Two months have passed since Loku Aiya, the eldest in our family, peacefully ended his earthly sojourn. He had duly accomplished his worldly tasks. He must be now in a place of perfect peace and serenity. But for those left behind, it is “winter in the heart.”Jayantha was a source of strength and support to all of us. His clear, resonant voice was encouraging and inspiring. His genial presence was reassuring and comforting to all.
Jayantha and I were brought up with two other siblings, Santha and the late Sunil, in a Christian environment. Our parents, the late Jacob and Erin, taught us the values of life. They were our role models. One was an outspoken and honest father, and the other a gentle and benevolent mother. Their care has served us throughout our lives. As the eldest, Jayantha took charge. He became head of the family after our father’s passing away in 1982. He dutifully and conscientiously carried out the tasks entrusted to him as our mentor and guide. He was a father figure and a pillar of strength – to us and our three aunts as well.
God blessed him abundantly. Jayantha had a happy married life. Geetha was a gracious and devoted wife, and together they brought up two talented and dutiful daughters.
Loku Aiya, my senior by seven years, was an adventurous and daringly mischievous youth. He and his brothers would climb trees, enjoy harmless jokes, and go on secret expeditions that included swimming and rowing in the river in front of our house.
Jayantha had a strikingly strong personality. He was impressive physically and mentally. And yet he was loved, for deep within he was mild, generous, large-hearted and compassionate.
Uncles, aunts and cousins of our extended family regarded him as a thoroughly dependable and sincere relative.
Jayantha was the livewire at our Y. B. Fernando family unions. To the less fortunate, the under-privileged and those who worked for him, he was charitable, kind and considerate. In the company of children, he became a child, and thereby won their trust as their friend.
To the weaker sex, he was chivalrous. He was the trusted friend to many women who depended on him for assistance and advice. He was a loyal and faithful friend, standing by his friends through thick and thin. As for Pemsiri and I, we had Loku Aiya to lend a helping hand, which he did with generosity and affection. Our sons Pathum and Pemsith owe him a debt of gratitude for being a devoted uncle and much more. Honest and outspoken, Jayantha was frank about his likes and dislikes.
He would fearlessly champion the just cause and stand by anyone who was getting unfair treatment. This admirable quality earned Jayantha respect and appreciation. He did what he thought was right, for he believed in his good intentions. He did nothing for personal glory.
He tirelessly and eagerly served in various societies, mainly the Prince of Wales’ College Old Boys’ Association, and the YMCA. He did not look for praise and honour. He was a true social worker. His close associates and colleagues will attest to his commitment, dedication, integrity, dependability, organising skills and amazing capacity for work.
Geetha, Lahari, Siumi, Pujitha, and Vajira – we know your loss is irreparable. Jayantha, a dignified and a truly wonderful human being, has left us. Yet his memory lingers on in all that we shared together.
As Christians we are consoled by the thought that we will be united with him, and all our departed loved ones in the presence of God our Father, where we will live eternally. Loku Aiya’s countenance, which radiated happiness and good cheer, will be etched in my mind forever.