A kind-hearted, generous friend who will live on in our hearts Senarath Syambalangamuwa On August 10, 2013, I was listening to the Buddhist monk who was delivering the traditional ‘three months’ bana sermon after the passing away of a dear friend of ours. He was Senarath Syambalangamuwa, affectionately called ‘Tikka’ by everyone who was close [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



A kind-hearted, generous friend who will live on in our hearts

Senarath Syambalangamuwa

On August 10, 2013, I was listening to the Buddhist monk who was delivering the traditional ‘three months’ bana sermon after the passing away of a dear friend of ours. He was Senarath Syambalangamuwa, affectionately called ‘Tikka’ by everyone who was close to him. Many of his friends and relations were at this ‘three months’ bana , held in the same house where he resided in Nugegoda.
A recent photograph of him was placed near the table where the monk was; it was an interesting sermon based on the Rattapala Sutta. This photograph had been taken when Tikka was in a joyous mood at their daughter’s wedding ceremony. It portrayed the true nature of this exceptional character.

While I was listening to the monk, the photograph took me down memory lane; how we enjoyed the company of Tikka. I had known him for more than 50 years from his schooldays at St. Anthony’s College in Kandy. Both of us joined Matale Science College when we were studying for our SSC examination.

Tikka was a talented person. He excelled in studies, sports, and invariably took a leading role in our after dinner baila sessions at the College Hostel while at St.Anthony’s. After joining Matale Science College, he continued to display his talents in almost every field. He became a genuine friend whose kindness and honesty became the hallmark.

He was an embodiment of equanimity; never jealous of another’s success. And, during my long friendship I have never seen him losing his temper and verbally abusing anyone. Tikka never drove a vehicle. He always travelled either by public transport, in a friend’s or in a hired vehicle. During weekends his son, who is employed, had to drive him to any place he wished to go to.

Nevertheless, he was destined to succumb to injuries he sustained in a road accident while he was crossing the public highway. If not for this unfortunate incident, which caused his death at the age of 70, he would have been living still with us.  Even though he passed away causing lamentation and sorrow in us, he will live in our hearts for many years more as a kind hearted, generous friend.

The monk ended his sermon by focusing on the reality of the force of kamma. He cited a story of a young monk who was sent to the king’s palace by Ven.Sariputta Thera to fetch some medicine. But he was put to death, by torture to die on a spear, by the king on a false accusation: that this young priest had stolen a valuable gem from the palace.

Contemplating on the intense pain he felt he entered parinibbana as an arahant. In one of his previous births he had enjoyed seeing a moth fluttering to escape death when he had pinned this unfortunate creature. This story reminded us that kamma will patiently wait for the opportune moment to unleash its force of retribution. Our dear friend, Tikka, was no exception to the Law of Kamma. We wish him, the realisation of his dhamma aspirations


To friends and community he was their God Father

Jim Nanayakkara

Jim Nanayakkara, passed away peacefully on August 18, this year at his home in Sarasota, Florida in the USA. Jim was born in Kandy on March 12, 1926 and was a student of Trinity College, Kandy. He completed his studies at the London School of Economics in England and Harvard University in the USA. A qualified Chartered Life Underwriter and a Chartered Financial Consultant, he joined the John Hancock companies in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1961 as an Insurance Executive. Jim retired in 1989 after 28 years of service with several commendations under his belt. In 1989, he formed his company, Insurance and Investment Associates and continued to serve the Washington D.C. community in his capacity as an investment and insurance broker.

Jim was a founding member of the Sri Lanka Association of Washington, D.C. and was elected the first President of the Association from 1976 to 1977. As the president of the Association, along with dignitaries such as Lyndon B. Johnson and William Gopallawa, he had the honour of lighting the traditional oil lamp at the opening of the new Sri Lankan Embassy on Wyoming Street in Washington, D.C. Prior to retiring to Florida in 2003, Jim lived in Montgomery County, Maryland for 44 years. He was an active member of the Montgomery County Board for several years.

An avid golfer, he was a founding member of the Venetian Golf and River Club in Florida as well as a non resident member of the Royal Colombo Golf Club for many years.

Jim’s generosity and compassion knew no bounds. He believed his success in life was so that he could help others. Throughout his life he helped the less fortunate members of his family and friends. He donated generously to help with the upkeep of the small Buddhist temple in his village in Alawathugoda built as a memorial to his maternal grandfather. More recently, he took a leading role in raising funds in the USA to assist the Tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

With his sense of humour, old fashioned charm and easygoing attitude, Jim made many friends. He was often approached for advice or discussion on a wide range of issues – personal, financial or spiritual.

He was respected for his keen intellect and the wise and rational way he approached any subject. Jim was dubbed “The God Father” by his friends in the community for this reason.


He introduced Achebe to Lankan readers


It is with great sorrow that we came to know of the passing away of our good friend P.R.H. Wijesinghe on July 4, 2013. His funeral was held in the U.S. He was a versatile person– a banker, historian, writer, sociologist and philanthropist all rolled into one. By profession he was a banker. He had a thorough knowledge of history for he was a history major at Vidyodaya University. He was a writer par excellence. He embarked on his writing career introducing the works of the world renowned Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe to Sinhala readers.

He translated Achebe’s first novel “Things Fall Apart” into Sinhala in 1972 as,“Badde Handak Rahu Giliy”. Though several people have now translated Achebe’s works into Sinhala, Mr.Wijesinghe embarked on this task four decades ago when only a few Sri Lankan readers knew about this great African writer. The most remarkable feature in this endeavour was that P.R.H. had been skilful enough to recognise the depth of Achebe’s writing at a time when even the US or Europe had not focused their attention on this world class novelist.

Later on he translated Achebe’s second book “No Longer at Ease” into Sinhala under the title “Badden Sidadiyata”. Both these translations are very good. Then he introduced another Nigerian writer Eliche Amadi to Sri Lankan readers. He translated Eliche’s book “The Concubine” under the title “Thahanchi Medden”.

Later he wrote two Sinhala novels, one based on the socio-economic background of his maternal grandfather and his family and another on his experience in the banking sector. They bear the hallmarks of his beautiful style of writing as does his collection of poems in English.

At a time when the Western province was ignorant of folk drama, he brought a team of performers of the folk ritual drama called “Sokari” to Colombo from a remote village named Kalundawa in the Dambulla district on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Public Library, Colombo back in 1975. The large crowd was taken by surprise at the talent of the “Sokari” troupe. He bore all the expenses. None of the performers had ever been to Colombo before and he was generous in showing them the important places in Colombo. Such was his magnanimity.

Yet again he switched his interests to another sphere and conducted sociological surveys and research in two very remote villages – “Kalundawa” and “Maiyagala” of Matale and Monaragala districts respectively. In Matale he received great support from the then Government Agent Cyril Gamage. This series was titled “Samaja Vivarana”.

In the late 1970’s he left our shores for England and stayed there for one year before settling down in USA where he wrote on Sri Lankan affairs such as the ethnic issue and politics. He produced several works in these fields, some of them rather controversial works.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Susantha Kodituwakku

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