whenever we went in the vehicle; I think it is your songs that have made us appreciate all the songs of the 70’s.

You never missed a single basketball match that akki and I played in. To you all the players were your daughters. Thaththi, all of them were there to wish you goodbye, they were there because none of them could forget the times we’ve had together.

You loved life and lived it. You were adventurous, made many friends, were always smartly dressed, even when you went for Dialysis. We enjoyed listening to your pranks in your youth. You always stood for justice. You enjoyed talking politics, especially the heated arguments the rival parties had. Did you know how frightened we were of losing you each time you fell ill, how much I prayed to keep you for my special occasions – my wedding, to take me down the aisle, the birth of your first grandchild, her first birthday. You looked forward to a grandson but you couldn’t wait for three days to see the grandson you liked to have. What more could I give you Thaththi other than name him John. I love you and I miss you so much!

Memories are the souvenirs that we cherish. The happy times, the love, laughter and joy, giving and sharing you taught us. May God keep you safe in heaven. It is the fact that you are with Him that keeps us happy and peaceful. Looking forward to the day that we meet again in heaven. God bless you my darling Thaththi.

A willing heart and a helping hand

Pearl Chandra Thamotheram

By V.R. Amarasingham

I first came to know Chandra when I married her sister, Christabelle, in 1959.

Her father, the late Rev. D.N. Muthiah, was a senior Methodist pastor who with his wife, Grace Chellammah, served in many parts of the island. Her brother, the late Rev. Dr. Kingsley Muthiah, was the president of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka.

Chandra, wife of late Jeyam Thamotharam, was the eldest in the family and she too played a vital role in the affairs of the Methodist Church. She was the superintendent of the Sunday School of Moor Road Methodist Church and was also in many organizing committees. After her retirement as an English trained teacher she taught at the Primary School of Methodist College, Kollupitiya.

She was versatile in many other activities. Having undergone a course in the teaching of English as a second language, she was always willing to give her expertise and knowledge to children who could not afford tuition fees. She was fluent in spoken Sinhalese and could interpret messages from English or Tamil.

She was the first Secretary of the NGO, Growing Old Gracefully, which later was registered by the Social Services Department as Ageing Gracefully. She had a willing heart and a helping hand. Her late youngest sister and brother-in-law, Rosemary and Gunaratnam were living with her for eight years in the mid 1990's. Her home was open to many from different religions and ethnic communities. There were many church committees, prayer groups and Ageing Gracefully committees that met in her home at Wellawatte.

Before I left Sri Lanka, I was one of the vice-patrons of the Colombo South Old Boys' Association of St. John's College, Jaffna. Her home was graciously opened for a number of get-togethers of this association.

All in all, she had many lovable qualities and good relationships that brought in a large circle of friends. Until a few months before her demise, she was able to meet her multifaceted responsibilities.

She leaves her loving daughter Olive, son-in-law Anton, and grandson Joshua; also the families of her sister Christabelle, brothers Wesley and Princely, and wives Tencey and Rohini, sister-in-law Grace Muttiah, and very many friends and relations who will miss her endearing qualities. We thank God for her life which is worthy of emulation.

Sunday Times Apr 8 2007

More than just an academic

V. Thanabalasingham

Retired teacher V. Thanabalasingham passed away in February this year. He served on the staff of Ananda College, Colombo from the early fifties to the mid-eighties. Before coming to Ananda he had been on the staff of Mahinda College, Galle and Sri Sumangala College, Panadura for a short period. He excelled as an English teacher. His work was appreciated by the principals. The students loved his teaching. He was a friend to the academic as well as non-academic staff.

As a student he had attended many schools in the north. Out of them his best remembered alma mater was Hindu College, Manipay. He came down to S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia to finish his secondary education. From there, he entered the University of Ceylon where he read for an English Special Degree. Prof. E.F.C. Ludowyke was one of his teachers, with whom he had life-long contact. He was one of the handful of English Honours graduates who selected teaching as a career.

In addition to classroom teaching he assisted the school in many ways. He was in-charge of magazines and touched up school reports, character certificates, drafted letters for the authorities and helped anybody who sought his assistance. He was an asset to the school. He cultivated the reading habit among his pupils. Long before John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Grapes of Wrath, his books were popular among Thanabalasingham’s pupils. He introduced his pupils to the works of such authors as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann, Andre Gide and William Saroyan. A comment he made about James Joyce is worth mentioning. “When many a present day book is no more, Ulysses will be still read, and read perhaps beyond the 3rd millennium.”

Thanabalasingham, the third in a family of four brothers was a bachelor. All four of them were socialists and at one time or other members of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. When the eldest brother V. Balasingham, a young graduate died in an accident when Thanbalasingham was a final- year student at the university, Barrister V. Karalasingham contested from the LSSP a number of times. His opponent was the Federal Party Leader himself. His younger brother was a teacher in Jaffna. All his brothers predeceased him.

Thanabalasingham was a frequent visitor to the Fort YMCA. He spent his leisure time there. May Thanabalasingham be happy and contented in his sojourn in Samasara.

By Salpitkoralage Gamini Dharmasena.

The values she inculcated will remain

Adelaide Weerakkody

It is three months since she left us, but her spirit is still present in our daily lives. We miss her presence and the conversations that were a source of inspiration and joy to all of us. She left an indelible legacy in our minds and hearts. She was our role model. Despite tremendous adversity, she prevailed to raise and care for her family. As we pass on these values to the next generation, we are thankful to her for inculcating them in us, in this ever changing world.

Although she is no longer with us, her spirit lives on and we find comfort in the thought that her soul is with God. We miss you, our darling Amma.

By Family members

He set enviable standards

Elmo Wickramasinghe

The more I reflect on the untimely death of my beloved cousin Elmo Wickramasinghe, the famous words of George Santayana, “Life is not a spectacle or a feast, it is a predicament and a mystery”, seem to be a truism.

Manel the inconsolable wife, Lidiya and Achala, the daughter and son cared for and loved Elmo dearly. Relatives, friends and colleagues at J.F.&I Printers admired and respected him so much that they are unable to accept Elmo’s death.

His cousins particularly admired Elmo. He was a role model especially to the young. He set enviable standards, morals and ethics for emulation.

When eight years ago I suffered serious injuries in a car accident and was bedridden for a long time he was of tremendous help to my parents and me. Elmo was a guide, philosopher and comforter when we were enveloped in darkness and despair.

He continuously reaffirmed our faith, imploring us to place our trust in the Almighty. To me he appeared to be a perfect human being with admirable qualities. His exemplary ethical conduct, integrity and high moral values left an indelible impression on all who associated with him.

A keen sportsman, he represented the college and Tamil Union at cricket and was a good athlete. Above all he was a sportsman with the fine qualities of sportsmanship which he radiated both on and off the field.

Despite his business involvements at J. F. &I Printers that he pursued with dedication and zeal he was essentially a family man. He was happiest at home with his wife whom he adored, and children whom he loved dearly. He was proud of them, not so much of their academic success but their qualities.

During the last few years his health was deteriorating and causing much anxiety to his loved ones. Even when tormented by illness he did not sulk, instead he learnt to turn towards the sunshine.

By Roshantha

Honesty was his hallmark

Al Haj Nizam Jabir

On April 5 we would have celebrated his 63rd birthday, however, Allah willed it otherwise, for He chose to take him to his own realm.

Al Haj Nizam Jabir was a mild-mannered man, though he had his principles and adhered to them. In his dealings with others, be they rich or poor, he was scrupulous. He saw to it that no one ever came back to his doorstep with even a whisper of a complaint, let alone a loud grumble. He showed love and respect to others and he got them back in full measure.

He was a gem-merchant who was generous, Honesty was his hallmark. He was so fair that there never was an instance when anyone was angry or upset over any transaction. We have lost our best advisor and precious father and grandfather. Mere words cannot sum up his love for all. However, the earth is no place for eternal life.

As the Quran says, “Kulli Nafsin Zahikathil Mouth”. It is that each must come face to face with death one day. Therefore, separation is only for a short time until we meet again in Jennathul Firdouse. Then we shall live together as one family there. Insha Allah! Ameen.

By Children and Grandchildren

Sunday Times Apr 1 2007

Those thrilling wild escapades and memories of Lyn

Lyn De Alwis

Every blade in the field
Every leaf in the forest
Lays down its life in its season
As beautifully as it was taken up

I find this a very apposite epitaph for my brother Lyn who from his young days was always engrossed and absorbed in the natural environment, and went on to dedicate his life to its management and conservation. As a fitting but rather belated tribute to such dedication, he was awarded the title of ‘Deshabandu’ by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, shortly before his death.

Lyn received an Honours Segree in Zoology at the University of Colombo and found a perfect fit in his first posting, in 1955, at the National Zoological Gardens at Dehiwela. He served with great distinction as the Director of this much-loved institution, from 1962-1985.

Lyn’s residence, while Director, was inside the Zoo and thus my children’s destination of choice whenever visits to relatives were planned. In fact, it was always a battle to take them back home; who could compete with a zoo as a playground and lion cubs as playmates! Each visit would be a learning experience and Lyn revelled in sharing his vast storehouse of animal lore with the kids.

Lyn’s excellent work at the National Zoo also brought him to the attention of Lee Kwan Yew who requested him to help with the design, planning and establishment of the Singapore Zoological Gardens in 1970. The then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, released him for two years so that he could oversee the construction of the zoo, while domiciled in Singapore.

Several years later, Lyn was invited to design and oversee the construction of the jewel in the crown of the Singapore Zoo, the world’s first Night Safari. It was indeed a proud moment for me when my family and I visited Lyn in Singapore and were not only escorted around the zoo by him but also got to meet with the Director of the Zoo who spoke with considerable respect and gratitude about the contributions made by Lyn to make their zoo a world class tourist attraction and educational centre.

Based on such outstanding work, Lyn was also invited to design and plan a zoo in Dubai but though he conducted a feasibility study, ill health prevented him from proceeding with the plans.

Lyn was also a greatly respected authority in the field of wildlife conservation, and particularly in the conservation of the Asian elephant. He not only established the first elephant breeding programme at Pinnawela but he also, as Director, Department of Wild Life Conservation (from 1965-1970 and 1977-1983), established several sanctuaries and national parks (including the Uda Walawe National Park), evolved the technique of elephant drives (where elephants threatening human habitations were driven into national parks), and set up a network of jungle corridors to ensure continuity of habitats and migration routes for elephants and other fauna

He was the Chairman, IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group for 10 years and was also made a Member of Honour of the World Wildlife Fund for his success in saving doomed herds of elephants from areas ear-marked for development. In this regard, I recall with admiration how he fought valiantly to save the Wasgamuwa National Park which was being encroached upon by the Mahaweli Authority. Lyn’s commitment to wildlife conservation was such that he was willing to withstand the ire of politicians and sacrifice the eminent positions to which he was elevated.

Some of my happiest moments have been spent in the wilds of Sri Lanka, with Lyn. I travelled with him several times on collecting trips for the Dehiwela zoo and had a ringside seat to watch the skill with which he and his men would capture birds, and snakes and small mammals. We once had an accident on the way back and many of these fine specimens escaped while I sustained an injury which had me laid up for over a month. Needless to say, this did not make either one of our wives very happy!

My family, along with members of my extended family, also had the privilege of accompanying Lyn on his circuits to the national parks, when he was the Director of Wildlife Conservation. We not only shared many exciting encounters with elephants, leopards and bear but also got to watch him at work - negotiating with Veddas and villagers regarding their traditional hunting and fishing rights, exchanging views with game guards and supervising the construction of yet another waterhole at Yala. My three daughters, as well as several nephews and nieces, credit these trips with fostering an abiding love for Sri Lanka’s wildlife and wildscapes which they have now passed on to their own children.

