23rd January 2000
Tony Mahat was the epitome of a sportsman cum gentleman. He was a role model for us when we were on the threshold of our teens.
As Captain of the Trinity boxing teams of '46 and '47, Tony, ably assisted by Vice-captain Oscar Rajasooriya, polished our boxing skills. Bobby Jayaweera would make sporadic visits to coach us, but Tony and Oscar were the day -to -day mentors for Trinity to be winners of the Stubb's Shield on a number of occasions and to remain at the pinnacle even when the College re-introduced boxing after a lapse of ten years.
In its wake of supreme success, Trinity produced some outstanding boxers. D.L.Y. Pakstun, L.K.L de Silva and Rajah Sumanasekera were awarded the coveted Lion in '48, '51 and '52 respectively. Mervyn Panditasekera, Ryan Tucker and Kingsley Moonamalle were the other fine pugilists within the roped square.Tony Mahat commenced his boxing career under George de Bruin in '43 and was in Michael Kagwa's teams of '44 and '45.
Boxers make fine tacklers in rugby for the simple reason that they are fearless. Michael Kagwa, Leslie Handunge, R. Murugiah, Michael Schokman, D.L.Y. Pakstun, Mervyn Panditasekera, Rajah Williams, L.K.L. de Silva, Rajah Sumanasekera, Sena de Silva, Mahinda Ratwatte, M.U. Odayar and his sons, Ickram and Reza and Tony de Sylva prove my point.
Tony was of this elite band. He played Trinity rugger under the facile hooker, G. Sanmugam who had taken over from that prince of scrum-halves, S.B. Pilapitiya. Tony's erstwhile teammates were K. Arumugam, N. Halangoda,Asoka Imbuldeniya, R.B. Rodrigue, Michael Schokman, Clarence Senanayake, P.R. Tennekoon and Tony Vander Poorten.
On leaving school, Tony joined the Police Force and played rugger for the Police in the company of Michael Schokman, S. Sivendran S.S. Bambaradeniya, Quintus Jayasinghe, Franklin Jacob, 'Brute' Mahendran, James Senaratne, Sunath and Rahula de Silva, 'Lectho' Ephraums, Terry Williams, Muni Gomes and Rodney Aluvihare. He retired as SSP and took over the Airport Security System.
Never in hospital, a supreme figure of human fitness, why had he to go just as he had entered the 71st year of his life?
Sharm de Alwis
Tuesday Twelfth of October was a gloomy day
Thursday, September 30,1999. All day the heavens held back their grief. But by four o'clock in the afternoon, even the resolve of the devas could not be contained and the skies opened up, to shed their tears.
Not in a vulgar tropical downpour but with quiet dignity, like soft petals from the skies. For just then had Kandy, and Trinity College, bade farewell to a beloved daughter.
Sakuntala Nugegoda for almost twenty years,was more than "teacher" to generations of young boys who entered Trinity.
She was the foster mother who took her charges through those first hesitant steps of schooling, with tender arms and warm heart. If Sidney Poitier, in "To Sir, With Love", typified the quintessential school teacher, Trinity College could boast of a distinguished line of Kindergarten teachers, who were cast in the same mould and are remembered by boys, with love and affection, even well into their middle age.
Mrs. Keyt, Mrs. Gnanam, Mrs. Pilimatalauwe, Mrs. Batepola, Mrs. Weerakoon come easily to mind as part of theTrinity legend and Sakuntala surely belongs to this elite band. As scrawled in the hesitant handwriting of the Year 1 and Year 2 boys, and the firmer fists of the Seniors, on the sympathy cards, Sakuntala was indeed "Our Loving Teacher". With beauty of face and a vivacious personality, she spread radiance in any company.
Yet, above all, it was the courage, dignity and resolve with which she faced her fatal illness that brought out the true worth and character of Sakuntala.
"An illness bravely borne" is an oft -repeated cliche, but what Sakuntala displayed was the stuff that one only reads of in the Reader's Digest': courage and character; strength and humour; grace and dignity were evident in abundance, even as she fought the ravages of the disease and the torment of her treatment. She did not seek sympathy, but rather, she spread it around, inspiring all around her, her family, her friends and her beloved students. She did not ask, but gave lavishly. Much against advice, and to the pleasant surprise, of her attending physicians, she insisted on travelling down for the second leg of the Bradby only a few weeks before her demise, and her exhortations from the stands rang with the same vibrant tone that had become so familiar in the last twenty years.
Many tributes have been paid to this remarkable mother, teacher and friend. I add my own to thank Sakuntala, as much for all the joy and happiness she spread around, as for the lessons she taught us in facing adversity with fortitude, faith and humour.
May the courage and faith you displayed give Ranjith, Dinesh, Gayan and Shavanthi the strength to bear their loss with equanimity.
May you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
You have never been just my grandmother
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