Plus - Appreciations

Kurunegala’s great son of yesteryear

Dr. K. Jeganathan

Some weeks ago we read of the death of Dr. Jeganathan, popularly called 'Jega', in the UK. Jega migrated to the UK several years ago and perhaps many of his friends in Kurunegala had lost contact with him. However, Kurunegala cannot forget Jega who was one of the leading medical practitioners there for about two decades.

Jega and Dr. Tudor Fernando started the Private General Hospital which was the first private nursing home in the city. It became a popular place for patients, attracting the best specialists and in its heyday was a model for an outstation nursing home. Apart from the care given to patients, one remarkable attribute of the hospital was the friendliness and personal qualities of the staff, obviously conditioned by the leadership of the partners.

The initiative of Jega and Tudor was not only a great boon for those who could afford a private hospital but it soon became known for the generosity of the two doctors and there were many under-privileged and needy persons who benefited from their munificence.

One interesting fact was that both Jega and Tudor stammered. They matched each other in other ways also as both had a great sense of humour. Jega was also a sympathetic person with loads of time for his patients and had an extraordinary bedside manner; whereas Tudor, who was a lovable person could occasionally lose patience with the odd patient who then had to seek out Jega to restore calm.

Jega did not arrive in Kurunegala by accident. He was the son of one of the city's most illustrious lawyers Katiresapillai Kandiah, who was not only renowned as a lawyer but also noted for his impeccable dress sense, especially his bow-ties. Likewise, Jega was also immaculately attired and perfectly groomed. His father-in-law, the redoubtable P. Tambiraja was the Chairman of the Kurunegala Urban Council before it was upgraded to a Municipality.

It is a pity that present generations in Kurunegala would know so little of these eminent people who contributed so much to the development of the city and its social activities.

Franklyn Amerasinghe

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