Lyn kept meticulous field notes and had a prodigious memory: he was not only an absolute wizard when it came to identifying bird calls and plants but could also recall the names and life histories of the huge staff he supervised in each national park as well as the Colombo office.

He was an excellent wildlife photographer and had a passion for orchids which he nurtured with the same love and attention he showered on his two children who have both followed in his footsteps in their own way: Chitran is a much sought after landscaper and Nirma is a skilled wildlife artist with elephants being her forte. In Lavo, of course, he could not have found a better mate and partner. She was not only his chief confidante, care giver and chauffeur but also a superb cook and an extremely talented craftswoman. She accompanied Lyn on many of his travels and survived encounters with tarantulas in her tent and black mambas in her bedroom with fortitude and humour.

Lyn was an accomplished musician and could play classical music as well as ‘oldies’ with equal aplomb. He was for many years the organist at our family parish, St Francis of Assisi, Mt Lavinia and did Indrani and me the great honour of playing at our wedding service. Every Christmas, he and Lavo would host a dinner which would end with him at the piano and the rest of the family around him lustily belting out carols till the wee hours. Sadly, that tradition has now been broken as Lyn has gone to his well earned rest in the nearer presence of the good Lord. The candles in our family are being snuffed out one by one… ave atque vale.. “hail, brother, farewell.”

By Gerald de Alwis

A renowned Buddhist is remembered

W.A.D. Ramanayake

The birth anniversary of Dr. W.A.D. Ramanayake JP, MMC falls today. He was an old boy of Ananda College, Colombo. An architect by profession he was a member of the Hunupitiya Ward of the Colombo Municipal Council for many years. As a token of appreciation the Municipal Council renamed Alston Place as W.A.D. Ramanayake Mawatha. He was a loving father and loving grandfather and as a granddaughter I loved him very much.

He was a devout Buddhist and was a member of the Dayaka Sabha of the Gangarama Temple. May he attain Nibbana!

By Surangani Seneviratne

A man who cared for many

Al-Haj Dr. M. Fouzy Mohamed

Al-Haj Dr. M. Fouzy Mohamed M.B.B.S, had the distinction of being the first Muslim medical practitioner from the Kalutara district to hold both Western M.B.B.S. and indigenous qualifications from abroad.

He was a native of Maradana, Beruwala, where the earliest Arab settlers first set foot. In later years he practised at Kaleel’s Nursing Home and at his dispensary at Dematagoda, Maradana. He was a resident of Wellawatta. Dr. Mohamed passed away on February 4, this year at the age of 72 years and his burial took place at the Dehiwala Jummah Mosque burial grounds, amidst a large gathering of relatives, friends and others.

He was born on 19.01.1935 and had his early education at Holy Cross College, Kalutara and then proceeded to Zahira College, Colombo for his secondary education.His greatest achievements are his children of whom three (two sons and a daughter) are medical practitioners in government hospitals. Further, he gave honorary counselling or advice to people who wanted to pursue professional higher education abroad.

He was the eldest son of the Al-Haj, A.L.M.P. Mohamed, a pioneer Muslim Inspector of Schools, who had motivated the educational growth of the Muslims in the south west and southern coastal belt during his tenure in office. Dr. Fouzy was a son-in-law of the late Mr. M.N.A. Jamaldeen of Kalutara and of late Mrs. Jezeema Jamaldeen of Veyangalle, Agalawatta.

He worked at government hospitals in Kalutara, Puttalam and did private practice in Matara, Kalutara, Kollupitiya and Beruwala. As he had many needs to fulfil, he took up an appointment as a medical officer in the Sultanate of Oman to work in state hospitals where he served for a considerable period. He returned to Sri Lanka and worked as a private practitioner thereafter.

I have associated with him since boyhood as we both hailed from the same town and were schoolmates at Zahira College, Colombo. Later, I too was selected to serve as an English teacher in a government school under the Ministry of Education in Oman. When I reached Oman I was grateful to find that my friend had been serving in Nizwa, a provincial city in Oman where I too was posted as a teacher. This made me renew my old contact, and we cherished each other’s friendship and brotherhood.

In addition to the Sri Lankan national languages he was able to communicate with the Arab patients in Arabic and with the Pakistani and Indian expatriates in Urdu and Hindi. He was very good at diagnosing diseases and as a result became popular with his patients. In Oman I had the opportunity to witness his linguistic ability. Even in Sri Lanka he was famous for his diagnostic ability and patients with various problems always sought his advice. He was always willing to help the poor and the downtrodden.
Finally, he had an ailment and was in hospital where he died after two days. He was a faithful husband to his wife Hajiyani Sithy Fareeda and a loving father to his children. His death is not only a loss to his family but to everyone who was connected to him.
May Allah grant him Jennathul Firdouse.

By A.S.M. Omar

The scent of a blossomed friendship

Lalitha Werapitiya

It was in the 1960s when I was writing a regular column in the ‘old’ Sunday Times about “Life with the Seven”, that I had an appreciative letter from an unknown reader in Udugama, who was herself the mother of nine children. We started a correspondence, comparing notes and sharing experiences.

She was married to a planter, Chitral Rodrigo, and they lived on a rubber estate called Stokesland Group.

One fine day, my pen-friend, Lalitha Rodrigo as she then was, arrived unannounced on my doorstep in Wellawatte, encompassing me with her brilliant smile and placing a lovely bouquet in my hand.

Our friendship flourished – it couldn’t do otherwise with a person as warm and loving as Lalitha. On my 25th wedding anniversary in 1971, she again descended on us in the estate jeep which was filled with flowers and foliage for us. At her invitation, we once spent a delightful weekend in the rambling old estate bungalow in Stokesland, where Lalitha and Chitral made us feel most welcome. (Only last week, my youngest daughter, in an e-mail sent from Adelaide, said she can still remember “thedelicious chocolate gateaux Auntie Lalitha gave us for dessert!”)

There was an exuberance about Lalitha, a zest for life and an open friendliness that endeared her, not only to our whole family, but to practically everyone who met her in our home, and that included my domestic aides too. Her lifestyle changed when Chitral died prematurely, but her spirit remained strong. And then, 9 months after Chitral’s death, her beloved eldest son, Devaka, was drowned in floods in Ratnapura in 1982. Shock and grief nearly overwhelmed her then. Recovery from this cruel blow took time, but eventually her naturally buoyant nature came to the fore again.

During the last 20 years, Lali’s visits to our home became more frequent and her company invariably gave us delight. I could always coax her to stay a day or two, unless she had some pressing business – which she often did, mostly with the Land Reform Office to which she went tirelessly over a long period in her largely successful efforts to reclaim for her children some of the lands that had been their father’s birthright.

In 1985, Lalitha married again, someone she had known for much of her life, Artie (M.B.) Werapitiya whose own wife had died several years earlier. My husband felt honoured when Lalitha asked him to sign as a witness at this marriage.

The couple settled down in Hantane, Kandy. The word “settle” can’t really be applied to Lalitha.

Despite her keen appreciation of the beauty of the hill country, she hankered for Colombo which gave easier access to her children and where her friends and her interests were.

She’s the only woman I know who would go alone (when she couldn’t find anyone to accompany her) to plays at the Wendt. She had a passionate love for the music of the human voice and she would go to any concert where a choir or group were giving a public performance.

When she was with anyone who could sing well, she would entreat that person to sing for her. My children smile at the recollection of Auntie Lalitha’s persistent requests to them to sing when she was around.

So many memories take over. Like her saying one morning, “Let’s go to the Coffee Shop at the Inter-Continental for a lark” and my acquiescing and our feeling like schoolgirls on a spree…… It so happened that we were both in the USA at the same time in 1989 – Lali with her son and wife in LA and my husband and I in New Jersey with our daughter and son-in-law. Lali called me and was overjoyed when I said we planned to fly out to LA in order to visit my husband’s sister in Corona, about 60 miles away. “I’ll meet you at the airport with my son,” she enthused, and the arrangement was made. Meet us she did, with the inevitable bouquet of flowers for me. We had a wonderful day together in Disney Land before we left LA and I found Lalitha’s excitement and her desire to take in everything, infectious, while Earle smiled at our childlike enthusiasm to which not even he was really immune. I have snapshots to remind me of that day. Lalitha and I often spoke of going to have a Pap Smear done for early detection of cancer. How I wish we had! Last year, my friend was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

I will never forget how she seemed to sail through it, undaunted. She even told me that the radiation therapy was “a breeze – so nice lying in that air-conditioned room!” Her spirits never faltered and we were all amazed. She seemed to be clear after the treatment and resumed her jaunts and her happy way of life. She never came empty-handed – always brought too many things that she thought I would like.

Her generosity knew no bounds.

In December last year, she mentioned severe pain in her spine and also in her chest. She was advised to have an MRI scan, but postponed it. She went to Kandy, asking me to buy tickets for some play by Indu Dharmasena at the Wendt, that she would be back for it and that we would have fun together. That never happened. She was suddenly overtaken by sickness. My son and I were privileged to bring her, sick and in pain, to her daughter’s place in Colombo on December 18. She entered a private hospital on December 22. When I went to see her, along with Truda, her friend from their days together at the Kundasale Girls’ Farm School in the 1940s, she was delighted. She couldn’t move without pain, so she lay on one side, smiling as always and looking charming in a pink nightdress and lipstick to match.

The next time that Truda and I went, she was much weaker, but insisted that we open the locker by her bed and rummage in it for a slab of chocolate hidden there – a big Toblerone. “I know you like Toblerone – let’s have a chocolate party.” She requested the nurse to give me a plate and knife and asked me to cut it up and pass it round to everyone in the room – her husband was there, and two nuns from the Galle Convent that Lalitha’s daughters had attended and two nurses. She beamed as we ate the chocolate.

But she was doomed. The MRI scan showed that the cancer had spread to her bones. Yet she gave no hint of her awareness of coming death, although she had told me much earlier on, “I am prepared – I have had my good times and good friends.”
She had a large coloured picture of Sai Baba above her bed.

That last time we saw `her, she even asked Truda to bring her the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies they had made all those years ago at Kundasale! All my children abroad called her on her bedside ‘phone and my son & family in Kandy sang to her in harmony. When my son Dilip who has a voice she greatly admired, telephoned her from Pennsylvania, she asked him whether he would tape some songs and send her. Dilip hurried to meet that last request and sent the parcel to me posthaste, but it arrived just too late for her to listen to it.

He had taped a farewell message when he concluded singing: “Dearest Auntie Lalitha, we wish we could fly there in person to see you, but since we can’t, we send you this tape. I want to thank you for your love, your support, and the joy you have given Amma & Thatha and all of us. You are a very special lady. We love you. We will never forget you.”

Lalitha so loved to hear voices raised in song, I like to think that flights of angels sang her to her rest.

By Anne

Sunday Times Mar 25 2007

He paid the penalty for his honesty and courage

Sujith Prasanna Perera

It was six years ago that the precious life of Sujith Prasanna Perera, Customs Officer was snuffed out senselessly by an assassin’s bullet.

This brave and courageous public servant acted according to the dictates of his conscience fighting valiantly against corruption.
Sujith was my neighbour at Kiribathgoda when I lived there before my retirement from public service. We became close friends more so as we came into constant contact in the sister Departments viz. Customs and Immigration. We shared our lives together at Katunayake and Ratmalana Airports and at the sea ports of Colombo harbour and Talaimannar (both Talaimannar and Ratmalana are out of commission now) on long hours of arduous and continuous duty with a sense of camaraderie.

I had heard that Sujith was a fearless investigator dedicated to and committed to his job. Yet among his colleagues and associates he was always softspoken and gentle. He was the embodiment of a perfect, serene human being.

His altruism and bonhomie brought him a host of friends. He was ever conscious of the less fortunate and often reached out to offer a helping hand. His life manifested a deeply felt attitude of concern and care for his fellow human beings.

