Plus - Appreciation

Trinitians salute a role model on and off the field

Lakshman Jayakody

Trinity gave Lakshman Jayakody the ‘final farewell’ when his mortal remains were cremated on Thursday, September 2 at the Divulapitiya- UC grounds at Balagalla.

He had done much for Trinity from the time he was awarded cricket colours in 1948 in the company of Percy Deheragoda, Lakshman Kadirgamar, R.G.D.S. Misso, Eustace Rulach, George Wijeratne and C.Shanmuganathan.

He opened batting and was a classicist to watch. His scores of 54 not out and 58 against Wesley and St Anthony's in 1948 and 53 and 58 vs. STC and SJC were his main innings but he had several cameos in his three-year period under Lala Wadsworth ['48 and '49] and Lakshman Kadirgamar in 1950.

At rugger, he won his colours in 1950 along with Mervyn Panditaratne, Lionel Pilimatalauwe, Kavan Rambukwella, C. Shanmuganathan, Gamini Tennekoon, Sinha Weerasekera and B.O. Speldewinde.

Lakshman was appointed a prefect in 1950 together with Michael Abeyaratne, K. Arumugam, S.S. Bambaradeniya, D.C. Bandaranayake, L.U.C. Kuruppu, N.S. Madugalle, C.H. Meares, D.L.Y. Pakstun, B.O. Speldewinde and Terry Unamboowe who authored the Napier House anthem whilst yet a schoolboy.

He was a role model among the foursome of Lala Wadsworth, Lakshman Kadirgamar and Mervyn Wanduragala. He was always accessible to any who had a problem. He was the original 'Hammogayma Dukgannarala." Friends like him were God's apology for relations.

Away from the sports field, Lakshman won the Sinhala Literature Prize in 1947 and '49 and the Sinhala Prize in 1948. He was Secretary of the Sinhala Literary Union in 1948 and when he sported the national dress that had come into focus at the time, we knew he was tailor-made for politics.
As a Cabinet Minister even in turbulent times he scorned security and would walk the constitutional mile every morning. He led a simple life and never was the laird of Balagalla, his pocket borough. He even wished to be simple in death.

When he was the Cabinet Minister of Buddhist Affairs he took my family on a learned tour of the Dalada Maligawa, explaining in great detail all the nuances that make up the edifice.

I sought a priority letter from him to obtain an elusive telephone connection. He was walking for lunch when I met him on the stately stairs of the then Ministry of Defence of which he was the Deputy Minister when Mrs. Bandaranaike was the Minister. Without a qualm he turned around and gave me the letter from his desk.

When Trinity had a problem with the lease of Asgiriya it was Lakshman who sorted out matters with the help of Nahil Wijesuriya's near million by meeting Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga who was then the President of the country.

It must be stated that Lakshman Jayakody is the only one of his clan to have been at Trinity and that is because he was of a mischievous bent and his father decided that a boarding life far from home would cure the naughty streak.

I can vouch for the fact that the streak was curbed but that it shone at times even through the veneer of position as a prefect. The boys were smoking just one cigarette in the Ryde House toilet one Saturday morning when Head Prefect Lakshman Kadirgamar came down the steps with towel around his shoulders and soap dish and toothbrush in hand. He saw his namesake manning the entrance, read the script and turned on his heels, thereby restoring honour amongst thieves.

Lakshman Jayakody has been the President of the Trinity College OBA, a member of the Board of Governors and President of the country's Cricket Board in a period that covered a trinity of Trinity Presidents with the other two being Gamini Dissanayake and .B.Werapitiya.

Lakshman Jayakody lived a full and pleasant life and he made our lives much the richer. I would like to believe that he co-authored 'What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us’.

At the end of the epic, when the sun has set, let us say not in grief "He is no more" but live in thankfulness that 'he was’. And he touched our lives.'

Sharm de Alwis

Unassuming Parliamentarian who filled his life with art, music and song

A telephone call on the night of Monday, August 30, broke the news of Lakshman Maamaa’s passing away. He had been ailing for a month, first at a private hospital, and then at the National Hospital.

I had known Lakshman Maamaa most of my life, going back to my childhood. The sad news of his death brought back memories.

In the early ’50s, Lakshman Maamaa and my father were executives at Freudenberg & Co., the firm owned by the late Robert Senanayake. Both were bachelors at the time, and they became close friends.

Lakshman Maamaa and Father had a great liking for art, music and song. When my Father got married in 1958, he invited Lakshman Maamaa to be his bestman.

Lakshman Maamaa entered Parliament in 1960, where he stayed for the next 40 years, till 2000, with only a three-year break, from 1997 to 1980. Lakshman Jayakody served as Deputy Minister of Defence/External Affairs, under the 1970 regime, and as Cabinet Minister of Cultural Affairs under President Chandrika Kumaratunga, from 1994 to 2000.

On retiring from Parliamentary politics, Lakshman Maamaa became vice-chairman of the National Development Council, and later served as a Presidential adviser, up until the time of his death.

Lakshman Maamaa was always accessible. He answered the telephone himself, whether at home or in the office, and he always travelled in the front seat of his Jeep, next to the driver. As a Cabinet Minister, he would walk from his Polhengoda home to our Thimbirigasyaya home to see my father, who was in poor health in 2000/2001. He would listen to anyone with a problem and try to help in any way he could.

Lakshman Maamaa was a jolly presence at family parties, singing Tower Hall-era songs. He enjoyed life and lived his 80 years to the fullest. He had a wide circle of friends, from all walks of life. I don’t think he had any enemies.

His demise is a loss to the nation.

Mangala Herat Gunaratne

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