Hewa Thondilege Peter Singno The best grandfather, with irreplaceable charisma You should have seen the way he picked a flower, in such a gentle manner that you would think he was appealing for permission from the tree. You should have seen the way he decorated a Vesak lantern, with such patience. You should have seen [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Hewa Thondilege Peter Singno

The best grandfather, with irreplaceable charisma

You should have seen the way he picked a flower, in such a gentle manner that you would think he was appealing for permission from the tree. You should have seen the way he decorated a Vesak lantern, with such patience. You should have seen the way he addressed people such as the village headman, with irreplaceable charisma. You should have seen the way he treated my brother, my cousins and me, the best grandfather one can ever imagine.

At times when Seeya and I were alone, he used to tell me many stories. Having lost his parents at a young age those stories were about how he became what he was by starting from nothing. Being a great farmer he had many adventurous stories as well. But at his funeral I learned that there have been many stories which he had not shared with me, those of how he had helped others.

Being the chairman of one of the first Krushiskamika Phalada Wardhana Samithi which is for Yodakandiya (renamed as the Agricultural Services Centre since) he helped many poor farmers obtain legal deeds for their lands and secure their source of income while uplifting agriculture in Tissamaharama. During his time as the chairman, the Yodakandiya Krushiskamika Phalada Wardhana Samithiya had been nominated as the best Krushiskamika Phalada Wardhana Samithiya in Sri Lanka. He was a Justice of Peace for the whole country and an active member of the Mediation Board, Tissamaharama.

Seeya accepted the position of the chairman of the Multi-Purpose Corporative Society of Tissamaharama on the condition that he would leave the position after resolving the conflicts which existed in the association. Being a man of his word, he fulfilled his agreement.

Seeya had a thirst for knowledge. He used to read whenever he got the chance. Buying books for Seeya was the first on my list when I went to the Colombo International book fair. At age 94, two months before departing from us he had finished reading “Sunethra” by “W.A. Silva” within three days. He used to read the daily newspaper and was well aware of the current topics better than us at times.

Knowing the value of education he sent my father and my aunt to Vijitha Central College, Dikwella, one of the best schools in the Matara District at that time. Without his initial guidance, I do not think my cousin would have become an engineer, his sister a doctor, my brother secure 3As at his Advanced Level exam and me become an engineer.

Not only an exemplary father and an exemplary grandfather, he was a great husband to my aththamma. For the three years when she was confined to the bed, Seeya was the one who took care of her totally.

He had a good understanding of Buddhism which he gained through reading. He was lucky enough to offer ata pirikara and to listen to pirith 12 hours before closing his eyes. He could chant thun suthra by heart even three days before his departure. He had a good understanding of the death, which led him to peaceful departure.

Dear Seeya, you were always proud of your daughter and son, of your in-laws and your grandchildren. You always wanted us to be independent and good citizens and guided us for that. I promise to live up to your expectations till the end of my life and to continue the traditions and the culture for next generations. I believe my brother and my cousins have the same wish as we all know that is the best way to honour you. May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

-Your everloving Loku Duwa,
Hewa Thondilege Akila Sachinthani Pemasiri


Teles Fernandopulle 

In the distinguished company of greats

Teles was an exceptionally good all-round sportsman. He was a lovable person with a wonderful sense of humour, a great raconteur and always good company.

He was one of the best wicket keeper/opening batsmen to represent the Tamil Union C & AC in the 1940s to the 1960s era. He was the keeper who guided the George Stuarts Co. cricket teams, to great success, in the Mercantile Cricket Tournaments of that same period.

Teles began his cricket at St. Benedict’s College Kotahena and was a “natural” when it came to ‘keeping’. On leaving school he continued his cricket seriously and took over the keeper’s place at the Tamil Union C & AC from his elder brother Bernard. His skills and consistency earned him a place in the Ceylon Cricket Association sides that played the Gopalan Trophy and other foreign teams that then visited Sri Lanka on their whistle stop games here.

The official “Ceylon cap” however sadly evaded him only because yet another Benedictine wicket keeping ‘great’ Ben Navaratne from his rival club, the SSC, outshone him.

