The demise of Dr. Talwatte has left an unfillable void in our ranks. The hundred-odd Consultant radiologists who are scattered throughout the island owe an immense debt of gratitude to him.
In 1979, the idea of local postgraduate degrees was mooted, and the Institute of Post-Graduate Medicine created.
There were around 10 consultant radiologists in the island at the time. Dr. Talwatte like Atlas of Greek mythology bore the entire burden of post-graduate education on his shoulders. He based the curriculum on the curriculum of radiologists in Britain.
Helped by his contacts abroad and a few senior colleagues here, he formulated the training programme, the quality of which is borne out by the excellent performance of those who have obtained the MD Radiology. They made an impression in whichever hospital they obtained their post-graduate training, be it Australia, Britain or Singapore.
The design of the logo of our College of Radiology too was his brain child. That was Dr. Talwatte the radiologist and mentor par excellence.
The ‘Tale’ I knew walked in to the X-ray department of the General Hospital of Kandy in 1965. I was MO Radiology at the time. Dapper, courteous, well-groomed, he wore his quizzical smile; his eyes bore their usual twinkle. His disarming manner dispelled any doubts I had about my “new boss”. He always treated me as a colleague and friend.
Patient and unflappable, never irritable, I doubt he was capable of losing his temper with anyone. He was totally devoid of malice and envy, and his warm personality encompassed all who came within his orbit.
I obtained an excellent grounding in general radiology from him. When he left to Colombo in 1969 he donated x-rays collected from his previous stations, Kurunegala and Galle. These included unique examples of rare pathology.
He was a devoted father and grandfather. And a father figure to his siblings.
My daughters who used to meet him when they were young, used to refer to him as ‘that sweet uncle’, as does my grand-daughter, in more recent years,who used to visit his place quite often.
My sympathies go out to his grieving family.“His life was gentle, and the
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'” – Shakespeare
An old world gentleman with a healing smile
‘Tale’– as he was fondly referred to by his friends – was the typical genial gentleman. Though we were in medical school around the same time, I came to know him only when we were together on the staff of General Hospital, Kandy in the late 1960s.
Working with Tale was, apart from being educative, a real pleasure. Always soft spoken he would express his opinion succinctly, simply, and confidently, but never with the arrogance of a closed mind.
He was always open to any suggestion when discussing a clinical problem and our discussions were frequent, fruitful and most pleasurable, usually sprinkled with that quiet almost mischievous smile.
Tale was an altogether warm character, with a fine light sense of humour. In our long association, I’ve never seen him ruffled, never heard him being vindictive. On those rare occasions he would make a critical remark about anyone, he would do so with sadness bereft of anger or contempt, and usually with that quiet understanding smile of his, which seemed to say ‘and that is human nature’.
All those who knew him will miss this almost old-world gentleman.
He was an aristocrat in his behavior, a feudal lord without a trace of feudalism in him. I used to always think of him as a ‘Chieftan from the highlands bound’, and in his mature years, as he greeted me with that cheery ‘How are you Don Mark?’ I’d straightaway clothe him in the splendid costume of a Kandyan Chief, a costume which seemed to suit him so well.
Unfortunately, on the last occasion I saw him, while that warm smile was still there, I sensed the slow weakening of this admirable spirit. Premini and I both feel deeply for those who loved him and were so dearly loved by him. May the blessings of the Triple Gem be with him, for all time.