listened to positive ideas and made them a reality
The late Gamini Dissanayake was a man with great
courage, determination and a vision for the country. The determination
with which he handled Sri Lanka's entry to the ICC is an example.
The writer still recalls the determination in his eyes prior to
embarking to the ICC meeting at Lords when one of the matters on
the agenda was to discuss Sri Lanka's case for full Test status.
that time one of the many drawbacks in achieving Test status was
the lack of facilities and Gamini Dissanayake's reply was, "give
us Test status and we will provide the infrastructure".
still recall his personal staff being together on the day Sri Lanka's
case for full Test status was being entertained at the ICC. True
to his words that he would let me know, he rang my residence around
2 a.m. with the good news that we had been admitted as a full Test
playing country. Once Test status was achieved, now came the task
of providing facilities. The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri
Lanka did not have its own premises and functioned in a small room
with a manual typewriter. Thus Gamini's task was immediately getting
the Board Headquarters constructed. This he did in his own inimitable
spoken to the then President J.R. Jayewardene who himself was an
ardent cricket fan and a past President of the Cricket Board, he
obtained a piece of land near the Sinhalese Sports Club itself and
put up a magnificent building which stands as a great monument surpassing
even the Board Headquarters of some other cricket playing nations.
Having started the construction of this building, I recall him obtaining
the services of Rodney Webster and Sir Garfield Sobers. In fact
it was during one of the Sara Trophy matches when seated with the
Minister that Sir Garfield quite positively pointed out to Arjuna
Ranatunga saying, "He is Sri Lanka's cricketing future".
Taking the advice of Sir Garfield, Arjuna was drawn into the squad
to play in the inaugural Test match against England and didn't he
perform well by scoring a half century. Sri Lanka going places in
cricket under the captaincy of Arjuna is now history.
Dissanayake was a man ever willing to take and listen to positive
ideas and conceptualize them. The Asgiriya playground was one of
them. Many might not remember the Dambulla Grounds which was part
of the development programme. The needs of the cricketers too were
immediately provided. An indoor cricket stadium was constructed
at the Sinhalese Sports Club. It is unfortunate that he was not
with us when Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996. It would have
been indeed a proud and an unforgettable moment for him.
Dissanayake was dedicated and committed to any task given to him.
He was no racist. His only ambition was to solve the ethnic problem.
This writer limits the appreciation only to certain aspects of cricket
and no other task in which he was immensely successful. Speaking
to him was an education in itself and his humanity cannot be measured.
could recall that in the late minister's association with people
be they Kings, Heads of State, farmers or anyone else, he treated
them all the same. His most enjoyable time was what he spent with
the farmer, be it under the Mahaveli programme or any other.
this is the time not only your family and party leadership but also
the country as a whole misses and needs you most.
known fragrance that did so much
It is with a deep sense of loss that we pay this
tribute to Blossom who passed away just a month ago. It is also
fitting, we believe, that this in memoriam is a celebration of an
unflawed, enduring friendship of well nigh 70 years, shared by the
three of us. Born of virtuous parents, she lived a life attuned
to Christian values and ideals, a disciplined life "far from
the madding crowd."
from University, she did a stint of teaching. Then came marriage
and motherhood in the most fulfilling segment of her life. As the
wife of a senior civil servant she performed all the social obligations
required of her but never did she fit into the elitist class. Elitism
was not in her vocabulary. She was a 'private person', simple, but
dignified. Remaining in the background, she cared for and supported
her husband throughout his official career, whilst at the same time
nurturing and bringing her unerring sense of judgement to bear on
the upbringing of her two sons, and in the shaping of their lives.
from all this she spared time and thought for her intimate friends.
Sober and restrained as she was, she also loved to unwind and share
with us our youthful reminiscences.
indeed were joyous occasions. We were invariably edified by Blossom's
frankness and guilelessness and her deep abiding faith in God. We
must not however fail to mention that frequent bouts of illness
and hospitalization disturbed the even tenor of her life. Although
worthy of emulation, Blossom's sterling qualities were unknown to
many outside her family. In this context Gray's elegy comes to mind
many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its fragrance.."
