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Thank you Sir for putting me through the university of life

Gilbert Paranagama

Tributes on his 100th Birth Anniversary

The year -1969. My employer – Whittall Boustead Ltd., managing agents for Estates. I, a mere “podian”was given my first charge as “Periya Dorai” on Cobo Estate, Badulla.

As an inquisitive youngster I made discreet inquiries and found that I had to report to the Director, Gilbert Paranagama, whom I had never met.

Within a few weeks I was informed that the Director would be visiting Cobo! Just a few days prior notice! Trepidation! Nervousness overtook me. My first “encounter” with my Director. What should I do? I could hardly think properly.

But my disordered nerves were put to rest from the moment I opened the car door for Mr. Paranagama. His smile, his gentle manner as his outstretched hand clasped mine, “Good morning, young man.” To me they were magical words, so gently said. From that moment on was born our wonderful relationship of admiration and respect.

Mr. Paranagama was not only my Director, he was also my mentor and friend. I learnt so much from him on how to manage life with all its challenges.

Honesty, reliability, responsibility, punctuality, kindness tempered with firmness, understanding concern for others and so much more. In short, Mr. Paranagama put me through the university of life.
Thank you, Sir, for the inspiring contribution you have made not only on my life, but, I am sure, on so many others too through your exemplary life.We can never thank you enough.

Sene Seneviratne

Loku Aththa, your spirit lives on in shared stories
Whilst Loku Aththa held many prestigious titles, it is his legacy of humility, honesty and progressive thinking that makes us the most proud.
Loku Aththa is fondly remembered by all who had the good fortune to cross paths with him as someone who was always respectful, empathetic and genuinely kind to everyone, regardless of their background or status. He embodied the fact that true greatness lies not in titles or positions, but in the way we treat others and the values we uphold.
As we remember Loku Aththa on this special day, we also reflect on the principles he lived by and we can only hope to emulate the positive traits that he embodied so effortlessly and continue to carry forward his legacy.Though we may not have had the opportunity to know Loku Aththa as well or as long as we would have liked, his spirit lives on in the stories and memories shared by family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched.

On his 100th birth anniversary, we celebrate not just the years he lived, but the enduring impact he has had on our lives and the lives of many others.
Loku Aththa, you are dearly missed, but your wisdom and love continue to guide us. Happy 100th birth anniversary, and may your legacy shine brightly in our hearts forever.

Lots of love from your granddaughters Lalindri, Ravindri, Suhanya and Wiranya


A caring doctor who leaves behind special memories and a legacy of love

Dr. Nilanthi Cooray

I had known Dr. Nilanthi for more than 40 years since her marriage to my cousin Frank.

Nilanthi was born in Moratuwa to a middle-class Catholic family.  Her siblings include an older sister and a younger brother. All three of them were studious.  Her parents, especially her father, was a devout Catholic and frequent visitor to St. Sebastian’s church in Moratuwa.

Up to grade eight, Nilanthi attended Our Lady of Victories Convent, Moratuwa and then joined Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya. She was accepted to the Medical College in 1972 and travelled daily from Moratuwa to the Medical College until she was able to get a place at the Medical College hostel.  She graduated in 1976.

Her career began as an intern at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo, where she worked for six months and she then spent another six months at the Castle Street Hospital, Borella, working with leading qualified senior doctors. In 1977, she married her lifelong friend, Frank Cooray, who was a Technical Officer in the Irrigation Department.  Her first appointment as a fully-fledged MBBS doctor was at the Narammala Base Hospital.  Thereafter she got a transfer to the Lunawa Hospital.

After serving the required number of compulsory years, she gave up her government job and started her own private practice.  This decision seemed a calculated risk as at that time Moratuwa had many reputed and recognized senior doctors such as Dr. Festus Fernando, Dr. Winston Perera, Dr. Cramer, Dr. Muthukumaru, Dr. Keerthisinghe, Dr. Guy de Silva and so on.  However, within a short span of time, Nilanthi was able to establish herself and by the time the senior doctors retired or left Moratuwa, she had become one of the highly recognised doctors in Moratuwa known for her diagnostic excellence.

The demands of work and bringing up two little daughters made it difficult for Nilanthi. To support her, her husband went on voluntary retirement after serving for 18 years at the Irrigation Department. He was just short of two years to qualify for the government pension.

