Farewell beautiful friend Mavis Gardiner It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this appreciation for Mavis Gardiner nee Henry, my dearest friend. I have known Mavis Gardiner over a long time, since our Ladies’ College days. I remember Mavis and her sister Helen Henry as beautiful girls in our senior [...]




Farewell beautiful friend

Mavis Gardiner

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this appreciation for Mavis Gardiner nee Henry, my dearest friend.
I have known Mavis Gardiner over a long time, since our Ladies’ College days. I remember Mavis and her sister Helen Henry as beautiful girls in our senior school. They were absolute beauties in their short uniforms and ponytails. Many of us younger girls were very much in awe of them.

It was only a few days ago that I received my weekly call from Mavis. We would have very long conversations. We had such a long association that we would talk about just about everything including our children, our grandchildren and how our lives were progressing. In fact when I saw Sanjeev’s daughter Sheanna at the funeral, she was surprised how much I knew about her life. Mavis had spent a lot of time telling me about her lovely grandchildren.

I was also very much with Mavis through all the difficult times she went through to conceive her beloved son Sanjeev finally after a vow made to Saint Jude’s Church. Mavis was a devout Catholic and prayed for a miracle. Sanjiv was her miracle and his birth was the highlight of her life. In later years she used to always tell me what a special and wonderful son Sanjeev was. She had this amazing bond with him. He took great care to always be there for her. She blessed him abundantly and every day for being the most amazing son to her.

I remember beautiful Mavis modelling for Tuckers Autodrome in her beautiful Kanchipuram saree. She was a ravishing beauty and when she walked down that ramp, none of us were too surprised when our dear friend Cyril fell madly in love with her.

Mavis was always very possessive of Cyril, who was a keen dancer. It was only Subo and me who had her blessings to dance with him. My husband Wicky taught Cyril to do the cha-cha. He would love to twirl me around the floor and he would call me his favourite dancing partner! We were very close friends and we enjoyed many wonderful memories together as young couples. The very close bond between the Gardiner family and the Sellamuttu family  went back for several generations of friendship and business ties through Ceylon Theatres, Cargills, Millers, etc., in the post-colonial era.

Mavis also considered my mother Sundari and her sisters Rajesh and Yoga to be her very closest friends. She often spoke about my mother Sundari and my father Rasa and the bygone dancing days at the famous “Mascarilla” at the Galle Face Hotel. I am happy that our children continue this long friendship and bond that our families have enjoyed for several generations.

Mavis was a wonderful, loyal and constant friend to me. She never forgot Wicky’s or my birthdays. We have got accustomed to a wonderful cake from Galle Face Hotel being a part of all our birthdays over the years. Just the other day she told me that she was going to send me and Wicky boy (as she called him) a gourmet meal from Galle Face Hotel. That was the generous and kind nature of my dear friend Mavis Gardiner.

The friendship we shared leaves a great void in our lives. I will always love you my darling forever friend. I will miss you for all the days of my life. Goodbye sweet Mavis and may your wonderful soul rest in eternal peace.

Sheranee Sellamuttu

Live simply, walk humbly and love genuinely


My father, Gerald de Alwis, was born on February 24, 1922. He passed away peacefully on December 10, 2022, having lived five score years and celebrated his 100th birthday. Hurrah for his longevity! He told me one day that his journey on earth was very fulfilling and having completed his tasks, he was now waiting in the departure lounge. He felt the time had come for his departure and had the satisfaction that he had fought a good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.

He was a southerner born on Rockhill Estate, Kalahe, Galle, to Samuel George and Annie (née Abeysekera) de Alwis. He was the youngest of three siblings – a naughty boy. His wife Stephanie nee Philis Goonetilleke from Panadura predeceased him on February 28, 2014 at the age of 88 years. Their union brought forth five children. It was a severe blow when five became four. Losing their only son in 1986 had a devastating effect on the family but faith in God helped them to pull through.

My father was a very hardworking, humble man who enjoyed the simple things of life. He awoke every morning invoking blessings to all living creatures, earthly beings and praising God. He opened his eyes to the beauty of life and his heart to the natural serenity within him. He found contentment that all is well. ‘The purple headed mountains, the rivers running by, the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and beautiful, ‘Twas God that made them all’ a hymn written by William Henry Monk was often sung by him during his morning devotions.

After retirement from public and social service, and having given his children in marriage, he began travelling the world to explore more of God’s creation. He loved to share his travel experiences and exchange his views and ideas with others. He was forthright and fearless; he would write articles to the newspapers and not hesitate to be very critical and call a spade a spade when necessary.

He retired 40 years ago as Director of Land Reforms having reached one of the highest posts in the public service under the then Chairmanship of S.B. Senanayake. He served the longest period in the Eastern Province (a province he was familiar with) next to the time he was in the Social Services Department in the Galle district  in the early years of his career. Just prior to serving in the Land Reform Commission, he was attached to the Land Settlement office which came under the same ministry during Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s tenure.