Teles played his cricket in the distinguished company of greats such as M. Sathasivam, Sathi Coomarasamy, A. G. D. N. Selvadurai, R. Coomaraswamy, T. Murugaser, S. Nagendra (Jnr) C. Dharmalingam, T. Parathalingam, C. T. A. Schaffter , T Jayalingam, Francis Casie Chetty, A Mylvanagam. F.C de Saram, Ben Navaratne, Mahes Rodrigo, B.R. Heyn, Tita Nathanielsz, C.I. and C.H. Gunasekera, Sargo Jayawickreme, R.B Wijesinghe, L.E. De Zoyza, Vernon Prins, K.M.T. Perera and a host of others too many to recall here. Teles was an important member of theTamil Union team that won the inaugural P. Sara Trophy in 1951.

When Rex Breckenridge undertook to revive interest in the participation of Tamil Union teams in the lower division tournaments for the Donovan Andree and Daily News cricket trophies it was Rex, Teles, Auggie Alles, and young turks including Elmo Rodrigopulle that formed the backbone of these sides. As opening bat, he made several big scores for the club.

He was also an outstanding basketball and volleyball player representing the Colombo YMCA in the era when these sports became competitive sports in Sri Lanka. He was also a good tennis and billiards player. He was the first unofficial Coach of the St Benedict’s College basketball team in the late 1950s.

The Fernandopulle brothers in addition to Teles all kept wickets for St. Benedict’s which must be a record. Teles’ brothers were Bernard, Cyril, Fausta, Anston, Quentin, Reginald, Camillus and Iraneus, all nine stumpers called to a greener turf beyond these shores.

-Remembered by his only loving daughter Chrys


 Major   Saliya   Nimal  Doranegama

We are proud to be his granddaughters          

Saliya Nimal Doranegama was our paternal grandfather. Though he hailed from Anuradhapura, he lived in Gampola. He was a well known cricketer at St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota. He joined the school cricket team in 1950 at the age of 16 and played until he was 20 years. He played soccer and boxed too.

Later he joined the Sri Lanka Army. He had been sent to Sandhurst, England for training and had won colours for boxing and cricket.

He served in the Army and retired as a Major. Perhaps his career had made him a very punctual man.

We are proud to be his grand-daughters. He always looked after us admirably. We were always advised not to be absent from school , not to be late to school, to do our duties very well and respect elders.

He helped others , but never expected anything in return. When we visited him almost every Saturday he always had a delicious chocolate for both of us. At the age of 76, he fell ill and passed away on November 26, 2011.

Dear Attha, you are no more now but your kind, loving and beneficial advice still lingers in our hearts. May you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

-Loving granddaughters,
Dilushi and Sadishi Doranegama


Amara Siriwardena


Mischievous among eight siblings,
Excelled in boxing and cadetting,
From a prestigious school in Guruthalawa.
Singing and dancing in his blood,
His harmonious voice accompanying
The melodies on a violin played by his dear wife,
Made our family events so lively,
Devoted father to his only loving daughter,
Nurtured her inborn talents for painting.
Her loving husband , a duty-bound son but never an in-law to him.
Their doting two daughters,
Who shared his happiness,
Stood beside him in ill- health,
Never believe that he is no more.
A dear Baappa, Lokuthaththa, maama you were to all of us,
With a voice full of humour we will not hear at all,
But will cherish fond memories in remembrance forever.


Riaz Ismail

Simplicity and fairplay were
hallmarks of his character

The news of the sudden demise of my cousin and dear friend Al Haj Riaz Ismail in early November was extremely shocking and saddening. It was a few hours earlier that I had called him from Bagdad to seek his assistance on a personal matter. He gladly assured me that he will attend to it the following day. That day unfortunately failed to dawn on Riaz.

Marhoom Riaz Ismail was a unique person in many ways. From his early days he would not tolerate injustice and discrimination. Although born into a respectable family in that sophisticated Muslim society of Fort Galle, he abhorred false pretensions, extravagance and the ego-centric life style of some of the wealthy in this enclave. He did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. Simplicity and fairplay were hallmarks of his character.
When the Galle Muslim Cultural Association was founded by a band of dedicated Muslim youths nearly 50 years ago there was reluctance on the part of many to take over the reins of leadership as the noble ideals of this organisation were in stark contrast to the very social and cultural fabric of the then Galle Fort society. However Riaz considered this a challenge and willingly took over the mantle of leadership as its first President.

His purity of intentions, sincerity of his objectives and grit and determination coupled with his implicit trust in Almighty Allah motivated Riaz to overcome teething problems and lay the firm foundation that eventually saw G.M. C.A. blossom into a renowned organisation. Words are but a poor expression of Riaz`s indelible contribution to our organisation. His late father once lamented that Riaz, a bright student in school sacrificed his career for the G.MC.A. and ended up as a government clerk shattering his dad`s cherished dream of seeing his son as a doctor.

