Hareen De Sarams first death anniversary falls on the 21st of May eight days before his birthday. I first got to know him when I married one of his many aunts in 1966. As he belonged to a generation younger than I, and his father was a strict conservative, Hareen had to keep his distance and we did not associate as friends on par till much later. But as time went on it so happened that we had several mutual friends and started to meet more and more often, my own circle of friends expanding due to his immense popularity. He was in fact a bonding agent among his friends whom he loved and entertained to the full.
He had an uncanny sense of humour mixed with Christian philosophy that kept everyone around him in good cheer. Whenever I felt depressed for whatever reason, I found refuge and solace meeting him and always left his home happy.
He carried no malice towards anyone. Try as much as did his friends to annoy or pull his leg with practical jokes, he would come back with a devastating and hilarious repartee. There was no rancour whatsoever in him and he had the capacity to laugh at himself.
Hareen was honest in all his dealings and never deviated from the truth. He always treated the truth as sacred and for nothing in the world would he compromise the truth.
His sense of responsibility too was quite high. My daughter Prabhashini and her husband Chaminda had developed a close friendship with their "Hareen Aiya", and he was their first choice as god-father for their first-born son. Hareen very politely declined explaining that he will not be able to fulfil the promises stipulated in the prayer book and did not wish to trifle before God. He however kept himself informed of their progress and called for pictures of Prabhashini and the family whom he was fond of, even from his sick bed.
He always had a marked concern and consideration for his late mother, siblings and their families, who in turn loved him immensely. When Hareen returned from the States in April 2002, he knew that the condition of his ailment was quite serious, but did not divulge it to the others because his sister Sriyani too was on the sick list and needed surgery. So he waited to see her recovery before telling them of his own deteriorating condition.
His sisters, Sriyani, Siromi and Srimani and their families and all his
many friends whom he loved so much and cared for, had to helplessly look on when all the
known medical treatment in the world and their prayers had failed. In his last stages he
did fight valiantly to recover but his Maker had other plans for him and took him away
from us one year ago. He has left behind a sweet fragrance that will linger in our minds
for the rest of our lives. May his soul rest in peace!
The sudden death of Gulam, known affectionately as "Thosai Thamby" to his friends, came as a shock to all who knew him as some of us had met him and spoken with him just a couple of days before he got himself admitted to Hospital for gall-bladder surgery. When I met him at the Marga Institute just three days before the sad news was broken to me by his alter-ego Fonny, Gulam was his usual ebullient self, cracking jokes, characteristically targetting himself, intoning that he was keen on going through surgery despite the risks involved as he fervently believed in the quality of life in preference to going through a flat existence. This was typical of his irrepressible personality. Although not known to be a habitual risk-taker, I felt that this time around he played for high stakes quite deliberately, all the time being fully aware of the untoward possibilities that lay ahead.
I first got to know Gulam in the nineteen fifties at the Peradeniya University where we were hallmates at Arunachalarm Hall. He and Fonny earned notoriety in the Hall for their hilarious antics. Fonny was a good foil for him with his biting wit regaling us all the time with the episodic adventures of Thamby, which were mostly of the Manchaussen variety. It was high fun at the best of times at Peradeniya. Any cause celebre at A Hall had at the top of the Agenda, dumping Gulam in the pond followed quickly by Fonny. Some of the residents of the Hall during these years were the late W. P. Gunatilleke, J. B. Dissanayaka, Sivalingam (Gulams room-mate who quite unprovoked and unexpectedly, broke an egg on Gulams head whilst he was deeply engrossed reading some interesting material!) Srinihal Wadugodapitiya, Galba Seneviratna, Visvanathan, P. Weerasinghe, Dudley Wijesiri, Sarath Amunugama, Walter Fernando, Mervyn Wijesinghe, Dudley Dissanayaka, Weeraratna (Trolley), Mervyn Weerasooriya et alia.
