my friend, playmate and confidant
My grandfather’s 25th death anniversary fell this year. In
reality he was more than my Seeya. He was my playmate, friend, teacher
How does one best remember someone who had a strong influence on
one’s life? While one’s achievements are important,
what makes one more special is the influence one had on those around
him. Seeya knew many people from all walks of life and left a lasting
impression on everyone he associated with. His achievements in the
fields of education and cricket were many. His students still remember
him with gratitude and fondness. He has been a mentor to many of
them. I am privileged to have been able to call him my Seeya.
had to wait many years to be a grandfather and he had been very
excited when my mother had told him that she was pregnant. When
I was born, Mama had asked him, “Are you disappointed that
it is a girl?” to which he had promptly replied “I am
not at all disappointed”. As I grew up in our home next to
that of Aachchi and Seeya I was often with them. I recall writing
my first ‘letter’ to Seeya when I was three years old,
which was put in his letter box. It was a piece of paper with scribbles
and a few drawings. However, he did not ridicule me but ‘read’
my letter very seriously!
had a vivid imagination as a child and many were the times I searched
for fairies in his garden. He did not stand in my way or laugh at
my stories about the fairies that I claimed to have seen! It was
Seeya who kept me on his lap and taught me to read the clock very
patiently. He never wanted to hear me cry and when this did happen
he used to send my grandmother to our home who in turn scolded my
mother for disciplining me!
a devout Christian, he upheld high values and principles. As a former
Principal of Wesley College and Kingwood College and also as the
Cricket Captain of the former school, Seeya associated with people
who were from the cream of society. He walked with kings but did
not lose the common touch. He was humble at all times. My grandfather
was soft spoken and believed in justice. When he was faced with
difficult times as a school principal, he stood strong amidst the
father often recalls stories about Seeya. On one occasion, a parent
had threatened to take his son out of school if the latter was not
included in the cricket team, but my grand-father had been firm.
The parent eventually took his son out of school. He did not tolerate
any politics be it in school or in his day to day life. One day,
a school boy had played an ‘April Fools’ day prank on
his teacher who in turn had complained to Seeya and insisted that
the student be disciplined. Seeya had replied, “I will do
nothing of the sort. You must realize that students must also have
their share of fun especially on April Fools Day”. The teacher
had been very annoyed with Seeya but he was not bothered by it.
the war, the schools faced difficult times. There were students
who could not afford to pay their school fees. Seeya insisted that
they continue with their education free of charge.
was also a family man. Aachchi was a pillar of strength to him and
supported him in everything he did. Even after he retired, Seeya’s
pupils visited him, especially on his birthday.
April 10, 1980 he breathed his last when I was very young. I did
not understand what had happened. As I saw him lying in his coffin,
I thought he would wake up and look at me. My eyes fill with tears
when I recollect that I have not been able to share some of the
most important years of my life with him.
I miss you. I always will. Thank you for all the love and care you
showered upon me. I feel blessed to have known you as my grandfather.
Thank you for everything that you have done for me.”
gave all that he could to society and family
S.P. Fred Silva
“Be humble, do what you have to do and God will do the rest”
was the adage that Fred Silva lived by. His life was tied together
by the tenets of love, simplicity and commitment.
believe that perfection exists and to me it was reposed in the life
of my Seeya, Fred Silva. He was an exemplary man who lived a life
of simplicity and modesty and gave all that he could give, to society
and his family.
never turned away anyone who came to his house with a bundle of
Even though he was a reputed engineer and lecturer for many decades,
his service to society went far beyond that. He worked relentlessly
to uplift the lives of the poor and fought for the prevention of
training for the youth was his passion and he helped many to find
employment locally as well as abroad. Requests for support for the
church and other charitable activities never went unanswered.
was his commitment to bring a ray of hope to the hopeless and those
who could see no end to their troubles. His social profile was known
to most but little do they know about what a great husband, father
and grandfather he was to us. Never have I seen him angry or lashing
out at anyone, and in my childhood I always remember him as a warm
and kind person who was always available to everyone who needed
a family man and friend, my Seeya was always an exemplary character
around the house. I remember him being among us when I played with
my cousins, always greeting us with a gentle smile and enjoying
whatever mischievous things we did. I remember taking his hand and
visiting the poor very often, to see to their needs, offer them
advice and assistance in whatever way we could.
was one of the very few in today’s world whose good deeds
were appreciated while he was still alive. The villagers organized
an impressive felicitation in appreciation for the services he rendered.
His friends and relatives were always there to thank him for the
good things he had done to them.
spent 57 years of married life with his one true love, Clarice who
meant everything to him and with his children and grand children
around him. He spent a happy, calm and contented life. His unconditional
love for his family and social service earned him the respect of
childhood I spent with my Seeya is a cherished memory for me, and
one that will never be forgotten. Even though he is no more with
us, he will always be immortal in our hearts. I am who I am because
of him and because he moulded and guided me to be selfless while
seeking joy in the simple things in life.
his simplicity, he enjoyed life to the fullest and finally when
his call came, I’m sure he departed gladly as he had nothing
more to give and nothing more to take.
ended a commendable life. In my eyes, my beloved Seeya was a perfect
and complete man, who lived a perfect life and died a happy death.