In tribute to Blossom and in tribute to friendship we will continue
to imbibe her fragrance.
down to earth person who loved the simple things in life
Rodney St. John
My association with Uncle Rod goes back 40 years
when he made his first appearance in the family circle. One of my
earliest memories of him is the day he and Aunty Stella paid us
a visit and I was down with flu and confined to bed. He came into
my room humming Tony Brent's hit of yesteryear, 'In My Little Room'
uplifting my flagging spirits. Since then our relationship grew
closer and many a silvery moonlit night have I spent in his company
in a National Park of Sri Lanka enjoying a sundowner whilst absorbing
the sights and sounds of a jungle night; many a heart-stopping and
nerve-wracking adventure have I shared with him such as on our 1½
hour walk to civilisation when our Land Rover broke down in the
elephant infested jungles of Wasgomuwa National Park.
was a person who had time for everyone whatever their station in
life and was able to put one at ease immediately with a few genuine
inquiries of one’s self and a joke or two accompanied by wholehearted
laughter. He was broadminded enough to accept and view in a favourable
light behaviour, briefs and ideals of people which might have drawn
scathing criticism from another person. Uncle Rod was a man who
was down to earth and loved the simple things in life. He had great
reserves of inner strength and handled difficult situations with
tact and practically.
memory takes me back to the time that I had not done particularly
well at an exam and he allayed my fears and made me aware that life
was a greater test than a mere exam and that one was always given
a second chance. It was he who was instrumental in setting me up
in my first job at Ceylon Cold Stores which company he served with
distinction in the capacity of Personnel Manager. I also remember
the laid back weekends spent at my maternal grandmother's and uncle's
home at Athurugiriya. The weekend wasn't complete without a cricket
match. It was a game I enjoyed immensely. I would wait impatiently
till Daddy and the uncles who were enjoying their Sunday afternoon
siesta would wake up to bowl to me so that I could exhibit my batting
prowess. It was Uncle Rod who would be the first person to be put
up. He obliged readily, rounding off a perfect weekend for me. He
tried hard, though in vain to make me take up swimming, another
of his passions, by enrolling me as a member of the SSC.
the opportunity afforded itself he would try to teach me the rudiments
of swimming which I, a born land lubber, found difficult to perfect!
Wildlife and jungle lore fascinated him no end, as did the history
of his motherland Sri Lanka. He and my mother could often be observed
minutely surveying the grave of some long departed imperialist,
even tracking him down to his ancestors and place of birth with
the aid of that masterpiece, J.P. Lewis' Tombstones and Monuments
19 marked one year since Uncle Rod heeded his Master's call and
crossed the Great Divide into a land where the forests are greener,
the waters clearer and the birds sing sweeter.
always saw ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’
Anton H. Puvimanasinghe
A gentleman of faith and peace
is how best I would remember Group Captain Puvimanasinghe who was
called to rest on All Souls Day, when Christians throughout the
world unite in prayer, in commemoration of all departed souls. Uncle
Anton, as I more fondly refer to him, as he was my father-in-law,
was a person of unquestioning faith. This gave him undying hope,
a vision of the scheme of things and a meaning that goes beyond.
To use his own words, Uncle could see "a light at the end of
the tunnel", particularly in difficult times.
accorded high priority to education and never ceased his academic
and professional exercises. His deep concern for fellow human beings
surfaced most of all when they were sick or had any other problem.
High rank and office never stood in the way of his association with
persons in all walks of life and his deep humility made him beloved
by the poor and the downtrodden, the unrecognised and the ignored.
I came to know Uncle Anton, his days in the Sri Lanka Air Force
were already behind him. However, he continued to be a serviceman
in spirit to the very end - a man of personal discipline and principle,
honesty and integrity, and most of all, a deep fidelity to the country.