I am personally aware that he was a live-wire of the Student Christian Movement through which he served humanity. He had helped those in dire circumstances financially and otherwise. I have also heard that he offered a house to a friend who was deprived of a dwelling.

Sujith had to pay the supreme penalty for being an honest and upright public servant attempting to complete the job that he was entrusted with. He was certainly a perfectionist. Recently, I came across an account of the particular case in Victor Ivan’s book titled “Queen of Deceit” wherein Sujith’s investigative prowess is highlighted. He had also seen the then Deputy Solicitor General and had been sent to the United States on an investigative mission to uncover a massive smuggling racket. He was zealously at it just before he was killed.

Sujith was a remarkable human being with sterling qualities and a superb detective, which is a rare combination. I shall always remember his hospitality whenever our families met.

Sujith’s young and innocent wife Angela and baby Ayesha are living under the care of Angela’s parents. We can only offer them our deepest sympathies and pray for their well-being. In the midst of life we are in death. Let us console ourselves and wish eternal rest to Sujith.

By Nanda Nanayakkara

A reservoir of legal knowledge, he shared it with all

Diyanesh Rajaratnam

Ten years have passed so fast since Diyanesh passed away in March 1997.

After having attended Wesley College and Thurstan College, Diyanesh took to law in the family tradition and passed out as an Attorney-at-Law. He was one of the first to successfully complete the MBA programme at the University of Colombo.The mundane business of making money however attracted him little. This led him to join the Employers Federation of Ceylon and specialize in labour law.

Diyanesh was also a great sportsman and excelled in rugger and cricket. He was also a cricket commentator during the latter years of his short life that ended in 1997 when he was 44 years.

Those who knew Diyanesh will agree that there was something exceptional about him. He had a remarkable mind and he read and wrote widely. He was a gifted draftsman and an accomplished advocate. New or intricate legal points interested him. His uncanny and profound knowledge of the law coupled with his ability to direct one to an authority from memory was unusual.

He did not parade his knowledge but humbly shared it with all who sought his advice. He was known for his humanity and particularly helping little people who needed help. Diyanesh's achievements speak for themselves and he brought an unparalleled degree of dignity, courtesy, fairness, candour and complete integrity to everything he did. His knowledge of the law was one matter. He could talk with authority on the classics, science, poetry, sports or whatever.

There is so much respect for Diyanesh's pursuit of perfection. He demanded so much from himself and instilled into all who surrounded him that great yearning for perfection.

I write about Diyanesh now as he deserves to be remembered. Diyanesh was a great man and was a role model par excellence.
"They who think that you are gone,
Because no more your face they see,
Are wrong, for in our hearts you live
And always will in memory".

Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Devarani and his two wonderful daughters Dashanya and Dhanushka.

By Suresh Muthulingam

Do not worry my love

K.P. Kulatunga

When the scourge descended
You laughed at its ferocity and death itself
And denied all fear of Mara
‘My only worry is not death but you,
your would-be-aloneness after
Two score and six, years of togetherness’ you said
‘The children I know will look after you but -
you paused.
Do not worry my love
The nest in the meda midula of which
You took such tender care is all agog
With new life and bird voice
And your grand-daughter Aanya is trying hard
To talk to them with words she still doesn’t quite command,
But soon she will.
Migara the master of many words
Says “Where is Seeya? Why you put him in box?
Four-year-old Elsa in NY says she has a problem
That Achchi is all alone in S.L. house
Your eldest grandson Ashan and grand-daughter Shenali
In their lofty child maturity say, “We never thought
Seeya would die so soon’ tearfully.
Poor things
They know not that all conditioned things
Are impermanent and unsatisfactory.
May your sojourn in Samsara be happy and short till you find the deathless state.

By Sita Kulatunga

Sunday Times Mar 18 2007

Generous to a fault, entertainment was her forte

Swineetha de Alwis

‘Swiftly the years beyond recall....’

Swineetha de Alwis was a role model of a devoted wife and caring mother, dedicated teacher and indefatigable social worker. She was a tower of strength to Neville when he was the Warden of S. Thomas’ College for 15 years. While Neville was totally immersed in College - urging students towards academic excellence and sporting brilliance, which he also supported through a variety of infrastructural and technological developments - Swini quietly but efficiently managed the home front while also continuing her teaching career and philanthropic projects. She always reminded me of Catullus’ dictum: dulce ridentem (sweetly smiling) dulce loquentem (sweetly speaking).

Swineetha was in her element, as it were, where entertainment was concerned. She was always ready with a huge table spread with home-cooked food be the guests, hungry choristers after their annual Carol Service, ravenous members of the First Eleven Cricket Team (the latter particularly looked forward to the sumptuous breakfast which Swini provided on all three days of the Royal-Thomian match) or impoverished former servants and their kin who would descend en masse during various festive occasions. The December 31st dinner she would host with Neville was legendary in the family as well as in the neighbourhood as the guest list kept growing every year to include all those they befriended. What began as an intimate family gathering was expanded to include their friends, students, parents of students, tenants, and employees. I even recall the present President and his wife gracing the celebrations, long before he reached such high office.

Swineetha was also an artist par excellence and her work adorns the homes of many both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. She hand painted the outfits of her bridal entourage and also transformed the interiors of the old family walauwa, Gladswill, by painting unusual designs on the walls, when she moved in. She taught art in many schools including Girls’ High School, Mount Lavinia, Royal College and St Bridget’s Convent and later went on to found her own art school.

The popularity of her classes grew in leaps and bounds; even senior citizens joined to mingle with the youngsters. She encouraged her students to exhibit their work regularly and her Little Hands on Canvas exhibitions at the Lionel Wendt soon became an annual event. The funds collected from the sale of the students’ art work would be used to support charitable causes in which the students also participated.

Her most recent foray into the field of education was the Rising Stars Montessori which was housed in the re-modeled old walauwa with its high, airy ceilings and spacious garden. What originally began with five students now has over 100 with an equally long waiting list; yet another example of the level of excellence that Swini achieved in whatever she would set out to do.
Swineetha was generous to a fault; her relatives, neighbours, friends and employees speak volumes of her kindness. She even suffered fools gladly and was prey to every sob story in the book! Many a time she reminded me of my mother who could never turn away anyone in need, whatever their class or calling. They both epitomized the ‘Good Samaritan’.

Swineetha had indomitable courage and refused to be beaten by the cancer which attacked her at several stages in her life. Despite being wracked with debilitating pain, excruciating headaches and nausea, she would astonish us by stubbornly continuing to paint, oversee the running of her Montessori and take care of elderly relatives. It is heartening to see that her two children, Nimantha and Surani, follow in her footsteps today. Nimantha, a doctor, administering to the sick with a similar compassion and commitment and Surani, taking on the running of the Montessori with that quiet efficiency and thoughtfulness we had come to so admire in Swineetha. May the good Lord bless her and keep her in His presence.

By Gerald de Alwis

He graced our history and our lives

Rudra Rajasingham

Last year around this time, Mr. Rajasingham the former Inspector General of Police was lying gravely ill at the Police Hospital. I visited him since his admission but on March 24 on hearing that his condition was on the decline, I hurried to his bedside again. He seemed too weak to communicate. I requested him to rest and took his leave with the promise that I would be back. He eased himself back on the pillows, dismissing me with a half salute. It never occurred then that it was to be my last farewell to a Gentleman and Officer who was revered and held in the highest esteem both within and outside the Force.

Later that evening, he passed away peacefully. Even a year on, his death has devastated his family.

No one ever gave more meaning to the title of the high office he held with majestic grace, decorum and dignity. An epitome of honour, integrity and professionalism he did not require that special magic to be accepted across the world in which he moved with the highest and the lowest with relative ease. In recognition of his professionalism and vast contribution to the Police Service he was appointed (after his retirement) by the Government as our Ambassador in Indonesia and thereafter to the executive of the Commission for Bribery and Corruption.

A man of high calibre character and principles, he was neither flattered by authority nor sought to flatter it. Instead he combined simplicity with basic humility. It was the serenity in his spirit which seemed to know him like the gift of grace. He meant much to his friends as they did mean to him.

Being an Officer with a fierce commitment to his profession and later as the Chief of Police he brought vision and meaning to the service. Emphasis on the importance of an independent police outfit free of political interference was his priority. Today, in large part and because of his inspiration and vision, the true identity of the Police Service is an abiding part of national policy. He was one of those who vigorously researched the viability of the establishment of a National Police Commission.

The delight and spirit he derived from his profession was his driving force in his quest to make the Force a practical outfit and restore some lost pride and prestige. Yes, he held the Force together as a family. In large part he reminds us of stalwarts of similar calibre who adorned the high office of IGP. They include the late E.L.Abeygunawardene, John Attygalle, Stanley Senanayake, Ana Seneviratne, Cyril Herath and Frank Silva. These great people lifted us up, and in doubt and darkness gave the rank and file their pride, true identity as policemen, a true sense of belonging and of being different.

Mr. Rajasingham was very much a family man; his love for Sita his wife, daughter Sharmani and Saaya the grand daughter was deep and unreserved. He revelled in their accomplishments, he hurt with their sorrows, and felt sheer joy and delight in spending time with them.

I recall so vividly that at some of my final moments at the hospital that the mere mention of one of their names, his eyes would glow and shine brighter and his smile would grow bigger. - Indeed they were his life.

Referring to family unity and love he once said "bungle raising your children and nothing else much matters in life” - he didn't bungle. Once again, he showed how to do the most important thing of all, and do it right. The achievements of Sharmani his daughter speak for itself.

His sense of humour was unique - a way of focusing on someone with total attention - a gift that he gave to others. A man of few words he could nonetheless disarm any tenuous situation laughingly with a one liner.

I often think of what they said about him in March after he died: ‘they made him a legend, when he would have preferred to be a man’. No, he would have preferred to be just himself. Although he was not much of a churchgoer he worshipped at the feet of honour, loyalty and integrity. Simplicity and honesty were his forte. People talked of such values – but he lived by them, he embraced them. The many awards and accolades he received during his career for his dedication and professional tenets amongst other things and the abiding love and respect people had for him are a living testimony.

Even during the last stages of his battle with his illness he soldiered on bravely as he did in the many years of his career and was more concerned of the people he loved than his own discomfort. True to his unselfish temperament he dug into the depths of his substantial courage to stay around long enough to ensure the welfare and comfort of his loved ones.

He died in the Police Hospital in contrast to the plush private institutions patronized by many of his ilk. He was the personification of incorruptibility.

Upon hearing of his demise I slipped into a space that can be described as a permeating sadness, a feeling that lingers still and that surely is shared by those who knew and loved him. I knew him as my boss. I found joy just listening to him which often reminded me of a quote:- ‘best statements they say are made softly in cultured tones and those who speak thus are men of character with a twinkle in their eyes playful but definitely mischievous’ – so was Rudra Rajasingham.

He never wanted public notice, in part I think, because it brought back painful memories of how much he was short changed in his career and what he endured but accepted with admirable equanimity. In all the years of his life, his genuineness and depth of character continued to shine through his jealously guarded privacy to reach people everywhere. He made a splendid and noble contribution to the Sri Lankan Police Service. To his family he was a magnificent husband, father, grandfather, and to others who he knew a true and a loyal friend.

He graced our history. For those of us who knew and loved him - he graced our lives. He will always be a part of my soul – an amazing boss, true friend and lovely human being. I pray that God gives his family the strength and fortitude to let go and move on.

By Carlyle de Silva

Memorable slap and a lesson for life

Earle Fernando

St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa, the school which has produced several top notch sportsmen recently lost one of its greatest teachers/sports administrators of all times, with the demise of E.N.S. (Earle) Fernando, who died at the age of 74. He was a teacher and prefect of games for a long period of time.

