It is difficult to express the influence my mother had on my life.
On the morning of that fateful day in April just before her 81st birthday, when I left her room she was sleeping as usual and when I returned she was still asleep but little did I know that she had passed away peacefully just as my father left us three years ago.
Though we understand death and the impermanence of life, it was hard to accept that my mother had departed for good, such was my closeness to her.
I still recall the first day she admitted me to Bishop’s nursery how I clung on to her saree not letting her go; this practice continued for two more years until she decided to take me to her school Visakha. I was delighted when I was admitted to her class. To me Visakha was a home away from home due to mother’s continuous presence.
It is no exaggeration to say that this close affection and love remained. She was my companion and friend to whom I looked up to for advice and assistance. When I entered Law College she accompanied me.
My mother spent more than half of her life at Visakha as a student, teacher and after retirement continued to serve the OGA for many years.
She was a loyal Visakhian who served her old school to the end. It is no exaggeration to state that during her period of employment the hours she spent at Visakha far exceeded the hours at home. She was proud when my daughter was admitted to Visakha as a third generation Visakhian and was equally elated when she became a senior prefect. Her last major event with Visakha was the “Dinner Theatre” where she worked with enthusiasm with a group of old Visakhians.
Even with advancing age she joined the inaugural “Visakha walk” and attended all prize givings, sports meets, the annual Avurudu pola and the picnics until age and ill health restricted her movements.
My mother never failed to observe sil on poya days with a group of her close friends at Aunty Malini’s (Ms Malini Ratnayake) place. I too tagged along on many occasions and the spiritual awakening yet lasts in my memory. She took a keen interest in the religious activities at Visakha and used to join their sil campaigns. It was strange that within a few weeks of her death her closest friend Aunty Malini too left us for ever followed by Aunty Manel (Dr. Manel Panditharatne) her age-old pals from Visakha days.
From a young age she took control of my destiny and apart from school activities she ensured that I gained proficiency in music and elocution at the highest level. She was erudite in Dhamma and I am happy I was able to accompany her to the “Dalada Maligawa” each year for over two decades where she offered alms on her birthday. She kept her friends informed and they too joined us on this annual pinkama. Being the eldest in her family she had a strong character that also gave us confidence.
The vast number of past and present Principals, teachers and old Visakhians who came to pay their last respects reflected the deep attachment she had with the Visakha community. The lessons and examples she left for us were many. In keeping with our religious beliefs I pray for the ending of her sansaric journey in the pursuit of Nirvana.
Shipping world will miss this highly
respected captain of the industry
It is 12 months since Mr. W. Karunatilleke passed away, on October 12, 2010. My close associations with Karu (as he was popularly known) began in 1958 when both of us were seconded as Liaison Officers to the newly created Port (Cargo) Corporation. This was on the eve of the nationalisation of the Port. Over the next 52 years, our friendship blossomed and strengthened.
Before joining the Port, W. Karunatilleke had served for almost 15 years at the Ministry of Education, where he gained a deep knowledge of all aspects of administration. He was extremely methodical in his work, and guided all his juniors in office administration and management.
On accepting permanent employment with the Port (Cargo) Corporation (later the Sri Lanka Ports Authority), he was appointed Administrative Officer in charge of the secretariat of the organization, serving directly under the General Manager/Chairman.
His administrative capabilities and his good communication skills, in English and Sinhala, saw him raised to the position of Administrative Secretary and Secretary to the Board of Directors in which dual role he functioned till his retirement in 1985.
Retirement for him was only another beginning. He was offered the post of Secretary of the Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA), which position he held for almost 10 years, rendering valuable service to the shipping community.
Karu was a founder member of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Retired Staff Officers’ Association and was a vice-president for 12 long years, till 2008, when he asked to be relieved of the responsibility because of failing health. His good counsel, however, was always available to the association on all important matters.
Karu met his life-partner Rosita while he was with the Ministry of Education. They have brought into this world five talented children – one daughter and four sons. The daughter, the eldest, is a Civil Engineer and living in Australia, while the four sons, all professionals, hold high positions in the shipping industry, here and overseas.
Karu had a clear mind to the end. He fulfilled all his duties towards his family. When he died, he had fully accomplished his mission in life. His name is etched in the hearts of all who knew him.
May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
I. E. G. Perera
Life is sad
Raja De Silva Amarasekera
Thirty six months have gone since that sad day
You vanished from our lives
It's a life time for me but with no real life
Where did you go, where are you?
No one knows, but where ever you are
We know you are still looking after us as you always did
What I cannot understand is you who wanted me with you all the time
Left me without taking me with you
You travelled abroad with me but made me come back alone
What karma have I done to lose you so soon
And to live alone for years and years
No one but only you would understand how sad my life is without you
A walking encyclopaedia on recent history of northern Sri Lanka
Oliver Goldsmith in his poem ‘The Village School Master’ writes ‘The more we gazed and gazed at him, the more the wonder grew, that this small head could carry all it knew’. Whenever Rajan was confronted with a question which fell within his knowledge, he answered it with clarity, with one thought flowing into another giving it meaning and understanding.
Rajan’s knowledge of many events in recent history especially in Northern Sri Lanka was a challenge to any encyclopaedia on the same subject.
With a little over two decades as Principal of Jaffna College, Rajan’s tenure of office was the longest in the history of the College which is about a decade less than two centuries. He had to make numerous daily decisions, both individually and many times with different Selection Boards.
Rajan and I had much in common. We were born in the same year and same month, we studied at Jaffna College for a few years, completed the London Inter Science exam the same year, entered Madras Christian College (MCC) in 1951 and stayed in the same Heber Hall, Thambaram, occupying the same room (for the first three months in Heber Hall). We were in the same class from 1951-1953 and completed the BSc Degree in 1953.
It is no wonder that we both had such sincere trust in each other. We parted in 1953, Rajan joining Jaffna College to teach while I went to St. John’s College, Jaffna. This bond continued till his sudden demise.
His life-long partner was suggested by me and Rajan promptly chose her.
Both Primrose and I were teaching at St. John’s. Having noticed Primrose’s mannerisms and good behaviour, I suggested her as a bride for Rajan and the stage was set for Rajan and his parents to see her. Neither Primrose nor others knew anything about this. Sometimes jokingly, while handing the phone to Rajan, Primrose would tell him that his marriage broker, V.R, wants to speak to him. They had 54 years of beautiful married life.
The family along with a host of Old Boys of Jaffna College, friends and extended families will mourn Rajan for a long time to come. May the Good Lord grant him Eternal Rest. Farewell dear friend.