[APPRECIATIONS - (17-06-2019)]

Mrs. D. R. Epasinghe

Paradise lies at the foot of Mother

Eighty two years ago, on October 5, 1937, my most precious beloved Amma – Mother – Mrs. D. R. Epasinghe nee Habaragamuralalage Podinona Peiris a reputed devoted, teacher, principal – an educationist – par excellence, gave birth to me. Amma, you may be the only mother to deliver a baby at an University Premises – No. 94, Thurstan Road (Present Munidasa Kumaratunga Mawatha) College House premises.

It is clearly stated in my Birth certificate. My father late D. R. Epasinghe was an Administrative officer attached to the staff of the University. I was fortunate to be born in a place of Light – Liberty - learing in an university.

My parents especially Amma was my guiding philosopher and teacher. As a devout Buddhist, she was very particular about sending me to a Buddhist school although Royal College was situated close to our home.

My parents with the help of Prof. Gunapala Malalasekera admitted me to one of the crest jewels of education, Nalanda college, Colombo. Further, my mother admitted me to the Sunday Dhamma School at Walukaramaya, Kollupitiya.

My beloved Amma as an Educationist believed to bestow me a complete education. She never wanted me to be a bookworm. She encouraged me to take part in sports and co-curricular activities of the school. Her ambition was to make me an all-round student.

Amma was a visionary. She was inspiring, imaginative, innovative, passionate, possessed personal charm and charisma.

Amma how can I forget those beautiful stories, poems, you related to me, when the sun was setting creating a fine pleasant environment.

Two of us used to sit near the beach close to Bambalapitiya station in the evenings.

Amma, your kind compassionate words, loving care and advise were a tower of inspiration to me. Although, you produced five sons four of them elder to me, passed away before they reached their first birthday. Only the Last Man survived. How happy if you witnessed your last man as the opener cum wicket keeper in the 1957 invincible Nalanda first XI. Further, unfortunately your were not in this world, to see your “Naughty son” collecting the Bachelor of Arts Degree certificate at the convocation of the Vidyodaya University from late William Gopallawa – Governor of Ceylon.

When I think of these events, tears stream down my checks as your were not in our midst to witness them. But, I am sure you may have witnessed all these happenings from Thusitha Heaven, as you took a transfer on March 2, 1950, to join the staff of Suraguru.

I am positive you always bless us, my wife Swarna, son Bhagya, daughter Apsara and their children Viraan and Kavinda from you heavenly abode.

One of the silver – linings in my mother’s life was her Buddhist teachings. She possessed a Golden Heart.

I still remember how you advised my beloved father to donate timber for the constriction of the Shrine Room at the Walukarama Temple Kollupitiya. When the High priest, Dayakasabawa insisted to inscribe, your name in the Shrine Room as the donor of timber, you very kindly requested them not to mention your good name. This clearly showed that your are a simple unassuming lady.

As a child of 11 years I still remember your funeral. It was held at General Cemetery, Kanatte. Highly distinguished personalities of the calibre of Sir Ivor Jennings, Professor Gunapala Malalasekera, Ratuesuriya, Myivasenem, reputed politicians Dr. N.M. Perera, Bernard Soysa and Pieter Keuneman paid their respects to my beloved mother.

Further, there were many teachers and children from Pilapitiya, Kelaniya, Dematagoda and Homagama schools where you served as a Teacher.

In closing the album I worship your photograph and recite the following poem.

Pemma Surathal Kiyamin Detane Kiri Bomma

Bomma Kadulali Isa Isa Avidin Dai Amma

Amma Apa Nodeka Ithial Kelesaka Wewomma

Samma Sambudu Venada Niwan Dakin Amma

You turned your blood to milk and fed me.

My Heart achen as you are no more

With us, Life is impermanent. Amma

May you attain the Bliss of Nibbana

Good Night Divine Princess!

- Premasara Epasinghe

****

Paramalingam Shanmugarajah

Respected teacher and outstanding personality

On the occasion of the first death anniversary of Paramalingam Shanmugarajah, may I join in paying tribute to the memory of an outstanding personality whom I had the pleasure and honour of knowing for more than 40 years.

From age to age, Tholpuram, a popular village in Jaffna has had produced men and women of dignity carrying on the old traditions and ever adapting them to changing times. Late Paramalingam Shanmugarajah had been one of the noblest sons of Tholpuram.

