Fanny and Mavis Fernando were two sisters, my first cousins. They were exemplary teachers and shining examples of lovable siblings. They were always together working in harmony and were inseparable friends. They remained unmarried and got along very well, not only with each other but with every person who came to know them.
Both of them had their early education at Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena and after their professional qualifications decided to teach in the same school. They taught at GSC up to the time of retirement and continued teaching privately thereafter for several years. Hundreds of students would have passed through their benevolent hands whether it be English or Mathematics they learnt. They were both gifted with remembering names of students even after several years.
They were sociable and never absented themselves from attending meetings of past pupils, past teachers of GSC and also the alumni association of Aquinas College. Fanny incidentally taught at the Colombo International School and also at the Asian International School.
They were always present together at functions whether it be a wedding, a party or an anniversary. They were both empathetic towards friends and relatives when in difficult situations. Together they would attend funerals of known persons to console the bereaved. Fanny would go a step further in organizing and arranging help to those in need. She always had a ready smile at all times.
To me Fanny akka and Mavis akka were like my own sisters reaching out at every turn, very specially at my wedding, when Fanny organized the designing of the entire bridal ensemble. She knew offhand the names of people to be contacted for the various requirements that every bride has to go through whether it be clothes, flowers, shoes, invitations or decorations. I say a silent prayer for both of them when I recall these.
Mavis was more or less the house proud lady who used to run the household with ease and charm. She was like the “Martha” of the New Testament. She would see that all visitors (mainly Fanny’s) were entertained in a similar manner. The selection of food items, how they were prepared and how they were served were her sole responsibility. Fanny was the more sociable “Mary” of the house. She would keep everyone entertained and in good spirits till the very end. We felt being loved by both of them every time we met them Their wide circle of friends can vouch for this.
When Mavis passed away in November 2009, the younger sister Fanny was devastated. She felt lost in a sort of wilderness, unable to cope with a totally new situation without Mavis. Every time I called her over the phone she would say “Not too good, Julitta” but showed the outside world that she was calm and controlled – but not for long. Three and a half moths later, in early March 2010 Fanny passed away after a brief illness. It was too late when cancer was diagnosed.
God has been merciful to Fanny for He took her after a very brief separation from her beloved sister. Mavis I am sure would have been waiting to greet her.
They are now, I am sure, in Heaven happily serving Jesus.
There was perfect joy and beauty in the lives of this marvellous duo.
May they Rest in Peace.