He was a fabulous teacher of English, who would have got thousands of freshers to talk, write and communicate freely in English during his lifetime, with his masterly ways of teaching English.

He was also a great disciplinarian. He set an example to others by deed as well. He taught every one to respect true values, to prioritize them and to apply them in their day-to-day-lives. I vividly remember a particular incident, which enabled me to learn the lesson of a lifetime!

This took place exactly 35 years ago whilst Mr. Fernando was the prefect of games (PoG) at St. Sebastian’s. We had one of the strongest, if not the strongest, basket ball team amongst the schools at the time, having won the championship trophy at the All Island Inter School Basket Ball Tournaments, almost in every age group from Under 15 to Under 19 continuously for a couple of years.

One of the biggest challenges came from De Mazenod College, Kandana, that possessed a great basket ball player at that time who later turned out to be a great national player as well. The strategy we adopted was to play “Man to Man” I was selected for the role by our coach and I did my part to the best of my ability. Though I was not such a fantastic player, that particular day, the day belonged to me.

True, I played a bit of a rough game, having got hit painfully several times by my opposing number, but I did well to control him.
We were overjoyed by our superb victory.

The players were about to celebrate the great victory inside the players’ room, when in came the PoG, Mr. Fernando. We stood up like heroes expecting a free flow of words of praise. The PoG instead, walked straight up to me and slapped me on the face. Though the slap was not as hard as he was capable of, it took me a couple of seconds to come to terms with it.

The very clear words from him thereafter, brought me back to my real senses.

“Rohan, you played a horrible game not worthy of a Sebastianite. I would have enjoyed it, had we won without that rowdy display. It is not whether you WIN or LOSE that matters, but how you play the game.”

It was an abject lesson for all times! Not only to me personally, but to all those involved in sports.

The best part of the story is not in the particular incident or the slapping or the advice itself, but what happened a few days thereafter.

He walked up to me again one evening and said, “Rohan, I am sorry that you were very hurt and upset about the treatment you got from me. I wanted all of you to know what sportsmanship is all about. Though I feel sorry about it myself, I don’t want you to forget the incident but to keep the lesson in mind for ever.”

I used to meet him very often during the last 30 years since I married his brother’s niece. Every time I met him it reminded me of the important lesson he wanted us to keep in mind forever that how you do something is as important as the result itself.
May he Rest in Peace!

By Rohan B. Fernando

Sunday Times Mar 11 2007

For the good times and a good friend

Lee Madawala

My friendship with Lee began in the early seventies when we were both planting in the Bogo Valley. Our families were very young then and when I think back I can truly say that those were the happiest times in our lives, where we lived our lives to the fullest.

In the late seventies Lee was transferred to Agrapatane and I left planting and secured employment in Colombo. In the eighties we became colleagues in the ADA and subsequently in the State Plantations Corporation under General Ranjan Wijeratne.

Lee was a wonderful colleague, always full of advice and encouragement. When I was appointed as Chairman of Hingurana Sugar Company, Lee came in to my office and offered me his good wishes and advice. He ended up by saying “Hingurana is a tough job but you are going to be alright”.

A few years later, when he was appointed as Chairman, State Plantations Corporation, I called to congratulate him. He thanked me for my good wishes and said “what ever happens I am still the same old Lee Madawala, for we have shared the same plate of rice.”

He was a man of even temper; however one thing that riled him was dishonesty and lies. I have seen him in such moods on three occasions, at SLSPC. Honesty was synonymous with Lee.

In the process of children growing up, getting married etc., we didn’t meet as often as before. But whenever we met, Lee and I would pick up from where we left off and so would our wives, Maya and Lucky.

He was an excellent husband and doting father. To Lee, his children’s achievements were absolute joy. His only daughter Ianthe was a fine athlete at Bishop’s College, and the three boys Nishan, Naveen and Praveen were champion swimmers at S. Thomas’ College. They all excelled in academics too.

If the children were the gems, his wife Maya was the jewel in his crown. No conversation was complete without a reference to Maya. I am glad that not so long ago, my wife, son, his wife, children and I visited Lee and to our joy little Ianthe who has grown to be a pretty young lady was there with her two little daughters on holiday from the US.

Lee’s happiness could be seen from his face, as he beheld his grand children. He was jubilant when Ianthe told us that she and her husband were building a house in close proximity to Lee’s and that they would be leaving the US for good, very soon. We were very glad that Ianthe had learned to value close family ties at this early stage.

Looking around at our grand children (his & mine) Lee said, “Shiran, this is my joy, my children are doing well, your Lasantha is doing well. We have achieved our goals, I am not very well but I am very happy and ready to go”. It would have been a premonition that made him say it because that was the last time I saw him alive.

Both Lucky and I were devastated when we heard the news of his sudden demise. But we were consoled when Maya told us that he had not suffered for long. Also he had his dearest wish come true, for Ianthe and her husband with their kids were settled in their new home and Lee was able to spend as much time as he wanted with his grand children.

His eldest son Nishan and his wife too had come from the USA for a holiday and were staying with them. According to Maya, Lee had been able to spend quality time with his children, I am sure this is how he would have wanted to go. Maya, you will feel the loss no doubt but if it would console you, can I say that Lee’s life was not in vain.

Lee, my friend, I will not say ‘Good Bye’ but ‘Au Revoir’, till we meet again on that beautiful shore.

Your brother in spirit, Shiran

The drive that covered the Josephian team of 1960/61

Penrose Fernandopulle

His left arm is raised, elbow bent at right angles and parallel to the ground.

His upper teeth bite his lower lip. There is grit and determination written all over his face. Then comes a rocket right over the bails from cover point. The wicket keeper has only to flick the bails. That was another Penna throw. Another batsman walks back, crestfallen, to the pavilion.

It is time for the mischievous smile to adorn his face. We surround him with joy and pat his back. With index finger raised and shaking he tells us that he saw it coming. That was Penna at his best. The throws from cover point characterized Penna more than any other aspect of his cricketing prowess.

As a batsman, coming in at one down, he had the ability to resurrect the team from an early loss. He approached the game as he approached life, with sincerity and commitment. His running between the wickets was outstanding. There was no dawdling with him. He ran like a hare and expected the same from all of us. Some of us could not measure up to his expectations.

To bat with him was inspirational. He always encouraged his partner and saw more than most could see. He was someone, irrespective of circumstances, who always saw a positive side. The time we had at slipboard practice, throwing as hard as possible until our hands stung with pain, seems like yesterday.

Penna knew the game of cricket very well. He was astute. He was cunning. He planned strategy. He devised schemes to get a batsman out or dull a bowler. Often Penna would offer advice to his skipper, both solicited and unsolicited.

Off the cricket field he was so much fun. The social events surrounding the cricket season saw Penna in his element. His versatility with hands, his dexterity of movement, and his quick responses were equally evident both on and off the field. A very good dancer, Penna was never short of a partner, whilst we struggled to find one. His armour was never rusty.

Above all, Penna was a top bloke. Honest and sincere, fun loving and a friend you could always trust and rely on. His home was home to many of us. We were welcome at any time. His room was the dressing room for us when not on the field.

Our cricket team of 1960/61 counts it a blessing to have had him in our team. His was the drive that covered our team. The good Lord wanted a cover fielder for the cricket team in Heaven, so He chose the best – our Penna.

By Percy Mendis, (Member of 60/61 team)

You were my greatest influence

Mahinda Dias

On the eve of your 20th death anniversary Thathi, I would like to express my loving thanks to you. I lived in Sri Lanka for 20 years before I came to England. I have lived in England for 26 years now, longer than I have lived in Sri Lanka, but the first 20 years of my life were the most influential part of building a personal profile of experiences, knowledge, attitudes and skills.

You were the main influence of my development. You taught me not to take people for granted, to be always grateful, no matter how small the support I have received and respect people, to be focused and determined in what I want to achieve in life. Today I owe it all to you.

When I face difficulties, I never give up, but find a different solution to overcome the issues. You taught me this. You showed such determination and passion in your work that even colleagues who were at times critical of you would stand back and admire you. It was never easy for you, everything had to be thought out carefully as you planned the stage for yet another new production and how the lighting effects would give that extra special show that would remain in people’s memories for a long time.

No matter how busy you were, you always made time for me, to discuss an opportunity I wanted to explore. This varied from music to cooking or wanting to travel abroad. If I showed an interest in a particular book, the next thing I would find is that you would have not just bought the book, but the whole series as well.

I was never the favourite child or daughter and there were times I wish I was! Yet you made me feel special in a different way. You use to wait for me to return from my cookery classes, so you could sample the food and give me your views. You would suggest a different method of cooking a particular food. The compliments I receive from my cooking are because of you.

When you travelled to America, knowing the love I had for dolls, you brought me 60 dolls each one wearing a different costume from a different part of the world. I only asked for one doll. I remember the thrill and excitement looking through these beautiful dolls, admiring their costumes and beauty. Then you got a special dolls cupboard tailor made to keep these dolls safe and clean.
Thathi, you were born to a wealthy family, as they say ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’. Yet, you never showed any prejudices and accepted each person as they were.

You loved to help and teach others in any way you could, whether it was a neighbour asking for advice or a cousin wanting pocket money. You spent your money to make others happy. Your generosity left you with very little money, but your aim was different.

I miss you very much even after so many years. How I wish I could have introduced you to my husband Peter, and our son Gihan. You would have loved to have seen Gihan grow up. Gihan is 13 years old and how I wish I could have told you that his interest is music and drama. He has been in several theatre productions and people often say he is a talented actor. When we were in Sri Lanka in 2006, Mallie (Thushan Dias – first to use digital lighting on the Sri Lankan stage) took Gihan to show him the Lionel Wendt Theatre and Gihan came back beaming and telling me what you have done there.

Thathi, I am sorry that I never had the opportunity to spoil you and tell you how much you have influenced my life in a positive way.

Your ever loving daughter, Deshanthi Elleray. Mahinda Dias who died on March 12, 1987 was the pioneer in stage lighting in Sri Lanka.

Daily News Mar 10 2007

Florence Wickramage

Your 68th birthday fell on March 2. Darling aththamma this is the second B’day you are enjoying in God’s eternal rest, and we are passing without you and a piece of cake. Every year myself and my two sisters used to wish you with a lovely B’day Card.

Aththamma it’s being a long time for me, and I still feel and remember the same old days at Rukmalgama. Spending my childhood at sea, Arpico and KFC. Though Amma busy with my sister, my aththamma used to always take me and spend her times beside me.

I still hear your kind words, your warmness and the way you cuddled me every night when you come after work. I still feel the nights on your lap and with my little stories and poems.

Oh! darling aththamma I remember and miss you very very, much. Oh! aththamma I feel and like if I could go back in my small days again, so that I have you with me again. I never thought that your days were so short in life.

If I can have you again in my life I will love it, darling athamma and I will be the luckiest person again in the whole world. You are one of the most special and very few people whom I would look up to each step of my life.

Darling athamma when I always go on trips with my parents I always remember you as you always accompanied us. Recently we went to Ambalangoda to see the turtles and it brought back fond memories of the day. I went to see the turtles with you and how you explained each and everything.

Darling aththamma it’s a great great loss for me and to the whole of my family, and Rosadh, my cousin brother.

Aththamma it’s God’s wish and his choice. Darling Athamma you are always in our hearts and in my mind. My courage, my happiness and the light of my life was you Aththamma.

But all was changed and everything was unsettled. All my dreams shattered and changed within seconds.

Your guiding hands have always looked after us and now I know you are watching us with God. I thank you darling Aththamma for the support you gave me when you were with me.

Darling Aththamma May your soul Rest in Peace, till we meet again.

Happy B’day darling Aththamma. These few lines are from your darling grand son.


