Memories of a grandfather
James de Alwis
The earliest recollections I have of my maternal grandfather are
of him rocking one of my younger sisters to sleep in a cane rocking
chair. My grandfather was James de Alwis whose 52nd death anniversary
was in August, this year.
he sang was some verses written by the famous poetess from the south,
the late Gajaman Nona. He was able to recite these verses from memory.
In a short while, my sister was fast asleep.
was very well read in both English and Sinhala literature. He worked
for Sir Charles de Soysa’s family, managing the properties
of the late Sir Wilfred de Soysa. In recognition of this, my grandfather
was gifted with a bungalow-style house with large, airy verandahs
beside the Lunawa lagoon. I spent a very happy childhood in this
house with my father, mother and five siblings.
gave tuition to several students in Colombo. I particularly remember
the late Mr. Vere De Mel, the owner of the first taxi service in
the island, 'Quickshaws'. He coached him in Sinhala before Mr. De
Mel sat the Ceylon Civil Service Examination.
took great pleasure in working in the garden. He manured the coconut
trees by tilling the soil round the roots. From him, I learnt to
trace the beetle that can destroy the young plant. His advice to
me was "not to be ashamed to work with my hands. So long as
there is soap and water, you can clean your hands, but be careful
not to spoil your good name”.
services were sought when special hymns were needed for wedding
services. He would compose them and set them to music. The air raid
on Easter Sunday 1942 was an unforgettable day. Many of our neighbours
left for safer places. But father and grandfather decided to stay
When my father
died in January 1947, it was grandfather who stepped in to fill
the vacuum. He took me and my younger brother Spencer whenever he
visited his relatives in Poddala. Once, as members of a bridal party,
the three of us crossed the Gin Ganga on a raft along with the bride
and the groom. His relatives visited him for Christmas, and he sent
them home laden with gifts.
owner who lived closeby used to send him a hand-net full of fresh
fish. We shared this with our neighbours. He had a habit of taking
a dip in the lagoon after the day's work. He taught us to swim with
the help of two puhu pol tied together and slipped under the armpits.
This was like a life belt and kept our head above water.
fateful day happened to be his last. He went for a dip later and
did not return. When his daughter-in-law went down to the water
she was shocked to see his body floating. She pulled the body out
with the help of neighbours. Apparently he had had a heart attack.
So ended a life of service to his family, friends and neighbours.
George F. Silva
the rich and poor alike
It is with sadness that I write about the sudden death of my beloved
A year has passed since the death of Padma. I still remember the
day I came to know of her death. It was Sunday, October 20, last
year. A few days before we had spoken on the phone for a long time.
Not only were
we from Girls' High School, Kandy we also ended up as batch mates
and later room-mates in university. She had a charming smile and
a good sense of humour. She was an amiable, unassuming and lovable
her career at the Kurunegala Hospital and then moved to Kandy and
Peradeniya Hospitals. She built up a good practice in Kiribathkumbura
and won the hearts of many patients.
She was a devoted
wife to Nihal and loving mother to Rukshani. She treated the poor
and the rich alike. She lived a simple life. She was loved, respected
and held in high esteem by all who knew her. Padma is no more. But
memories of her will always remain.
May she attain
the supreme bliss of Nibbana. Goodbye, good friend, until we meet
again in the long trek of Samsara.
had a warm smile and personality
Alhaj Marikar Mohomed Thahir
It is with profound sadness that I write this tribute to my grandfather,
Alhaj Samsudeen Marikar Mohomed Thahir. Born on September 1, 1918,
to Alhaj Samsudeen Marikar and Khadeeja Umma, "Appa" as
we called him, had his primary education in Kalutara and secondary
education at Kotte Christian College, Rajagiriya and Zahira College,
He managed the Allied Trading Agency established in 1930, with his
brother Zain Marikar, until he founded Thahirs in Colombo in 1949.
Although involved in his business, he was also the ideal family
man. He brought up his children in an exemplary manner. He looked
after his four sons who were in Colombo for their education from
a very young age.
My father, Ifthikar Ahmed (Chairman, Allied Trading International
Pvt. Ltd), often recounts the numerous incidents in which my grandfather
tirelessly performed the dual role of successful businessman and
caring father. Every Monday, at 4.30 a.m. my grandfather would set
off for Colombo with his four little sons by train and arrive right
on time for school. They returned to Beruwela only on Saturday.
