The sudden demise of Deepal was shocking and almost impossible to believe. It has shown us once again that in the midst of life, we are in death.
I have known Deepal as a school boy who was one class junior to me at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia. I remember Deepal being an active debater in College, who showed his oratorical skills very early in the day. He always impressed me as a quiet and unassuming guy, who was perceptive and focused on whatever he did.
It was after leaving school that I got to know Deepal more closely when he used to attend LT cases representing the Attorney General's Department. Around that time I represented the EFC in LT cases and we met each other quite frequently in LT. It was at this time, that I noticed that Deepal had strong skills as a counsel who left no stone unturned, in respect of any case he represented.
Very soon thereafter, I spoke to him about a vacancy at the EFC and suggested that he should join our professional team. Deepal joined the EFC on January 1, 2001 as an Industrial Relations Advisor. His professional competence, together with his high sense of responsibility and maturity were recognized and he was appointed as an Assistant Director General in April 2007
. Deepal handled some of the more complex cases for the EFC successfully. One of the landmark cases he handled was that of the arbitration of Maliban Biscuit Manufactories Ltd which involved the dismissal of around 600 employees. He successfully argued this case which resulted in the Arbitrator holding in favour with the Company and also stating that there was no justification for any payment of compensation to the employees.
As a professional colleague, Deepal had some outstanding qualities. Firstly, he treated every single matter that was referred to him with a high sense of responsibility. He studied his brief thoroughly and was never willing to take short cuts with anyone in respect of any case. In fact, I had the unique privilege of giving evidence in a case relating to the EFC in which Deepal led my evidence a few months before he passed away. Even in respect of this case he ensured that I sit with him and go through all the documents prior to the date of the case, and thereafter go through every page of the proceedings to ensure that the evidence had been properly recorded.
Secondly, Deepal had an analytical mind with the unique ability to think on his feet and make submissions and counter submissions. This is a rare quality which is not found among many professionals today. Deepal was able to grasp a point of law and rationalize it in favour of his case very effectively.
Deepal's personality may also be compared to that of an "Officer and a Gentleman". Quite apart from the fact that he was a competent Counsel and a professional, we cannot ignore some striking personal qualities he possessed throughout his life. Deepal had a charming personality and a super sense of humour. He was always ready and willing to help anyone who was in need of any assistance. His active involvement in the Organisation of Professionals' Association, Bar Association of Sri Lanka, OBA of S. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia showed his interest towards uplifting the legal profession and his alma mater.
We at EFC will always feel the void that has been created by his demise. Deepal was undoubtedly one of the best Counsels the EFC had in its entire history. The least we could do to remember him at EFC is to try and inculcate some of his professional qualities which he displayed very prominently throughout his tenure of office at the EFC.
On behalf of the entire membership of the EFC and the staff of EFC, we salute this great professional for his life, dedicated service and more than anything else, for being a great professional colleague and a friend to all of us at the EFC.
Do things as well you can, said Thaaththi, and that was how he lived
Amaradasa De Silva
“Do it correct – or leave”. This was the motto of my father, who was an ex-serviceman (volunteer force of the British Army), teacher and school principal. Whatever he did, he did well – and to the best of his ability.
Thaaththi was born in Galle on April 2, 1920. He was the second child, and as the brother of five sisters he was destined to shoulder great family responsibilities. His father died when he was young, and the untimely family demise prompted him to join the British Army, based in Colombo.
He was a dedicated and hard-working soldier who impressed his superiors, so much so that they invited him to come and live in England after Sri Lanka attained Independence. He politely declined the offer, as he believed he should remain in his motherland and look after the family.
After leaving the forces, he became a teacher. He considered teaching a noble profession. He was principal of many schools. He was a highly eligible bachelor, but marriage was not on his mind. His main concern was that his sisters all settle down first. His colleagues tried hard to find him a suitable partner. “I am a Simple Simon, and I am looking for a Plain Jane,” he would joke.
