voice will not be stilled
I hadn't seen her for a while and it came as a
shock to learn that Thisula had met with a tragic accident, knocked
down by a bus while riding her bicycle.
It was at the then popular Country Music Jam
sessions of the Country Music Foundation (CMF) in the late 1980s and
early 1990s that I met her and husband Prasanna who was then a livewire
in the rock music industry and one of its pioneers.
Thisula had a beautiful voice and to me was a Joan
Baez, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Nana Mouskouri
- all rolled into one.
She would strum her box guitar and sing and you
couldn't beat that voice. Folk songs fitted her perfectly.
She and Prasanna were regulars at the monthly
jam sessions which brought together a nice bunch of musicians interested
in folk, folk-rock and country and western music.
The duo also performed a couple of times at the
Country Road concerts and Thisula made a big impact with, as some
recall, a couple of Nana Mouskouri songs.
Thisula was a soft-spoken and kind individual
and shared our passion for helping the needy, instantly volunteering
to sing at the charity concerts. The CMF relies a lot on volunteerism
which has helped the organization raise millions of rupees for needy
children across Sri Lanka in a collaborative effort with UNICEF.
For hardened journalists like us, death is not
a painful thing but I was jolted when I heard about Thisula's death
on Wednesday, the same day she was cremated.
Ironically a few days ago I was reflecting on
the 'long and winding' road of the Country Road series of concerts
since 1988 and thinking about some new ideas to celebrate our 15th
anniversary concert in 2007 with a big bash. On my mind was a coming
together of the numerous musicians who performed at our shows.
Sadly Thisula won't be there but her unforgettable
voice will remain with us forever.
In our home town of Moratuwa
People always called him captain
He flew Spitfires and Dakotas
In the golden age of aviation
I certainly could never be the pilot he was
I probably would never be as good a human being either
I would only be the captain’s son
I wish I could tell him this, but I can’t
He is long gone
That is what is so sad about it
I'm sure those of you who have lost loved ones
With things unsaid
Would know what I’m talking about
a dull moment with him
My good friend Nazeer Nana is no more. My association
with him started in the early ’50s when I stayed at Maliban
Street, Pettah after starting work in the Public Works Dept. Fort.
Though I was 12 years younger, he would come down
to our level.
It was an interesting period of my life when we
would not miss a single Hindi film that was screened in Colombo,
and listened to all the Hindi song programmes over the radio.
I used to get down the Film Fare magazine, and
he would go through it page by page and tell me of the happenings
in the film industry in Bombay.
On Sundays he would arrange some picnic or some
sport and about six or seven of us would join in. There was never
a dull moment as he was such an entertaining character.
I remember the sad period when his wife was sick.
He had to buy expensive drugs prescribed by the doctors.
All his earnings went for the purchase of these
drugs. After her death, he was a mother and father to his four sons.
He devoted his time and money to bringing up the
boys. They are a true example of the father, sincere, jovial and
honest. By Allah’s grace all are on a sound footing in their
particular fields of work and business.
Nazeer was one of a kind. I am sure many who knew
him will agree.
May Allah grant him Jennathul Firdhouse.
He enriched our lives
Felix Premawardhana was one of that rare breed
of schoolmasters who gave their entire school career to one school,
Wesley College. There he was ever present 24 hours of the day living
in the College flats. Like most successful teachers his work and
influence did not cease at the school gates. With his background
in the Baptist church he played an invaluable role as a counsellor
for those in trouble.
He had considerable talents and wide interests
and was a man of modesty, integrity and kindness. Felix P. influenced
generations of colleagues and pupils as a teacher. Through his interest
and many roles in theatre and television he became a popular household
name in Sri Lanka. In the 1960’s the celebrated British dramatist
Peter Schaffer’s play 'Black Comedy' was translated by Felix
Premawardhana as 'Kaluware Jaramare'.This was hailed by theatre
critics and the public as a great success.
Felix P. taught many subjects in the middle school.
He taught ancient Ceylon history with a passion and held strong
views about the original inhabitants of the island. The long held
view that they were savages akin to the devil was fiercely contested
and dispelled by him. History for him was a story which he related
as a master story teller to a spellbound audience.
Many would remember him as an energetic teacher
of the Sinhala language. He was a strong character and had an interest
in academic detail. He tolerated no nonsense and we all learnt Sinhala
to sail through the difficult examinations.
He was always well dressed. My abiding memory
of Felix P is his well trimmed handle-bar moustache and his large
frame in a cream gaberdine suit walking the long corridors of the
Some people, through what they are and what they
do, raise our expectations of human nature and thereby lift the
spirit. Felix P did this. His serenity, lucidity, composure, generosity,
gentleness, compassion and sheer indomitable courage in his final
illness made him an extraordinary man. He was strengthened throughout
his life by his very happy marriage to Indranie and also by his
son Kuvera and daughter Kuveni. To them he gave his love and guidance
always. To the school he gave his entire career. Our lives have
been enriched by his presence. We remember and celebrate his life
Grant Him O Lord Eternal Peace
He played the game to the end
We met for the first time in the Billiard Room
at the S.S.C. Later Norman and quite a few others played golf at
the S.S.C. Grounds. It all started when Banda came in with an antique
set of golf clubs one-day way back in the early seventies. After
we finished our tennis for the evening, a few of my tennis cronies,
Ubhaya De Silva, Parl Umagiliya, Earl Fernando and A.L. Dias Bandaranaike
(Banda) on invitation by Banda followed him to the cricket ground,
which was adjacent to the tennis courts to watch him reveal to us
the mysteries of golf.
As we progressed in golf, Banda quit the group
leaving, Ubhaya, Norman, Earle, Parl and me. We were hammering away
in gay abandon from one end of the grounds to the other until we
propelled a few wayward golf balls into the sightscreen, the Billiard
Room and towards visitors lounging outside the clubhouse.
Derek and Ian Peiris were on to us in a flash.
Stop immediately was the order. What followed was the beginning
of our golf career. Proposed by Derek and seconded by Ian, we became
members of the RCGC. From then onwards we played a lot of golf together
in our 4 bell games, in Colombo, Nuwara Eliya and abroad.In
the early days there used to be Dr. Shelton Jayasinghe, Dr. K.K.U.Perera,George
Gomes, Chriso Abewardene, Frankie Ferrer, Ambassador Karim Marzuki
from Malaysia who in fact oganised most of our foreign tours and
Norman of course flitting in and out of the different four ball
games we played. Norman was a good club golfer with quite a few
trophies to his credit as it was in billiards. Quite early in his
golfing career he mastered the art of putting. He was exceptionally
good at it. He made a science of it and freely passed on his knowledge
to any one who he felt needed his advice. In later years he repeatedly
won many of the senior events. He had an approach to the game that
was a bit different from others of his age group. Those with health
concerns played the game at a lower tempo. Norman could not. Norman
was competitive and needed the challenge of a tough opposition to
keep him going. He pushed himself to the maximum and latterly quit
by the 14th or so when he could go no further. A gentleman to his
fingertips, Norman never varied his standards.