Prof. Ediriweera Saratchandra Those were times of great men and great days at Pera I was an associate, colleague of Prof. Ian Vandandriesen, Prof. Ediriweera Saratchandra, Buddhadasa Hewavitarane and Prof. Ralph Peiris at Mahakande – University of Peradeniya. On weekends I used to visit Prof. Vandandriesen and Prof. Saratchandra who was staying with him. This [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



Prof. Ediriweera Saratchandra

Those were times of great men and great days at Pera

I was an associate, colleague of Prof. Ian Vandandriesen, Prof. Ediriweera Saratchandra, Buddhadasa Hewavitarane and Prof. Ralph Peiris at Mahakande – University of Peradeniya.

On weekends I used to visit Prof. Vandandriesen and Prof. Saratchandra who was staying with him. This was a tumultous and creative period for Prof. Saratchandra’s groundbreaking dramas Maname and Sinhabahu.

Listening to their conversations I used to take in the dialogues of the plays – an education for me on Sinhala drama including folk drama.

It was here I met Prof. Saratchandra’s brilliant student Prof. Tissa Karitawasam, and other intellectuals such as Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, and Dr. Bandula Jayawardene.

Dr. Siri Gunasinghe was a frequent visitor to my home in Higurakgoda studying the Buddha statues of Plonnaruwa.

He used to sit next to me explaining the depth of the language of Sinhabahu at the open-air theatre of the University of Peradeniya.
With the assistance of Dr. Jayawadene I managed to take Maname to Higurakgoda for the benefit of students and the public. Prof. Ralph Peris and Dr. Jayawardene both helped me take Prof. Saratchandra’s folk drama to a few Kandyan villages too.

M.J. Perera, Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya University and W.J. Fernando, the then Kandy GA were closely associated with Prof. Saratchandra.

Let the turf lie gently over the ashes of all above of those departed.
-Hope Todd


Sithy Shakira Wahab

A void fills our empty space

Wapumma. My Grandmother.

Lay she in bed, her last three years,
Fed, clothed and powdered.

A privileged woman she was !

Like the pearl of the Indian Ocean,
She lay there amidst the ever nurturing, ever cooling
Ever refreshing
Effect of her children and grandchildren;
Thriving in their goodness.

Like the ebb and flow of the water,
Gliding serenely towards and away,
Ensuring no dismay.

A privileged woman she was !

A matriarch she was,
Determined in spirit – powerful,
Believing that women were strong and able in their own right
Extending a steel arm to any sister in pitiable plight.
Thus, revered and honored by extended folk
From city and country alike.

We oft would see her
Devout in prayer,
An unquestionable bond she’d established,
Between her Creator and herself.
Her spirit; ever hopeful; ever patient
With God’s will
May the Almighty endow on you His goodwill
And keep you warm in His all encompassing mercy
May Allah grant you Jannatul Firdous.

Such a presence within our home; no more.
A void; an emptiness fills our ancestral space,
Bereft of such generosity, thriving and grace.
One year’s gone by and so will many more
We miss you dearly, Wapumma and for you, fondness in our hearts will forever grow.

-Zainab Ajmal Mubarak



A friendship that started on a tennis court

I first met my friend Wilfred Senaka Nanayakkara on the tennis courts in the Peradeniya University in 1957. Since then I have been a close associate of Wilfred and his family.

Having passed out as an honours graduate in 1960, he was appointed a temporary lecturer of the University. Here he met his future wife with whom he played the one and only ‘Love all’ match. After a short stint in the campus, he joined the Cement Corporation.Thereafter he joined the Department of Inland Revenue, where he passed all the qualifying examinations coming first in the batch.

Of interest is the fact that, though he was a geography graduate, he later became more interested in economics. He spent two years at the University of East Anglia studying in their School of Development Studies. Having joined the Ministry of Planning in the early 1970s, he worked in the field of international economic cooperation. He was much involved in the activities for the Non-Aligned Heads of State Conference held in Colombo in 1976. Later, he worked in the field of investment promotion and was a live wire in the Foreign Investment Advisory Committee (FIAC) forerunner of the BOI. His work there was well recognised by the international community and before long he was in the United Nations (UNIDO) and was the economic adviser to the Ministry of Industries of the Government of Nepal and later to the Ministry of Industries of the Government of India, for another six years.

He leaves behind two sons, Ruwan and Priyan. He was a man proud of his heritage.

His health condition started to deteriorate during the latter part of his life. His devoted wife Malkanthi stood by him day in and day out. Although he could not speak, she knew exactly what he was thinking and what he wanted. We watched helplessly, as his health deteriorated as he went through this period stoically.

And as we part company after 57 years, in the words of Horatio in Hamlet, I would say, ‘Now cracks a noble heart; Good night sweet Prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’

-Walter Boteju


Dr. H. D. S. de Alwis

An unsung hero who did so much for Mahaweli project

Dr Dharmasiri de Alwis who contributed around 40 years of his life for the Mahweli Development Programme passed away on July 3. The country has lost one of its unsung heros who had made a landmark contribution to fulfill the Mahaweli dream, the results of which the country is reaping through the near self sufficiency in rice production, enhancement of life to around 150,000 grassroot level families and addition of around 670 Megawatts of hydropower to the national grid.

