[APPRECIATIONS - (06-05-2019)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (06-05-2019)]

Leo Singham

Loving father

If our father was alive, he would have celebrated his 100th birthday on April 12. Unfortunately, due to a heart attack, he passed away peacefully on December 13, 1978, at the age of 59.

He, along with his four siblings; Reggie, Eta, Benny, and Archie; were born in Burma, where his father was attached to the British Army. Due to World War II, they had to be evacuated from Burma and returned to Sri Lanka, encountering many difficulties on the way.

They continued their university education in Sri Lanka and later got married and had families of their own. Their families were closely knit and as a result, we, as cousins, used to have such great times.

My father joined the Bank of Ceylon after graduating from university and spent his entire career life in the bank, later retiring as the Acting General Manager. But he would always avoid using the privileges provided to him. For example, we were only allowed to use the official vehicle when he went out of Colombo on inspection.

I still remember the day when it was pouring and Mano had to go to the university while I had to go to work, but he refused to take us, even though both our stops were on his way to work; we had to go by bus to our respective destinations.

Our mother's name was Gnaneswari and she was affectionately called 'Podi' as she was the youngest in her family. Our father and she had a happy married life for 33 years and had three children: Shanti, Mano, and me. We were very lucky that they were loving and caring parents and that they were always concerned about our well-being, as well as many others.

When Mano got polio, our father managed to get a transfer to the London branch of the Bank of Ceylon and took all of us there so that he could get him treated. He did not want us to be boarded in schools, so, wherever he was transferred, he took the whole family with him; we moved a lot and lived in many places in Sri Lanka.

If our father was alive, his greatest happiness would have been to see his seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, who would have been his pride and joy.



Alan and Iranganie Nugawela

A wonderful couple

It is never too late to remember, and five years is not much time gone by to forget Alan and Iranganie Nugawela, who passed away within a month of each other; Alan on February 8, 2007, and Iranganie on March 3, 2007.

It is time to recall the fond memories of these two wonderful human beings and with them the opening lines of that beautiful Tom Jones song: Memories don’t leave like people do. Yes, it is the people who leave, quietly and unobtrusively, to leave behind fond memories of their lives.

Alan and Iranganie led sedate and unhurried lives in the sequestered splendour of their beautiful ancestral home in Eladatta, Handessa. With family traditions that had mellowed with time, they hardly had any pretensions or showed any exclusiveness, but were two rare human beings; warm-hearted, humane, and modestly gracious.

They were loved, respected and admired by a host of friends and relatives, and last but not least, by the villagers of Eladetta as well as those living in the surrounding villages, who looked to them as their kind and generous benefactors.

I remember the times we would detour to be with them, to spend a few hours of mirth, spiced with bits and pieces of gossip which was in itself refreshing; or to partake of their hospitality, which likewise was an overwhelming experience. All these seem so far away today, leaving only warm memories behind. I have with me a memento. It is a beautiful hand-painted New Year card with best wishes from Alan and Iranganie for the year 2007. Alan’s enclosure had a touch of glowing pride and an equal amount of sadness where he wrote that he was proud of Iranganie’s brave efforts in sitting up on her sickbed to design and paint a few New Year cards, despite the pain and agony she was going through.

"I feel lost and lonely at times," he wrote, and even despair that Iranganie would never come out of her wracking pains.

I felt deeply for Alan—for them both, yet Iranganie was a very courageous woman and she bore her illness with fortitude and had a ready smile and a cheerful word for those calling to see her; though, unfortunately, her illness took a lot out of her, physically.

Memories don’t leave. It is to remember Alan and Iranganie that I hold dear that little card of red ribbons, silver bells and holly, and their good wishes for 2007. And also to remember, sadly, that it was their last farewell.

Donald Nugawela


Add new comment