[APPRECIATIONS - (17-07-2017)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (17-07-2017)]

T.B.L Moonemalle

He was an honourable man

On this day, 111 years ago, on July 17, 1906, Theodore Barcroft Lewis Moonemalle, a Proctor of the Supreme Court, was appointed to the Legislative Council of Ceylon. The appointment, which made him a senator, took place two days before his 38th birthday. On this day, that marks the appointment of a senator from a bygone era. I thought I would write this small tribute to the memory of a personality of whom I have heard of from my late maternal grandfather Edmund Eramudugolla, as well as from two of my maternal grandaunts–Seemanthani Madugalle Panabokke and Ranjini Madugalle.

T.B.L Moonemalle was my late maternal grandmother–Nalini Madugalle Eramudugolla’s–maternal grandfather; thus, making him my great-great grandfather from the maternal side of my family. Born on July 19, 1868, he hailed from the Kandyan upper crust ensconced in Kurunegala. He had received his school education at Trinity College, Kandy. And he was, as told by my elders, subsequent to being made a senator, bestowed the title of Dissawe of Kurunegala, which was understandably at the time a titular honour bearing ceremonial function sans jurisdiction. His father John Marcellus Moonemalle was also a Proctor of the Supreme Court.

I was told by my late maternal grandfather aforementioned, that T.B.L Moonemalle was a freemason and that he was the founder of the masonic lodge in Kurunegala. And I was told the masonic hall in the Kurunegala town which still stands to this day had been donated by him.

This detail about my great-great grandfather intrigued, me owing to the aura of mystery and secrecy associated with the topic of freemasonry.

My late grandfather also told me that T.B.L Moonemalle used to go on horseback to visit his estates around Kurunegala, but was not known to actually ride around inside the properties since he was pressed for time and or–depending on the mood, perhaps–just couldn’t be bothered to inspect the state of the crops. He supposedly rode up to the gate/entry point of an estate, had a valet summon the conductor of that estate, ask him as a matter of routine if everything was in order, drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice respectfully served by the conductor and then head back to town where he resided. With his wife Enid Jayatileke, he had two sons and three daughters.

The eldest child was Neville and the youngest, Donovan. And between the two boys were the three daughters; Mignon, who married Justice Earl Wijewardene; Lucille, whose husband was Sir Richard Aluvihare (the first Ceylonese Inspector General of Police) and Myra, my great grandmother who married Arthur Madugalle whose father was then the Ratemahaththaya of Udu Dumbara and incidentally a grandson of Madugalle Udagabada Nilame who was one of the principal figures to give leadership to the Great Uprising of Uva Wellassa in 1818.

And thus, on this day, I thought it befitting to offer a salute to the life and memory of a forbearer whose life and times, although perhaps not widely recorded, surely would have been fascinating, in a milieu that is far removed from the social and political landscapes of today. Dilshan Boange

Mervyn Herath

A precious father

Daddy, it has been only three months, but it seems like a lifetime since you passed away. Words can never express how very much we miss you.

Everything I see around reminds me of you and a tear drop falls. The times you held my hand and the times I held your hand, it was a journey and a story that I hold so precious in my heart with loads of love and gratitude for you. Mummy couldn't have asked for a better husband and the four of us were blessed with the most precious daddy.

We have great joy and pride in looking back, as you lived a life to the fullest and gave us nothing but the best. You gave us hope, strength and grace to make our world a better and a brighter place. You were by our side to help and support us, to celebrate us, to understand our problems, and accept our defeats. You taught us the value of hard work, good judgment, courage and integrity and said till the end, "Take it with a pinch of salt.”

Daddy, you were like no other. I'm still trying to figure out how you never yelled at us, wondering how you got another pet for malli every time he lost one or even how you bought my friend a pair of shoes because I threw one over the roof of the school and it got stuck.

Daddy, you went even further and spoiled the grandchildren to your best. You took them to places whether in Sri Lanka, Australia or New York; taught them jokes and tricks to share with their friends and made them laugh. I love the day you held the umbrella to Mario to play in the rain and both of you getting muddy faces. And best of all, they have your wit to carry on in life's journey.

