Tributes | Sunday Observer


Joy Gnanadurai

She sang for the Glory of God

Joy Gnanadurai answered her call, ‘when her roll was called up yonder’ on November 30, 2017. She was born on July16,1946, to James Ratnam Williams Jayaratnam and Joyce Jeyamani Chelliah.

Joy was a student of Chundikuli Girls’ College Jaffna. Her passion for music started early during her school days. She was quick to get through all the music exams of Trinity College of Music, which was the only foreign exam for western music at that time in Jaffna. Soon she joined her school and church choir. Due to her ability and experience in this field, she became the choir leader and started conducting choral festivals in Jaffna. Her family was all musicians and it was a treat to watch them ‘harmonize’ in singing during family functions. Joy married Richard Gnanadurai on September 20, 1975. They were blessed with a son Dhilan, who carried the baton from his mother and is now a musician in UK, training opera singers, church choirs and also conducting music classes.

After the war in 1990, the family moved to Colombo. Joy continued her career in music, teaching music, conducting choirs as well as being a church organist for Holy Trinity Church, Wellawatte, St Paul’s Church, Milagriya and a few other churches in Colombo.

Whenever she was requested to play at special functions, she always readily obliged and said, “It was for the Glory of God”. My children were sent to Joy for music lessons. I can proudly say, one of them won the All Island Prize at the Trinity College of Music examination, all due to Joy’s untiring efforts. This proved beyond any doubt that she was a professional. She took pride in her profession and was a teacher ‘par excellence’. I had no choice but to send my grandchild also to Joy for piano lessons.

Some of her brothers have already gone beyond the veil, namely, Dr Joe, Fredrick and Festus. She leaves her husband Richie, son Dilan, daughter in law Sabeena and siblings, Gerald, Anton, Dharman, Grace, Yoges and Ruby.

Now Joy must be singing ‘It is well with my soul’ with the Lord. May she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.


Chelvam Ariaratnam

Darryl Selliah

Stood for equality and dignity

I got to know Darryl Selliah, fondly called Uncle Darryl by those of our vintage, in year 2000, through his daughter.

My first meeting with uncle Darryl was striking - a lean face of fine fettle, with deep-seated, intelligent eyes, crowned with a halo of thick white hair, he was the very depiction of the ‘gentleman of the day’. A hand extended in greeting, he was warm and friendly, welcoming a stranger in that manner only a fellow Sri Lankan would know. Whether at home or at a function, or on a casual visit on many an occasion to our place, Uncle Darryl was tidily and immaculately dressed. Always presenting himself with a certain casual elegance, he was one of those brought up in that golden era of Sri Lanka, when common courtesies, fine manners, eloquence and a gracious demeanour were the mark of a fine background.

As I got to know uncle Darryl, I came to appreciate fully, the fine human qualities that lay underneath that elegant exterior. He stood for the concept of equality and dignity of all human beings. Uncle Darryl backed those at the receiving end of the never-ending power struggle, be it societal, domestic or institutional. He hated to see injustice, and it was never in him to either turn a blind eye or shrug off the plight of those subjected to any form of injustice. With the easy command of high- flown skills in Sinhala and English languages, deep knowledge of politics, world affairs and corporate law, uncle Darryl put pen to paper without hesitation, often placing himself in jeopardy, to support the stand against injustice.

The fierce passion for justice and equality often did get Uncle Darryl into trouble. He was the President of the Bank of Ceylon Branch Union and Senior - Vice President of the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union, who fought untiringly for several salary increases, medical, pension and other benefits which earned him much respect by all in the Banking sector.

His fierce passion to fight injustice often got him into trouble with his management. The Management, in reciprocity of his rebelliousness, kept him down. Yet, Uncle Darryl carried on regardless. At his demise, The Bank of Ceylon, Kandy, flew a banner over their threshold, in reminiscence and appreciation of this massive futuristic accomplishment for his fellow colleagues. When uncle Daryl was around, there was never a boring moment. He was often the life and soul of the party, being blessed with a fine voice, a wicked sense of humour and blazing wit! Those witty jokes were – just- Darryl jokes. “Gnanam” he called out to his beloved wife, hearing her going hammer and tongs in a session of prayer over the phone - “I thought you were commissioning a building constructor!” At our parties or gatherings he was always there, leading the singing with zest, zeal and gusto.

Even in his last moments, I saw him thrilled with Strauss’ waltzes and commented how healing music was to the soul. He was a fountain of knowledge.

I would spend hours debating and discussing topics of history, politics, religion, community, with him. His faith in His Lord was deep and quiet.

He would often dissect a piece of writing or political reporting to pieces and eloquently present his own analysis. He was his own person- confident in himself and his abilities, and refused to jump on any old bandwagon, be it faith-based or otherwise. His conclusions and loyalties were well considered and placed.

He suffered no fools, selecting his inner circles with a care, but beheld and embraced humanity with a great sense of equanimity and servitude.

Lovingly remembered by his loved ones, we treasure his memory; as to lose him was to lose one among millions. Rest in Peace, dearest Uncle Darryl.

Dr. Beatrice Manel