Plus - Appreciation

Remembering the ‘elder statesman’ of Royal College

Vijitha Weerasinghe

It is two years since Vijitha Weerasinghe, the esteemed and respected “elder statesman” of Royal College, left us. Tempus fugit, as he would have said.

He was fond of saying he was associated with Royal for more than 70 years, first as a pupil, then as a teacher and a Deputy Principal, and finally as Vice President and Advisor to the Royal College Union, the “old boys’” arm of Royal College. We who were taught and guided by him would say that Mr. Weerasinghe will be associated with Royal for a great many more years – until the last Royalist he taught and guided breathes his last.

Mr. Weerasinghe was a unique man – a gentleman with a kindly disposition. He liked music, quality tobacco and a single quiet drink in the evenings, listening to his beloved western classical music. He had that rare ability of being able to walk with kings while keeping the common touch.

He was a vast storehouse of knowledge regarding English language and literature, Latin, and the history and lore of Royal College. In his younger days he was an orchid enthusiast who scientifically grew orchids.

Mr. Weerasinghe exuded joie de vivre. Vishunusharman, the ancient pundit from King Sudharshana’s court, would have had a man like him in mind when he said:

“Kavyashastravinodena kalo gachchathi dheematham Vyasenena cha moorkhanan nidraya kalahena va.” (Wise men spend their time in the study of enjoyment of sciences, literature and poetry: fools in vice, sleep and quarrels.)

After his retirement in 1997 at the age of 70, Mr. Weerasinghe immediately took up duties at the Royal College Union as its Advisor and Vice-President.

Many Royalists, including principals, sought his advice and guidance, including this writer. I became the Royal College Union Secretary in July 2007, and Mr. Weerasinghe passed away a few months later, on October 31, 2007. This was a great personal loss to me.

The school’s 175th anniversary is next year, and the Royal College Union is planning a number of events to mark the occasion. Mr. Weerasinghe’s advice and guidance would have been a source of much strength to me. His mere presence would have given me strength, just as the presence of a father gives strength and courage to a son.

I am sure I speak for all those who served as Royal College Union Secretary when I say this. Even non-Royalists who worked with him have this glowing feeling about him.

May he flourish – wherever he is.

M. Rizan Nazeer, Honorary Secretary,Royal College Union

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