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Monday, 22 October 2012

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Hema Fernando:

A heart that beat the tenderest

It is not very often that 'Appreciations' are written on in-laws's. However considering the tremendous impact Hema, my sister-in-law had on me and my admiration for her enviable and exemplary qualities, I consider it obligatory to write this appreciation.

While I started writing the appreciation I was considering how one could possibly capture in words the essence of a soul that was so vibrant vivacious joyful, compassionate, deeply loving and fervently religious. It is not easy to say in so many words the true nature of Hema fiercely loyal, and of her magnanimity. While I have endeavored to capture her sublime qualities, it will not adequately sum up her total character.

Losing both her parents very early in her life, she was looked-after along with her sisters by her brother Ananda Tissa De Alwis, with admirable care and affection. Brought up in a Catholic environment under the care of the Catholic nuns, she became deeply religious. Imbibed with religious convictions and high ethical values she lead an exemplary life. From her very early days she showed a great desire to help the poor and the marginalized. This tribute is not complete if I do not mention an important facet in her life - the passion and commitment she had for social service. She endeavored zealously to help the poor and marginalised.

Hema married my brother Clarence at the very young age of 18 years. She looked after him with admirable love and affection. Together they brought up their three children Nimal, Palmela and Anne inculcating in them the finer qualities and values of life.

This contributed to their remarkable success in life to render a significant service to society. Hema was a rare personality. Her exemplary and ethical conduct, integrity and high moral values have left an indelible impression on me. She was not just my sister-in law. She was my friend. We argued, laughed, differed and discussed mutual problems. She enriched my life in many ways. She was an exemplary Catholic, a gentle, lovable person never given to ostentatious talk or action. One thing she could not tolerate was pomposity. She was a demolisher of human arrogance in her imitable style.

To Hema, material comfort meant little. All that she was concerned with was to help the unfortunate marginalized. She devoted much of her time and resources to help the poor. She along with the late Maurice Lord, pioneered the setting of the Maw Sewena at Mattakkuliya to look after the unfortunate destitute children. Hers was a heart that beat the tenderest and her hand, the most generous. Always the champion of the under-privileged, never to be silenced at times of injustice.

During the last couple of months Hema's health was deteriorating and causing much anxiety to her loved ones. She however never complained but endured even with stoicism that would have challenged Diogenes. She bore everything with remarkable grace. She would even joke with the 'Melville Home' nuns who looked after her with admirable care and exemplary affection. She passed away peacefully in the company of the nuns while they were praying and singing praises to the Lord.

Hema is no more. She has answered heavenly summons to appear before the Throne of God. We could now echo the words of Shakespeare.

"Fear no more the heat O' the sun

Nor the furious winter rages

Thou thy worldly task hast done

Home art gone and taken the wages".

Hema, you surely have done you worldly task admirably and you will be richly rewarded.


Daphne LordL:

Her conduct and life style spoke volumes

I would like to pen some words of appreciation in memory of Daphne Lord, whose first Death Anniversary fell on August 16, 2012.

Daphne lost her father when she was very young and the burden of bringing up three girls fell on her mother, who had a tedious task, but gave them a good education; all three girls were educated at Good Shepherd Convent in Kotahena. Remembering always her difficult upbringing, Daphne had a heart for the poor and opened the 'Daphne Lord School' which enabled thousands of students to excel in the subject of English and do well in life both here and abroad. This school is still in existence even after 63 years.

She was very humble, down to earth and had a heart for the poor. Anyone who came to her was never turned away empty handed. She always had time for those who came to her for advice and a kind and comforting word for those who were in anguish.

It would be apt to mention that she reflected the love of Jesus. She was a devout Catholic and went the extra mile to help anyone in need.

Daphne brought up her children in the fear of the Lord and even her grand children followed suit. Her kindness, conduct and life style spoke volumes and anyone who came in contact with her would vouch for that. Smart and courageous at her age, reminded me of the Bible verse "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green (Psalms 92:14). Her heart's desire to continue teaching until she was called to her eternal rest was fulfilled. Her death was sudden and although we miss her very much, the lesson her very own life taught us will be etched in our hearts forever.

I thank God for her life and for having had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of her staff and be closely acquainted with her.

