We will never forget your lessons, taught more by example than words
On Saturday March 30, we bade farewell to Rani Rasiah, former staff member of St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. She passed away on Monday 25 and her dear ones, including the members of the Peterite Family were there to say goodbye to a caring and loving mother, friend, teacher and guide.
She served on the staff of St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4 for 36 years, 22 of which were in the capacity as Head of the Tamil stream. Countless numbers of Peterites will remember her as a gracious elegantly dressed personality, faithful to duty and loyal to her workplace. She had worked under many Rectors and won their love and admiration for her dedicated services. The tribute paid to her by the present Rector Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel when her body was brought to the College Chapel was a genuine summary of her 36 year reign of love and loyalty.
Her sudden demise triggered shock waves among her students both here and abroad. She taught them not only English and Mathematics but also, scores of lessons for life. They related many stories through their tears as they paid their last respects to their beloved teacher. Even though she retired in 2008, I’d say she left her heart behind at St. Peter’s. She used to always inquire about College whenever we spoke on the telephone or met. Her last visit to the school was in December 2012 for the “Back to School” event organised by the OBU. She said she felt tired but enjoyed it thoroughly. She was also a loyal member of the Parent Teacher Association for many long years.
She was a devoted wife to her late husband Edgar and a loving mother to her “children” – I say children because she was a mother not only to her only son Ranjan, but also to her sister’s children Ranjini, Kumar, Shamala and Suresh whose mother passed away when they were growing up. Since July 2012, Ruby, Ranjan’s wife also came under her maternal care.
To us teachers especially to a “band” of us, she was a mother, mentor, friend and guide. She was well known to our families too. We turned to her at all times for advice and guidance and she never let us down, always patient, always kind. She enhanced our teaching career with many lessons taught more by example than by words.
Teacher, you were indeed a precious gift from God to all of us. There will never be another you. Thank you for your love, care, concern and friendship.
Goodbye till we meet again on that beautiful shore.
I will always remember you as one who loved life
ARJUNA UDARA MUNASINGHE
“April is a cruel month” said the poet T.S. Eliot. It will always be the cruellest month for me, as my beloved uncle was snatched by death in the prime of life on April 27, 2012. He was only 42. For me, the Koel does not sing of Avurudu anymore. It sounds like a screech as though he was screaming the fateful words “He’s going. He’s going.” Staccato firecrackers symbolise the unpredictable nature of life.
He was named Arjuna Udara. Arjuna, the warrior. Udara, the great. He lived up to both names. He fought with all his might the disease that sapped his strength and left him confined to a wheelchair. Cancer did not scare him – He fought it.
He was Udara indeed. If anybody deserved the title, it was he. His devotion to his wife who was disabled even when he married her was proof enough. I have never seen him disheartened. The two of them lived a happy life together. He was her protector and guardian. Little did she know that one day, she would get the chance to repay his devotion. I remember the countless days I spent at their house when I was a child, building Lego houses with them.
They treated me as the daughter they couldn’t have. I visited him almost everyday when he fell sick with the heartless illness, and every single one of those days when he could gather up the strength to speak, he would tell me to stay focused on my goals always. He knew I had to sit my O Levels soon. I remember his words clearly. He told me not to let anything distract me. He told me to make the best use of my time. He told me to keep my eyes on the stars and at the same time, my feet on the ground. He told me to make him proud someday.
His devotion to his family was equally strong. He rejoiced in our simple triumphs and had great hopes for our future. Even when he was facing certain death, he did not fear it. It was as though he was defying death.
When the pain was not too bad, he would call the family and say “Let’s sing.” He loved music, he loved singing and he loved life. Just two weeks before his death we gathered around his bed for a sing-song. My aunt Sonali played the guitar, and we sang. We were choking, trying to stop our sobs and not show him we were crying. But he sang with surprising strength, as though to tell death, “you may take my physical body, but you cannot crush my spirit.”
Kokka Mama, you have been not only an uncle to me, you were a friend, advisor and protector. Having been one of the strongest people I’ve known, watching you grow weaker by the day, absolutely crushed me. As I recall all this, the tears do not stop.
I cannot believe it’s been a year Kokka Mama. I remember all this too well. I’m sorry I could not be with you in your final hour. I did not think it would come so soon. But a part of me is glad although I know I’m being selfish. But I don’t think I would have been able to take it. I want to remember you as the person you were–strong, selfless, amazing, healthy and beautiful. But life isn’t fair sometimes, we both know that.
You had great hopes for me, and someday, I promise I will make you proud. You are, and always will be, my inspiration through life.
May your journey through Sansara be full of joy, the kind of joy you spread among all who knew you, and may you never suffer the pain you suffered in this birth.
Looking back, I thank you for all your guidance
Dr. S.Daniel de Silva
This tribute is to you Sir, with my utmost respect on your 25 death anniversary. I find it difficult to pen a few words of appreciation to a family doctor. He was like a father to me and guided me throughout my life. He was instrumental in inculcating in me the highest standards of discipline and integrity.
His guidance after the demise of my father in 1941, during my schooldays and thereafter till I joined the public service, led me to perform my duties exceptionally well and earn commendations from all my superiors. As a doctor he was loved and admired by all his patients. He treated his patients equally be they rich or poor. He treated the clergy with utmost respect irrespective of religion and to say the least without any charge.
Although I am in my dotage, I can unhesitatingly say that I have not come across a personality such as Dr. Daniel de Silva.
Master, I remain till we meet again.
A bright boy on earth, now an angel among the Heavenly Host
Rashida was a 13-year-old boy with an innocent smile and a thick black head of hair. He was the only much loved child of Malin and Ruwini Perera of Kotte.
On April 15, he suddenly took ill and was admitted to hospital. Within a short period he passed away without a single word to his beloved parents, his dearest punchi (Achini) and loving grandparents (Ernest and Chandra). His demise left all his relatives, neighbours, friends in school, and staff at St. Joseph’s shaken. What followed was a vale of tears. A sea of grief enveloped everyone. Being a much loved God fearing boy with pleasant manners, he won the hearts of all whom he met. He excelled in studies, sports and music.
We witnessed a touching scene at St. Joseph’s College on April 17. At the main gate of the college his coffin was taken from the hearse and was carried by prefects along with the Western Band (of which he was a member) with great honour to the chapel. On either side his schoolmates stood, each carrying a white daisy. A mass of floral wreaths adorned Rashida’s coffin. The service was conducted by Fr. Rector and the college priests.
Speaking to the congregation one of the priests said, “God bestows many talents to human beings. Some live for 50-80 years, but seldom make use of them and fade away without any service to their community. But little Rashida, in his short span of life achieved his best in every field he was blessed. Thereby his life was complete by leaving an example to others.” His assignment on this earth was over. He went to meet his Creator, the Mighty Lord. We believe now he is an angel in the presence of the Heavenly Host.
Dear little Rashida putha, you are no more, but the memory of you will linger in our hearts forever. Send blessings from Jesus to your beloved parents and loved ones to bear their grief. We humans cannot understand God’s ways.
Until we meet you on that beautiful shore beyond (where there is no pain or sorrow) in that sweet bye and bye. You are safe in the hands of Jesus.
Berney acha and family
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