He was an angel who touched our lives and now, is perhaps looking
down at us with his gentle smile.
taught me the greatest lessons in life
Wavita Don Albert
My Dearest Darling Thaththa,
I sit alone at the computer in this cold, winter morning, thinking
of you. At first your death seemed easier to bear because it felt
as if you had gone somewhere visiting. But, as the weeks passed
by and your absence was felt more and more, the feeling inside me
was like, "Okay, thaththa, you've been gone long enough, I
miss you so much and it's time to come home", although I knew
it would never happen.
so many questions to ask you. When I look back at my formative years,
I have many pleasant memories. I recall the times we would chat
about God and his plans. You were the first one to teach me "Our
Father." Whenever I was troubled you would tell me, "Judy
our life is the way of the cross. Lay it down at the foot of the
believed Christ had the power to change lives. In seeing that and
seeing Jesus work in you, I believe it as well. And that I believe
is the single greatest example a father can set for his child.
treated each person as a blessing. You taught me that everyone was
worth trusting and extending the gift of friendship to. Yet, by
the mistakes you made, you also taught me forgiveness. You showed
me love endures and grows with positive and negative influences
that those we trust have on our lives. Trust, taught in this sense,
becomes the greatest gift we can give another person, and forgiveness
the greatest gift we can give ourselves.
Thaththa, you were a positive role model, instilling good values
-whether I applied the lessons or not. You taught me that a life
lived without integrity was really no life at all - whether that
integrity includes taking responsibility and asking forgiveness
for the mistakes we make or learning to enjoy our accomplishments
I was 12 years, you handed me the book "A girl grows up".
Fond memories do I have of the times we spent talking about leadership,
personality, oxidation, seeds, herbs, green houses and the hot topic,
You taught me patience and steadfastness - that we can't always
control what happens to us in life, but we can control how we react
you left us to be with the Lord, I learned of the many people whose
lives you quietly touched. The stories that were shared with me
during that time of grief, spoke of a man of quiet dignity and faith.
God spared me a few hours to be with you before he called you home,
which now are my precious moments of life.
you were one in a million! I love you.
hard-working colleague and devoted friend
Kamini de Abrew
Though it was her wish that there should be no obituaries it is
our sad duty to report that Ms. Kamini de Abrew, Inter Collegiate
Sri Lanka Education Centre’s (ISLE) Sinhala instructor since
the programme's inception in 1982, passed away on May 1. Tragically,
she was struck down and killed by a bus after attending a Buddhist
association meeting in Colombo.
announcing this painful news to the ISLE Board of Directors, Prof.
Roger Jackson of Carleton College sasid: "We join Kamini's
family and many friends in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in mourning the
loss of this remarkable woman. Generations of ISLE students and
directors knew her as one of the best language teachers they ever
encountered, and as a delightful and often idiosyncratic guide through
the complex waters of Sri Lankan culture. She was astonishingly
dedicated and hard-working, and a devoted friend. ISLE would not
be half the programme it is without Kamini's contributions, and
we all are profoundly in her debt and diminished by her passing."
John Holt of Bowdoin College writes: "Kamini was the first
Sri Lankan I met back in June of 1982 when I travelled to Colombo
to set up the logistics for the first contingent of ISLE students.
I knew from that very first encounter with her in the American Embassy
compound, that her brimming enthusiasm would become infectious for
our prospective students.
the years, Kamini poured her seemingly limitless energy into her
work. While she was proud and celebrated her successes with our
students, she was never completely satisfied with the status quo.
Every year she approached each new batch of ISLE students with a
fresh set of "competencies" in mind, taking into account
meticulously what had worked well in previous years and what she
thought still needed to be improved upon. Kamini thoroughly understood,
almost as an article of faith, that learning the language of a culture
is tantamount to learning about the culture per se.
I marvelled at her energy (those frequent commutes to and from Kandy)
and her astounding resilience (in the face of those few students
who proved truly incorrigible.) I doubt that any of our students
ever lacked respect of her. To do so would have been to mock dedication.
I also marvelled at her stamina, her adaptability (especially during
years when we were forced, due to political circumstances, to change
plans abruptly) and utter reliability (in a social context where
that virtue is sometimes wanting).
than once I mused that Kamini had given more of herself than we
ever had a right to expect. Kamini was a product of first generation
Peradeniya. When referring to Kamini in the company of other Peradeniya
professors, fond looks of recognition and respect would surface.
She was well known to many in the community. Kamini graduated in
1959, having excelled not only in the study of English, but as a
track and field star. She was also a member of the national Ceylon
table tennis team and travelled to China and other Asian countries
for international competitions. She must have been a fierce competitor!
completed her M.A. in linguistics from Southern Illinois University.
Her compassion for life was signalled by her extraordinary love
for plants and especially animals. She was an active supporter of
animal rights groups.
“What I remember most about Kamini was how she could get into
our heads. She summoned our energies and demanded our best efforts,
every day. I recall a Swarthmore student back in 1989 saying that
Kamini even invaded her while sleeping, commanding her within her
dream to 'dream in Sinhala, please!' Sometimes we meet characters
who are larger than life, people with a presence that always makes
was certainly one of those. Unforgettable. My mind teems with so
many memories reaching back through 23 years. Her impact, like a
rising swell of good karma, will remain with hundreds of us for
a long time. Nivan sapa labewaa! 'May she reach nibbana!' "
Padma, ISLE's Administrative Director, writes: "I don't think
I will ever find anyone like Kamini to work with again. Her mind
was always at work to come up with new strategies about how she
could be more effective with her students. At the same time she
was always open to any new ideas from others. With Kamini, there
was never a dull moment.