Her favourite Bible verse was "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20)

"Good byes are the laws of earth; reunions are the laws of heaven"


Frank Nalliah:

Sincere and true friend

There is only one thing which is certain and common for all those who are born in this world, that is death, which comes without any announcement to everybody at any stage. Those who remember this fact will always lead a simple and unselfish life.

Frank Nalliah is an example to this fact. Frank Nalliah passed away on September 3, after a brief illness and the funeral took place on Thursday September 6, 2012. I have been requested by the ex-Samuels staff to write a few words about our dear colleague Frank.

Frank and myself joined Samuels about the same time in 1968. He was in the Civil Engineering Department and I joined the Accounts Department. Samuels was an institution where many qualified engineers from the University of Sri Lanka underwent their training to obtain their Chartered and many other trainees also obtained their training under professional guidance.

The institution was a multi disciplinary Engineering Company and it was a pleasure to have worked and met all these lovely people who have passed through the organization and are doing very well in life now.

In the Civil Engineering Department, Nalliah had worked as an Engineering Supervisor in many water supply projects from Karacuddy to Matara. Every time he came to Colombo, he made it a point to visit us in the Accounts Department to clear his allowance. Later in 1982 he got married to Vimala who happened to be from my village and a class-mate of mine.

Thereon he became a good friend of mine and every time he visited his wife in Udupiddy he never failed to see my mother who was living alone at that difficult time and carried some goodies from her to my children and gave me all the new about her.

Later when my mother came to Colombo and lived here, he made it a point to visit her and talk to her. He was so much a part of our family and all of us enjoyed his company. At Samuels, he was friendly with everybody and bore a smiling face and cracked timely jokes with everyone around him. When his passing away was announced almost all colleagues of ex-Samuels who were in Colombo came to the funeral parlor to pay their last respect to a dear friend and colleague.

Frank, by which name we at Samuels fondly called him, was a friend sincere and true with a deep sense of humor and responsibility who accomplished everything that was entrusted to him with a deep sense of dedication and devotion: be it office or personal. He treated his seniors and juniors the rich and poor, with equal respect.

A true Christian, Frank was a person who lived his life to the fullest and touched the love of others with care, concern and compassion. He carried within him a love for people that made them love him. He was always the live wire of our circle of friends and the force that brought us together. We at Samuels called him 'Anchor Man' since every year on our sports-day he stood as the Anchor Man of the "tug of war" event, on the Engineering side.

Frank, we can never forget those good times we have had together at Samuels. So friend, till we meet again in the Promised Land to have another beautiful get-together and good laugh together which we used to have, May the Almighty take you into his Arms with Blessings!


Saybhan Samat:

A top flight banker

It is with a sense of profound sadness that I write lamenting the passing away of Saybhan Samat of the Social Justice Movement who led an illustrated life beneficial to the community and society and to the country at large, leaving fragrant memories in many minds in whom he touched. Hailing from a family of Journalists, Saybhan held his own making significant contributions through the wielding of his pen which ran freely into the many areas grabbing undivided attention of the local and international intelligentsia capturing not only the climate of his literary adolescence but also the landscape of his memory vividly.

A prolific writer, his pet subject was directed more towards the Malay community tracing their ancestry and their customs with adath vadath in which he seldom found acceptance but nevertheless was one who would call a spade a spade and with malice towards none. He was generous to a fault but was always ready to help those in need who appealed to him. A top flight banker where he served with distinction, his was an illustrious career at the premier institution, the Central Bank of Ceylon. Multi-talented as he was, music was his second love which he could hold his own against the elite musicians of his time. He had his own band composition too playing to a mixed audience as at a dance or for the less fortunate at orphanages and hospitals. He blew the Saxophone with absolute finesse the likes of which torment me today, the Billy Vaughan favourites with Teran Bulang being my favourite. His wife Azeeza on the organ and the late Johar belting out the favourite numbers. This was the magic of his recitals which was evidences in the performance of his Combo which he led to reach dizzy heights, entertainment par excellence. To his beloved wife Azeeza, daughter Saqveen and Zahara and son Mahadi I would most profoundly say:

'Life is eternal and love is immortal and Health is only a horizon and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. That is the consolation we are left with as we mourn the profound absence from our midst of your husband, father Saybhan.

May Almighty Allah grant him Jennathul Firdous!

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