I could go on and on. Daddy, you were just wonderful in million different ways. For that, we are forever grateful.

We will always hold you precious in our hearts, that special smile, that caring heart and for being there for mummy and us rain or shine. Your love will forever dwell in our hearts.

We love you and miss you more than words could ever say.

Rest in Peace, daddy and may God bless us to be together once again.

Sharon Herath,

New York

Susan George Pulimood

Visakha’s legacy

Susan George Pulimood was born to a Syrian Christian family in Travancore South India in 1907. She graduated from Queen Mary College and did her Master’s at Presidents College South India.

Coming over to Ceylon during World War 1, she joined the staff of Visakha Vidyalaya in 1941, then functioning from Bandarawela due to the war. Botany was her forte, having authored a book in her early years. Together with Botany, she also taught Maths and English Literature. She often quoted poets and philosophers, to inculcate good values in her students.

At the end of the war, the school relocated in Colombo and in 1946, Pulimood was appointed its principal, which post she adorned for an unbroken record of 22 years.

No sooner she took over, she opened the Science Stream at Visakha with the help of a few of her colleagues from India and fortified by male and female Science graduates from Sri Lanka. Laboratories were set up and equipped suitably and she made sure our Science students forged ahead to achieve great heights.

Today, at every hospital and medical Institute there is at least one Visakhian holding a prestigious post thanks to her courageous vision. This year’s Orator is no exception. Dr. Iyanthi Abeywickrema is a fellow of the College of Venereologists, Senior Fellow, PGIM an expert on STD/AIDS control programmes in Sri Lanka, and a former Advisor to the WHO.

In 1950, the school was conferred Grade 1 status, and in 1959 Super Grade Status in keeping with the extensive facilities available to its students. Pulimood didn’t neglect the Arts stream. She strengthened the Fine Arts by making sure all co-curricular activities took equal importance in the school calendar. English and Sinhala drama, dance, and music performances of high calibre were executed with much joy and finesse. Sports activities were also given the necessary boost and our girls excelled in all these spheres, winning many accolades nationally and internationally.

Pulimood, as a botanist, loved flowers and nurtured the gardens of Visakha to have flowering bushes and large trees with overhanging branches, like the iconic na tree that stood for many years in the centre of our grounds. She often compared her children to flowers and wanted them to be nurtured gently and gracefully. She herself was always gentle and soft spoken. Immaculately dressed in high necked and long sleeved blouses, and draped in beautiful south Indian silks, she cut an impressive figure at our daily assemblies, addressing us from stage with a few lines of advice or admonishment.

She knew every child by name and as she stood on the semicircular steps leading to her office, she would beckon us by name to inquire or admonish us, if we were seen out of class at any given time.

Pulimood was a foreigner and a Christian, but she stamped the Buddhist culture on our educational ethos in an indelible manner. She had ‘bana’ preached to us every Friday, ‘Ata Sil’ administered on poya days and the Annual Founder’s Day pirith and dana conducted with great respect and solemnity.

She taught Visakhians to be confident of their abilities “to walk tall” and be proud custodians of a special legacy that still lives on. On a personal note, I might add that living in the vicinity of the school, my mother herself an old Visakhian, was a friend to her. She often visited Pulimood at night and found her signing reams of report cards till late into the night commenting on each child’s progress, to the best of her knowledge. She never lost that personal touch.

After marriage, my husband and I visited her in India and I shall never forget how she hugged me and told my husband to look after her ‘Visakhian.’

As we commemorate her legacy at the Annual Pulimood Oration, all of us who knew her personally, and all those who benefitted from her foresight and vision, bow our heads in saluting a truly great lady of ‘Mother Lanka.’

Srini Karunaratne (ne’ Gunaratna)

Pulimood Memorial Oration on July 23

The annual Susan George Memorial Oration of Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo, will be held on July 23 at 5.15 pm at the Jeremias Dias Hall of the school. The oration will be delivered by Dr. Iyanthimala Abeyewickreme,Senior Consultant Venereologist, Senior Fellow, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo.

