An appreciation
Uthum Herat

What prophetic providence prompted his parents to give this tiny infant such a name at his baptism. - Uthum was his name and certainly he achieved great heights. I knew of his brilliant record at St. Thomas’s College, of his achievements at University and later his post doctoral degrees at Purdue Uni in the States. But of his brilliant fulfillment in the Central Bank, of the promise he gave, I came to know only after reading the many tributes of his colleagues. I knew that he was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and that only by reading of it in the newspapers. Not one word did he breathe that he had reached this pinnacle in his professional life.

But these great achievements sat oh so lightly on his slender shoulders.

Uthum means great or the highest – but though in his achievements he did reach great heights he certainly did not behave as others would have done had they reached this "uthum" state. "Nihathami" would have more aptly described his demeanor. Unobtrusive quiet and soft spoken he did not proclaim his views in a loud and obtrusive manner. Rather almost inaudibly and unhurriedly he would say what he had to say and yet, always commanded the attention of his audience.

In his official life he climbed the ladder of success with great alacrity. His ability was quickly recognized and his rise was swift. But he did not incur any animosity or jealousy because everyone knew that he did not go after the plums of office and that his rise was due solely to his ability.

My husband H.L.De. Silva was ill for almost a year before he passed away in April of this year. At first visitors were not allowed but when visiting was allowed – Uthum would come after a hard days work – and I now know that he would have left office early – when his habit was to work late hours – in order to come and chat to my husband. Though his physical body was weakening, my husband’s mind was still alert and his interest in the problems of our country was foremost in his mind. He would put probing questions to Uthum and eagerly awaited his replies and he so enjoyed the time Uthum spent with him – and he would say come again when you can. – and Uthum did come many times

He was a contemporary of my two daughters. When they were growing up the Youth Fellowship was defunct. Rev. Shelton de Silva in is dynamic way resurrected it and such a bond of fellowship grew among these young people – Gloria, Chrysanthi, Nirmali, Saliya, Siri, Osadhi, Nilmini, Lakmali, Charles (and maybe others whose names I now cannot recall) that though they grew up and went their separate ways, the bonds of friendship still held, helped in no small measure by the advances of modern communication.

Uthum had his own sardonic sense of humour and every year as we got ready for our trip to Australia he would say give my regards to the "Gruesome Twosome" but a lot of love was in the inflection of tone and the twinkle in his eye! And I would be so amused knowing how close was their friendship. It was heartbreaking for them to be so far away at the time of his illness though they knew that their being here would not have helped in any way to make him well.

His life was a dedication to duty be it to his family, the church or the nation. His family were proud of his achievements but being the silent type that Uthum was I am sure even the family were not aware what a gem of purest ray serene was shining brightly in their midst.

This small family church at Mt. Lavinia benefited most from his love and his giving of himself. As a Sunday School teacher where he molded young lives to walk the narrow way, to discussing with young teenagers the problems of growing up, to counseling not only the young but even the older folk, who knew that he had a mature head on his young shoulders, to preaching the Word the taking of Bible Studies, Sunday was set apart for the Work of God.

We cannot understand the ways of |God. We ask "why" – when he could have done so much more – for God’s church here on earth, for his country for his family to whom he was the rock, the steady staff on which they leant. But he has achieved in his short life, much more than others could have in a lifetime of three score years and ten. So we will say the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever. To Uthum’s family I will say the Lord will be your Shepherd – you will not want.

Manel de Silva

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