Although a clerk he soon proved a super efficient and vibrant worker. His productivity and expeditious completion of tasks earned him many accolades. Amara Hewa Madduma, a top civil servant and his one-time boss, admired his capability and treated him as a peer and mentor. So too his former superior Dr Ratnayake and and many other Secretaries under whom Riaz functioned as Co-ordinating Secretary. No task appeared too big for this human dynamo.

Riaz Ismail was an indefatigable social worker. Whilst his first love was G.M.C.A., he was also actively involved in many other organisations and institutions such as M.I.C.H, MerciLanka Foundation, Amal International School, Y.M.M.A. Dehiwela Mt.Lavinia and O.S.M.E.T. Scholarship Fund.

He also spearheaded the G.M.C.A’s efforts. to upgrade the standard of education of Muslim schools in the Galle District. He believed that ill equipped Muslim schools were a bane to the progress of the community especially the poor from the rural areas.Hence his initiative and endeavour.

Many a family will feel the void created by the demise of this wonderful human being.

Riaz`s untimely departure from this mundane world is an unbearable loss to me personally. We pray that Almighty Allah pardon his sins, accept all his good deeds and grant him an elevated place in Jannathul Firdhous.
-M. Liyawdeen


Princie Weerasooriya

A well-led life with a heart full of love

Dear Aththamma, we are preparing to mark the three months of you passing from our world. It is a solemn time but reflection upon your well-led life gives us bursts of joy. The good memories flow in with the least bit of effort. You continue to impart much needed life lessons with the memories of your actions. In a way you are the one still consoling us and showing us how to let go and be mindful of our own thoughts and actions.

There were so many that wished to express their deep sympathies on your passing. Your grace, kindness and gentle nature, are reflected in all the stories which those who condoled with the family have narrated. Truly the principles guiding your life were appreciated and looked up to by those not in only in your family circle but beyond it as well. The rarity and significance of this is not lost upon us. Unequivocally, we have learnt so much from your life and it stands as a beautiful lesson on how to lead one’s own. Examples of your deeds will be the stories we narrate to your great grandchildren. Your generous nature was expounded when helping all those who required some form of assistance, be it a shoulder to cry on, a simple encouragement, meals for the sick and charity during hard times. All these acts you did with a heart full of love with no expectation of anything in return.

An anecdote that not many will know is of the vacuum cleaner salesman who was directed to visit you by one of your friends. I happened to be spending my school holidays with you and aththa and had the luck to have a front row seat to the resulting events. After the gentleman made his introductions and handed you his references, you sat quietly and observed the full demonstration of the system he was in charge of selling. He took you through the myriad of attachments all the while professing how easy your life would be if you purchased the system and of course the significant discount that was on offer for just today. After sitting through the 45-minute presentation, when it came to the end, you asked in your typical manner, if the salesman would be interested in having some lunch. The salesman taken a bit aback tried valiantly to get the conversation back to the pending sale. The conclusion of this story was that we never ended up with the vacuum cleaner but the salesman had multiple helpings of your pickle preparation!

We as a family will continue to be just that. We do and will continue to laugh, cry, fall out, get angry, be sad and exhibit the plethora of characteristics, which mark us as being the imperfect beings we are. However if we try, we are made just that bit better by the impact of the lessons of the life you led. You and aththa were the bedrock on which our parents and we (the grandchildren) built our lives. It is now our duty to cherish the memories and lead our own lives in the way you would trust us to.

We still miss you at every turn as we are all yet imperfect and do not fully comprehend the teaching of anichcha (impermanence). The times we catch ourselves turning to look or speak to you, we smile knowingly with the memories and continue to move on. You continue to live on through the meritorious and kind deeds you carried out during your entire life’s journey.

May you attain Nibbana!

-On behalf of all your family, your loving grandson, Nishan


Dr. Reggie Seimon

My good friend and boss

It was sad to bid goodbye to Dr. Reggie Seimon, known as “Uncle Reggie” by my family and me.

I vividly recollect the very first day I met him at the old Eye Unit at the General Hospital, Kandy when I consulted him with a problem in my eye when I was around 17 years old. Apart from his competence as a Consultant Ophthalmologist what struck me most was how well groomed he was. Dress was an aspect he was always particular about. As my parents too were Consultants at the General Hospital Kandy we ended up being firm family friends. In March 1992, I had the pleasure of being appointed as his Secretary when he was Chairman of the Sri Lanka Eye Foundation (SLEF) which was a NGO with charitable status.