He had the good fortune to venture into a few other departments such as Rural Development, Cottage and Small Industries to uplift the living standards of low income families which he enjoyed thoroughly. This was an era where the handloom industry was very vibrant and my father’s involvement and contribution to the textile industry was immense. Many talented men and women were aided to produce beautiful ornaments such as dancers, drummers made out of  paper pulp and balanced on pin size steel/iron wires. With a little nudge you could see these ornaments moving like wound up dolls. Elephants made of ebony with their ivory tusks and statues of gods were some of the other handicrafts that I could remember. I was amazed as a child by the skilful handwork of the craftspersons.

Laksala came to be during that time and the main suppliers to Laksala were these men and women from the low income families. Dr.  W. Dahanayake was the minister in charge of Home Affairs, Rural Development and Small Industries in the early sixties and my father spearheaded the Southern province to develop this all important industry under his guidance.

He was an admirer of noble leaders of great character and values and had read many biographies and autobiographies of those such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther, Dr. W. Dahanayake  whom he respected. He believed that one’s values were one’s destiny and could shape your decisions and actions and that a leader should have exemplary qualities to shepherd his flock.

“Live simply, walk humbly and love genuinely’’ was his unsung motto which he tried to instill in his children by his own practice. During the last years of his life even with memory fading, he never forgot the names of his good old domestic aides who had a very special place in his heart. He would raise his eyebrows and respond wanting to see or hear their voices though they were long gone beyond.

I will always try to follow your good examples and values as far as possible as you have taught me the way to lead a good life. I miss your long chats. I wish I was able to give you one more hug before you left this earth.

Thank you for giving me the gift of life, and for giving me the privilege of knowing what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. I love you unconditionally.

May your soul rest in peace and rise in glory until I meet you in heaven.

Aloma Gunesekera

Sublime doctor of Homeopathy

Dr. H.T. Anandarajah

More than three decades ago, I walked in through the gates of No.106 Manning Place, into a rambling, serene, simple and spotless house, and took my place on a cosy chair in its spacious verandah. When it was my turn, I pushed the door and went through. The room was dim but behind the neat and tidy desk shone a halo emitting a glow of warm amber light. It was a magical and ineffable moment that I will always treasure. It was the beginning of my embrace of Homeopathy, the ‘like cures like’ principle of healing and this wonderful, gentle, sublime, selfless man.

Something nudged me today, the 20th of February, to message Charmaine, his daughter, and inquire after him since I had not done so for a very very long time. Her prompt reply shattered me – he had passed two hours ago . To me it was beyond the realm of coincidence.

It is indeed difficult to document our many visits to meet him, sometimes alone, sometimes with one of our children, sometimes with a friend, to seek his gentle, subtle and powerful remedy for a misalignment that had occurred within the complex dynamics of our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical states. He would listen with empathetic body language, then speak in an absolutely comforting tone to reassure that all will be well soon. He would float across the room, open his cupboard and meticulously prepare little packets of powders and fill miniature vials with shiny, tiny, white globules, probably infused with drops of minute portions and compositions of minerals and salts, like calcarean, natrum or ferrum. He would place them inside a specially printed envelope and write down clear instructions on it and seal it neatly with cello tape.

We religiously followed his instructions and it was a joy to take them because somehow there was this uncanny consciousness deep inside of us that promised healing. And we were always healed in perfect harmony. I have always believed that Homeopathy is based on science while its application is an art -that dear Dr. Anandarajah had truly mastered and crafted with his very own brand of humility.

Some real-life stories I would like to reflect upon, that would bring readers to the very soul of this beautiful man. My son in his very early teens had developed Vitiligo on his thighs and it was fast spreading. There was clearly no cure and we were desperate when we went to him. He was calm, held my son’s hands and said “you will be alright”.  We had unconditional faith in him and his treatment plan and Nivendra was cured.

Strangely it seems Vitiligo did have some genetic disposition. My niece had developed it too, over her eye and it was miraculously contained with his powders and globules.  My nephew in Canada was in an advanced state when I went to the good doctor and sought his advice. He did not promise much after he looked at the photos, but said he would do his best. It was incredible to see him personally mail his medications multiple times to this boy through the GPO. Sadly, there was not much improvement. But there was so much love and commitment by him that crashed through all the barriers and doors that would have held other doctors back.

My wife’s best friend’s daughter was inflicted with dengue and in the ICU struggling with rapidly receding platelets. I called him because he had always told me that Homeopathy can cure dengue. He requested me to come over immediately and collect the medications. I rushed to his home and his assistant handed the envelope to me from over the gate. I tried to pay for it but she said the Doctor said no money is necessary for this patient and that I must rush with it. Rush with it was what I did and the girl was somehow saved.

When his good and supportive and dear wife left him after a long illness, he carried on alone seeing his patients with tender loving care. His daughter Charmaine lived overseas and her love for him was simply extraordinary. Her father had expressed a desire to live his final years in Kandy. She and her husband took a momentous and selfless decision to pack up and come back. They bought a beautiful property for him in Kandy and allowed him to enjoy the rest of his life there.

Incredibly he was dispensing his medicines via courier from Kandy to his faithful patients – and visiting Colombo regularly to see them. Charmaine also mentioned that private hospitals referred patients to him for a second opinion pre-surgery. All this happened probably right up to the last days of his wonderful life on earth.

