[APPRECIATIONS - (10-04-2017)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (10-04-2017)]

M.P. Perera

Admirable individual

This is a token of appreciation from us railwaymen who lived and worked contemporaneously with M.P. Perera, our trade testing officer in the railway central workshop, who passed away recently.

He hailed from a family having a social conscience form the time of his forefathers, an ancestral family in Wadduwa, being ever prepared to lend a helping hand to the needy. M.P. Perera in turn carried the torch of benevolence until his demise which famed him in and around Wadduwa town limits.

How he distinguished himself in his workplace too, is quite in tune with his customary way that is traditional and unimpeachable.

He endeared to the heats and minds of his colleague through his character viz sincerity, not budging to pressure from any quarter in his official capacity up until his retirement. Over a span of two decades. The admirable manner he conducted himself discharging his duties upholding highest standards being ever mindful of the responsibility cast on him to select the suitable cadres, to man onerous positions for the proper running of railway, are legion.

In the supply chain of skilled cadres to maintain smooth running of railway, the position be held was pivotal.

The man of the street may not know what destruction would be caused should an inept hand examining rolling stock wheels, after each run, leave any flaw undetected. Once an applicant appeared before him for trade testing through the ministry list, he was tested and found wanting. A rumbustious politico wielding enormous influence within the government, intervening on applicant's behalf, rang up M.P. Perera and insisted on him to give the fellow a second test. For this, his response was an emphatic no. Such was the mettle he is made up with. In ordinary life, he was very sociable and likes his parties but only with those not infringing his official rules. None dared to put the hard word to him since it ran the risk of losing his valuable friendship as well.

Ratmalana Railway workshops with a heavy concentration of workers where Silvas and Pereras abound whether each one deserves the title Mr. Or not, singling him out and by indemnifying or being addressed by the above adorable name in itself speaks volumes of the man.

In today's context, whereat established procedures in government institutions being irreversibly eroded by the day for expediency, it is our fervent hope that the standards of M.P. Perera and his like set be guiding light for all his successors. That way, not only we could bestow him to lasting respect but also instill its benevolent effect on the department as a whole. May he attain blissful Nibbana!

S. Udasiri

Manel (nee Kuruppu) Samaraweera

True friend

It is with heart-felt deepest sympathies that I got to know about the passing of my dear friend, Manel Kuruppu (the name itself depicts that she was a blossom; sweet, smart, and extremely generous).

I recall her as a very active participant of my school house, Sapphire, in every way possible with great dignity. I clearly remember how she volunteered to cater delicious meals for all who participated in the sportsmeets from Sapphire House during my tenor as the house captain. She was a true friend who contributed to our house with great devotion, spending countless hours to promote the true spirit of sports among the participants from 1957 - 1958.

My house Vice Captain Sangamitta Moonasinghe, Manel, and I were so close and cherished the memories as leaders of Ferguson High School. We worked so hard as a trio for the upliftment of House Sapphire during the two-year period. I heard that Sangamitta passed away a few years ago in London too.

A couple of years ago, I met Manel at the Telecommunication Dpt. Head Office and had the chance to talk to her for few minutes after a lapse of many lost years. Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw her, as I came to Australia for a long holiday.

While condoling her demise, I deeply want to wish her the supreme bliss of Nibbana and see an end to this long samsara.

We will ever miss you, sweet princess!

Please accept our deepest sympathies, Nelum, Mallika, and other family members.

Chitrangani Anula Welikanne

Sapphire House Captain (1957 - 1958)

Ferguson High School,


Together with,

Somalatha Welikanne, Padmini Welikanne, Nalini Welikanne, and Irene Wijesundara.

Prof. Valentine Joseph

Adept mathematician

It was one morning in July 1956. King George Hall of the University of Ceylon was filled with a new batch of students eagerly awaiting the arrival of a wizard of Mathematics on the stage for the first lecture.

