Plus - Appreciations

Grandma, you will always be a treasured part of the family

Constance (Connie) Wickremesinghe

It has been a long time since you left us, but your presence is with us every day. I am so blessed to have had a grandmother like you, who loved me so much. I cannot think of you without tears in my eyes. Thank you for the love you gave us.

You hailed from a large family of four brothers and seven sisters, the children of Mudaliyar Josiah James Gunewardena and Lilian. You had a great love for “family.” You were a beacon of light to us all. You never turned away anyone who came to you in need. You brought into your close-knit family a niece, displaying your loving, giving heart.

Your life was by no means a bed of roses. Your loving husband David Wickremesinghe passed away young, leaving you a widow at a very early age. Single-handed, you brought up your two daughters Manel and Yvonne to be the loving people they are. We are who you made us to be, Aachchi. You were always there for us, our Rock, and we still feel your presence.

When Papa returned after his work stint overseas, he and mama went to Kurunegala, his home town, to settle down. You took me under your wing, as I had to be in Colombo to continue my English medium schooling. I must have been one of the most spoilt grandchildren in town !

You loved sewing, gardening, painting and cooking, and we have learnt those skills from you in various degrees. You waited until I got my university results, and how happy you were to hear I had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Sadly, you did not live to attend my graduation.

I gave up a university scholarship to the US in order to be with you, as your health was failing, and I never regretted that decision, because you had done so much for me. You were with me when I got my first salary as an English teacher. I know, Aachchi, that you will be proud of what I have now achieved.
You will always be a treasured part of our family

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we will always love and remember you.

Granddaughter Tammy

Memories of a long, warm friendship

Dr. Michael Satchie

To put pen to paper to write an appreciation of a close friend is a sorrowful task. Satchie (Satchitananthan) and I entered the portals of our hallowed school Royal College, Colombo way back in 1954. He was admitted to the Tamil stream while my admission was to the English Stream. Fate had it that a long lasting bond between Satchie and me covering three score years was to begin in 1956 when we were absorbed into the same class.

Our not-so-vociferous natures may have helped cement this friendship. Satchie was a genius in many ways but never asserted this characteristic. While most of us chose to do Geography he chose Greek as his subject, the only one in our batch to do so. His versatility was proved that in spite of doing Classics, he ended up being a Doctor.

Satchie was an excellent swimmer. I reminisce with a touch of nostalgia about the days when Satchie and I used to go to St Joseph’s College pool (as Royal did not have a pool then) for swimming. Satchie would cycle from his home in Wellawatte to my home in Colpetty, pick me up, and then I would do the riding while Satchie travelled on the bar. After a good swim he would drop me back at home and pedal all the way back to Wellawatte.

Satchie had extraordinary literary talents as were exemplified in his poetry and anecdotes. His calligraphic hand writing was quite exquisite. I have a treasured possession of a beautiful poem he composed in 1991 when my daughter got married. He was an excellent chess player and versatile cook.

Satchie opted to do Paediatrics. He proceeded to the US. In my long association with him I observed he had a habit of coming up with intriguing and problematic questions which often dumbfounded us. Since I was an eye surgeon, he once asked me what type of dreams do people born blind have. I couldn’t give a suitable answer and threw this question to the audience during my Presidential address at the College of Ophthalmologists. I still do not to this day have the correct answer. Satchie appreciated music ranging from the Classics to contemporary. He used to advise me on what type of hi fi equipment I should invest in.

I last spoke to my close buddy about a month ago and I was sad to hear of his decision not to fight his illness which had plagued him for sometime. His family life also had many pitfalls losing his father in the dark days of the 1983 riots.

His brother Dr. Harin too pre-deceased him having passed away a few years ago after making a name in New York as a leading Paediatrician. Satchie spent his retirement glued to the computer and he used to call his room the Ashram. Many a time we had long conversations on the phone on the subject of religion where we had diametrically opposite views. I sorely miss those long discussions and friendly discourses that kept us glued to the phone for hours. Goodbye dear friend I will surely miss your warm friendship.

I conclude this tribute to Satchie with a befitting couplet from Gray’s Elegy which our great teacher and Icon at Royal the late Viji Weerasinghe taught us in his English Literature class.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bare
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness in the desert air

Dr. Sirry Cassim

Tall and stately she stood out in any crowd

Haseena Nooruliyne Aroos

Noori Aroos to her friends and Gangy Mami to the family was the daughter of the late Proctor Buhari and the late Khadija Buhari of Matara. She was married to the late I.H.M.Aroos of Matara.

She had her early education at St. Thomas’s Girls School Matara, Southlands College Galle and was later boarded at C.M.S. Ladies’College Colombo. Here, she made her lifelong friends and would look forward to all Old Girls’ Association events held throughout the year. In her youth, Noori was a ravishing beauty with a fair complexion: tall and stately, she stood out in a crowd.

