Plus - Appreciations

He spun the family fabric and kept us together in more ways than one

Major Shahul Hameed Mohammed

Major Shahul Hameed Mohammed is no more but his memory will live on forever. It took me awhile to pen these few lines in his memory. He was indeed a close cousin to me. The youngest in his family, he was loved by his brothers and only sister. He was the epitome of goodness and godliness. He was religious to a fault, no ritualist, but observed religion in an unambiguous manner.

He being the great grandson of Sheikh Hassan Waliullah, the Aluthgama saint, took it upon himself to carry out whatever task that was required of him for Aluthgama. Shahul nana as we referred to him was suffering from a heart ailment, but he would dismiss his ailment as he did many other things, which we thought were important, with absolutely no concern.

He never paid even a cursory glance to material matters. He was never one to accumulate wealth. He was always there when anyone was in trouble, giving of his military expertise and advice, calming the situation and giving a solution. Many were the times I have gone to him for various family issues and never once did he turn me away.

Of course he had the unstinted support of his wife Milhana who was always ready to help us in anyway she could. All of us cousins ended up at Shahul nana’s for anything and everything, because in a way he had a final say in anything. He spun the family fabric and kept us together in more ways than one and built a sense of unity which is difficult to explain in words. A few years ago, I lost a sister who left two young daughters, and it was the two of them who personally took it upon themselves to nurture my two nieces. For this, I will always be eternally grateful.

Shahul nana’s final place of work was at Cinnamon Grand Hotel Colombo where he was Security Manager and here too he had lived his true self, giving his all, not coming home when he was off, but staying on at the hotel. Rohan Karr, Cinnamon Grand’s GM had told a family member that the contribution he had made for the uplift of the hotel far exceeded what was expected of him, not limiting his work to security concerns alone.

His three lovely children Shamil, Shafra and Shabbir and wife, Milhana will surely miss him, but I am sure all the good deeds carried out by their father and husband respectively will take care of them. May he attain jennathul firdhouse.


Left with memories of a friendship of 40 years

Percy Abeywardena

As one of his closest associates and friends, I am writing a few lines on Percy with whom I had a close association of nearly 40 years. We studied in University, joined the Department of Agriculture and spent most of the years serving together, initially at the Dry Zone Agricultural Research Institute in Mahailluppallama until about 1965 and later, on many assignments thereafter.

When Percy moved to the extension services we were still closely associated with mutual activities in Agricultural research and extension. When Percy left for his postgraduate studies to England we parted company to rejoin two years later. Upon retiring from government service as Deputy Director of Agriculture, Percy served in Nigeria as a World Bank consultant for over five years.

Percy served the Agricultural Department having also been the Principal of the School of Agriculture at Kundasale training young students in Agriculture.

His contribution as a lecturer and principal was recognised when the alumni of Sri Lanka School of Agriculture conferred an award for his service to agriculture education in Sri Lanka, just a few months before he passed away. Percy had many talents not only as an excellent teacher but as a leader in agricultural extension with an excellent rapport with farmers as well as with his colleagues.

He was also an excellent communicator with a keen sense of humour who wasn't afraid to let his thoughts be known and as a result left a lasting impression on many who knew and worked with him.
Percy enjoyed music very much and was quite popular among his students and subordinates at many social functions he graced. His skills as a singer were legendary and he never failed to oblige a request to sing his favourites from C.T. Fernando, Sunil Shantha or Pandit Amaradeva.

Having been his closest friend the loss to me is greater than anybody could imagine. He left a devoted wife and two sons and a daughter who have been brought up in the best of traditions.

May he attain Nibbana !

Dr. Edward Herath

He leaves behind a beautiful picture of a life well lived

Arty Walter Pathiraja

Born to a distinguished family at Surigama, Kadawata, Thaththi was privileged to receive the best education in the 1940s. He excelled in athletics and took leadership roles. From among the many career options that followed, he chose to become a teacher, which to him was the noblest of all. He proudly rode his Lilac bike to school and drove around in a Riley, one of the first in Sri Lanka.

Cricket was his fondest pastime, closely rivalled by a love for wrestling. He enriched the Thurstan College community, teaching English and Geometry and coaching cricket. Although in the background, he was a vital pillar in every school event, for more than 30 years. His retirement or illness never stopped him from attending functions at the school to which he dedicated his life.

His good fortune continued, when he won over Ammi, who hailed from Ratnapura and remained at his side for 46 years, fulfilling every aspect of the marriage vows she took. Together, they formed a beautiful family, which blossomed with the four new lives they gave birth to and nurtured. He instilled in us children the value of Buddhism and culture, emphasizing that education was the one true wealth. Throughout the years, he was one to whom we all posed our questions and problems, knowing we would receive a wise response.

He drove us to school daily, from Kadawata to Colombo, a luxury at the time, which he kindly extended to neighbouring cousins and family friends. Thus educating us to his fullest ability, and humbly acknowledging our achievements, he facilitated our marriages and thereafter, gave all the support needed for us to lead successful lives. He rejoiced and welcomed each grandchild and finally, he received his best birthday present when my sister, Shiro gave birth to her youngest on his birthday, July 31.

He faced his illness with the same strength which with he faced all of life’s challenges, remaining unflinching, cooperative and courageous throughout. We can never forget his eloquence in English, his outstanding vocabulary and his enigmatic sense of humour, not meant for those with lesser intelligence. He leaves behind a beautiful picture painted vivid, but devoid of colours of partiality, spite or jealousy.

He lived a full life and passed away peacefully. May Thaththi be blessed to be reborn amongst us, and attain the supreme bliss of nibbana sans delay.

Neelika and Yulia Edirisinghe

Supreme simplicity was his hallmark

Kandiah Kumaraswamy

Kandiah Kumaraswamy was a doyen of the Malavarayar dynasty of Puttur, Jaffna, dear to all and well known in the peninsula for his philanthropy, nobility and acts of charity in spheres of education, social and religious. In all things he led a life of supreme simplicity.

During the second world war and thereafter he was in-charge of the district free milk feeding scheme and served the people with dedication, winning the admiration of all, especially the poor.

Exceeding the Biblical span, and living for over four decades, he was ever a picture of health which was a reflection of his inner self. Even in his eighties, he would be driving his Austin Cambridge along the busy streets of Jaffna May this elder, a man of superlative merits, enjoy the rewards of his life.
Om Shanthi! Om Shanthi! Om Shanthi!.

T.N. Punjaksharam

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