Vice Admiral Asoka De Silva - Former Commander of the Navy

Former Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral, Asoka de Silva, V.S.V, ndc. Psc (Rtd) had to answer the inevitable call from above on 22 December 2006 after a colourful and a fully accomplished career in the Sri Lanka Navy at the age of 75, after a brief illness.

Born in 1931 to a renowned Surgeon and one time Superintendent of the De Soyza Maternity Hospital, Colombo, the late Dr. A.H.T de Silva and Mrs. Beatrice de Silva (nee Rodrigo -daughter of Mudliyar Thomas Rodrigo), Asoka was the third child of a family of eight members.

Educated from the kindergarten at the Royal College, Colombo, Asoka demonstrated his intellectual aptitude as a student and excelled in his studies as well as in Sports.

From a very young age he positively displayed a powerful self-confidence which was circulating in his blood stream as a delicate flame during his college cadetting days by commanding the College Cadet Corps as a Sergeant.

Discipline that was inculcated in him as a Boy Scout moulded him to be a robust young sailor when he joined the Regular Force of the then Royal Ceylon Navy as an Officer Cadet, straight from College in 1950.

On completion of his assault-training course, this young Officer Cadet underwent further naval training at the legendary Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, UK.

Within a matter of one year, in 1951, Asoka de Silva was promoted to the rank of Midshipman and subsequently as an Acting Sub Lieutenant.

He was commissioned to the rank of Sub Lieutenant in 1953. Climbing the promotional ladder in the service in double quick time Asoka elevated to the rank of Lieutenant in 1955 and Lieutenant Commander in 1963.

Assuming duties as a Commander in November 1970 Asoka de Silva held major and strategic command and staff positions varying from the Naval Officer-in Charge of Trincomalee, Co-ordinating Officer of the Administrative District of Polonnaruwa and Commanding Officer of the Flag Ship Gajabahu.

He proved his mettle as an experienced and professional administrator when he undertook the responsibilities in 1973 as Captain and executed his duties as the Naval Officer-in-Charge of Trincomalee, Master of m.v Lanka Kanthi of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation and as Chief Staff Officer (Operations).

Asoka’s rapid promotions, in the shape of a fast moving vessel with its accelerating knots, were to become a common panorama when he was made Commodore on 4th February 1978, a significant day in Sri Lanka’s national calendar.

Until he was promoted as the Chief of Staff at Naval Headquarters on 1st July 1979, Asoka de Silva served as the Naval Officer-in-Charge of Trincomalee, Co-ordinating Officer TAFII (East), Deputy Master Attendant (Trincomalee) and Director Naval Operations.

Asoka was a loyal, efficient and an industrious officer who had an untarnished lifetime career in his chosen field in the Sri Lanka Navy.

In recognition towards his overall contributions to the Navy, his country and his people, The Executive President of Sri Lanka promoted him to the rank of Rear Admiral. He reached the zenith of his career and a lifetime dream when he was appointed as the Commander of the Navy in June 1983.

Three years later, in 1986, Asoka de Silva’s name was written in history books as the first Sri Lankan Officer to be elevated to the rank of Vice Admiral of the Sri Lanka Navy.

He held the high office of the Commander of the Navy for three consecutive years until his retirement at the age of 55, on 1 November 1986; simultaneously acting as the Co-ordinating Officer of the Administrative District of Trincomalee, Commander-in-Chief of the joint Services Special Operations Command Headquarters established in Vavuniya and being responsible for the administrative functions of Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee.

Trained at Britannia Royal College, Dartmouth, the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Communication Specialization Course at HMS Mercury, in the U.K, Staff Course at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and National Defence College in New Delhi in India, he discharged his unblemished duties as a thorough ‘Officer and Gentleman’.

Asoka de Silva was an unassuming gentleman, with a magnanimous heart, yet the responsibility, the position and the naval uniform projected him as a proper and tough sailor and an exceedingly disciplined leader with ‘no nonsense attitude’ whenever he had to deal with indiscipline or a subordinate going off beam.

During his life long career in the Navy he received seven distinguished awards, including The Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, The Sri Lanka’s Navy 25th Anniversary Medal, The Ceylon Armed Services Long Service Medal and Clasp, Presidential Inauguration Medal and The Purna Bhumi Padakkama.

As a sportsman, Vice Admiral Asoka de Silva contributed immensely towards promoting sports activities in Services by being the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Navy Sports Board and Chairman of the Defence Services Sports Board.

After shedding his Naval Uniform he was privileged to work as the Defence Attach‚, at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, a diplomatic placement he was entrusted upon during 1969-1970

His charismatic qualities had touched the hearts and admiration of his superiors, colleagues and subordinates.

As a mark of recognition of being a source of encouragement and inspiration to his fellow officers and sailor colleagues, the Executive President of Sri Lanka made him serve as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the Republic of Cuba, upon retirement from the Navy.

Dear Asoka, your bereavement is not only an irreparable loss to your family, relatives and friends, but to the nation as a whole. While thousands still shed a silent tear and cry within their hearts in remembering you, it takes me personally back to the UK when you and I did a test drive of your new vehicle at the London Hyde Park after assuming Defence Attach‚’s duties at the Sri Lanka High Commission. I shall always hold that occurrence in my heart and treasure it as an indelible memory.

May you attain Nibbana!


Nissanka Abeywardene

On the morning of 16th January, grandpa Nissanka left his abode to which he had recently moved, in saying cheers to the grandkings, vowing to bring them the customary goodies as was the routine whenever he was on his marketing rounds. Hours passed, but there were no signs of his return.

His wife became anxious and overly perturbed. So were the agitated kids. Frantic calls were given to hospitals and finally the message came through. The mercenary-minded private bus Mafia had done it again-knocked down poor Nissanka to hasten his demise.

Nissanka had a long and successful career at the Bank of Ceylon, having served in the various branches of the prestigious bank, with the York Street branch bidding him adieu. Later he served Lake House as an Editorial Assistant, in which position he acquitted himself well.

Nissanka turned 79 last December but he didn’t look his age. He was an embodiment of fitness and a bundle of energy. He flaunted his well-being by doing 35 push-ups on the trot. He struck to his daily constitutional like a prayer and sometimes courted the displeasure among those who offered lifts to him by declining them with apologetic courtesy because he valued his health walk very much.

He was an epitome of kindness and compassion, a human-being nonpareil. Nissanka was besotted with religious worship and there was no doubt that he loved to listen to and chant “Pirith” more than anything else in his life.

The encomiums showered on Nissanka in the oration of the incumbent monk of the Temple where he frequently visited left the distinguished gathering of mourners convinced that this devoted follower of Buddha’s doctrine was a saint in human garb.

He was a true gentleman, a faithful husband and a devoted father whose moral excellence would have already ensured him a place in heaven. He bore his setbacks with incomprehensible patience and equanimity. ‘Ahimsa’ and ‘Maithree’ were his guiding principles.

May he finally attain the bliss of Nibbana


Vivian Louis Blaze

I was but a stripling, eighteen years of age when I first met Vivian. I still vividly recall that meeting way back in 1963. He and his beautiful wife, Charmaine, (who died last year) were a truly striking looking couple, who no doubt had a mesmerizing effect on a callow youth, such as I.

I met him again about a year later when I began my planting career as one of his Assistant Managers on Mahadowa Estate, where he was the manager.

The Mahadowa Estate is in Madulsima, one of the most beautiful planting districts situated in the eastern escarpments of the central massif. It was also the best run property in the district and in the Scottish Tea and Lands Company of Ceylon Ltd., to which it belonged.

Working under Vivian was no walk in the park. Being a hands on planter who led by example, he drove his assistants to the limit and ensured that the company got their pound of flesh.

As a planter Vivian had few peers. His pragmatic approach to management and a rare common sense proved much more effective than those of others steeped in theory or half baked premises.

His estate was invariably the highest profit maker in the company and Mahadowa was verily the jewel in the crown of Scottish Tea and Lands.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have learned my trade under him, as assistant superintendent and Senior Asst. Supdt, on Mahadowa and Sarnia Estate in Hali Ela. When it came to pruning and plucking, those prime operations on a tea plantation, he set the standards himself by demonstration.

Of course it was not all work and no play for his assistants. His unarticulated motto could well have been ‘work hard and play hard’.

If you proved your mettle, his brusque attitude would thaw to a definitely warmer and cordial one, and if you were invited for breakfast you were on the right track. Dinner meant that you were accepted.

Vivian hailed from a solid conservative and distinguished family of Burghers. The Blazes had already etched a trail of enviable achievements and were prominent members of the community and society in general.

His father Dr. Louis Blazes was a doctor of renown who held the post of Director of Medical Services of Ceylon. His uncle John was Professor of Medicine at the Colombo Medical College. His granduncle, L. E. Blaze was the Principal of Kingswood College and a Historian of repute who had authored many publications.

Vivian was an exceptional marksman too and had that special hand and eye coordination which spelt doom for the snipe and garganey that came within range of his trusty 12 Bore, as I myself have witnessed on many an occasion.

True, everything came easy, and he could acquit himself admirably be it Tennis, Snooker, Bridge, Poker or that unique gentleman’s game so popular in the upcountry planters’ clubs in those twilight years of the British Era, namely, Cardinal Puff! He had a ready wit and a wicked sense of humour and could out-squelch most.

Once, when I had forgotten to attend to a task he had assigned, he said, referring to my preposterously lengthy name, your name should be S.L.E.E.P. Holsinger and not S.L.E.E.M. Naturally, I failed to see the humour in this at the time.

Reflecting upon his planting career of about 22 years in Sri Lanka, Vivian became a manager in The Scottish Tea and Lands Co. a scant four years or so since he commenced his training and finally rose to the position of General Manager.

Vivian decided to emigrate to Australia. This move was prompted as much by his concern for the future of his young family as his fear for the future of the tea industry.

In hind sight the wisdom of this move might come under scrutiny, but reality is that his children, Vicki, Hans, Graeme and Paula, benefited enormously.

They have integrated easily, are doing extremely well and really are ‘Dinkum Aussies’.

Vivian, who had been together with Charmaine for 52 years, was absolutely shattered by her death. As an equal partner in the marriage she left a void that was difficult to fill.

Her departure no doubt had a seriously debilitating effect on him and scarcely a year later, he succumbed to a disease which he bore with heroic stoicism and quite obviously, with a great yearning to be with her.

I met Vivian and Charmaine several timer in Sri Lanka, when they came back on holiday and we kept in touch with frequent letters. On every visit he would reunite with his friends among whom, were his former assistant managers.

In point of fact, It must be ruefully admitted that most of them, namely, Kumar Boralessa, Ranjan de Alwis, Harish Weerasekera, Nelson Wijewardene the late Hilary Marcelline and myself met each other only when the Blazes were around!

There is so much more to Vivian than I know of, or presume to know of, but there is one thing that I am absolutely certain of. Anyone who knew Vivian will mourn his loss and remember the warmth of a genuine friend, a genuine friendship.

Vivian was after all, a human being and doubtless evinced some of the flaws that characterize humankind. To my mind that probably made him all the more likeable and more lovable. His children are disconsolate.

One of his daughters said, I miss my beautiful father so much! What a grand, loving, fitting epitaph! That is something to aspire to no doubt.

I suppose, time has inexorably caught up with me as it must with anyone, and I am at that juncture of life where reminiscences play an increasing part in the daily routine.

Should it be said that this tribute to a remarkable man bears more than passing adulation or hero worship I would readily, and quite unashamedly reply, So what?


Charles Henry de Soysa

The 3rd of March is considered a red-letter day for the people of Moratuwa, in particular. It is the birth anniversary of C.H. de Soysa, the greatest philanthropist par excellence of Sri Lanka.

Thousands of people have always been and are deeply grateful to the munificent gift. Charles Henry de Soysa gave, in building Prince and Princess of Wales’ Colleges. By doing so, he realized his dearest wish, that his home town of Moratuwa should become one of the most educated, in this land.