She was always well dressed and carried herself with aplomb. She had a wonderful sense of humour, which enabled her to face the challenges of life with fortitude. Her marriage to Aroos was filled with love and respect and she was devoted to her only son Muaiyyad, around whom her world revolved.

She was the Manager of the Bookshop at the Lanka Oberoi and later on the Cinnamon Grand for over 25 years. She loved being in the hotel environment, listening to the music in the Lobby area and also meeting the distinguished guests who may by chance walk into the Bookshop. She was well read and knowledgeable about a wide range of literature and was always happy to recommend visitors to the bookstore and help them find what they were looking for.

Her annual birthday celebration was something everyone in the family looked forward to. When we dropped by, her flat would be full of her nieces and nephews, all there to celebrate with one of their favourite Aunts. The table would be beautifully laid out with a delicious cake and a variety of short eats; in her heyday, she was quite the connoisseur of fine desserts and cakes. She was always at the centre of the party, cracking jokes and having quiet chats with people.

She will be sadly missed by all her friends and family for the wise words, fun and laughter she shared with us. She will remain in our hearts and memories as one of those people taken from us too soon – but who lived her life on this earth with grace, wisdom and a warm and loving heart.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments; but what is woven into the lives of others”

By the grace of Allah, may she attain “Jennathul Firdous.”

F. Aziz

He chose the path where he would ‘stop and meet many people’

Gamini Gunasekera

Gamini Gunasekera, son of Mr. and Mrs. D.L. Gunasekera, hailed from a family well known for their traditions and adventures.

He was educated at Ananda College, Colombo. The precious quality of not giving up personal, family and national worth and value was characteristic of the Gunasekeras and of Gamini too. This quality is sometimes misunderstood by those who prefer to give up their family and their national identity – even though having an ID card.

Gamini’s support for the present president was outspoken, also due to this pristine quality of love.
He qualified in engineering and business in Britain. When he returned to Sri Lanka he studied the machines he worked with by himself. Therefore some called him a “self-made man”. By the age of 27 he was a fully qualified motor engineer. He then decided to drive to Sri Lanka overland from Europe. He was interviewed by the Standard newspaper in England before setting out in his Ford Cortina on the long journey.

To the news reporter Gamini said, “I hope to stop and meet people in many places on the way”. He passed through France, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia (at the time), Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. One of the many he met included the Shah of Iran. The Shah had asked him to stay on in his palace. However Gamini continued on his way.

When he returned to Sri Lanka he attempted to start a career in Engineering. Gamini may not have realized the full significance of saying, “I hope to stop and meet people in many places on the way,” when he set out from England. Gamini had a much higher calling than to follow a selfish career. He had a vision for development. He had to indeed “stop and meet many people.”

His work started when he found a wife from Galle. She gave him support and strength. He was a loving father to three daughters.

He started his work from Meeriyakanda estate which he developed into a thriving tea production envied by many. On his own he learnt about machinery and at one point had the most modern equipment. Gamini chose to install these in a remote area called Hiyare in the Galle District. The people will still remember him for the development and employment he brought to that area.

He was the founder and chairman of Cambridge College of Higher Education that was started in 1998. Many students have gone overseas and developed in their careers through this institution. He could have gone back to UK as he was a qualified engineer.

Sri Lanka has lost a man who did much for the education system of the country.

Ushan Gunasekera

Tribute to a lady of courage

Sarasvati Rockwood

Saras, as she was always known, and I were classmates at St Bridget's from the Kindergarten to the London Matriculation. Every year, we both tied for the English prize and the English Literature prize. Even after we left school, we stayed in touch. I last visited her in June 2010, but since then, our phone calls were more frequent.

When the dreaded disease struck her, she took it all so bravely. She was a woman of indomitable courage. When I rang her a week before she died and asked her "How are you?", she said "don’t talk to me about my illness. I want you to talk to me of other matters." Some months ago, when I told her that I had had a fall in the bathroom, but escaped with no bruises, and that I attributed it to the fact that I read Psalm 91 every day, she asked me to post her a copy, but she said it must be enlarged and also laminated. I duly got it done and posted it. That was about a month before she died.

She belonged to a Club called the Crochet Club. There were about 10 or 12 members and they used to meet at one another's homes once a month. She once invited me when the lunch that followed the meeting was at her residence. She was immensely proud of my ancestry and used to often refer to it in our conversations. One day we went to visit two schoolmates of ours . Going back to her house, she said "Let's stop for an iced coffee". Little did I know then that that was the last time I would see her. I am aware that before she fell ill, she visited school mates of ours who were bedridden and unable to leave their home.

She had immense faith in God. Every time I rang her, she used to say "Pray for me, Therese". I will always remember her as a very caring person.

The tributes that were paid to her by her grand children at the beautifully organised service held in her memory on August 21 were indeed proof of her caring nature. May the turf lie lightly on her. To her grieving family, I say "My prayers are with you all".

Therese Motha

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