[APPRECIATIONS - (12-03-2019)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (12-03-2019)]


Elegant man of virtue

Christiraj is no more. He passed away peacefully in the early hours of January 27 this year, just 10 days short of his 89th birthday.

The news of his sudden death was a shock to me as it was only on December 11 that I met him in Wattala at his elder brother Anandharaj’s funeral.

Anandharaj was another man of great virtue who was a teetotaler, non -smoker and who did not have any sort of illness whatsoever and had taken medication only for the common cough and cold. He passed away at the ripe old age of 99.

Coming back to Christi, he was born on February 4, 1930, to respectable parents from the Matale district. He had his early education at S. Thomas’ College, Matale, and later at St. Sylvester's College, Kandy.

I came to know Christi in the early 1950s when I was residing at my parental home in Hopton Group, Lunugala, a sprawling tea estate of over 2,000 acres in extent. I was schooling in St. Bede’s College, Badulla, at that time and Christi was a frequent visitor to our house, and later he served in the estate Head Office, when Charles Ruxton, a burly Englishman of great repute, was the Superintendent.

Christi was good in English as well as in math and arithmetic. He used to coach me in arithmetic, a subject in which I was weak. He also had neat handwriting, which I envied and copied. His handwriting did not falter even in his old age. He was also a good carom player. Later, I went to Jaffna for schooling and our acquaintance continued. While at Hopton, we went hunting and to see films together.

After I grew up and our paths changed, we used to exchange hilarious letters, which Christi had preserved.

Christi married Shanmugadevi, daughter of Shri P.T. Murugan (PTM for short), a landed proprietor in Haputale and Bandarawela, who owned valuable properties and bungalows in Bandarawela. He was a close associate of my late father Suppiah. I still remember attending Christi’s wedding in Bandarawela.

Christi opted to serve in the plantation sector and served under leading European planters in estates such as Ambewea, Frotoft group etc. I still remember spending a pleasant Christmas holiday with him in Ambawela, although I was shivering in the chilling cold. He was Machan to me and I was Machan to him. Such was our long and endearing friendship which spanned over almost 70 years.

Christi was a good story-teller as well as a yarn spinner, who was always humorous and quick on the repartee.

He had a handsome look with a luxurious head of hair, and was always nattily and elegantly dressed in sparkling shiny shoes. He never left home without a tie, whatever the occasion. Some said he resembled the late famous Tamil film comedian Chandrababu!

Christi embraced Christianity at an early period of his life. But since of late became very philosophical and expressed very candid and critical views on religious matters.

Christi avoided idle talk and gossip. He was a man of sober habits and did not indulge in drinking or smoking. His weakness if any in the past was for the humble pol roti and sambol, which he relished and consumed gleefully.

Christi’s departure has left a great void in all who knew him and his adoring family.

He leaves behind his wife Shanmugadevi, daughters Kanmani, Carmelita, Loretta, Christina and the only son, Niroshan and seven grandchildren. Christi will be surely missed by his family, friends, and relatives.

The large crowd of mourners at his funeral at Mt. Lavinia on January 30 bore ample testimony of his popularity.

A friendly relationship of over 70 years has alas come to an end.

I am sure Christi has earned a rightful and hallowed place in heaven, and on behalf of his family and everyone who miss him, I pray for the eternal rest of his dear soul.

Rest in peace dear friend, for you have earned it.



Eugene Reginald De Fonseka

Gentle, jovial advocate

It has taken a long time for me to provide a write up of my late father. However, I pen these few words in appreciation of the good work he has achieved in his legal career as well as the kind deeds he bestowed on us.

My late father was educated at Royal College, Colombo and then he went on to obtain a Degree, Bachelor of Science from the University College as it was called then - which is the present University of Colombo. He later was enrolled as an advocate student at the Sri Lanka Law College and passed out with honors gaining 2nd place in the order of merit at the final examination for advocates.

After practicing at Hulftsdorp, he joined the Attorney-General’s Department as a Crown Counsel in 1947. He rose to the position of Deputy Solicitor-General and was appointed as the Commissioner of Assize as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

My late father, after retirement, was appointed as the Chairman of the Land Acquisition Board of Review, Compensation Board under the Land Reform Commission, Agrarian Services Board of Review, Member of the Income Tax Board of Review and Chairman of the Debt Conciliation Board and therefore, was fully occupied with work. He was an arbitrator as well and was a member of the International Commercial Court (ICC).

My late father was a very gentle and kind person and was always ready to give us (my brother, my son and me) any advice and assistance when needed. He was also very stern in his qualities and very jovial as well. He was the person to whom we would refer to any advice relating to our work and in our personal life.

