Professor P.C.B. Fernando
A Kalyana Mitra from schooldays
The Japanese air raid on Colombo in April 1942 led panicky parents there to "evacuate" their children to safer havens. Kandy was the most popular, and many schools in town had a sudden influx of these 'evacuees' from the big city.

Lincoln, Chandra (PCB) and Vajira, sons of Buddhist leader Professor P.B. Fernando and Mrs Fernando, Founder-Principal of Anula Vidyalaya, were readily welcomed by our Principal Metthananda of Dharmaraja. Chandra, as we called him, joined my Form II class and it did not take long for us to become good friends.

The mere fact that our fathers were acquainted and that we shared a familiarity with Colombo only goes some of the way to explain our friendship. It was, probably, kindred temperaments and, who knows, some 'karmic' force that made us 'kalyana mitras'.

A few weeks ago, a window was opened into our shared boyhood sixty years ago when Clodagh returned to me some letters I had written to Chandra, in that distant era, and he had kept safe. I am consumed with regret that I had never done the same. Reading them again I can recall vignettes of our classroom life. Chandra and his brothers were boarders and, naturally, always hungry. Even during the short interval they bolted to the tuck-shop to gobble slices of bread, margarine and sugar. Little did we realise how traumatic would have been their evacuation to live in a cold dormitory eating dull meals after a pampered childhood in Cinnamon Gardens. The only saving grace was that the three brothers were in it together.

While the rest of us wrote with steel pens with inkwells from our desks, Chandra stood out as the proud owner of a Faber fountain pen which he occasionally lent us to try out. He was naturally excellent in maths, to which I was notably allergic. It was probably for that reason that I sat next to him in class, for his whispered help over yet another (to me) incomprehensible sum. We also shared similar tastes in reading when we were at the library - historical novels by Baroness Orczy and Richmal Compton's William books among them.

Mervyn de Silva's last days in Dharmaraja briefly overlapped Chandra's arrival. In one of my old letters I called Mervyn "a very talkative chap ….a ringleader of the mischief makers" ! By strange coincidence all three of us ended our schooldays at Royal - where Chandra alone achieved academic distinction.

In 1943, the Fernando brothers went back to base after the April holidays, when it became clear that no Japanese invasion was likely. A few months later, I too left Dharmaraja to go on to Anuruddha in Nawalapitiya and Sivali in Ratnapura where my father became principal. And thus began our correspondence where we spoke of many things.

Having been steeped in the nationalist ardour, characteristic of Buddhist schools in colonial Ceylon, I recall writing early on to Chandra rebuking him for returning to non-Buddhist Royal! Our letters, surprisingly for teenagers, also touched on serious concerns off and on. I once wrote:

"As you say the Sangha is going from bad to worse …parts of it are excellent but unfortunately not the whole….They descend to fisticuffs in May Day meetings where they have no right to be"(1946). We shared information about old classmates, holidays, the bugbear (for me) of exams - and I also recommended to him the humorous writings of Stephen Leacock. I am sure his statement "no two meals at a boarding house add up to one square meal" struck a chord. However, Clodagh says that Chandra always claimed "Dharmaraja made me a man."

In 1946 I found myself in Royal, having overcome my puritan prejudices, with Chandra (and Mervyn) as schoolmates though not in the same class. Science and Arts classes were in different wings and we only met in the lunch interval (where else?) at the tuck shop where we stormed the counter demanding "three breads and parippu" over which we sat and chatted.

We went on to the University in Thurstan Road where Chandra excelled in studies and tennis. I too was given to incompetent bashing of tennis balls in the Siberia allocated to beginners, the Jungle Court. We shared a wall with India House and, in those simpler days, we used to hail the High Commissioner sauntering in his garden and ask him to throw back a misdriven ball. The tuck-shop was where Chandra and I met to chat over our eight cent milk teas. And it was here that he shyly admitted his infatuation for Clodagh, a fresher from Visakha to the Science Faculty. She was persuaded to begin tennis at the Jungle Court where their romance flourished. Her family, inexplicably, did not look favourably at her handsome and brilliant suitor. Chandra, therefore, called on me as an old friend to call over at her home with some coded message or other. But all went well, in the fullness of time.

Lotus eating at Thurstan Road ended with my graduation and the commencement of a career in district kachcheries for over two decades. Chandra went on to gain endless academic distinctions. We had widened our horizons and our ways had parted. I felt a twinge of pride whenever I read of his achievements and his rise in academia. We went on to raise our own families and met rarely, and only by chance.

But that is not the end of our story. In retirement we found ourselves living not far from each other in Thimbirigasyaya. I met him, off and on, quietly walking along leaning on a walking stick after his illness. I tried to persuade him to join in the get-togethers of old university alumni, but he declined with his gentle smile. He had withdrawn into a life of quiet contemplation.