In the prime of life Nilanthi was diagnosed with cancer. More time was spent in rest and prayer for a miraculous healing. She went to Lourdes in France, a place known for Marian worship, to fulfil a vow, after receiving the good news from Dr. S. R. Jayatilleke, who was her oncologist, that her cancer had disappeared. This was the first thing she wanted to do upon being miraculously healed. She got the green light from the doctor to fly.  After her cancer Nilanthi slowed down her practice and limited the number of patients per day.

Nilanthi was never interested in having a luxurious life or extra comforts like luxury cars or overseas holidays. Her life was centred around her family and her profession. She was a loving wife to her husband and devoted mother to her two daughters.   As time passed, spending time with her four grandchildren brought her great happiness.

Only after her death did most people come to know about her charitable acts of kindness and in treating the poor without charging a fee. At her funeral service, a priest who gave the homily mentioned how  students and staff of St. Sebastian’s College Moratuwa benefited by her treatment during their illnesses. It was only a matter of telling her husband who was now attached to the staff at the College and he made arrangements for them to consult Dr. Nilanthi on a priority line. There was no difference between a priest, staff member, member of the minor staff or a student  – all were treated free of charge.

Several priests (including Bishop Anthony who was a past Rector of the College) and Christian brothers who served the college attended her funeral. I am certain that they came not only to pay their last respects but also to express their gratitude for taking care of them during their time of illness.

In the latter part of her life, her health deteriorated and with the help of her domestic aide, she had chosen a saree and a blouse for her final journey, which she did not disclose to her family members.  When Frank came to know about it, he was upset and had asked Nilanthi what this was all about. Taking that opportunity she had given one more instruction to Frank, and that is that after she is gone, the gold chain she wore should be given to the domestic aide.  For her final journey she was dressed in that saree she chose and when everything was over the gold chain was given to the domestic aide.

She leaves behind so many special memories and a legacy of love.  May her soul rest in peace.

Ralph Gunawardena-

 Remembering our beloved malli/aiya and proud Richmondite

Padmakumara Nanayakkara

It is with a heavy heart, fond memories and love that we put pen on paper in tribute to our dear brother Padmakumara Nanayakkara fondly called Hinni malli/aiya, who bid farewell to us on July 17 last.

He was an obedient, much-loved son of the late Francis and Irene Nanayakkara of Galle, adored brother to his nine siblings, Vasudeva, the late Yasapalitha, Swarna, Ranjini, Lanka, Dharma, Hemakumara, Asanga and Nilmin, loving and caring husband of Irangani and much-loved and wonderful father of Sanjaani and Manilka. A sincere friend, relative, remarkable employer and celebrated planter of the Southern Province.

This product of Richmond College, Galle was a die-hard Richmondite until his last. He was passionately involved initially in the Old Boys’ Association of Richmond College and then in the Over Sixty Club of the College. As a young member of the college swimming squad, he took part in many a swimming gala. We recall with nostalgia how he gleefully brought home, to share with the family, a lovely box of British chocolates, the prize he won for coming first at one such gala.

His penchant for scouting made him take it very seriously and he did not stop short of becoming a Queen’s Scout of Richmond College, attending a jamboree in Pakistan when he was 16, no mean feat for a youngster, back then. Many a close relative did not favour the idea but our parents stood by him. He kept in touch with amma constantly, via mail throughout his voyage back and forth.

His final participation in a Richmond College event was the annual Richmond Mahinda cricket encounter, nicknamed “Lovers Quarrel”, last March, barely four months prior to his demise.

Hinni malli/aiya true to his fun-loving personality, joined his younger brothers and friends on a special coach ride to Galle for the match. Apparently, he had a jolly good time as done annually.

Popularly known as Padma, he, after his school career showed interest in planting, perhaps having seen our father who was a proprietary planter. Father found him a place at the Tea Research Institute in Galle where he learnt the basics of tea planting. After his stint at the TRI, father secured a place for him as a creeper at Thalangaha Estate which belonged to Carsons Cumberbatch, at the time. There he was directly under the then Manager, Noel Samarasinghe. He learnt the nuts and bolts of tea and rubber planting under Mr. Samarasinghe whom he held in high esteem. Until Mr. Samarasinghe passed away last year, he kept in touch with him. Padma’s Christmas visit along with his wife Ira, to see Mr. and Mrs. Samarasinghe was a ritual.

Having successfully completed his creeping, he came under our father’s wing, working in the tea and rubber plantations at Devagiri, honing his planting skills and learning business and management skills.