My late father had the opportunity to be associated with my son, till the time he proceeded abroad for higher studies and his advice and assistance to my son was invaluable. My late father was also a person who loved to help others and was a loving brother to all his brothers and only sister and their families.

Lastly, I thank my father for the help and assistance given to us (my brother, my son and for me) so lovingly. He was our friend and a caring father and grandfather.

We still miss you Thaththa and I lost a true friend and never could replace him. I loved him very much. He was the lovable and caring husband to my dear mother and to my son, he was the most adorable and caring grandfather.

We miss you very much dear Thaththa and Seeya.

Your ever loving daughter Geetha and Grand Son Anura



Excellent administrative officer

It is with sadness that I write these few lines on Lucian Emmanuel Fernando, who was Assistant Regional Manager of the People's Bank from 1953 to 1983 and father of my good friend Terrence. Born on January 7, 1929, Lucian Emmanuel passed away peacefully on February 26, 2003 at the age of 74 years.

He hailed from a respectable Catholic family of Katukurunda in Moratuwa and had his entire education in one of the leading Catholic schools, St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.

After completing his studies as a dedicated and brilliant student, Lucian brought immense credit to his school in the spheres of sports and extra-curricular activities. He excelled as an all-round sportsman, representing the college in cricket and athletics during his time.

He found employment, first, at the Bank of Ceylon where he worked as a clerk for five years and subsequently, at the People's Bank, in the same capacity.

He served the bank for 30 years continuously until he retired from the banking service. At the time of relinquishing office, he had been elevated to the post of Assistant Regional Manager.

He, thereafter, joined the private sector, as Director of Zellers Holdings and Alpex Engineering Ltd., in Colombo. He was an efficient and highly intelligent Administrative Officer and also a kindhearted person.

He was a faithful husband to his wife Felicia, a loving and caring father to his nine children and an adoring grandfather to his grandchildren. The father of Felicia who was from Beruwala, was a close relative of mine. However, after Felicia's aunt's death, we lost close contact with that family.

My association with his five sons Laktran, Anton, Terrence, Linzy and Sharvan began in early 1972 while at St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa when I was in grade seven. Laktran represented the Sebastian's invincible 1971 and 1972 cricket team led by the legendary Sunil Wickramanayake. Another of Lucian's sons, my best friend Terrence, worked for a short period at the Food and Beverages Department at a leading hotel in Colombo and Galle in 1978. During his last days, Lucian lived with his son Terrence.

Lucian Fernando was the eldest in a family of three, the others being, Norbert and Bernadette. His brother Norbert was a former all-round cricketer who played for St. Sebastian's, Catamarans Sports Club, Air Force and Ceylon Intercontinental (now Kingsbury) during a span of 22 years. Norbert's wife Norma, was a retired teacher of St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa. She was my tutor in the primary section. Her father ‘Lawrence Sir’ also served as an English Master in the same school.

All family members are past pupils of my alma mater St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa. Lucian and my father Mervyn were more friends than relatives.

He leaves behind three daughters and six sons. I have seen from my young days, annually, all members of Lucian's family get-together and offer prayers soon after the St. Sebastian's Church Feast. This proves the unity of their family.

Lucian had many friends and one of them was Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev Dr. Marius Peiris, also a past pupil of St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.

I extend my deepest sympathies to the bereaved family.

May the soul of Lucian Fernando rest in peace and rise in glory!



Manik Fernandopulle

Immeasurable treasure

To Mangala and family to bring a ray of consolation
These few lines are for Manik’s 9th death anniversary commemoration

His untimely sudden departure was a great loss
That can never be repaired however much you express

His family was the greatest wealth he had on earth
Which is something inspired by his birth

Throughout their lives, he worked for their well-being
No wonder he was a wonderful human being

His attitude and actions showcased his sincerity and affection
To his family circle and close sincere relations

Both moms recall fond memories now in their sunset years
They do suffer still shedding silent tears

His unfailing support to his close ones and relations
Was such that they still have a great admiration

His family circle still misses his presence daily
For he made a significant impact on their lives dearly

Since he joined hands with Mangala for life’s journey, it was fine
They were more than happy like stars that shine

His love and kindness marked every phase of his life
Especially to Mangala, his devoted, enchanting wife

Then the two kids, Rukshan and Rukshila were the greatest wealth
He inherited and the greatest joy he underwent in life’s path

To their bird's nest, he was a great treasure
His enormous love to them no one could measure

His love and affection to them was limitless
His commitment to their future was boundless

Quite unexpectedly his active life came to an end
Creating a permanent impression in their lives so fond

Having attended most prestigious schools during childhood
He excelled in almost every field feeling good

His study time during youth in a foreign university
Proved the magnitude of his intellectual capacity