Meanwhile, Clodagh and Indrani, my wife, had become active in the All Ceylon Women's Buddhist Congress. On this account Chandra and I renewed our faded friendship. At last I was able to persuade him to keep me company at an otherwise 'women only' lunch for Congress members. We had a wonderfully relaxed afternoon reminiscing about old times and ended the day promising to meet more often. But it was never to be. Chandra breathed his last a few days later.

The academic world has paid him the tributes due to him for his outstanding achievements as researcher and concerned teacher. I believe he had outgrown all craving. His life with Clodagh, his sons and daughters had been one of quiet happiness. I am thankful that, in his last days, this old friend of sixty years was able to share some moments of joy together with him.

May Chandra soon attain the peace of Nirvana and may his journey in Samsara be short and sweet
Tissa Devendra

Enakshi Panabokke
She cared for the needy and homeless pets
It was Sunday, December 22, 2002 when we were informed that Enakshi had met with a tragic death by drowning while sea bathing with some of her friends and relatives at Bentota.

The tragedy had occurred when she was spending the last day of her vacation and on the eve of taking up a promotion in her working career.

Enakshi Shiranthi Panabokke was born on March 17th 1957 to a distinguished family from Weligalle in the Kandy District. She was educated at Bishop’s College, Colombo where she had a rewarding academic career. Later on she qualified as a Management Accountant and joined a private firm in Colombo.

After the demise of her father, she moved to Kandy and while working at the Institute of Fundamental Studies she managed the family estate.

Towards the latter stages of 1991, Enakshi took up an appointment with Central Finance Company, Kandy as an accountant in the Deposits Department. It was during these 12 years that we associated with her very closely. She was a friend and mentor to all of us. The contribution she made towards the company's affairs was invaluable.

Enakshi was a lover of nature and avid reader. She has travelled widely both in Sri Lanka and overseas. She also loved animals and took many a homeless pet under her wing. She cared for the less fortunate and was conscious of their needs.

Her good nature, outgoing friendliness and all her good qualities made her the "wonderful woman" that she was. Unfortunately the cruel ocean claimed her life and deprived us of a friend.
Good-bye Enakshi and may you attain Nibbana.
Manager and Staff of the Deposits Department
Central Finance Company Ltd., Kandy).

Senerath Wije Goonewardene
A man of local government and people
Senerath Wije Goonewardene, (popularly referred to as 'Sunny' or 'SW' by his friends) passed away on January 15, 2003 after a distinguished career in the public service.

Sunny, born in August 1916, was the fourth child of an illustrious and highly respected family from Galle, where he received his Secondary Education at Mahinda College. After successfully completing the London Matriculation, "Sunny" qualified as an Attorney-at-Law in 1949, joined Public Service and began his Local Government career in October 1949, as an Assistant Commissioner of Local Government.

Within two years he was in charge of the North Central Region, where he functioned as Special Commissioner of the Anuradhapura Urban Council doing yeoman service to the people of the area and was instrumental in restructuring the concept of the New Town and the Sacred City.

Sunny underwent special training in local government administration at the University of Birmingham for one year. On his return, he was appointed Commissioner and Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Local Government. He also functioned as Chairman (Ex-Officio) of the Local Government Service Commission.

With his vast experience and knowledge in Local Government and Rural Development, he was appointed Government Agent, Hambantota in August 1970. Sunny understood the difficulties of the poor farmers and the rural folk in the District, where people looked up to him with great esteem for guidance. He cut through bureaucratic red-tape with a deep sense of honesty and integrity and helped the people. Even after his retirement, whenever he passed the area on his visits to Kataragama, the people who recognized him refer to him as 'Ape Deviya'.

Sunny was appointed as Director of Social Services and Commissioner of Workmen's Compensation in April 1973. He also acted as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Social Services on a number of occasions.

President R. Premasdasa, who himself was an authority on local government, felt the need to revitalize the local government bodies and in September 1977, Sunny was appointed to the one-man presidential commission to inquire into the administration of local government bodies.

On retirement, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Unofficial Magistrate for the entire Island. He functioned as Chairman, Ratmalana Electorate Development Foundation and was working Director at the Ceylon Tractor Corporation.

Sunny in his retirement took an active part in Buddhist and social service activities. It is not only in social service that he was involved but was also a guiding force in Buddhist religious activities.

He was the President of the Galkissa Buddhist Association, the Galkissa Dharmayathanaya and of the Vidyawardana Temple, Dehiwela.

Sunny has contributed in no small measure to the Sri Lanka Nepal Friendship Society to bring it to the height it has reached today. Sunny's name will go down in history as our Founder President, who was a "beacon" to the society.

At the inaugural meeting to form the Society, which was presided by him, we had only 8 participants and those present were doubtful of its future, until Sunny wound up by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, Lord Buddha preached his first sermon to only five disciples, let us today not be disappointed with the few numbers who have graced this occasion but let us forge ahead to achieve our goals".

It is befitting to wind up this appreciation by quoting William Shakespeare.

His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world "this was a man".
Capt. D.A. Wickremasinghe
President, Sri Lanka Nepal Friendship Society


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