A new chapter in the lives of the physical science and engineering students was about to commence. The expectations were high in the young minds filled with dreams of becoming academics and professionals. This was the only science faculty in the only university of the island at the time.

Sharp at eight o’clock, a young man dressed in a shirt, looking worn out, and a trouser showing lack of care, appeared on the stage and announced with a sharp voice “I am Valentine Joseph!” A negative response from the audience was a loud noise. But there was no stopping and the young man continued in the same tone “Imagine three rods placed in outer space at right angles to one another and that is going to be our frame of reference.” By now the response from the audience was total silence and he continued his presentation with absolute lucid explanations based on his frame of reference.

Students gradually got adjusted to his ways of aloofness. When they noticed that he was using an old push bicycle as his mode of transport, they began to see more of his unusual ways combined with his ability, particularly, when he used innovative approaches in solving mathematical problems. If there was a problem for which there were two possible solutions, he was able to guide the students to find even six possible solutions. From his innovations, lessons could be learnt, which could be used throughout one’s life. Within a short time, the students could fathom his academic strength, resulting in a high level of admiration for him.

It became known that when Valentine went abroad for his doctorate, he had to return empty-handed due mainly to the inability of the supervisors to agree with his concepts. This was not at all a surprise for the student community. During the latter stages of his carrier, as Prof.Valentine Joseph, his brilliance was noticed even among an array of all-time academic greats Eliezer, Mailvaganam, Amarasekara, Appapillai, Dahanayaka, Siriwardana, C.L. de Silva, and many more who were all from that 1956 era.

In 1995, when Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science invited Prof. Joseph to deliver an oration on his pet subject 'Theory of Relativity' we had the opportunity of interacting with him and realizing that towards the latter part of his life, he had developed a cheerful disposition and a very friendly attitude towards his students. It was noteworthy that he had written out the speech in his own handwriting and distributed the copies. As one who had the privilege of discussing his interests leisurely at his residence, this writer was amazed by his deep knowledge of all religious philosophies including the doctrine of the Buddha.

Prof. Joseph’s passing away on March 16 was a major loss to the entire nation and in particular, to the academic community. Deepest condolences are offered to his wife, Antonia, children, Arulesh, Umesh, and all members of the family. May he attain his final liberation!

Das Miriyagalla

R. Kandiah

Kind-hearted philanthropist

It is a year since we lost our beloved Appa. His absence is felt even today as he was always a guiding light to our family, in-laws, and friends. He passed away aged 85 at his Colombo residence due to a medical negligence at a leading private hospital in Colombo. It was heart-wrenching for his loved ones to see him suffering during his last days.

A kind-hearted man, he never said no to anyone who approached him for help, advise, or recommendation. His timely help benefitted many people who are now holding responsible positions in private and government sectors and business here and abroad. He was a selfless man who motivated people around him to reach for the stars and helped them to achieve the same in every possible way.

Moreover, he never let any friend, relative, or needy leave his residence without a meal, and at times, with some cash. He believed that the left hand should not know what the right hand is giving, especially to a needy person. A true perfectionist—'Didn't see,' 'Can't be done,' and 'Don't know'—three phrases which he hated most in any language.

A brilliant student at school, he excelled in English and Mathematics. Even at 80 years, he voraciously read newspapers and magazines without spectacles and had the urge to learn more about new developments and discoveries. His memory was extraordinary—he remembered every verse of Thirukkural (classic Tamil literature), which he learnt in year four at school and would quote at the right moment.

A visit to a tea estate during his school holidays etched into his memory, and he decided to become a successful tea businessman and to own a tea estate, which he did later in his life, owning three tea estates in the 80's and 90's in high, medium, and low-grown regions. The last estate he owned was in the Uva medium-region, which is today, one of the top-selling marks in that region. He was an encyclopaedia on tea industry in Sri Lanka and his knowledge of global tea trend was exemplary.