Dr. Alwis contributed his entire working life after graduating from the Engineering Faculty of University of Peradeniya in 1970 until the official age for retirement at 60 for the Mahweli Development work in various capacities as Project Engineer, Resident Project Manager, and Managing Director etc and then in 2008 to return again to reach the pinnacle as the Director General of Mahaweli Authority from 2008 –2010.

Though I was a junior at the Engineering Faculty of University of Ceylon, Peradeniya when he was there, I came into close acquaintance with him soon after I joined the Mahaweli Development Board, forerunner to Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (MASL), and was posted to work in the System H area at Pelvehera.

Subsequently, with the launching of the Accelerated Mahaweli Programme in 1978, I had the opportunity to work with him as pioneers of the development of System B of the development area, where he was the Assistant General Manager of the project based in Welikanda. When he moved with his mother to Welikanda, he had to put up a temporary shed with cadjan roof and commenced the development work under trying conditions made worse by the cyclone of 1978. I remember his routine field visits, dropping in at our camp at Aralaganwila located around 50 km away from his camp by around 6.30 a.m. to wake us up to start work. He returned home for breakfast by around 9.30 a.m. after the morning field visit and continued to work till late in the night with only a short lunch break.
He got married while he was still living among the jungles of Welikanda and moved with his wife to the new quarters that were ready on time.

Later he was called to serve as Director, System B from the head office and continued the good work. He proceeded to Australia on a scholarship to do a Masters programme and sometime after his return he took up the rudder of the organisation as the Managing Director and, with the restructuring programme of Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka, he was made the Chairman of Mahweli Consultancy Bureau which post he held until his retirement in 2005. He returned like Mc Arthur to the Mahaweli Authority in 2008 as the Director General, and I had the good fortune to receive my letter of retirement from him, with an endorsement in his own famously purple inked handwriting.

I now have the opportunity of making a monthly visit to system B on an assignment to carry out some unfinished work left behind due to the previous unsettled condition in part of the area and see the work left behind there by Dr Alwis in the form of the Welikanda and Aralaganwila townships, the road network, and the various service centres with his “darmachakara dhobymark” on the steel gates of the office premises. The Pimburettewa cicuit bungalow on the banks of the Pimburettewa reservoir bears testimony of his aesthetic sense, rare among the present breed of engineers. There are many unsung heros who played the keyrole in making the Mahaweli dream a reality, without seeking personal glory by including their names in the plaques you find everywhere in the project area. In that line of giants of the past such as Manamperi, Ratna Cook, Maheswaran, Ponrajah, and many others, he too warrants a place.



Narges Nalliah

You were that ‘special’ person in my life

Oh Narges, my darling sister, you beat me at everything even in your race to heaven. You were indeed a devout Christian and had complete trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. Your faith was all embracing, amply demonstrated by your insistence that the wedding of your son, Dr. Raj, be held in open air in God’s natural cathedral, Sratbroke Island. It was raining heavily the whole week through and none but you would have known, as Raj and Chloe would often say, that the sun would shine as brightly as it did on that very day, the day of the wedding. All you said was “I have prayed and I knew it will be fine”. So it was, God willing.

I would like to insert a verse from a card sent by a friend, Phyllis Stockwell, which is appropriate in every sense to my beloved sister Narges.

‘Special’ is a word that is used to describe something one of a kind like a hug, or a sunset, or a person who spreads love with a simple and kind gesture.

‘Special’ describes people who act from the heart and keep in mind the hearts of others.

‘Special’ applies to someone who is admired and precious and can never be replaced.

‘Special’ is the word that best describes you Narges.

You ran the surgery without missing a beat and no one knew, not even I, that you had a killer within you. You kept it all a secret, to yourself. You continued to look after your sons, Dr. Arjan and Dr. Raj who were your pride and joy, keeping it away from them as well. Even when it reached an advanced stage, you did not want me to know, for you knew if I was told I would die of grief before you. Those were the worst years of my life when my world was crumbling around me. I lost you so early in life. I still remember you as a darling baby, seated on my lap, when I was studying for my University Entrance exam. What pleasant memories I have of you.

Much has been said of your beloved husband, Dr. Ariam Nalliah and his kindness to the poorest of the poor. As District Governor of Lions Clubs International, he is said to have demonstrated his willingness, in ample measure, to serve the less fortunate. He too has left an indelible impression on my memory.

“Dear Lord what was the hurry in taking her away from us all”. At this very moment, I want to see her face and tell her that she has a precious little grandson, Anojan, much adored and treasured by her son Dr. Arjan and daughter-in-law Anoushki. He is so cute, just six months old and so much like baby Arjan, when he was the same age. Oh what a pleasure he is to me, how much more would it have been for her, if only she could have seen him.

Take my hand, my darling sister and hold it tight, for I cannot walk alone. As God’s love flows around us, I am well aware that you and I would meet together before long. This is my wish and prayer.

Nesie Nalliah

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