Dr. Hubert Thampoe Anandarajah has left behind a grieving multitude. We will surely miss him.

Jomo Uduman

A vibrant lady with a heart of gold Maurine Fernando nee Gunesekera

Aunty Maurine, my father’s older sister was born 100 years ago on February 24, 1923. She passed away on February 17, 1977 at the age of 54, after a sudden cardiac arrest.  It was a shock and irreparable grief for the young family to come to terms with the loss of their energetic and vibrant mother/wife.

Every other family who knew Maurine went into mourning in the days that followed. Adding to the anguish was when her only son Rohith, the apple of her eye, who was en-route from Cairo was left stranded in Bombay unable to attend his mother’s funeral.

Maurine was the second daughter of the late Dr Sir Frank and Lady Margaret Gunesekera of “Parimalapthy”, No.143, Campbell Place, Borella. Though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth she never lost the common touch. Aunty Maurine had a heart of gold and would help anyone who needed assistance. She would welcome even a stranger to her home with open arms and make them feel comfortable by always providing a warm, friendly environment.

She was a homemaker, devoted to the family who put the needs and happiness of her loved ones before her, and had equally strong connections to others outside the family. After many years friends and relations still talk of her thoughtful deeds and actions with a sense of admiration.

She attended CMS Ladies’ College and was Head Girl during the late thirties. She was a leading cellist in the school orchestra. Being an active old girl, her involvement with school activities never ceased. One would be sure to see Maurine at CMS carnivals, sports meets and other events.  She contributed with a deep sense of love and passion for her school and was wholeheartedly involved in running the school tuck-shop for many years, taking pride of place at school carnivals with her much talked of food stalls.

She played a prominent role in the Methodist Church, initially Maradana and subsequently Wellawatte Methodist Church where she last worshiped. Being a church leader at Wellawatte, she took a lead role in setting up the Wellawatte Action League which provided meals to the poor. She was instrumental in organising main church events including those with the choir. She loved and enjoyed singing as a member of the choir. She was a popular figure in church and was loved by all.

Maurine was a tennis player. She met her lifelong partner, Edward Fernando at the tennis court in the YWCA at Union Place and it was “love at first sight’. She came from a well-known, aristocratic and affluent family. Her father was the personal physician and friend to Ceylon’s first Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake. Though her family members did not approve of her marriage, they had a very successful and happy union with their four children, eldest son, Rohith followed by three daughters, Dharshani, Enoka and Ashika.

Maurine made a name for her catering abilities and was proprietress of a very established catering business –  “Edward and Rohith Caterers” that undertook catering for weddings, birthdays, business and private functions. As I recall she made my birthday cakes each year in my childhood; airplanes, ships, nursery cartoons etc.

I have very happy memories of family trips, cricket matches, get-togethers that she organised where she treated us often to her famous lamprais and delicious desserts.

I met my lifelong partner at Aunty Maurine’s funeral house when I set eyes for the first time on Aloma, my cousin Enoka’s classmate. Similarly it was another enduring love story between two other beautiful people, a merchant ship engineer and a friend of the family, who also set eyes on each other for the first time.

Remembering an adorable aunt with affection and gratitude on her 100th birthday. May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory.

- Nalin Gunesekera

Not just the best singer but best cook too

The carol service on Christmas Eve was the highlight of the calendar at the Methodist Church, Wellawatte and its success was assured with Maurine Fernando leading the treble line. She had a strong beautiful soprano voice with perfect pitch and all that the rest of the trebles (sopranos) had to do was follow her. In fact, the whole choir of trebles, altos, tenors and basses followed her lead.

My father, John Reid, was the Choirmaster in the 1950’s and 60’s. I sang bass. I remember that after choir practices, as my father and I walked home, he used to say how much he relied on Maurine to lift the choir to a good performance. The same applied, of course, to the singing of the choir every Thursday at practice and every Sunday at worship.

She was not just the best singer. She was the best cook. In the early years of bringing up my own family, whenever a birthday came around I called on Maurine as caterer. Her cakes could not be matched and her stringhopper pillau was out of this world. Her pattties, cutlets and  sandwiches melted in the mouth, especially those three tiered sandwiches with beetroot and  asparagus.

The Reids lived down Hamers Place, Wellawatte and the Fernandos lived down the next lane, Collingwood Place.

I was a frequent enough visitor to her home to see the character in her. She had a heart of gold. What really impressed me was that she, an ardent Christian, married a Buddhist, lived in harmony with him and raised a family with him. This told me that what mattered most to her was love, a broad mind, tolerance and understanding. She was an example worth following. If the rest of Sri Lanka were of like mind, the country would have prospered with no conflict.

What a great celebration there would have been in heaven on February 24 for her 100th birthday, with much singing in the company of John Reid, Mavis Bandara, James Bernard, Daphne Jansz (Lieversz), Dorothy Felsinger (Lieversz), Molly Reihardt, Keith de Kretser, Rev and Mrs. Soma  Perera, Dr. Noel Baptist and the others in the Methodist Church choir of her time. Bless her soul!

Buddy Reid


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