ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40
Kandy Times  

He adhered to the highest traditions of his noble profession - Appreciation

Dr. Martin Sirisena Uduwela

By F.C.B. Marapane

My close and dear friend M.S. Uduwela, 'Udu' to his large group of friends and close associates of Ampitiya, in Kandy, passed away a few days ago. It was a sudden death that took everybody by surprise as he was not known to have been ailing from any serious disease or disability.

I came to know him in the early 1940's when both of us passed the same competitive examination and entered the public service of the then colonial government. Coming from a fairly affluent middle-class family, he resigned after a few years and entered the Ceylon Medical College, from where in due course, he passed out as a doctor and joined the country's medical service. I plodded on.

He served in the Department in various parts of the country, including Kandy and retired as a senior medical officer. While in service he went abroad and obtained a post-graduate degree in community medicine. During his long tenure he served for a considerable period as the Medical Officer in charge of the Peradeniya University Students’ Hospital. It was from this institution that he retired.

He married from the well-known Abeygunawardene family in Galle and had four children- two boys and two girls who are all doing well. I had the pleasure of attending his wedding.

After retirement, he devoted a major portion of his time, resources and energy to social service and religious work. He was a member or office-bearer of almost every recognized society in Kandy. Coming from a well-known Kandyan family in the district and due to his eminence in the circles he moved, his services were eagerly sought after. He was also a well-known sportsman and member of the Kandy Garden Club, a premier club in the country, though he played tennis only for relaxation. He was President of the Kandy District Cricket Association for many years and was involved in many international matches at Asgiriya.

He was also the President of the Kandy branch of the Ceylon National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis for a considerable number of years. He was also by unanimous choice elected President of the well-known Kandy Buddhist Association a few years ago and was its incumbent President at the time of his death.

Udu and I have known each other and associated closely with each other for over sixty long years. It was only last month that we had a long chat lasting about two hours. He was an erudite person but shied away from show and ostentation. His modest behaviour coupled with his innate good nature, sterling qualities and integrity made him a person par excellence. There are few who can be placed on such a pedestal.

As a medical man, I can say, without any hesitation that he scrupulously adhered to the highest traditions of his noble profession. He was one with pleasing manners and an even disposition but when ruffled he could be as rumbustious as anyone could be. He never minced his words and called a spade a spade. Always immaculately groomed, dressed in long-sleeved shirt and neatly pressed slacks, he could often be seen walking sedately in Kandy. He had a striking personality, with his ready smile and winning ways. Udu was a devout Buddhist who strictly adhered to the tenets of Buddhism. He led a full and meaningful life and was four-score and four years of age when he passed away.

I will miss him as a true and loving friend. I grieve over his death and convey to his beloved wife, children and family, my heartfelt sympathy. I conclude with the sombre thought that it is but death that comes at last to all living beings. Lord Buddha, 2500 years ago, preached on the impermanence of life in the immortal words: 'Anichchwatha Sankara'. The last rites were carried out the day after his death in accordance with his wishes at the Mahaiyawa Public Cemetery in the midst of a large gathering.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

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