She is also the immediate Past President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association and former Regional Adviser/HIV, World Health Organization, South East Asia Region.The subject of the oration will be ‘30 Years into the HIV Epidemic in Sri Lanka; Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives.’

S. S. Wijeratne

A brilliant lawyer

It is with profound sorrow that I pen these lines as a tribute to the late S. S. Wijeratne, more popularly known as Sirimega, a great lawyer whom I knew from my collegiate career at St. Bernadette's College, Polgahawela. He hailed from a distinguished family of the North Western Province.

He had his early education at St. Bernadette's College, Polgahawela and later proceeded to Dharmarajah College, Kandy, for higher studies.

He also served the UNO for a long period and returned to Sri Lanka, after which he served the ICLP (Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and Practice) as its Secretary General upto his death.

There were some prominent features in him which contributed immensely to his success as an excellent lawyer and a much-loved and respected human being with a common touch.

His recent demise is a great loss to all who knew him, particularly to his former students spread throughout the country. He was loved and admired by all.

His devotion to duty was unique. He was no believer of caste, creed or colour.

He walked with kings, but never lost the common touch. He was a devout Buddhist.

Men of the stamp, mettle and genius of the calibre of the late S. S. Wijeratne are indeed rare as Sandalwood trees which adorn the jungles of Sri Lanka.

Even though his physical body is no longer with us, his breathing spirit will thrust itself to the lives of those who came in contact with him, constantly reminding the high ideals for which he stood throughout his life.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for his long and exemplary service. Memories of S. S. Wijeratne's life with experience, wisdom and service, will continue to echo for many more years.

His sudden demise is an irreparable loss to all who knew him and particularly to his family members, friends, relations and students, spread throughout the country.

His life could aptly be summed up according to the poem “Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime and departing, leave behind footprints on the sands of time.” “Your life, a beautiful memory. Your death, a lasting sorrow.” I express my profound sympathies to his beloved wife, children and members of the family. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!

Cecil R. Senanayake

Amara Wickramasinghe

A social steamroller

There she rides the waves; the waves of time. A lady who played her role with an explorative vision, not geared towards her own private gain or wellbeing, but aimed at the well-being of her community. This pioneer skipper of Kiribathgoda Vihara Maha Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Amara Wickramasinghe, was an indefatigable go-getter with an exceptional gift of clairvoyance. Notwithstanding her indifference to compliments, society keeps singing eulogies to the eternal skipper in eagerness. The present attempt is one such and let us therefore, say in great harmony, "Hip, hip hurrah; you did it! You did the impossible!"

The wheels she put in motion are relentlessly releasing energy to keep society fully-served, fertilised and supplied.

This is a never-ending fountain that spouts as you draw. Can any righteous man/women allow the architect of this eternal machine to live incommunicado? No. And that is a flat 'no'. We have made our lives shinning, fecund and soothing, through her wisdom and exceptional managerial skill, prowess and acumen and we are tempted to sing these lullabies in her name.

About five years ago, I was listening to a public discourse being given by a lady seated next to me, who was a woman of, say, fifty or so years. At the conclusion of the oration, she asked me a question; “Have you identified this unique personality?” “Yes,” I said, "She is Amara Wickramasinghe." "You have to go beyond," she said. "What do you mean?” I queried. She said, “Firstly, there is the choice of location, Kiribathgoda; secondly, the enormous multitude of human beings drawn from the multiple acreages of Kelaniya/Peliyagoda and thirdly, the explorative and pioneering handling,” she said.

"It is evident that the lady has shown a spectacular familiarity about things. She continues to travel with consummate ease like a butterfly, going to places and giving surprises to even veterans in the vicinity. Now have you recognized her truly?" she asked. The woman, rather authoritatively this time, said, "The lady was constantly in atrial to keep her identity under wraps, but by an inadvertent escapade during her journey, providence betrayed her. Now, it is fact that the appearance is that of the timeless sansaric emergence of that wayfarer." I arose and thanked the women immensely.

