A force for unity among communities | Daily News
Deepal Jayasundera

A force for unity among communities

Deepal visited South Asian countries such as Singapore and Cambodia. In East Asia he visited Japan. About three decades ago, he immigrated to North America and settled down in Winnipeg, Canada. With his global experiences and seeing the living standards of the other countries, he selected Canada for his second home.

He canvassed all of us to migrate to Canada saying, “In Canada, the Sky is the Limit”. He took the initiative to arrange Permanent Residence (PR) under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Programme for my daughter and her family. Subsequently, my daughter and her family arranged for my wife (Chandani) and me to become Canadian Citizens. If not for his sincere generosity, we would not have been able to live in Canada today.

According to his Birth Certificate, his name was Deepa Piyatissa Wijerathna Jayasundera (D.P.W. Jayasundera) but close relatives called him DP, and in the University, he was known as Deepal.

Deepal was born in Kalagedihena, Sri Lanka. His father Jayasena Jayasundera was the Sub-Post Master in Kalagedihena. His loving mother Alice Jayasundera was a Teacher in Kalagedihena Government School. Deepal completed his high school education at Royal College, Colombo. In 1961, Deepal was selected on an island-wide competitive “Rupasinghe Scholarship” Examination and entered Royal College. Even today, his name appears as D.P.W. Jayasundera in the Rupasinghe Scholarship Panel in the main hall of Royal College. He was an active member of the Royal College Boxing Team.

When I entered the University of Ceylon, Colombo Campus (now the University of Colombo), my father found a boarding place for me with one of his friends (E. R. Eratne) in Barnes Place, Colombo 7. At this boarding house I met Deepal.

He became both my roommate and my university batch mate. I observed that he was not only studious but also keen to maintain physical and mental fitness as a boxer and weightlifter. His routine was 'early to bed and early to rise' and a nap after lunch. He showed me the books that he possessed for his university studies and told me of his dietary habits to maintain his body weight. Further, he showed me a string of 108 beads (Nawagunawela) that he frequently used when meditating. I was frightened to get a person with a straight jacket type of lifestyle as a roommate with whom I had to spend my entire university life. With my friends, I used to go for movies, especially the 9.30 p.m. shows, and came back to our rooms past-midnight. Due to this habit of mine, Deepal called me 'the Midnight Man'. After a few months, he advised me that if we can do well at the first-year examination, we can apply for an honours course. As a result, I emulated some of his textbook oriented lifestyle habits and as a result, I was able to do well at my examinations. He obtained University Colors for weightlifting.

Pending the University Examination results, he got an appointment as a Junior Executive at the Ceylon Glass Company, Ratmalana. He started his government career as a Valuation Officer at the Department of Valuation. Later, due to his sports background, he was able to get recruited to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) as Flying Officer (Gazetted Officer).

Deepal married my second sister Thilaka. His best man was Tony Opatha (Sri Lanka Cricket Team/Flying Officer, SLAF) and his groomsman was Wijaya de Mel (Dept. of Valuation). Both of them were his co-workers. As Valuation Officers Deepal and Wijaya were doing field work in the Divisional Secretariat of Habaraduwa and both of them occupied the front room of Guna Nivesa on Galle Road, Unawatuna.

They later came to know that the owners of the house (Wijetillake's) are related to me. The end result was that I got married to Chandani from the Wijetillake family and Deepal was the attesting witness at our marriage. As he was very close to my parents, he arranged Wijaya (his co-worker/groomsman) to marry my elder sister, Yamuna. Because of this intimacy with my family, Deepal was like a brother to me.

During his stay in Winnipeg, Deepal used to associate with many Tamil Sri Lankan families and Tamil community leaders. They were very helpful for me during my tenure (2016/2017) as the President of the Sri Lankan Association of Manitoba. Even today, I am maintaining my close contact with them. Deepal worked at Western Glove Works in Winnipeg. After retirement, he moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta to live with his eldest daughter Nipunie and her family. Second daughter Yosha and her family are in Winnipeg and his son Asitha and his family are in St. Rose du Lac, Manitoba.

His Motto was, “Unburdened with duties and frugal in ways” (appakicco ca sallahuka-vutti), from the Discourse on Loving-kindness (Karaṇīya Mettā Sutta).

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!

Senaka Samarasinghe

Winnipeg, Canada


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