Padma, the talented tea and rubber planter, quite comfortably walked into our father’s shoes in June 1975 following his death. From then on, he managed our family property/company, Devagiri Plantations taking it to the next level. Devagiri began to be referred to as  a showpiece estate in the Galle District. He generously advised and helped those who sought his advice in running plantations and also in the manufacture of tea/rubber. His passion, commitment and hard work enabled him to declare good dividends to the shareholders, the family.

He held the position of President of Southern Planters Club, Sri Lanka Tea Factory Owners Association, Ex Planters Association and the Galle Cricket Club. He was also an executive committee member of Ceylon Planters Association representing Sothern Province Rubber Plantations. He also served as a director of the Sri Lanka Tea Board under Clifford Ratwatte. The creepers who came under his stewardship became successful planters. His contribution to the tea industry is noteworthy.

Hinni malli/aiya celebrated his 80th birthday last February with close family and friends. He was blessed with four loving grandchildren. During his brief illness, his daughter Dr. Sanjaani Chandrasekera was there like his personal doctor greatly supported by his son-in-law Dr. Madhanga Chandrasekera. His wife Ira together with his son Manilka, ably assisted by his daughter-in-law Mayanthi made sure he was comfortable and cheerful. His Man Friday Rasa deserves special mention for being there with him at his beck and call round the clock. During his short spell of illness, he so looked forward to having his siblings around and we were there for him constantly.

Despite the fact he was cremated within 24 hours as desired by him, the cross section of people affiliated to plantations, tea factory owners, tea and rubber brokers and tea exporters who were present at his funeral, bear testimony to the respect and admiration he earned in the tea industry. The old boys of Richmond College were present in full force to bid farewell to this devoted and staunch Richmondite.

May our dear Hinni malli’s/aiya’s journey in sansara be short and may he attain the deathless state of Nibbana in an early life.

His siblings

 The house is not a home without you

Piyaseelie Rajapaksha

It is now more than five years and one month since you departed from our midst on the peaceful early morn of July 1, 2018. You were alright the previous evening except for a mild discomfort of the stomach. I still remember the activities of the previous day. We got up together around 5 a,m. and you went to the kitchen and started making tea. I, as usual, opened the windows and put on the TV to listen to pirith and ‘Ahi passiko’ Dhamma desana.

We had planned to do some heavy work in the garden during the day with our former domestic aide Weerasekera and his wife Sriyani along with a few men to help.

After the work was over by 4.30 p.m. you suggested we consult a doctor due to your stomach being swollen due to a hernia and accordingly we went to the doctor’s. He was not there but his assistant having examined you, suggested you get admitted the following day to remove the fluid and all arrangements were made.

That night I awoke around midnight and I instinctively felt you were waiting for me to wake up. You asked me to chant pirith which we had usually been doing as we went to bed. I was perplexed as to why you would make such a request but chanted all the three suttas Maha Mangale, Rathana and Karaneeya metta suttaraya by memory. It seemed that when I was fast asleep you had been in pain and our daughter Sriyani had come and massaged some medicinal oil. Things seemed to ease after that.

When I woke around 4 a.m, I noticed your breathing was different – a ‘tic tic’ sound accompanied your breathing. I called our neighbour who came immediately to drive you to the hospital but alas, you left me.

I should have tried to invoke and influence your ‘chutieitta’ on some kusala karma which you had performed in your lifetime. We had performed a large number of kusala karma including pilgrimages to Dambadiva, sangeeka dhana etc. The Pali word chutieitta is the last consciousness of the dying person’s present life and is the one directly associated with rebirth.  Chutieitta links the present life to the subsequent birth by pattisandi vinnaya, the rebirth consciousness.

I remember you telling me that you would like to be born as a male in your next birth. I strongly believe you must have been born as a son to some fortunate parents and must be around four years old now.

You always told me you wanted to pass away before me as you did not know what should be done if I happened to die before you. I never responded to this query and you departed so suddenly. Life is miserable without your company. Having married in 1965, we lived together for 53 long years. I cannot stop thinking of you especially when alone at home. The house is not a home without you.

My beloved Piyaseelie, you have been a good daughter to your parents, a good sister to your brother and sisters, a good person to your neighbours and relatives,  a good mother to your daughter and a very good wife to me. I hope you will be a good human being to all living beings in the universe.

C.A.A. Gunarathne