These 2 Colleges are unique educational Institutions in that they were founded and maintained by a single individual with the express purpose of making education available even to the poorest child in the town.

Today the 2 schools and the students who have had their education there, bear ample testimony that his dream and desire have been fulfilled. Many have held and are holding very responsible office in diverse walks of life, both in the public and private sector and in Banks, in this country and overseas.

Bishops and priests, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Civil Servants and Government Officials, Doctors, Engineers, Professors and Lecturers IGP’s and Commanders of the Forces, Supreme Court Judges and lawyers, carpenters and housewives.

It was not only the two schools that Mr. C.H de Soysa gifted to Moratuwa. Though a Christian himself, he built temples too. St. Mathia’s Church, Laxapathiya, Moratuwa was founded by him, The De Soysa Maternity Hospital formerly known as the lying in Home, The Moratuwa Carpenters’ Society and the Moratuwa co-operative society for the benefit of Carpenters, were started by him.

The fabulous banquet he provided to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka, was indeed a unique and historical one. The royal guests were served their food on plates of gold.

The solemn March Past, his grave at Holy Emmanuel Church Cemetery on March 3rd followed by a service in the church, continues year in, year out, by past and present students.

The garlanding of the statue of C.H. De Soysa at de Soysa circus formerly known as Liption’s Circus is also done annually. In this statue Mr. De Soysa holds a key in his hand-symbolic of the treasures he opened out for our people.

Let us pledge that what he has done for us will be remembered in the days to come, when we do reverence to his memory and honour to his name.

“Praise to the Founder whose bounty has sped us,

Green be his memory with benisons rife”

Daily News Tue Mar 6 2007

'Tribute to the memory of Anil Obeyesekere President's Counsel'

CONDOLENCE: The death of Anil Obeyesekere P.C. after a brief illness, sent waves of shock and bitter sorrow not only among his close family members but among the large circle of his friends, associates in politics and of Lake House where he was the Chairman at the time of his demise; his wide circle of friends and associates naturally was larger with those of two huge corporate bodies. Sri Lanka Petroleum Corporation and Sri Lanka Telecom where he was the Chairman.

The numerous floral tributes and banners of the various corporations and institutions including that of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, that glittered at Anil's home and precinct where his remains lay, mutely but eloquently expressed the feelings of deep sorrow in appropriate words of those who loved and respected him.

It was my privilege and pleasure to have known Anil for more than three decades. He was not only my learned friend in the true sense of the term in our profession but also my dear and sincere personal friend till his passing away. To me Anil certainly was the friend that the famous English poet Shakespeare had in mind: "Those friends thou hast and their adoption tried/Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel."

"Life! We've been together/through pleasant and through cloudy weather: T's hard to part when friends are dear/Perhaps 't will cost a sigh, a tear;/Then steal away give little warning;/Choose tine own time;/Say not Good night!; but in some brighter clime:/Bid me 'Good morning'.

Anil proved himself not only a good friend but also a gentleman par excellence. In the Eighteenth Century Edmund Burke wrote "that a king may make a nobleman but he cannot make a gentleman." How true it is even today.

I emphasize without fear of contradiction that Anil was both a noble man and a gentleman. He hailed from a noble and respected family in the country: His professional talent and success was recognized and honoured by the Head of State having been appointed President's Counsel. His ability as an administrator was recognized having been appointed Trade Commissioner of Czechoslovakia and later the Chairman of three massive corporate bodies aforementioned.

I remember with affection and deep gratitude Anil's last great act of humanitarian service rendered a few days before he fell ill and was hospitalised for heart surgery. On a mere telephone call by me on a Friday afternoon to help my niece, a journalist at Lake House, to enter Apollo hospital, Colombo, to undergo immediate heart surgery, even before she could fax the necessary formal documents, by Saturday noon his secretary informed me to collect the necessary letter of admission to the hospital and that saved the life of this patient.

It was chronic irony of fate that by the time this patient was discharged after successful surgery, Anil was hospitalised and passed away in the early hours of 26th February 2007 to our bitter grief. I noted to Lake House his loss was irreparable.

That was Anil the good and sincere friend and gentleman. The usual jargon of officious administrators sincere to red tape than a friend, "I'll see. I'll consider, I'll look into the matter when I receive the papers etc," was certainly not in the vocabulary of Anil. He acted and acted fast like the gentleman and trusting friend that he certainly was.

This gracious quality of Anil was confirmed to me by a class mate of his, Bhatiya Jayaratne at S' Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia where Anil had his education and this no doubt speaks volumes for his Alma Mater too.

At his funeral at Kanatte, Borella, speaker after speaker spoke in high praise of Anil's achievements as a lawyer and administrator and his contribution to the SLFP and to the community and society and the country at large.

It was in the fitness of things that since President Mahinda Rajapaksa was out of the Island His Excellency's message of condolence to the bereaved wife Iranganie, daughter Eromi and son Prasanna was read by Hon. Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne.

Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Secretary of the SLFP emphasised that unlike others Anil served the SLFP during times when the party was not in power and that he displayed a great love and loyalty for his party. In fact I had noted myself personally the truth of this assertion of Anil's great love of the SLFP.

In or about 1974 Anil prevailed upon me to enroll myself as a member of the SLFP although I told him that I had quit politics since 1960 as I was called upon to perform acting judicial functions often during that time.

Anil's death certainly is a great loss not only to his bereaved wife and family and close friends but also to his motherland which he served as a true patriot.

"Now racks a noble heart/Goodnight sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Anil's body was cremated and turned to ashes but undoubtedly his soul has risen and soared into heaven or nirvana. May his soul rest in peace.

Vernon Botejue J. P. U. M., Nugegoda

Sunday Times Mar 4 2007

Daddy, I miss you so much….

Bryan Paul Senanayake

It’s three months on March 5, since you left this world Daddy and I miss you more than ever…

I so wish you hung on for at least just a little while longer, so you could have seen and held your grand daughter…you would have adored her Daddy, and given her all that love you gave me. You never asked for anything, but on my last birthday, when you said you would like to see a grandchild, I was surprised … and then your wish came true. I still can envision the delight on your face when I told you, we were to have a baby. I didn’t quite understand the meaning of the earth sliding from under my feet until I was told you were gone… Even though our visit to the doctor’s had substantially increased, I still refused to consider the possibility of you leaving but I guess Jesus had other plans…

I miss your voice, your embrace but most of all I miss you just being there…

I will always hold on to the last conversation we had and how you never failed to let me know how much you loved me. Your voice still rings in my ears and how I long to hear it just one more time.

You have given me so much of memories Daddy, and I treasure all of them, from the sea baths, the jive lessons to how to hold a paint brush or drive a nail.

I miss our trips to the doctors, our conversations and how you used to hold my hand tight when needles used to so often pierce your frail arms. Everyone kept telling me to try and contain my grief at your loss as it was not good for baby… I tried but it was so hard because I missed you so so much. Now I let it flow like a river, even as I write this note to you …. My consolation is that you are with Our Lord and Mother Mary whom you loved and prayed to so much, free from the pain and medicines and that you are looking down from above, happy. I will always carry you in my heart and although you are not physically around, I promise that your grand daughter will be told all about you and what a simple, humble and wonderful man you were, my Daddy. There is one day that I will look forward to for the rest of my living years on this earth, and that is as Jesus has promised, when I will be able to meet you again on the other side and call you … Daddy

My world will never be the same without you …

With all my love,

By Your daughter, Shima

Scholar in Buddhism she always lent a helping hand

Sita Arunthavanathan

The well-known propagator of Dhamma, specially in the English language, Sita Arunthavanathan, passed away in late March 2006 at the age of 75 years. Born to the respected Windsor family in Galle, she had her early education at Sacred Heart Convent in the same town. Later she pursued higher studies at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya campus and obtained a Special Degree in Sinhala.

Taking a special interest in Buddhism she pursued postgraduate studies in Buddhism at the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies of the University of Kelaniya obtaining a Masters Degree.

I came to know Sita pretty late in her life as a Dhamma friend in the course of my own efforts to propagate Dhamma in English, around the turn of the century. From then onwards she was closely associated with me in some way or other with all my Buddhist activities until her demise a few months ago.

She frequently delivered talks on the Dhamma at the weekly meeting of the Servants of the Buddha Society at Maitri Hall, Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya, and was also often a panelist at the monthly Buddhist panel discussions conducted by the Colombo YMBA on the third Sunday of every month at its Borella building.

She contributed valuable articles to Buddhist journals that I edit, namely, the Vesak Sirisara that is published every Vesak and The Buddhist, the journal of the Colombo Y.M.B.A. that publishes a special Vesak issue and three other small quarterly issues annually.

At my request many were the occasions she reviewed these Vesak journals. Fluent in speech and writing both in English and Sinhala, she recently translated an English Buddhist booklet on “The Buddha’s First Sermon” released by me.

Sita was an active participant in the Buddhist programmes of the SLBC in recent years. These included the popular five minutes Thought for the Day, which commences the daily English programmes of the SLBC; in the Steps of the Sakyamuni, a 15-minute short talk on the Dhamma; Has Buddhism the Answer?, a 30-minute discussion of the Dhamma, and above all the long standing and popular half hour Buddhist Forum that goes on the air every Tuesday at 9 p.m. She was introduced to the Buddhist Forum by Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari Thera, when he was Chairman of the Forum and continued until the very end of her life with me as Chairman. Incidentally, she was a student of the scholar Thera who was earlier Prof. Jothi Dhirasekera both at the University of Ceylon and later at the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies. She had a clear and powerful voice which was helpful for her presentations over the electronic media.

She was also closely associated with the International Buddhist Centre at Wellawatta that has performed yeoman service over several decades for the propagation of the Dhamma. She was at different times the Secretary and President of this important centre.

Apart from articles she contributed to Buddhist journals, she also published articles in the leading English newspapers making available her writings on the Dhamma to a wider readership.

My association with her was confined to Buddhist activities but we are told that she led a versatile life being active in singing, drama, dancing and the affairs of her old school. Moreover, in her working life she held responsible positions being the administration officer of Consolidated Exports Ltd. At one time she was chief translator to the then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, at Temple Trees.

She also had varied interests being one of the pioneers to act in the Sinhala dramas of Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra. Moreover, she was a singer and dancer and composed lyrics for the Police Bhakthi Gee for the Vesak season and for the versatile singing combination of P.L.A. Somapala and Chithra as well as singing with them on some occasions. It is said that she had a melodious voice.

To me personally, her demise is an irreparable loss. Whenever I sought her assistance for Buddhist work it was extended in full measure, willingly and enthusiastically. Her contribution covered broadcasting, journals, reviews, talks, panel discussions, and the translation of Buddhist Literature from English to Sinhala.

Her husband, an efficient retired Police Officer, predeceased her shortly before her death. To her six children and several grandchildren we extend our deep condolences and our wish is that they should take pride in her life lived with concern for the welfare of others.

May this capable and firmly committed Buddhist propagator realize early the peace and bliss of Nibbana.

By Rajah Kuruppu

Humble person who did giant-like work

Bernadeen Silva

My first acquaintance with Bernadeen was as the sister of my Peradeniya teacher, Basil Mendis. Bernadeen was fond of her brother Basil and was in touch with his life and work. I can still vividly remember her wanting me to write a piece on Basil when his end came far away from her.

This initial introduction to Bernadeen developed into working with her. She had the God-given capacity to attract us younger persons to her way of thinking and taking us on board her dreamboat of working for people.

My personal link with Fr. Tissa Balasuriya and his work at Dean’s Road helped me to keep in touch with Bernadeen. Many were her concerns. In her work with the Richmond Foundation she brought in a personal dimension for she was interested in the welfare of each person.

Bernadeen was a simple and humble person. But her work was giantlike.