Selflessly devoted to his place of work and profession
In his field, he was holding a very prestigious position

Gifted genius, though not small in stature
Was a colossus in his professional field by nature

His friendship and goodwill with colleagues in his noble heart
Is something they enjoy in whose company from the start

With his scholarly, successful education
He made an excellent contribution to the nation

Also, his dedicated attention to religious welfare
To church and Rev. priest was well reflected in his daily care

His duties to his family were completed to perfection
Specially manifested in guiding them in their education

In their lives, he played the most vital role
Paving the way for them to reach the highest goal

Now in their specific fields, they do shine
Showing their colours well and truly fine

Mangala is now deeply involved in participating as a dutiful wife
After his demise trying to fulfill obligations of life

Deep in their hearts, a beautiful memory kept
Of one they love so much, they shall never forget

This is to remember to make use of every possible opportunity
To honour him for his rich smell of humanity

May his soul rest in peace.

Rupa Banduwardena
(Manik Fernandopulle passed away on March 6, 2010)


Cyril Tennakoon

Practiced mindfulness till his death

Impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness are the true nature of things and if we could internalize these three characteristics of life, then we are at a sublime level of attainment.

When I write about late Cyril Tennakoon, I can very well say that he had made it a mental habit to see everything in life with these characteristics of life. He was my ‘Kalyana Mithra’, the best friend until he passed away one year ago on March 28, 2018, silently and fully aware.

His moment of death was a remarkable occurrence that could happen only to a person of a high level of mindfulness. He had no hesitation in passing away and knew mindfully until he breathed his last at the ripe age of 94 plus.

He was my best friend because he conformed to my test of a true friend and so did I under his microscope. He lived in Lewella and me, in Colombo. I drove to Kandy as often as I could to enjoy the luxury of conversation with him. He enlightened me and gave me great satisfaction from the rich conversation.

His meticulous planning of his life and retirement, not leaving anything for the children or others to worry about even after having devolved all his worldly assets decades before his parting, was indeed a gracious example as a role model of parenthood.

He graduated from the University of Ceylon in 1949 and chose to be among the flowers as a professional Botanist and Curator of the Royal Botanical Gardens. One of his best creations is the beautiful Rose Garden at Hakgala Gardens by inviting the British High Commissioner Sir Stanley Tomlinson to gift the seed cuttings from the Kew Gardens of UK.

He retired from Peradeniya Gardens in the year 1975 and thereafter served in Saudi, Oman in the Royal Gardens and returned to Sri Lanka after about fifteen years. His intimacy with Dhamma is evident when he was invited to be the General Manager at the Buddhist Cultural Center (BCC) when it was just at an infant stage. His skills with people and the in-depth knowledge of the business world made it possible for him to develop the BCC to become the largest publisher of Buddhist Literature during a period of 13 years. The BCC is renowned as the largest collection of Buddhist publications anywhere in the world.

The astounding quality of Cyril Tennakoon was that everyone who came to know him liked him and endeared him irrespective of ‘caste or creed’. He was loved by people who worked for him and by those who employed him. His friends were among the most powerful and mighty to the downtrodden, but he associated with humility and equanimity with them all. I recall the stories of Prime Ministers and Ministers who visited him and whose doors were open for him. He never even once wanted to live a life owing gratitude to a politician asking for personal gain. Once, the first female Prime Minister Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike asked him if he would exchange jobs with her when he was working at the Hakgala gardens.

He had endowed much of this independent character to his family. His eldest son Dasarath as a kid told Sir John Kotelawala when his driver parked the Premier’s car at the wrong spot that he would be fined by his father for parking the car at the wrong place inside the gardens. So, that great Prime Minister personally wanted to meet the illustrious father of the illustrious son and met the father to congratulate him for making a son so upright.

His relationships with people were so mercurial that in his eighties and the nineties he had visitations for a chat from many people that he befriended years ago. His memory was impeccable with details of dates, names and how things happened.

He was the only brother of late William Tennakoon, the Governor of Central Bank. Both of them along with the humble sister late Anula Herat gifted their land to build the Subodharama Temple at Peradeniya. This temple is a beacon to many people today.

He was also the loving husband of the late Lala Tennakoon who predeceased him but was an equally adorable wonder woman and parented four illustrious children, Premanie, Dasarath, Lakshantha, and Geetanjali.

He was blessed to enjoy the love of seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He worked silently and humbly to contribute to the Sasana that has given solace to many in this Sansarik journey.

Life has given me the great fortune of having them as my dearest friends in law. I, along with my wife Premani, rejoice Cyril Tennakoon’s virtuous life.

Dr. Chandra Embuldeniya 


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