With profound sorrow I pay this precious tribute to show my sincerity and love to my esteemed friend. P. Shanmugarajah who passed away on 20.3.2018.

He joined the staff of Zahira College, Matale as an assistant teacher in 1959. Thereafter, on account of his sheer ability and remarkable human qualities, combined with profoundly wide knowledge on various subjects pertaining to education and perseverance, he rose to various positions of trust such as Principal, Circuit Education Officer and Deputy Director of Education. Let me quote the words of Voltaire.

“Everyone is the creator of the age in which they live in but only a few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of time”.

Undoubtedly, he was a man of many parts. He was the life blood in the Department of Education showcasing his brilliance, counselling, guiding and directing everyone who served under him. Almost all the officers looked upon him for his comments and views. He believed in teamwork and chose the right people and delegated powers. He possessed an extraordinary sense of devotion and dedication. He worked hard during difficultl situations on account of the internal conflict. He did what he could with what he had. He went calmly through his multiplicity of responsibilities unperturbed.

He insisted that the teachers must respond to the immense urge for new learning. In order to be suitable for the rapidly changing complex world, whatever one learns that learning would need updating and review and that we should develop the competence “learn to learn” throughout life. He stressed the importance of additional reading which is in fact, a sine quo none for widening one’s horizon of learning. He also pointed out that the students had many distractions, attractions and diversions leading them to neglect education which is the very foundation of their career.

Leadership came to him with natural ease. He had been a leader who knew the way, made use of the way and showed the way. There was no task that was “impossible” when it was assigned to him. He shouldered his responsibilities with commendable ability and conspicuous success. There was a ring of authenticity and nobility of courage and earnestness in whatever he did and said.

He was interested in humanitarian service. He had been an active member of the Northern Province Teachers’ Association and Northern Province Principals’ Association. His retirement had not diminished neither his spirit nor his enthusiasm. He encouraged me to write articles and stories. One day I told him that I had written a good story and an article. He commented with ease “every donkey loves to hear its own bray”. But it was his friendliness that made him most lovable. The most genuine homage that we could pay is to give warm and faithful recognition to his memory, the memory of a respected teacher, principal, Deputy Director of Education and an outstanding personality who would continue to inspire our efforts and activities.

He loved his wife and his only daughter and her children and they were behind his success.

May he attain shanthi in keeping with the dogmas of Hindu philosophy.

- Vadakovai P. K. Rajaratnam

****

Sulaiman Jiffrey Mohideen

His vacuum cannot be filled

Innah Lilahi WaInnahIllaihi Rajyoon – surely we belong to Allah and to him we shall return.

It is almost a year since my dearest friend and mentor Advocate Sulaiman Jiffrey Mohideen who was fondly called by his friends since the Law College days as ‘Moiya’. Cannot still believe that he has gone away from us but a few of us, his friends Max Bastiansz, Raja Mudannayaka, Nimal Ranamukarachchi and Rohan Gunapala are reminded only when we see that empty chair in the Lawyers lounge where we are seated. We miss his anecdotes, his battles in court and party jokes which he encountered.

I am now beginning to wonder whether His Almighty took him away from us so that he will not witness all what is happening today in this beautiful Sri Lanka since he was broadminded in his outlook and moved with everybody as a true friend. The same is manifested when I hear from his friends with whom he associated professionally when they say how much they miss him. He entertained everyone without any hesitation even if he met that person for the first time. So much so that he was known to be a lavish entertainer among his friends.

Maybe because of his broad outlook and understanding he was looked upon by his party members for which he worked tirelessly ever since he joined the ruling party from his Law College days. He was instrumental in influencing me to get involved in party activities and its social gatherings by telephoning me with prior warning to attend the meeting and functions either at Sirikotha or at any selected venue. Maybe his commitment to the party was rewarded with his appointment as Ambassador to the UAE.

Moiya, it looks as if every Ramazan is going to be devoid to me since you are no more and the day I cannot forget when I was by your side just a few days before your death and broke fast with you and you forced me to have a meal with you which still lingers in my mind. I hope with the all the happenings today you are finding peace and solace in eternity elsewhere with the blessings of His Almighty Allah who will shower his blessings on Nelufa who will be missing you the most, your children and grandchildren. Last but not the least I say that as a friend the vacuum you have left cannot be filled and I say goodbye Sweet Prince, till we meet again.

- Ganeshayogan 



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