It was her inner life, the spirituality that was hers, which motivated her to move from the Blessed Sacrament to work with and for people of all sorts, seeking the welfare of all people.

By Sydney Knight

Thank you for all the good memories and good times

Eardley Neville Fernando

It’s three months since you are gone and I hear your footsteps walking beside me all the time.

Returning after surgery I found Eardley sprawled on the floor in the living room in a pool of blood due to a fall. He had suffered a massive stroke. The doctors did their best but it was too late. He had had an infarction of the brain.

According to his wishes we had a cremation. My son Kishan came from London to be beside his father when he was critical, but could not make it as he passed away as Kishan arrived at the gate of the hospital. The two daughters Dilki and Dushy were with him right through till the end. My cousin Noel who is more than a brother to me was always there with the children to console and help them. He was a tower of strength to us. As I try to put the past behind me now, and move on with my life coming to terms with the fact that my husband is no more, it is not easy. I remember just like the other day Eardley talking to me about the first day we met. I was only 18 years, just out of school when I was proposed to Eardley. My mother a young widow wanted a son-in-law who was kind and caring. Eardley promised my mother to take care of me and protect and guide me. This he did to the very end of his life.

I look back at the good times we had together, when we lived in Athens, Greece. Eardley worked for a ship owner who was Saudi-based. The company was known as “Orri Navigation Lines”. Mr. Orri as we called him was fond of Eardley, and respected him for his knowledge of English.

To keep Eardley back in Greece, he wanted the family to be with him, and as a result we ended up living in Greece. Giving up my career as a teacher, I left for Greece with my three children, who were students of Bishop’s College and St. Thomas Prep, Colombo.

Living in Greece was itself an education for the children. As we all know Greece is famous for its rich culture. Eardley enjoyed his stay in the Greek islands when the family was with him. We have beautiful memories of Greece, visiting the ancient Parthenon in Accropli, the stadium where the first Olympics was held and the famous wine festivals in Dahpne out of Athens. We owe so much to Eardley; if not for him we would not have ever had a chance of living in Greece.

Let us not forget Eardley, as a well known sportsman whether it was cricket, soccer, rugger, hockey or athletics. He excelled in sports at College level, taking part in all athletic events. He played club cricket, represented Bartleet and Co. in cricket, soccer and hockey. Later he was a Grade I cricket umpire and a soccer referee. His love for sports always went with him.

Finally, the best holiday in his life was the time he spent with his son Kishan in England, his daughter-in-law and his beautiful grand daughter Kishana, whom he cherished so much. He always said, he wanted to see her one more time before his death.

To Eardley his family was his first priority. He always taught the children to be sincere, kind and unselfish. He always told them – “Never give up”. He was always there to help them to face life's challenges.

Eardley, I miss you so much. Your love is a precious gift that I cherish forever. A father who always made the children feel special with the love he showered on them. We miss you so much. Let God keep you in his loving care.

By Your loving wife Malika

Sunday Times Feb 25 2007

Ven. monk who spread Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and abroad

Hammalawa Sri Saddhatissa Nayaka Maha Thera

I consider it a privilege to write this appreciation on the Ven. Pandita Hammalawa Sri Saddhatissa Nayaka Maha Thera, a Buddhist prelate of distinction in the Theravada tradition. The Ven. Saddhatissa did much to disseminate the Dhamma both here and abroad.

In lay life, the Ven. Saddhatissa hailed from a family which cherished traditional cultural values. In his spiritual calling he shone as a bright star in the firmament of the illustrious Sangha order. As a young samanera he was gifted with the virtues that make one popular.

Even as a novice the Ven. Saddhatissa was an eloquent exponent of the Dhamma. His talents were of such an order that he was called upon to deputize for the Most Ven. Kalukondayawe Sri Pannasekera on some occasions.

At the Vidyodaya Pirivena as a student bhikkhu, the Ven. Saddhatissa pursued his academic studies with distinction. He passed the Pracina Panditha Examination with distinction and acquired a wide knowledge of Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, Bengali, Urdu and Prakrit, in addition to the usual grounding in the Pali Tripitaka. Even in his youth, while acquainting himself with all aspects of Theravada Buddhist Philosophy, he distinguished himself as a highly disciplined young bhikkhu who upheld the highest traditions of the order.

As principal of the Pallewela Vickramaseela Vidarsana Pirivena the Ven. Saddhatissa rendered yeoman service as an exemplary teacher who nurtured a distinguished band of scholarly pupil monks. On the invitation of the trustees of the Mahabodhi Society, Ven. Saddhatissa engaged in a series of missionary activities at the Saranatha Maha Vihara. In that capacity he did much to foster the spread of Theravada Buddhism in India.

While in India Ven. Saddhatissa mastered the Hindi and English languages, and after graduating from the University of Benares, became a lecturer in Pali and Buddhism. The volume of literature on Buddhism which the Ven. Saddhatissa wrote in the English, Hindi and Sinhala languages is legion. Scholars of both the orient and occident were considerably impressed by his literary skills in doctrinal exposition. Ven. Saddhatissa delivered sermons and discourses on Buddhism with great facility as much in Hindi and English as he did in Sinhala.

The leader of the Harijan Sect of India, Dr. Ambedkar, was wont to consult Ven. Saddhatissa on points of Buddhist philosophy. For about 25 years the Ven. Saddhatissa lectured on Theravada Buddhism and Pali in many universities of India. The Ven. Saddhatissa was appointed Professor of Ideology at the University of Toronto, Canada, in appreciation of his service to the Dhamma and Pali language. Once again on the invitation of the trustee of the Maha Bodhi Society, Ven. Saddhatissa served as the Head of the London Buddhist Vihara in England and at the end of his life engaged in Dharmaduta activities in several countries of Europe.

The fact that the Maha Thera was invited by the Pope and Queen Elizabeth II of England amply testifies to the recognition of his services in the United Kingdom and in the continent and to the great esteem in which he was held.

Ven. Saddhatissa was in large measure responsible for the founding of the numerous Buddhist Centres in the United Kingdom and in many countries in Europe.

The service he rendered over a period of three decades while residing in England in disseminating the Dhamma to students from Thailand (Siam), Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Laos and England is considered second only to that rendered by illustrious Buddhist savant, the Anagarika Dharmapala.

The 12th Commemoration of Ven. Sri Saddhatissa Nayaka Thero was held at the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre at Kingsbury in U.K. under the guidance of its chief incumbent Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi on February 16 and 17.

I am sure that the Ven. Saddhatissa’s journey in samsara will be very limited and that he will attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana in a comparatively short time.

By Ven. Dr. Akuratiye Nanda Nayaka Thera

I’m glad that you lived, really lived!

Lynda Hadji Omar

I had a friend… I have a friend …I had a friend
Have- had -have -had -have- had- have- had
Grammar and reality versus emotion
Battling in my mind for supremacy
I have a friend - emotion wins
How can my other self be relegated to the past tense
If I myself still am?
How can a being as alive, vibrant and irrepressible
As you Lynda ever be stone cold dead?

I hear your voice, I see your smirky smile,
The full throated chuckle, the hot and bothered you
Dripping perspiration cussing the humidity
Every little detail
Forever etched … tattoo-like on me and mine.

You invaded our lives, every aspect of my household
With love, with care and generosity unbounded
The nuances, what was left unsaid
You would intuitively catch and know
So intimately connected were you with us.
Many were the times I felt you knew me
Better than I knew myself
In a sense we were
Un-scientifically un- biologically family
Possibly even closer than family

The exhaustion we felt
Just unwrapping the heaps of Christmas gifts
You always plied us with
Not only us your friends but everyone around you
Especially the staff in your employ
The exquisite and elaborate gift -wrapping,
The tender words on carefully selected cards,
What a labour of love
A single birthday card for a friend
And others near and dear
-à la regular people,
Would never suffice for you and gift(s)
It had to be multiples - in fact
Everything had to be that way.
Over and above.
Your hearth and home were a refuge and
Half-way house for many along life's journey
Time you had and made for the sick and elderly.

The fabulous and memorable Christmas brunches
Home-cooked -especially Dec 2005 - almost a last supper
In retrospect, I think you knew the end was near
I can't believe I'm sitting, composing this
Rather than keying in
On the mobile (you gave me)
To have one of our on an average five chats per day.!
It all happened so quickly a year ago
And now you're away.
We knew, all of us, that sickness had you in its grip
We knew also that you were brave, medically savvy
And not inclined to accept a patient's role meekly
You didn't want to live with another's
Transplanted heart beating in place of yours
I don't fault you for that… your heart was unique.
So came the end swiftly and suddenly
I think the way you would have liked it to
At home in your sleep
A few hours after we had our last conversation
About men, matters and the state of the world
No inkling of what the morrow would bring
Not for you the prospect of hospitalization,
Hospital smells, dirty mops, Sassy doctors.

Radiant were you in repose as you always were in life.
It's eerie, I can almost feel you
Looking curiously over my shoulder as I write
Instructing, prompting fine- tuning
As we used to do, many times together
Professional CV and letter writers
For the less privileged
Who had no access to computers and printers.
Prolific e-mailer with the funniest bone in town
Is St Peter in stitches and choking with your jokes and asides, repartee and wit? - I miss you Lynda

You were precious to many
A daughter, a wife, a mother and an in-law
And of course a friend
Friendship for you was sacred
Elevated, almost on par with religion
What a scintillating amalgam
Whimsical, quixotic, peppery
Incurably romantic
Elegant, genuine, funny and serious
A clean-freak, generous
Perfectionist, gay and gutsy
Queen of the internet
A gift-wrapped with the
'Milk of human kindness'
And tied up with streaks of mischief!

You are here and you always will be
In my mind and in our lives
Until 'you bore a hole and pull me through'.
You will not grow old
And I'll have to wear purple all by myself
If I live to be old….and you know what?
It won't be half the fun without you
I'm not sad that you died, I'm smiling and glad
That you lived. You really did.

By Christine

Our mother, our angel

It’s been four years since angels took you away,
We’ve never felt it’s been so long.
Knowing that you are in God’s loving arms
We find solace, and try to be strong.

Darling amma we miss you each passing day,
Your love for us was beyond measure.
Memories of you will never fade away
Your memories… it’s our treasure.
Four years gone by,
The void in our hearts ever so strong.
Still... We know you are with us,
Our mother, our angel will never be gone.

Please take care of our precious mother.
Dear Lord we pray on bended knee,
Look after the angel, who’s looking after us,
That’s our humble plea.

By Sherine Perera

Once upon a time...

Devi Jayasinghe

Once upon a time
It was you, me and Christmas chimes,
With mistletoe and holly,
Just the three of us, in conjugal bliss
We lived in an isle of Cyprus and Pine
And its balmy clime,
But that was once upon a time

Once upon a time
As the years rolled by,
We cherished each other,
Like no other,
With hugs and kisses
But that was once upon a time

Once upon a time,
We listened to the symphonies of
Beethoven, Vivaldi and Mozart,
Piping in our bedroom,
And gazed at the immortal works of art
Of Renoir, Michelangelo and Degas,
Done with a genius craft
But that was once upon a Time

Once upon a time
Each new day was a gift,
Of glowing love with no ending
There was no parting or departing
Only a meeting and greeting
And dancing and romancing
Over the moon and honeymooning
But that was once upon a time

Once upon a time
We wrote poems
To each other in melodious rhyme,
Like Robert and Elizabeth Browning,
It was psychic and so divine,
But that was long, long ago
Once upon a time

Once upon a time
We read all the classics,
And books on anthropology and astronomy
And to top it all under milk wood
By Dylan Thomas our favourite poet
Who wrote about life, birth and death,
From the womb to the tomb,
But that was once upon a time

Alas! One black night
You suffered a rollicking
Bout of pneumonia
And flights of angels took you to your rest,
And I was left bereft
With photogenic memories,
And swollen tears in my eyes,
Rolling down my cheek as I did weep,
As I thought of Aesop's fables,
And a child's garden of verses
But that was once upon a time
Long, long ago, as I don't want to live anymore,
As I wait to meet you and greet you
As before, when
My turn comes to say goodbye.