In 1981, he single-handedly set up a tea export firm, Eastern Produce Exports, which during the mid 80's, became one of the largest exporters of Pure Ceylon tea in retail packs to Egypt, providing employment to more than 125 workers every day of the week at three different locations. A widely-travelled businessman, he had tea business interests in Kolkata and Cochin, India. His success story will be insipid without our Amma, who took care of us, our education, and the home-front so Appa could concentrate fully on the business.

Being a family man, he loved to entertain his children, grand children, and family members at his residence with variety of food on the table. Albeit, a non-smoker and teetotaller, he had a mini bar at home exclusively for his friends and foreign clients.

Appa is no more, but his memory lingers in every nook and corner of the house and will be cherished by his loved ones forever!

Om shanthi!


Nesta Perera

Honourable friend

It is one year since Nesta Perera entered eternal glory to be with her marker. February 28, 2017 was her first death anniversary. She was my good friend Sumithra's mother-in-Law. She stayed with her youngest daughter, Carmin (A Medical doctor), in Negombo until her demise. She was a charming and exuberant host; she had more than the average share of a women's courage and steadfastness—nothing would tire her out.

She always had a pleasant and friendly disposition that was a better means to allay problems than a nice hunk of serious money. Aunty and uncle were always very hospitable hosts, not only providing the needs and wants of guests, but also performing too, singing and playing the piano. That way, the hospitality they offered was tremendous. I would say those were wonderful days with regular parties. Crowds at home after all, is a lot of fun—they give you a heart full of joy. Life is about being happy, being who you are.

What I admired most about her was the casualness with which she went about her daily chores, the purposeful nonchalance as it were, with which she engaged in anything she did. It's not an absence of concern, but a calm, level-headed assuredness and trust in the method which are keys to accomplishment. She was also plain and open, free from ambiguity and pretense, and her spirit breathed the language of independence, tempered with kindness. That was one great gift she also bestowed upon her children.

She was educated only up-to grade 8. Though she had a tremendous capacity for studies, her mother didn't let her. Traditionally, girls those days were restricted to their homes, so in the face of her elder's opposition, she ended her schooling. She was just 13 years old.

After giving-up schooling, she was to stay and attend to home chores. Her departure from education and closure to the outside world may have caused her to be dejected, bored, and restless. It would have been a conflict between duty and desire, but after a time, as she says, she got psychologically adjusted, falling in line with her new role. You may not always have a comfortable life, and you will not always be able to solve all your problems at once, but the important thing is to have courage, and hope can take on a life of its own.

She had nine children whom she loved dearly and cared for with her life. Love for a child is when his or her happiness is more important than your own. Some very beautiful children they were, helping each other, lending things to each other, guiding and chaperoning younger ones, even acting like governesses and nannies. Aunty let them have total freedom to be themselves, that's what real love amounts to—letting a child be what he or she really is. Motherhood, it is said, is a great honour and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Everyday women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a sick child, or spending all her time preparing them for school or preparing meals. Mums continuously put others before themselves.

She loved us too, her sons-in-law. Always a very pleasant, cheerful, and delightful friend; I know her well enough to say that doubt didn't enter her instincts, ever. How else could she have achieved such enormous a workload single-handed. She infused her life with action. Didn't wait for it to happen. Made her own future, not by passively waiting for that to fall from the sky, but by doing what could be done herself.

Everyone's lives have illogical patterns. Hers sometimes could have been disorganized, even reckless, but she didn't do anything crooked. But I know whatever she did, she did with enthusiasm and interest. Sometimes, it is said, you're only given a little spark of madness; you mustn't lose it. There is a saying that goes like ‘imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than be absolutely boring.'

I consider it inappropriate to write about aunty without mentioning uncle. There is an old-fashioned notion of what qualities are most important in a mate. It is proper to remember always that today is just today, that is all that it is, and realize that in this moment, I am fine and everything is okay. More importantly, you even realize that those insignificant things that you have done are appropriate for that occasion, and so, you are at ease.