Preethi Jayaratna, another soul-mate of Gulams from Peradeniya days, was sadly away in Australia at the time of his death. She is one who will feel his death very deeply. They were all Gulams close friends as were many others in the Hall and on the Campus. His beloved Mallika, his companion on the long road, was again a contemporary of his at Peradeniya, where the liaison was quite a juicy romance at the time. Mallika was indeed a ministering angel to Thamby and whilst having a steadying influence on him, looked after him devotedly right through their happy wedded life. Once he got into public life, he enlarged his circle of friends and counted amongst them many from different walks of life.
Gulam was the eldest of highly respected Tamil Christian parents. His father, the late Dr. H. W. Tambiah was a legal luminary widely known for his well researched works on the Legal Systems of Ceylon. He retired as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. He thereafter functioned as the Chief Justice in Sierra Leone where he was regarded in high esteem for delivering an adverse judgement on a case involving high Government authorities and catching the first available plane back to Sri Lanka thereby escaping the wrath of the powers that be.
Gulam hero-worshipped his father and friends and acquaintances were often at the receiving end of tiresome details of the latters numerous writings and judgements from the Bench cited in the NLRR. Although Gularn never aspired to reaching the academic heights of his father, nevertheless he had many admirable accomplishments in his own right. After a brief spell as an Assessor in the Department of Inland Revenue he had a long and successful career as the Principal Advisor on Taxation to the Government of Swaziland. He gave his two daughters, Nadija and Maheesha a sound education in the U.K. and saw them married and settled well in life.
Gulam was a God fearing person and remained a good Christian throughout his life. He was a person not given to worrying too much about anything. He exuded jollity and lightheartedness with his very presence, wherever he went.When he did worry about his illness it was more out of a sense of anxiety and concern for his family rather than for himself.
On their return from Swaziland, Gulam and Mallika built themselves a
comfortable residence at Kotikawatta where Gulam was able to lead a life of otium
cum dignitate, surrounded by relations and friends, his books and his music. I feel
this is how he wanted his life to quietly unfold itself at the end.
Mrs. Sita Delgoda
a flower that bloomed in Sabaragamuwa was untimely snatched away by her maker with many more years of life to go. Unlike what GRAY said " Born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness in the desert air" the fragrance spread not only all over the island but also in many countries where she accompanied her husband. ,
Nalin Delgoda an old Josephian; athlete and soccerite and a younger son of an eminent lawyer and a laird of a distinguished Walawwa of Ratnapura espied this young damsel and the cupids arrow soon penetrated their hearts and were soon husband and wife. Nalin terminated his career at Aquinas University College and joined the Police as a young officer to be elevated to the post of Deputy Inspector General of Police where he served in Colombo, Western Province North, Uva Range and Southern Range. The key factors for his rapid rise was that he belonged to a class of Officer and Gentleman, which has now faded away from the forces. Their service was confined to justice, fairplay, honesty, integrity and especially understanding of human nature and feelings.
The steps of each rung that he climbed took them to all parts of the island. They had to participate in various public and private functions. Met people of different walks of life which included superiors, colleagues and politicians some who admired, tolerated or detested. Sita in her inimitable ways was besides Nalin giving all the encouragement. The perfect hostess who entertained lavishly and ungrudgingly. My wife and I have had may occasions to taste the spread on their table, a great tribute to her compared to any renowned Chef.
Their happiness was tenfold when they brought forth two young men whom they nurtured with great care and sent out to the world. Today, the elder married and much to their joy brought forth a pair of twins and another. The younger found a partner with their blessings and is about to tie the nuptial knot. It was unfortunate that Sita will not be there to see them walk down the aisle. Unfortunately the creators choice was otherwise and her mortal body was turned to ashes.
The large and distinguished crowds that visited their now darkened home
and the cemetery bore ample testimony to how they lived and how they were loved. It is an
irreparable loss not only to Nalin, Nishantha, Rajitha and sister Ranjani but also to
everyone who knew her. May the wind carry her ashes and spread the goodwill, friendship
and love she lavished during her short tenure of life.
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