Appa was very knowledgeable and many looked to him for guidance.
The picture that comes to mind when I think of him is his smile
that radiated the warmth of his personality. It was the kind of
smile that made talking to him a pleasure. Children always flocked
to him and he was ever ready to amuse them with tales of his ancestors,
going back to the time of King Bhuvaneka Bahu.
He was proud of his large family and stressed how important 'unity'
and 'compromise' were to keep the family tree alive. He told us
that if ever a problem arose in the family after his demise, we
were to discuss and resolve it with Alhaj Zam Refai (Chairman, Zam
Gems Pvt Ltd) who is now the eldest in our family.
My grandfather was the livewire in our family. He was full of vigour
and humour. Kindhearted, he helped the poor in every way. His advice
to us all was to obtain a sound education. He encouraged us to gain
knowledge and get qualified.
He often told me, "Problems will arise, they always do, but
you must never fear to confront and overcome them."
On May 9, 2003, he passed away at the age of 84. He was buried at
the Masjid Al Sheikh Mustapha, Beruwela, according to his wishes.
My beloved grandfather is no more, but his name, acts and words
of wisdom will remain enshrined in the hearts of all those who knew
him. May Allah grant him Jennathul Firdouse!
Sabrina Ifthikar Ahmed
my guardian angels
Pali, Girlie & Jayantha Atukorala
Tell me, why do these eyes of mine cry?
Tell me, why the world still spins around and life goes on?
Tell me, why do birds sing... and stars twinkle in the sky?
You, tell me if you can?
How sad you would be today
If you could only see & know...
That the pearl of your love, the rainbow of your heart, and precious
gem so rare, you bore.
Now gone - beyond reach...
I try to keep my courage, for I know, to surrender would be a crime,
and yet, I know yes, I know...
It has all ended for me
When the three of you left, one by one...
I lift my eyes above the pain and shadows, to the world beyond and
try to imagine.. perhaps
The three of you walking hand in hand
In that healing peace of a quiet scene...
Violets by a woodland way, trees decked in blossoms,
Crimson, pink and white - roses beaded with dew,
Lilies by a wayside stream, the air filled with birdsong and
Sunbeams dancing at your feet...
Happy, contented and free from strife and worldy cares...
And one day soon, when I too am called upon to make that journey
which everyone of us has to make...
May the voices, I love so dear be my guardian angels,
Dearest Ammi, Thathi and Cucoo....
And guide me down that lane, somewhere to rest along tomorrow's
Where dreams will live - and miracles come true...
As a large number of mourners paid their respects to my beloved
younger brother Sunil, in an outpouring of grief rarely seen on
such a large scale in Toronto, Canada, I was amazed how he had brought
different strands of the community together. Canadians of every
hue, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, rich and poor, past pupils
of every school, office colleagues, friends, relatives and family.
Some filed by his body silently, others cried openly and still others
collapsed in a faint at Sunil's sudden death after a brief illness.
He was 48.
The youngest son of the late Rev. Osmund Welikala and Milfred, Sunil
grew up in the enchanting town of Galle in a family of five boys.
I remember him as a chubby, cuddly boy. He was my mother's pet and
my kid brother. When our parents passed away he was still a teenager.
He came to look up to me as a father and mentor.
came to Canada from a Sri Lanka in turmoil. He underwent many traumatic
experiences which compelled him to give up a happy and comfortable
life as a planter in Sri Lanka and move into a new career in banking
took up the challenge with enthusiasm, doing his work with meticulous
efficiency, skill, diplomacy, management and leadership. He will
be missed by his employers - Intria and Canadian Imperial Bank.
Music was one of his passions from childhood.
I can remember him living in Battaramulla, with our mother. His
room was plastered with posters of pop stars.
still recollect the day in the early 1970s when he told me, "Aiya
let's go to a pop concert at Lionel Wendt". It was a fantastic
concert, compered by one of our own relatives, Vijaya Corea. Sunil
who was then only about 13 years had eyes only for "Baby Shiromi".
The rest is history as Shiromi became my brother's wife. His love
for Shiromi blossomed from being a fan of hers to a lifelong partner.
He was a father and friend to both his son and daughter.
one regret was that he could not visit his beloved homeland more
often. He was proud to belong to the Welikala clan. He missed his
relatives and friends in Sri Lanka, especially his brothers Lakshman