Stanley Kirinde whose first death anniversary fell on February 13 was known to many as an exceptional artist, but despite fame and talent, he was one of the most unassuming, kind and humble people I have ever met.
He left this same impression on almost everyone who had the privilege of associating with him, even briefly. Friendly and talkative, he would quickly put you at ease if you were meeting him for the first time. Soon, the two of you would be chatting away like old friends.
As his daughter-in-law, I knew Stanley Kirinde well for close on 17 years. The wonderful talent he was blessed with was a source of wonder to me. When he had a canvas in front of him, he would be fully engrossed in his work, but he would also enjoy talking about his work, if you happened to be present.
His love for painting “Jataka” stories meant that my two sons heard many interesting tales from their grandfather, and they saw the stories magically recreated on canvas.
I watched with fascination as he worked on the mural in the Anglican Cathedral in Colombo. He was then well into his late seventies. He worked with the same enthusiasm he would have had as a young man. Many mornings I would sit and chat with him inside the church as he worked. He would paint and describe what he was painting.
I loved listening and learning from him. He had a vast knowledge of art as well as history, politics and cricket. He had many interesting stories from his schooldays at Trinity College, Kandy, and his time as an undergraduate at the University of Ceylon.
Appachchi recalled that he was a rather boisterous youngster. To keep him quiet when the family went visiting, his parents would permit him to draw with chalk on the floor of the host’s home. He could keep himself occupied that way for hours.
Another story he loved to tell was about the first painting he was commissioned to do, as a university student. He was asked to paint a portrait of the wife of a wealthy Kandy gentleman. Asked about his fee, Appachchi quoted a sum that was the exact price of a bicycle he had seen and admired at Cargills, in Kandy town. His client paid the amount, with little fuss.
Stanley Kirinde was very child-like in many ways. He loved to sit in front of the television with his grandson Rahel and watch cartoons. We would hear their laughter ringing though the house. There was also constant wrangling for the TV remote control, because his other, older grandson Bhanuka would want to watch a different TV programme.
It is these little things we miss so much, now that Stanley Kirinde is no longer there. He touched us with his kindness, and this will last us our lifetime.