I would say they were a happy family; to have a happy family you have to a happy marriage. Uncle loved aunty immensely, and thought a whale of a lot about Aunty's cooking. He must have been happy being married to a good cook, though that didn't mean that he was in the kitchen, helping in the cooking all the time. Uncle went fishing almost every-day. He was an angler, and had a fixed routine in angling (angling needs a great deal of attention), the art of fishing with the hook, line, and rod. Their Home stood by the roadside, opposite the Negomho lagoon; it had a fascinating aspect about it. The landscape was breathtaking, and to a fisherman, the ideal locale. Uncle was used to fishing with a small crowd every day. It is said that God never did make a more calm, quite, and innocent recreation than angling. It was for him, a way to relax after a hard day's work (at the time, he was in the civil service. A highly placed senior official of the Treasury) He knew everything about fishing. He himself grew up in a fishing village in Kalutara. He was to the fisher-folk, an advisor, mentor, and friend; he counseled them.

A compulsive preoccupation for them, their only idea being catching fish, any fish, even one fish, would have satisfied their ego, so they waited even till late for his arrival—arrival by train from office. Negombo is a world famous fishery town. People there eat a Jot of seafood. They'd go fishing, catch, and eat fish—a ritualistic and obsessive past-time. On saturday mornings, customarily, all males make it their business to go fishing. The ladies would then clean the fish and fry them. Evenings would be spent in merriment, sharing cooked fish in the sweetness of friendship and laughter, invariably with booze, famously toddy and or arrack.

Nobody I knew tried to resist the temptation. Everyone liked aunty. She talked with everyone she met. and with everyone, she was able to smile. Her indefeasible duty was to be of good cheer. She had an inner urge to be of assistance to those in need—to soothe and placate those in distress.

She was liberal in giving and sharing, giving assistance and relief in whatever way she could with no wish of anything in return. As if obligated, she tried always to ease and relieve the pain of others. Poor relations sort support from her when in difficulty, and she didn't let them down. Nesta lived to be 98, and she knew that people liked her. She never had enemies, and led a tranquil and steady life. She went to church often. She was a choir-singer and was in the public eye, always regarded with honour and esteem.

May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory.

Prabath Perera

Tribute to Jeramias Dias

Bliss supreme to thee, Jeramias Dias,

The noble founder of Visakha Vidyalaya,

On this anniversary day of your demise,

Visakhians join together

to commemorate your scared name!

The great philanthropist of this modern era,

The devout Buddha Upasika

in the real sense,

The priceless gem among womankind,

Jeramias Dias, thou art a model

of edifying virtues!

It is a deep debt of gratitude indeed,

The Visakhians of all times owe you,

For the invaluable service you rendered,

In the cause of Buddhist education

and culture.

The venerated mother of Visakhians,

Your faithful and grateful daughters,

Have repaid your services of love

and integrity,

By being custodians of moral

and spiritual treasures,

Jeramias Dias, your exemplary

life of plan living and high thinking,

Is a beacon light to guide the Visakhians,

On the straight path of virtue and wisdom,

To reach the goal of “Pannaya Parisujjathi”

In deference to your expectations,

high and noble,

Your faithful daughters of Visakha Vidyalaya,

Leave no stone unturned

in their untiring efforts,

And rewarding results are gained

in the fields of science, arts,

and mathematics.

Jeramias Dias, magnanimous

lady of far-sighted vision,

Your dreams come true every year,

When your daughters shine

in all walks of life,

As eminent luminaries

of outstanding brilliance.

By the merit that the Visakhians acquire,

In the Buddha pooja, Dhamma desana,

all-night pirith, and alms-giving,

May you be blessed as you journey through Sansara,

Until your final path is done—this

attainment of supreme bliss of nirvana.

- Jayasumana Robertson 


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