[APPRECIATIONS - (11-11-2019)]

Paul Saminather

Beloved father

Our father, Paul Saminather; who was fondly known as Thurai among his loved ones, and 'Thurai Mama' among the younger generations; passed away peacefully at his home in Wellawatte on October 25.

Appa’s faith in God, bolstered by three of his sisters who were nuns, never wavered, regardless of tribulations or blessings. He often recounted stories of how, when things looked most dire, God came through for him. He served on the counting team at St. Lawrence Church in Wellawatte, and cherished their weekly meetings.

Even amid great pain in his last few months on this earth, Appa’s most-repeated words were “Thank you, Jesus. Praise you, Jesus.” He would ask everyone who visited him to put the sign of the cross on his forehead, and would thank them for their blessings—it brought him great comfort.

Our father was born on April 26, 1940, to Rosamuthu and Vincent de Paul in Sillalai, a village known as 'Little Rome' in the Jaffna Diocese. He studied at St. Henry’s College in Illavalai and briefly went into business with his older brother Joseph in Colombo, before obtaining a Marine Engineering diploma from Bonars, Colombo.

Eager to make his own way in the world, he set off for the U.S., becoming Sillalai’s first marine engineer. It was the perfect occupation for Appa, who was more comfortable on water than on land—despite never having learned to swim—in simple trousers and a t-shirt than in a suit and tie.

In 1976, he married Rangini, and we, his son and daughter, were born soon after. We moved to Chennai in 1984, and Appa continued travelling to America to work and returning for breaks.

Despite his limited means, he was determined to provide the best education for us, and moved us to Kodaikanal in 1991 to enroll us in an international school with a challenging curriculum, and later sent us to the U.S. for university.

Our father instilled in us the value of a good education. Even during school holidays, he would make us study for a few hours a day. Although we grumbled, that practice made us better students and fostered a love of learning in us that still endures.

Appa’s determination, independence, and strong will were complemented by an equal measure of generosity of spirit, boundless charisma, and unwavering faith in God. Equally legendary were his signature cap, bag slung over one shoulder, and reading spectacles hanging by a cord around his neck, as he biked or walked miles on errands and visits, undaunted by the blazing sun or pouring rain.

He would regale audiences with stories of his early struggles in America, and his sailing adventures. Once he was even tailed by agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since some members of the ship’s crew were smuggling contraband. He was cleared of all suspicion when all they found remarkable about his habits were his regular visits to church.

Appa was everyone’s friend. From his apartment’s security guard to store workers to accomplished business people, there was no one he didn’t have time for a cheery chat with. If anyone needed help, all they had to do was ask him and it would get done.

Even as a teen, he went to great lengths for his loved ones. When his beloved older sister Hilda was dying of cancer, for a time, she could only stand to eat ice cream. Our father would ride a bicycle an hour to Jaffna and back with a vacuum flask to buy her ice cream.

When we lived in the somewhat remote mountainous area of Kodaikanal with limited access to goods, he would often make the tedious journey to the plains to ensure we had everything we needed. He even once had a close call with a herd of wild bison, which bounded down the hillside and across the road right in front of his scooter!

Appa always wanted to be helpful. At home, he put his engineering skills to good use, tinkering about with electrical circuits, fixing broken appliances, and building storage units. He was a terrible cook but chopping fruits and vegetables was his domain.

When our parents visited us in the U.S. and Canada last year, even though Appa was in significant pain, he fixed things for us, went grocery shopping, and helped us out in many other ways. Even during his last months, he still put us first, shielding us from most of his struggle, reiterating his faith in God, and hoping for the best.

Our father lived a big life filled with adventure and adversity. He tackled both, undaunted, strengthened by his faith in God and his unwavering commitment to giving us the best lives possible.

We will always love and miss him, but we know he’s in heaven, making the most of his new adventure and still watching out for us. May Appa rest in peace with the Lord.

Thusho and Rathini

****

Chandra Kaluarachchi

Versatile actress

Actress Chandra Kaluarachchi, wife of singer Lakshman Wijesekera, passed away recently at her residence at the age of 76.

Her last rites were performed at the Mt. Lavinia General Cemetery on Sunday, before a large gathering.

Chandra, who was born in 1943, in Narahenpita, first displayed her innate talent for acting when she was cast in the radio programme Lamapitiya, at the age of nine. Of the many stage plays Chandra acted in was the play called Wahalak Neti Geyak, directed by the late Premaranjit Tilakaratne, for which she won the Best Actress Award at the State Drama Festival in 1964.

She later portrayed the role of a grandmother in the stage play Erabudu Mal Pipila, and later in Gajaman Puwatha, which was directed by Dayananda Gunawardena. The latter, which entered the Sinhala stage in 1975, was the first Sri Lankan 'Docudrama' stage play.

Chandra portrayed the role of 'Ranchagoda Lamaya' in that play. Recalling her memories from back then, she was glad that the entire original cast was there in its new production, 31 years after it was first stage.

Chandra entered the Sinhala theatre in 1968 in the movie Dahasak Sithuvili. By 2007, she had acted in around 40 movies, which included Weli Kathara, Bak Maha Deege, Thumman Handiya, and Pauru Walalu. Chandra's last movie was Nisala Guru, which was released in 2007.

Having lived in the same neighbourhood, I knew Chandra and Lakshman before I migrated to Australia over five years ago. They were always generous and humble.

Lakshman was a devoted husband to Chandra and saw to all her needs, especially when she was ill.

The late Chandra Kaluarachchi could be said to be one of the most versatile actresses who dominated not only the stage, but the film, television, and radio industries as well.

May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Sunil Thenabadu, Brisbane



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