Her spirit will live on in all those who loved her

Enid's many friends in Sri Lanka will mourn her passing in distant Melbourne on December 30, 2002, as we do. She was the kind of friend for whom time and distance only strengthened the bonds of friendship.

During the last few years she lived happily in a compact little "granny flat" adjoining her younger son, Anil's house, where she delighted in entertaining friends. We had the joy of spending a morning with her in December 1998 and I can picture her smiling and animated expression as she moved with difficulty, using a walker, to show me round her little kingdom with its special fixtures that enabled her to manage on her own. Anil, his wife Chuli and their two children were constantly on hand, of course.

Enid was always interested in people, as was her quiet and gentle husband, Malcolm Abeyaratne, CCS, who was Secretary of the Treasury at the time of his retirement. We had known Enid from before her marriage, but we came to know both her and Malcolm more intimately when they became our neighbours in Nugegoda in 1952 and Enid was expecting her first-born, Rohan, who in course of time had a brilliant academic record at Royal College and later topped his batch as a graduate of the Engineering Faculty of Peradeniya University. Rohan is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

The Abeyaratnes only daughter, Kumudini, married Srian Abeysuriya and lives in Newcastle, New South Wales.

I remember the time when Malcolm was GA, Ratnapura, and they occupied the large, Dutch-type Residency there. They always welcomed travellers en route to the hills. Many a time were we, with our large brood, warmly received there on our way up-country, with lunch laid out for us and our children given the run of that huge verandah and the Abeyaratne children's toys.

When they resided in Colombo, they kept open house for all their children's friends. Their home was continually filled with the laughter and talk of girls and boys. Wherever they were, their friends and their children's friends could be sure of a genuine welcome and Enid sometimes took on the role of counsellor as well.

Malcolm happened to be GA, Kurunegala at a time that a Student Christian Movement Conference was held in that town. Enid heard that some of Rohan's batchmates were attending the conference and she lost no time in sending them an invitation to tea.

Our son told us they went to the GA's residence to find a sumptuous high tea spread out for them, adding, "You can imagine how we tucked in, coming as we did from the Halls in Peradeniya where food of that kind was scarcely seen!"

During the JVP insurgency of 1971, university students were suspects, and parents of students at Peradeniya waited in some trepidation for their return home when the university was closed. Malcolm had driven up to bring Rohan home, but the latter had evidently left by then to make his own way back. However, Malcolm spotted our son and a friend waiting at a bus stop and he brought them safely back to Colombo.

Enid was involved in church activities wherever Malcolm was stationed. She served for many years on the Board of Trustees of the Ceylon Schools for the Deaf & Blind and I remember the dedication and enthusiasm she brought to it, never being one who was content just to attend meetings, but involving herself in the schools and in fund-raising. After Malcolm's retirement, they moved to the quiet seclusion of a house in Siebel Place, Kandy, where true to type, friends from Colombo were always welcome to spend a weekend or longer.

When Sri Lanka Sumithrayo decided to open a branch in Kandy, Enid was an obvious 'find' to head the volunteers there. She performed her duties with the zeal and dedication that was characteristic of her, until they left the island to take up residence in New Zealand where their daughter and family had preceded them.

Enid (nee Dias Jayasinghe) was the youngest of a family of one brother and four sisters - Phyllis (Mrs. Clarence Peiris), Ellen (Mrs. Denzil Peiris), Doreen (Mrs. Herbert Keuneman), and Marion (Mrs. Cecil Abeysundere). The last-named is her only surviving sibling and our loving sympathies go out to her, as to Rohan, Anil and Kumudini and their families.

We have been the recipients of many acts of loving kindness from Enid and Malcolm whose married life was one of great harmony and happiness. One deed of theirs, however, is forever enshrined in our memories. It occurred in 1983. Our youngest son was getting married in Kandy and, long before I had even thought of where we would put up for the occasion, Enid called me to say that Malcolm and she would temporarily vacate their house and our family could have the use of it for the week of the wedding.

When we arrived there, we found the beds freshly made, clean towels laid out, boiled drinking water ready for us, milk in the fridge and even home-made ice-cream in the freezer trays. There was also a note telling me where everything we might need, could be found.

Malcolm died in New Zealand. Later, Enid moved to Melbourne where her son Anil and family resided. Never one to feel sorry for herself, she remained cheerful although walking became a painful exercise. There was no pretence or humbug about her. She would tell you straight what she thought about a situation or of a particular action or attitude of someone's, but never in a hurtful way. She fell ill in November last year and was hospitalized. Her spirits remained high despite physical infirmities.

In December, she was transferred to a nursing home as she needed 24-hour care. From there, she gave us one last gift - when a telephone was installed at her bedside, she got Chuli to dial us here in Colombo and gave us the lovely surprise of hearing her voice one last time, shortly before Christmas - a final memory that we cherish.

In the obituary notice sent by her family to the Daily News, the last line read: "Her body was cremated on December 31 but her spirit will live on in all those who loved her." Indeed it will, for, while life lasts, Enid will always remain in our bright and fond memories of her.

Anne Abayasekara

The light of Lanka's ophthalmologists

It was with a deep sense of grief that I heard that Dr. P. Sivasubramaniam had passed away.

Although 86 years old, until the day of his death, he had a vivid recollection of all events, especially those relating to ophthalmology. He was a stern man who was of the view that patients always came first. He knew the rules, he followed the rules and expected others to do so too.

He firmly believed that his services were needed in his own country. In spite of opportunities in far greener pastures abroad, he stayed back with us to guide us towards his goal; that being to reduce blindness in Sri Lanka. At the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology conference held in Sri Lanka in 1974, he was awarded the Jose Rizal Medal for his contribution to Ophthalmology in the region.

Around 1957, the Ophthalmic Society of Ceylon was the first discipline to break away from the Ceylon Medical Council. Dr. Sivasubramaniam was a founder member of the society of which Dr. Kingsley de S. Devaditiya was founder president.

Many years later, when a College of Ophthalmology was formed, Dr. Sivasubramaniam became the president. His ophthalmic family was indeed extensive in that he trained over a dozen eminent ophthalmologists.

Dr. Sivasubramaniam and his younger colleague Dr. R. Pararajasekeram were household names in the ophthalmic circles in Britain. In the late fifties and sixties those of us who sought ophthalmic training in Britain were invariably asked, 'Did you train with Subramaniam or Sekaram?'

In the mid-seventies, he joined hands with another eminent ophthalmologist, Dr. P.A. Wirasinha, to establish "Eye Care Sri Lanka". Together with several willing helpers, they did a landmark survey of blindness in all parts of Sri Lanka and performed sight restoring surgery.

Since the 1950s, he had contributed to local and international journals on almost all aspects of ophthalmology.

As a young undergraduate, I did my ophthalmology appointment of 14 days with Dr. Sivasubramaniam.

At the end of the training, to my dismay the Dean informed me that Dr. S had required me to repeat the appointment. It was only years later that Dr. S informed me that he had done so to make me take up ophthalmology as my career.

Although I never trained under him, he was my guide, mentor and teacher. For him ophthalmology came first, everything else took second place. We have lost an eminent, proficient ophthalmologist and great teacher. He has left his imprint on our native soil.

May his loving wife Sarojini take pride in this.
Goodbye, dear Sir.
Reggie Seimon


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