A remarkable man who was father to all
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this tribute to my beloved father-in-law Shantilal Wijesundere who passed away on November 19. Ironically, he was looking forward to watching the cricket World Cup final on that fateful day, a sport he was so passionate about though he didn’t make it to watch the match.
To even think that he is no more with us is heartbreaking though death is inevitable and was always looming.
We will remember him for who he was – kind, generous, brilliant, and so full of love. He was a genuine friend, devoted father and loving grandfather to Ian, Sahen, Gishen and Adya.
He touched so many lives with his kind and compassionate ways and though his lamp is out, its warmth remains. Fond memories of times gone by will forever be etched in our hearts.
He worked to uplift the lives of those who were around him, reached out to the less fortunate, and educated those who didn’t have the means. One such young girl who is now a doctor was seen weeping beside his coffin.
Thathi was a man of principles and family, generosity, friendship, and talent. Most of all, he was a man so full of love.
He lived his life to the fullest, selflessly dedicating his time at Lake House Printers and Publishers even after retiring as a Director and working as a consultant till his demise at 86.
He made an impression on everyone he met, making them feel like immediate and lifelong friends. Thathi enjoyed sharing meals at home with his dearest and nearest and was so full of jokes, pranks and laughter. He had an amazing sense of humour and had the ability to make anyone laugh with a prank until tears flowed, and then crack another joke in the midst of that. He was so witty and so full of character, always joking and trying to make everyone smile.
He was an extraordinary and proud old boy of S. Thomas’s College. Besides finishing up as a prefect in school, he was the captain of the 1957 hockey team which was one of the last the school produced. He was extremely proud of the fact that under his captaincy the Thomian team became champions .He also represented the school in swimming and won colours for fives (historically known as hand – tennis played in singles and doubles in either a three or four sided court).
As a Thomian and lover of cricket, it bothered him that there was no book written about the history of the 50 over ‘Mustangs Trophy’ series of matches between S. Thomas’ College and Royal College. He compiled this book with a detailed description of each match played, from the inception in 1975 until 2017 towards the welfare of both schools. The effort he would have gone through to reach out to many friends and their contacts of both schools and some of the old archives of Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. is commendable. He was extremely proud of the book when it was published.
I extract this quote from his book: “To me as a Thomian, the game is what is important and I hope this book will help the Royalists and the Thomians to be proud of their heritage and what their schools stand for in terms of tradition.”
Thathi also compiled over 10 editions of joke books. He dedicated them to his friends and family and made sure everyone had a copy. He was a man of creativity and skill in every sense. On the preface of the tenth volume of the last book on jokes he wrote:“The purpose of all these books was essentially therapeutic and prescribed by my doctor-brother (Ajitha) to alleviate stress and invigorate those who were in need of a ‘lift’ to their spirits! A day without laughter is a day lost, and my sincere wish is to get some humour out of life!”
The writing of the Tudugala Wijewardene book was probably the most interesting and noteworthy project he ever embarked on since there was so much research involved. He thoroughly enjoyed the process of working on this book. He would often drag his trusted staff and confidants to various cemeteries all over the country to trace a lost family and went to the extent of reading the tombstones to update this genealogy. He would call me daily with progress updates and would often tell me how he went from pillar to post looking for clues and found invaluable information about the Wijewardene clan that no one else would have been capable of tracing!
The night before he passed away, he told me that he is now unable to write books or research the way he did with that book. I comforted him saying, “Thathi, you have done your very best with every book you wrote being perfect and we will all cherish your work,” to which he smiled gently.
The true measure of a man is how much love he gives; how selflessly he shares whatever he can to help others; how consistently he lifts up those around him with a kind word, a funny joke, a compliment, a humble gesture. By this measure, our beloved Thathi was immeasurable.
Please rest easy Thathi, and may your samsara be short. We will now look for you in the rainbows because the last thing we admired in the sky with you by our side was a double rainbow.
Till we meet again, Niroshan and Maheshi
|To a loving Seeya
|“Although you are gone you will never be forgotten! When I gave my last hug to your cold body I muttered words of goodbye; Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un! (Indeed,to God we belong and to him shall be our return!” )
“I was so lucky to have the kindest, most loving and funniest Seeya in the world. I will miss you and will always remember you.”
“You were the world’s best, funniest, kindest grandfather. You loved cricket and ice cream but you loved us more! We love you up to the end of space and back Seeya.”