He finally married in 1966, when he was 45 years old. His wife, my mother, was Constance Perera. He had a great longing for daughters, and had five girls. My elder sister Rasika (Lokki) was born in 1967. When I (Chuti) was born, he wrote in his diary: “Another Queen of my Heart.”
When my mother was expecting my younger sister Nirmala (Nimmi) eight years later, he wished for another daughter, while the others anxiously awaited a son. To that extent he loved his daughters.
At a time when everything was measured in rupees and cents, he gave priority to the appreciation of human values. He told us to forego a meal and give it to some hungry person who was in greater need of it.
In later years, he was sworn in as a Notary Public and a Justice of Peace, and conducted free tuition classes to help those preparing for the Notaries examination. The classes were held in Thapodhanaramaya, Mount Lavinia. Most of his students passed the exam. He would go all out to help others, but did not seek anything in return.
He had a natural aptitude for carpentry, agriculture and electrical work. He was very good at fashioning cement flower pots. He became known as “Jack of all trades”.
He wrote several books, among them “Sebala Samaruwa”, “Footsteps of a Teacher’s Life”, and “Nomaga Noyan Puthe”, to name a few. He spent his twilight years writing books and solving Sudoku puzzles.
Once we were all married and had flown from the family nest, my father would hum the popular song “Raththaran Duwe”. Content to see us all happily married, he would open his hands and say, “My palms are clean, so nothing can go wrong with my children.” He loved his three sons-in-law and adored his five grandchildren.
He had a great love for animals. He could subdue even the fiercest dog, using his gentle ways. He did not fear death. He had no attachments to anything in life.
His one wish was to not be a burden to anyone in his lifetime, and to breathe his last in peace. Being very close to Thaaththi, in the absence of my sisters who were living overseas, I amassed many fond memories of his last days. These I will cherish for the rest of my life.
My father passed away peacefully on December 11, 2011. He died in his sleep, as he had hoped he would. His name “Amaradasa” means immortal server. He led an exemplary life, and will achieve immortality. I thank the Lord for being born as his daughter.
His 92nd birth anniversary falls on April 2.
Thank you, Thaaththi, for moulding us into what we are today, and for inculcating in us true values by being a role model. We learned how to live good lives by observing how you lived.
It is hard to believe three months have passed since you left us. May the Good Lord grant you eternal rest and keep you in his loving care until we meet again.
Madhuri de Silva
All of us, Nyka and Zulu will miss you
A neighbour introduced Priyantha to my family and my dogs. Priyantha was known as the Dog Trainer. We little realised that he would touch our lives forever because of his passion for animals. Handling big boned dogs like Rotweillers, German Shepherds and Ridgebacks was his passion.
He was only a call away when it came to anything to do with the pet. If he couldn’t make it on his bike he would give advice over the phone and presto it worked.
My experience with him can never be put into words… when it came to dogs he was the man in charge not the other way around… my Nyka and Zulu would know the day he was coming as they would hear me getting the stuff ready for the walk and bath later. From that time they would whine and be very restless till they heard his bike come in, then they would just go berserk and greet him as if they hadn’t seen him in a hundred years.
That welcome would take over 15 minutes and once they settled he would start the ritual talks to them lovingly; the simple commands of sit, stand, lie down, come and stay with his powerful voice were the basics. Like my pets I too would wait for his arrival on the Monday of every week just to listen to all the interesting experiences he had had with the other dogs during the week over a cup of tea or a soft drink.
Priyantha who served the Air Force, would enter them into dog shows and work tirelessly and make sure they got a place; he did all this for no material gain, but for pure love for the animal and always with a million dollar smile. He leaves behind a beautiful wife and two handsome boys who don’t realize their loss yet.
We miss you and we will never forget your gentle, caring ways towards our Nyka and Zulu who will miss you too. May God bless you and give you eternal rest.
Judie de Sylva and