Her spirit will
live on in all those who loved her
friends in Sri Lanka will mourn her passing in distant Melbourne
on December 30, 2002, as we do. She was the kind of friend for whom
time and distance only strengthened the bonds of friendship.
last few years she lived happily in a compact little "granny
flat" adjoining her younger son, Anil's house, where she delighted
in entertaining friends. We had the joy of spending a morning with
her in December 1998 and I can picture her smiling and animated
expression as she moved with difficulty, using a walker, to show
me round her little kingdom with its special fixtures that enabled
her to manage on her own. Anil, his wife Chuli and their two children
were constantly on hand, of course.
Enid was always
interested in people, as was her quiet and gentle husband, Malcolm
Abeyaratne, CCS, who was Secretary of the Treasury at the time of
his retirement. We had known Enid from before her marriage, but
we came to know both her and Malcolm more intimately when they became
our neighbours in Nugegoda in 1952 and Enid was expecting her first-born,
Rohan, who in course of time had a brilliant academic record at
Royal College and later topped his batch as a graduate of the Engineering
Faculty of Peradeniya University. Rohan is now a professor at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.
only daughter, Kumudini, married Srian Abeysuriya and lives in Newcastle,
New South Wales.
the time when Malcolm was GA, Ratnapura, and they occupied the large,
Dutch-type Residency there. They always welcomed travellers en route
to the hills. Many a time were we, with our large brood, warmly
received there on our way up-country, with lunch laid out for us
and our children given the run of that huge verandah and the Abeyaratne
When they resided
in Colombo, they kept open house for all their children's friends.
Their home was continually filled with the laughter and talk of
girls and boys. Wherever they were, their friends and their children's
friends could be sure of a genuine welcome and Enid sometimes took
on the role of counsellor as well.
to be GA, Kurunegala at a time that a Student Christian Movement
Conference was held in that town. Enid heard that some of Rohan's
batchmates were attending the conference and she lost no time in
sending them an invitation to tea.
Our son told
us they went to the GA's residence to find a sumptuous high tea
spread out for them, adding, "You can imagine how we tucked
in, coming as we did from the Halls in Peradeniya where food of
that kind was scarcely seen!"
JVP insurgency of 1971, university students were suspects, and parents
of students at Peradeniya waited in some trepidation for their return
home when the university was closed. Malcolm had driven up to bring
Rohan home, but the latter had evidently left by then to make his
own way back. However, Malcolm spotted our son and a friend waiting
at a bus stop and he brought them safely back to Colombo.
Enid was involved
in church activities wherever Malcolm was stationed. She served
for many years on the Board of Trustees of the Ceylon Schools for
the Deaf & Blind and I remember the dedication and enthusiasm
she brought to it, never being one who was content just to attend
meetings, but involving herself in the schools and in fund-raising.
After Malcolm's retirement, they moved to the quiet seclusion of
a house in Siebel Place, Kandy, where true to type, friends from
Colombo were always welcome to spend a weekend or longer.
When Sri Lanka
Sumithrayo decided to open a branch in Kandy, Enid was an obvious
'find' to head the volunteers there. She performed her duties with
the zeal and dedication that was characteristic of her, until they
left the island to take up residence in New Zealand where their
daughter and family had preceded them.
Enid (nee Dias
Jayasinghe) was the youngest of a family of one brother and four
sisters - Phyllis (Mrs. Clarence Peiris), Ellen (Mrs. Denzil Peiris),
Doreen (Mrs. Herbert Keuneman), and Marion (Mrs. Cecil Abeysundere).
The last-named is her only surviving sibling and our loving sympathies
go out to her, as to Rohan, Anil and Kumudini and their families.
We have been
the recipients of many acts of loving kindness from Enid and Malcolm
whose married life was one of great harmony and happiness. One deed
of theirs, however, is forever enshrined in our memories. It occurred
in 1983. Our youngest son was getting married in Kandy and, long
before I had even thought of where we would put up for the occasion,
Enid called me to say that Malcolm and she would temporarily vacate
their house and our family could have the use of it for the week
of the wedding.
When we arrived
there, we found the beds freshly made, clean towels laid out, boiled
drinking water ready for us, milk in the fridge and even home-made
ice-cream in the freezer trays. There was also a note telling me
where everything we might need, could be found.
in New Zealand. Later, Enid moved to Melbourne where her son Anil
and family resided. Never one to feel sorry for herself, she remained
cheerful although walking became a painful exercise. There was no
pretence or humbug about her. She would tell you straight what she
thought about a situation or of a particular action or attitude
of someone's, but never in a hurtful way. She fell ill in November
last year and was hospitalized. Her spirits remained high despite
she was transferred to a nursing home as she needed 24-hour care.
From there, she gave us one last gift - when a telephone was installed
at her bedside, she got Chuli to dial us here in Colombo and gave
us the lovely surprise of hearing her voice one last time, shortly
before Christmas - a final memory that we cherish.
In the obituary
notice sent by her family to the Daily News, the last line read:
"Her body was cremated on December 31 but her spirit will live
on in all those who loved her." Indeed it will, for, while
life lasts, Enid will always remain in our bright and fond memories
The light of
It was with
a deep sense of grief that I heard that Dr. P. Sivasubramaniam had
years old, until the day of his death, he had a vivid recollection
of all events, especially those relating to ophthalmology. He was
a stern man who was of the view that patients always came first.
He knew the rules, he followed the rules and expected others to
do so too.
He firmly believed
that his services were needed in his own country. In spite of opportunities
in far greener pastures abroad, he stayed back with us to guide
us towards his goal; that being to reduce blindness in Sri Lanka.
At the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology conference held in
Sri Lanka in 1974, he was awarded the Jose Rizal Medal for his contribution
to Ophthalmology in the region.
the Ophthalmic Society of Ceylon was the first discipline to break
away from the Ceylon Medical Council. Dr. Sivasubramaniam was a
founder member of the society of which Dr. Kingsley de S. Devaditiya
was founder president.
later, when a College of Ophthalmology was formed, Dr. Sivasubramaniam
became the president. His ophthalmic family was indeed extensive
in that he trained over a dozen eminent ophthalmologists.
and his younger colleague Dr. R. Pararajasekeram were household
names in the ophthalmic circles in Britain. In the late fifties
and sixties those of us who sought ophthalmic training in Britain
were invariably asked, 'Did you train with Subramaniam or Sekaram?'
In the mid-seventies,
he joined hands with another eminent ophthalmologist, Dr. P.A. Wirasinha,
to establish "Eye Care Sri Lanka". Together with several
willing helpers, they did a landmark survey of blindness in all
parts of Sri Lanka and performed sight restoring surgery.
Since the 1950s,
he had contributed to local and international journals on almost
all aspects of ophthalmology.
As a young
undergraduate, I did my ophthalmology appointment of 14 days with
At the end
of the training, to my dismay the Dean informed me that Dr. S had
required me to repeat the appointment. It was only years later that
Dr. S informed me that he had done so to make me take up ophthalmology
as my career.
never trained under him, he was my guide, mentor and teacher. For
him ophthalmology came first, everything else took second place.
We have lost an eminent, proficient ophthalmologist and great teacher.
He has left his imprint on our native soil.
May his loving
wife Sarojini take pride in this.
Goodbye, dear Sir.