But both of us were bound by history’s saintly cowl, to prevent us from quoting the private names of the actors vesting upon evidences gathered through the science of kinesics and conclusions. The damsel is history’s cherished property and is timeless. That is why she is ‘Amara’—a persistent crossword puzzle.

Her beauty will remain intact to prove her immortality—'Amarathma.' She will be deeply missed, but her legacy will live on.

Chintha Perera,

On behalf of the members of the Retired Teachers Union,

Vihara Maha Devi Balika Vidyalya,


Rita Catherine Perera

She was helpful to everybody

It is with profound sorrow that I write a few words in appreciation of Lidamulaga Rita Catherine Perera (nee de Silva) my mother, who passed away peacefully on July 10, 1998. She was 63 at the time of her death. Last Monday was her 19th death anniversary. My mother was the youngest in a family of three. She hailed from a very respectable Catholic family in Polkotuwa Road, Rawathawatta in Moratuwa.

She was the daughter of Gradiyawasam Lidamulage Elarian John de Silva and Annie Margret Fernando. Her only brother L. Francis Joseph Silva (Chandra) retired from the Local Government Service. My mother and Lokuamma were more friend than sisters.

My mother married K. Joseph Mervyn Perera (my father) of Frazer Avenue Moratuwa, late in life. He retired as a time keeper clerk at the Colombo port Commission, now Sri Lanka Ports Authority. After my father's death in 1987, when we were young, my mother took much interest in giving us a good education. The last occasion, on December 1997, I saw her enjoying at my brother Ranjan's wedding. She was a devout Catholic who always worshipped at the nearest church. She never failed to perform her daily religious observances in attending holy mass at St. Sebastian's Church, Moratuwa. My mother Rita's demise was a big loss to all us, particularly to her only daughter and loving sons.

'May her soul rest in peace' is my humble prayer.

Prabath Perera

Saroja Sockalingam Pillai

She was a devout Hindu

We sadly miss Saroja Sockalingam Pillai, a village belle, who was born when her mother was out on a pilgrimage to Old India. Thus, Saroja's birth, which was on March 12, 1945, was peculiarly remembered. Her parents hailed from the Nawalapitiya Shamrock Weligodawatte Plantation.

Saroja passed away peacefully from a complicated illness on March 17, 2014. Her third death anniversary was held this year, with poojas at Sri Kathiresan mighty God Kataragama Devala in Kandy and thereafter, at her home in Meekanuwa, Kandy. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was at her home.

Saroja was the spouse of veteran Veerakesari Central Province journalist Karuppannapillai Parama Sivam who is well-known in the Central Province plantation sector as a commoner, hailed as a sincere friend of all the communities.

Saroja was educated at St. Mary's College, Nawalapitiya. Her mother was Sellamma. Her father was Sockalingam Pillai. He was a medium-scale cultivator.

His home garden was a grove of spice plants and creepers.

Cloves, nutmeg, pepper, yams, oranges, betel creepers, mangoes, bananas, mangosteens and all-spice bushes, were grown in abundance. Saroja spent most of her leisure time to help her cultivator pater in working at that tiny land, after her school work and studies.

Saroja devoted most of her time to studies and was popularly known as an autodidact.

She wore the bonds of matrimony with Karuppannapillai Parama Sivam on December 7, 1966.

They have two daughters, Sivakela and Parimala. Sivakala is employed as an agriculturist attached to the Department of Agriculture at Gannoruwa, Peradeniya. She is married to Sri Dharan, a businessman in Kandy. They have two daughters, Monisa and Deepasika.

Their younger daughter Parimala is a teacher attached to the St. Anthony's Girls' College, Kandy. She is married to the school Principal P. Sivakumaran, Principal of Hindu Senior Vidyalaya, Kandy. They have a 11-year-old son, Laxman, a student of Trinity College, Kandy and a 3-year-old girl, Laxmitha.

An alms-giving was also given to an orphanage in her memory.

May she attain Ama Maha Nivana, the Greatest Blissful Nirvana!

Au revoir!

Ealian Abeysiri Gunewardena 


Add new comment

Or log in with...