At this time he was actively involved in fund raising for the present 200 bed Eye Hospital (“Centre for Sight”, Kandy). The existing Eye Unit consisted only of a small clinic, a shared theatre and wards split between eye and ENT patients.

It was a most profitable experience working for him, as he was a disciplinarian and always expected from those who worked with him a perfect end result. What impressed me most was the perseverance, tenacity and diligence he displayed in fundraising for the “Centre for Sight”, locally, as well as abroad. He was a great man who has performed yeoman service to Sri Lanka, for which he was conferred the title of Deshabandu. During my entire period of work I observed the dedication and commitment he had to provide better eye care service to the people of Sri Lanka.
During epidemics of “Sore Eyes” (Conjunctivitis) he always made it a point to publish an article on the prevention of Sore Eyes in the Sinhala, Tamil and English newspapers.

One of his main objectives was to eradicate blindness due to cataract especially among the rural community. A team of Health Ministry personnel at the “Centre for Sight” visited rural areas on a regular basis to screen the elderly, over the age of 60 years, to detect those with cataract. These patients were given appointments for cataract surgery with intra-ocular lens implant at the “Centre for Sight”. The needy received free intra-ocular lenses.

In addition to the construction of the “Centre for Sight” he developed the eye care services in several provinces by constructing Eye Units, including eye theatres. He also enhanced awareness among the public on the prevention of blindness by conducting primary eye care training programmes for Medical Officers, Field Health Midwives, Public Health Inspectors, Nurses and school teachers; and by printing and distributing a set of seven posters on the “prevention of blindness”. At one time he even had one of these posters stuck on his personal car to draw the attention of the public to the problem.

Under this awareness programme he compiled a book of questions and answers titled “Know your Eyes” in Sinhala, Tamil and English which was distributed among the schools and the primary eye care training programme participants together with a set of posters. His book titled “Ophthalmology without Tears” was an essential tool for the Medical Officers. In the process of developing the provincial eye units he also solicited funds to purchase important surgical and clinical equipment (eg. Operating Microscopes, Slit Lamps, Laser machines, “A” Scans and Keratometers) which were donated to the “Centre for Sight” as well as to some of the provincial eye units. The Colombo Eye Hospital too received some equipment. Sets of Micro instruments and titanium instruments too were donated to the Eye Hospital, Colombo, the “Centre for Sight” and every provincial eye unit, on a regular basis.

One of the major programmes he commenced, with funding from our offshore partners, was the low cost drug and low cost spectacle programme which provided low cost ophthalmic drugs and low cost spectacles to the needy patients in the provincial eye units, free of any charge. This clearly shows that his sole intention throughout his career was to provide a better service to the needy patients of Sri Lanka.

Among many of his achievements was a pilot project for Rubella Vaccination, with funding from one of our offshore partners, to vaccinate females between the age group of 19-35 years against Rubella. This was of prime importance to him as a mother contracting Rubella during the first trimester of her pregnancy could give birth to a blind offspring.

Two of the other programmes carried out by the SLEF organised by him were the training of eye surgeons on Short Incision Cataract Surgery which he personally did and the Disinfection and Sterilisation programme for nurses.

Apart from his expertise as a Consultant Ophthalmologist, he was also a talented musician and played many instruments (piano accordion, piano, keyboard, clarinet, saxophone, flute and trumpet). Some time back I accompanied him on the piano when he and my father played clarinets. Unfortunately this did not last very long.

As Uncle Reggie and my family lived in the same neighbourhood he used to contact my husband (Anura) and myself in the evenings for a game of badminton which he really used to enjoy. We played till we almost could not spot the shuttlecock!!

Before Uncle Reggie and Aunty Indira (his wife) migrated to Australia, Anura and I would meet them regularly either at our place or theirs for a glass of wine, sometimes followed by dinner. These were lovely moments which I shall always cherish as he always had interesting stories to relate and Aunty Indira was such an excellent hostess.

In 2011 we were sad to hear that they were migrating to Australia to join their son Samantha and family. This I believe, was a firm decision taken after the loss of their daughter Ruwani who was loved by us all.

I fortunately had the opportunity of meeting Uncle Reggie and Aunty Indira last August when they were holidaying in Sri Lanka.

Uncle Reggie, we will always remember and miss you for your kindness, generosity and humour and I in particular will always treasure the wonderful training you gave me during your tenure as Chairman of the SLEF.

-Amila Herath

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