ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

For the good times and a good friend

Lee Madawala

My friendship with Lee began in the early seventies when we were both planting in the Bogo Valley. Our families were very young then and when I think back I can truly say that those were the happiest times in our lives, where we lived our lives to the fullest.

In the late seventies Lee was transferred to Agrapatane and I left planting and secured employment in Colombo. In the eighties we became colleagues in the ADA and subsequently in the State Plantations Corporation under General Ranjan Wijeratne.

Lee was a wonderful colleague, always full of advice and encouragement. When I was appointed as Chairman of Hingurana Sugar Company, Lee came in to my office and offered me his good wishes and advice. He ended up by saying “Hingurana is a tough job but you are going to be alright”.

A few years later, when he was appointed as Chairman, State Plantations Corporation, I called to congratulate him. He thanked me for my good wishes and said “what ever happens I am still the same old Lee Madawala, for we have shared the same plate of rice.”

He was a man of even temper; however one thing that riled him was dishonesty and lies. I have seen him in such moods on three occasions, at SLSPC. Honesty was synonymous with Lee.

In the process of children growing up, getting married etc., we didn’t meet as often as before. But whenever we met, Lee and I would pick up from where we left off and so would our wives, Maya and Lucky.

He was an excellent husband and doting father. To Lee, his children’s achievements were absolute joy. His only daughter Ianthe was a fine athlete at Bishop’s College, and the three boys Nishan, Naveen and Praveen were champion swimmers at S. Thomas’ College. They all excelled in academics too.

If the children were the gems, his wife Maya was the jewel in his crown. No conversation was complete without a reference to Maya. I am glad that not so long ago, my wife, son, his wife, children and I visited Lee and to our joy little Ianthe who has grown to be a pretty young lady was there with her two little daughters on holiday from the US.

Lee’s happiness could be seen from his face, as he beheld his grand children. He was jubilant when Ianthe told us that she and her husband were building a house in close proximity to Lee’s and that they would be leaving the US for good, very soon. We were very glad that Ianthe had learned to value close family ties at this early stage.

Looking around at our grand children (his & mine) Lee said, “Shiran, this is my joy, my children are doing well, your Lasantha is doing well. We have achieved our goals, I am not very well but I am very happy and ready to go”. It would have been a premonition that made him say it because that was the last time I saw him alive.

Both Lucky and I were devastated when we heard the news of his sudden demise. But we were consoled when Maya told us that he had not suffered for long. Also he had his dearest wish come true, for Ianthe and her husband with their kids were settled in their new home and Lee was able to spend as much time as he wanted with his grand children.

His eldest son Nishan and his wife too had come from the USA for a holiday and were staying with them. According to Maya, Lee had been able to spend quality time with his children, I am sure this is how he would have wanted to go. Maya, you will feel the loss no doubt but if it would console you, can I say that Lee’s life was not in vain.

Lee, my friend, I will not say ‘Good Bye’ but ‘Au Revoir’, till we meet again on that beautiful shore.

Your brother in spirit, Shiran

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.