By Ian Jayasinghe

Sunday Times Feb 18 2007

She shared her love for life with those less fortunate

Manel Senadhira

Lion Lady Manel Senadhira met with an untimely death on January 4 this year following a serious motor accident. She would never have dreamt of dying in this manner, because she was an active, outgoing and vivacious person pulsing with the joy of life. The magic of her personality beamed from her beauty, charm, poise and grace and especially from her friendliness, companionship, culture and intelligence.

Manel was happily married to Ainsley, an engineer and was the mother of an only daughter Nadeesha and the mother-in-law of Surintha. She was also the adored grandmother of two grandsons, Yohan and Stefan and grand-daughter Rochelle.

Manel was a Miss Karunaratne before marriage and was sister to four brothers and four sisters. In her young days at school at Anula Vidyalaya, Nugegoda and elsewhere, Manel was keen on taking part in drama, dance and singing and her talents were displayed when she acted in stage plays such as Vessantara, Ramayana, Siri Sangabo etc. In singing and dancing too Manel gained recognition, being trained by maestros like Sarangupta Amarasinghe and Prem Kumar.

Beginning at Radio Ceylon in Lamapitiya, Manel was graded an “A” artiste at the age of eighteen she worked for a while as the Librarian at Anula Vidyalaya.

My association and that of my wife Therese with Manel dates back over 20 years, as members of the Lions Club of Kandana/JaEla. She was a dedicated and committed Lion-Lady extending her talents and time to serve the less fortunate. She was in the forefront heading projects for the care of the needy, the handicapped, the blind and especially orphaned children.

At club level, she was a popular figure endearing herself with her bonhomie, cheer and fellowship.

Manel along with my late cousin Shirani were the nightingales of the Lions Club of Kandana/Jaela. No get-together was complete without their leading participation in song and music. I recall with pleasure Manel rendering melodiously with her rich voice hits of yester-year such as “Suwanda Rosa Mal Nela” "Punsandhinahenne” and “Pinsiduwanne” to the delight of many an admirer. As a Lion Lady who pioneered and promoted community singing at Lions Club meetings and functions both at club and district levels, Manel was a source of strength to me in my endeavours. I remember how Manel trained the club choir at her residence in preparation for a zonal competition, which the club eventually won at the Gampaha Botanical Gardens singing the number ”One day at a time”. Manel also distinguished herself at District Level especially when she accompanied her husband Ainsley who was a Deputy District Governor at club visitations. At Convention times and at Lion Ladies' fund raisers she played a prominent role efficiently carrying out the responsibilities allotted to her.

This appreciation will be bereft of its value if no mention is made of Manel as a caring hostess. The functions at her elegant home were meticulously planned to entertain her friends and relatives. Her well-laid out tables afforded sumptuous dinners and lunches with a variety of food and drinks to suit the palates of her guests, with a word that such a dish was available to her or to him.

A meal to satisfy everyone was her forte. Manel also maintained a beautiful mansion with tasteful décor and furniture. The beauty and serenity of her immediate surroundings were the handiwork of her supervision and interest.

Manel died a devout Buddhist faithfully practising the tenets of her religion. Although her husband Ainsley was a Catholic, there was perfect harmony and understanding between them, the difference in religion being no impediment to their relationship.

In fact her respect towards another faith was reflected when she volunteered many times to decorate the altar at St. Anne’s Church, Weligampitiya for important events at the church.

She supported and assisted parish activities especially with regard to children and youth. She conducted a montessori, a milk feeding centre, flower making classes and cookery demonstrations.

May the Gods now keep Manel in their care and may she attain Nibbana.

By Lion Ronnie Perera.

A sense of fairplay in both his professional and personal life

Justice P. Ramanathan

I would like to salute and pay tribute to a great, humble and generous person, Justice P. Ramanathan. He is fondly remembered as “Rama" and “Uncle Rama” by our family.

He was highly respected, not only in the professional world, but also amongst the common folk who came in contact with him. He lived for others and went out of his way to help others.

Even when he was unwell, he was always positive in his outlook. He gave so much hope to all those around him. He tackled difficult situations in his public life with courage and confidence. There was a sense of balance in his decisions.

His eloquence cannot be matched in this day and age. Few are as articulate as our Rama. He had so much pride and joy in all that he did. We were so privileged to be his close friends. His abundance of humour made us laugh all the time.

His wife Mano brought tremendous joy to him. It goes without saying that much of his success and achievements were attributable to her unflinching support.

Rama was a humane gentleman at all times. A fearless and courageous son of Mother Lanka, he was one of the greatest public figures Sri Lanka has produced in recent times. May his soul rest in peace and dignity.

By Dhushyanthi Vedarvanam.

The epitome of kindness and compassion he was a devoted follower of Buddhism

Nissanka Abeyewardene

On the morning of January 16, grandpa Nissanka left his abode to which he had recently moved in, saying cheers to the grandchildren, vowing to bring them the customary goodies as was the routine whenever he went on his marketing rounds. Hours passed, but there were no signs of him. His wife became anxious and so did the children. Frantic calls were given to hospitals and finally the message came through. The mercenary-minded private bus mafia had done it again - knocked down poor Nissanka.

Nissanka had a long and successful career at the Bank of Ceylon, having served in the various branches of the Bank, with the York Street Branch bidding him adieu. Later he served Lake House as an Editorial Assistant in which position he acquitted himself well.

Nissanka turned 79 last December but he didn’t look his age. He was an embodiment of fitness and bundle of energy. He flaunted his well-being by doing 35 push-ups on the trot. He struck to his daily constitutional like a prayer and sometimes courted the displeasure of those who offered lifts to him by declining them with apologetic courtesy because he valued his health-walk very much.

He was the epitome of kindness and compassion. Nissanka was besotted with religious worship and there was no doubt that he loved to listen to, and chant “Pirith” more than anything else in life. The encomiums showered on Nissanka in the oration of the incumbent monk of the Temple where he frequently visited, left the distinguished gathering of mourners convinced that this devoted follower of Buddha’s doctrine was a saint in human garb.

He was a true gentleman, faithful husband and devoted father whose moral excellence would have already ensured him a place in heaven.

May he finally attain the bliss of Nibbana.

By Bandula

She lived for her family and village

Marjorie Kodippily

She was special in many ways. Her life style was simple. Her entire life was of a selfless nature where she sacrificed her energy for the upliftment of her family and village.

I was four years old when I came to live with her, in her little home surrounded by trees, flowers and birds. I will never forget how she brought up both me and my sister who was 2 ½ years old then.

At the prime of her youth she gave up a good profession at the General Hospital to care for her younger sisters and only brother who were in school when they lost their parents in 1943. Thereafter, she dedicated her life to educate the family and also worked for the upliftment of the poor village of Gonapinuwala, where she lived.

She took a keen interest in the problems of the villagers and advised the parents of small children, on education, health and malnutrition problems etc… I remember instances where she sent poor patients to Colombo and Galle hospitals at her own expense.

Her courage and dedication to uplift the village deserve appreciation.

She started a dairy farm by introducing a high breed of cattle and poultry. This led to the establishment of a milk collection centre. Next, she introduced a new variety of paddy for a better yield to obtain a higher price for the farmer. The farmers also started growing vegetables and fruits on a larger scale. With these items in hand she had approached the Minister and through her influence, a co-operative store was opened in the village.

Finally, the people showed their gratitude by choosing her as the President of the Co-operative stores, where she served for many years.

She was popular among the younger generation as she was young at heart. She constantly organized educational tours to ancient cities in the land.

What we enjoyed the most was going in bullock carts, sight seeing on Vesak nights and picnics with tasty food during holidays and fishing in pools and streams!

My sister and I will remember her with gratitude for having shown us a glimpse of the light of Christ when in her care.

She was the eldest daughter of the late proctor W.A. Kodippily of Matara and Maggie Weerasooriya of Dodanduwa. She was 89 years old when she left us. Towards the end, she often said “My work is fulfilled and I am going Home”. The people of this village will remember “Marjorie Nona” for many years to come.

By Kamala (Mrs. D Weerasooriya)

The Sunday Leader Feb 11 2007

Phillip Upali Wijewardene

A successful businessman should have a photographic memory, uncommon common sense, an ability to learn fast, make quick decisions and luck.

This was Phillip Upali Wijewardene, the founder of Upali Group of Companies.

After graduating in economics from the University of Cambridge, Wijewardene returned to Sri Lanka to join Unilever, where he worked for two years.

The first business venture he undertook was to takeover a bankrupt confectionery factory belonging to one of his friends. With modern machinery and planned management, Wijewardene was able to turn it around in a short period, and established ‘Delta’ as a leading brand in confectionery.

The second venture he took over was a chocolate company in financial difficulties. With rationalising of the product range and effective marketing, Wijewardene was able to make it a success. Kandos chocolate is now a household name in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand having its manufacturing plants in these countries.

Since its small beginnings in the early ’60s, Upali Group diversified into many fields such as Upali Aviation (a domestic airline), assembly of motorcars (UMC Mazda and Upali Fiat), assembly of consumer electronic products (Unic and Denshi) and later management of tea, rubber and cocoa estates under Adams Peak, Grand Central and Perak River plantations, both in Sri Lanka and overseas. The cocoa trading office of Upali Group in USA was then housed in the World Trade Centre, New York City, which handled all the industrial products made in the Upali factories.

In 1978, Wijewardene was appointed Director General of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission, now called the Board of Investment, set up to attract direct foreign investment to the country, which he handled with great success.

Because of Wijewardene’s business achievements, he was featured in the Fortune magazine of December 1980, captioned ‘Sri Lanka’s dashing deal maker.’ He was the only Sri Lankan to have had such a privilege.

Upali Wijewardene was a man of many parts. He was the Chief Basnayake Nilame of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya. This position was inherited from his father, the late Don Walter Wijewardene, son of Helena Wijewardene Lamathani, who renovated the present Kelaniya temple after its destruction by the Portuguese. His religious belief was such that whatever he produced, he first offered to the Kelaniya temple. Presently, his nephew, Dhammika Attygalle functions as the Chief Basnayake Nilame of the Kelaniya temple.

The name Upali Wijewardene was synonymous with horse racing — the sport of kings. He was the Chairman, Board of Stewards of the Sri Lanka Turf Club and was a keen turfite, who raced in Sri Lanka and England, where he won the ‘Royal Ascot’ with ‘Rasa Penang’ ridden by the world famous Jockey Lester Piggot. He also won the Singapore Derby and Perak Derby – 1980, with his horse, named Varron.

He raced General Atty too and won many races in England. He flew to all these countries, where his horses were racing, in his private aircraft. He made it a point to fly from New Market to Nuwara Eliya to watch his horses and ponies racing there. He would land in Katunayake Airport and make a quick tarmac change to his private helicopter to fly to Nuwara Eliya. Wijewardene was responsible in reviving pony racing and horse racing during a time when there was a lull in racing.

On February 13, 1983 while returning to Colombo from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wijewardene and five others disappeared in his private Lear Jet over the straits of Malacca leaving no trace of the wreckage or survivors.

He was a native son, whose vision embraced the world.

Rajah Sinnathuray J.P
Sri Lanka Turf Club

Sunday Times Feb 11 2007

His talents went beyond Sri Lanka’s shores

~ Eustace Fernando

Eustace Fernando passed away in the United States on November 26, last year, after surgery, a month before his 82nd birthday.
He was a civil engineer and had been resident in America for over 40 years, during which time he had on several occasions visited Sri L