Even as Uncle spent his last year in pain and illness, he was always
well versed in current affairs whether local or foreign, the logistics
and the dynamics of military strategies and also the prospects for
acts of faith in Roman Catholicism included his participation in
Daily Mass and Communion and in Bible studies to the end of his
earthly life. What was even more striking than his faith, was that
his works were a reflection of that faith, as he lived a life of
kindness, love and charity. I remember how on Christmas day, Uncle
Anton would gather the poor to share in the Christmas meal. When
a minor employee was dismissed from his job, Uncle was the first
to call him home, to listen, console and cheer. His charitable nature
extended beyond the material dimension, to his thoughts and judgments
of other people, as he was slow to condemn and ready to understand.
deep spirituality enabled our young family to remain in close communion
with him till the end in spite of our separation in time and space
the past few years. When my five-year-old son came to know that
his grandfather had passed away, he replied instantly: "I know
Grandpa is in Heaven." This reminded me of the popular hymn
'The Lord's my shepherd', so befitting of the life of Group Captain
Anton Puvimanasinghe: "Goodness and mercy all my life, shall
surely follow me. And in God's house for evermore my dwelling place
lost an anchor and friends a personality
Chintamani Sujatha Ratnatunga
nee Wijesekera (Mani)
"It is so
difficult to accept but it is true. She will never come bounding
down the pathway that leads to our front door, carrying as she so
often did, a flower pot, some food or simply a gift, smiling irrepressibly,"
observed a sister-in-law. She was the one the family looked for
assistance in any crisis, a health scare, a function, or an event
of consequence. She was the strong personality in the family, among
friends and even in the many organisations in whose work she participated.
Her leadership potential, her talents that were diverse, and the
personality she developed was even evident in her younger days.
At school, at Ladies College her gregarious tendencies were dominant.
She was the centre of so many of her friends.
post-school studies at the then Heywood School of Art, she came
into contact with pioneering artists like David Paynter and Stanley
Abeysinghe, under whose influence she developed her artistic talent.
Her mother was no mean artist, but essentially a copyist with a
prolific output. Mani was an artist with a more creative dimension.
to that committed engineer, Chula, they made a wonderful example
of complimentary married life. Mani's interest was developed by
her husband's dedicated assistance. Her venture into interior decor
was complimented by the engineer's skill and creativity in construction,
and they kept a beautiful house always.
a time they lived in Africa, in Zambia at first, and then in Nairobi
where their family grew up. The three children, two girls and a
boy are professionals and happily married. Mani's paintings show
the African influence of the period. As her husband's work as a
consultant engineer in Africa meant travel in the continent, Mani
developed many friends, both expatriate Sri Lankans and Africans,
and they remained their friends even after they returned to the
husband and wife were in their own way in the workaholic mould.
But one of their interests was wild life and the environment. They
were ever ready to travel within their own country and within the
other countries they lived in. After retirement, back home, Chula
found opportunities for consultation work that kept him more than
busy. Mani served in organizations such as the Women-in-Need, the
Housewives Association, the Mahila Samithi, and women's and charitable
interest groups. She gave liberally of her expertise, and those
who worked with her appreciated her vibrant personality and infectious
enthusiasm. She was never one to grumble and had a philosophy that
kept her from losing her balance despite hard circumstances that
sometimes came her way. At times she was blunt and critical but
May last, she came and took us for a concert organised by the Housewives
Association. Exactly a month later her family physician, concerned
with the frequency with which she had "flu", ordered a
blood test, and was flabbergasted, by the results. Specialists diagnosed
her devastating disease. Scarcely three months later she was no
more. Whether the disease ravaging as it is, or the treatment regime,
decidedly drastic, finished her off is an academic issue.
and the severe treatment however, clouded her ebullient personality.
She displayed immense courage against adversity, and the terrible
effects of the drastic treatment. In the end she could hold out
no more and her systems caved it. It was obviously too much, for
her loved ones to bear. In the three months of the dreaded disease
her husband hardly left her bedside, an example of devotion that
seemed in a plane of its own.
had the mortification of watching her deteriorate, and he struggled
against the vicissitudes of strikes that did not help the cause
of procurement of blood and getting test results in time. A true
religious belief and philosophy held sway.
family lost an anchor member, friends a personality with charisma
and charm, and the organizations she served in a dedicated servant.
Her husband believes she is on her journey to Nirvana, and so do
the rest of us. She served while she lived.