TRIBUTES | Page 2 | Sunday Observer


 Sheila Fernando:

A gentle person with tranquil mind 

Lilith Miriam Sheila Fernando (Nee Henry) passed away on April 12 on the same land she was born on 97 years ago in Bambalapitiya, Colombo. Sheila is now reunited with her parents, Gerard and Magdalene Henry, brother Merl, and sisters, Collinette (Colline) and Daria. Her loving husband of many years, Gordon, survives her.

At an early age, with the premature death of her father, Sheila was put in a position of helping her mother raise her younger siblings in what was a dire financial circumstance, pol sambol and rice for every meal, every day. This adversity, no doubt, shaped her, and had an influence on her outlook on life. She never spoke of it.

Sheila was a soft-spoken and gentle person having a calming influence on those around her. She had a devout and unwavering faith in Christianity, a rosary often beside her. Her memories of her early life experiences in her visits to the ancestral home of Boralessa – and its famed Passion Play by her uncle, Lawrence Perera – she could relate in detail with great relish. How, in the 1920’s, did he simulate lightning so dazzlingly on a stage? Were those real nails through Christ’s hands? The gasps of the audience! Sheila held all such vivid memories in her heart but told them to those who would lend an ear. Imagine her emotions when, in 2014, she visited Boralessa after an absence of about 85 years.

She was always impeccably dressed, such a sense of sartorial taste she possessed. Eclectic, anything she acquired – a glass vase, say –had to be scrutinised so that it was “just right”.

A talented and creative seamstress, Sheila worked at Harrods in London for a few years while supporting her brother Merl who was studying Accountancy. She had previously been in Oxford, England, supporting her sister Colleen’s family, by helping taking care of Colleen’s children.

Sheila will be dearly missed by her husband Gordon, and her nieces, nephews and relatives.

Sheila was laid to rest at the Borella cemetery on April 13.

Nihal Basnayake


Tinley Liewellyn Peiris: 

Beacon light in family

Ten years have passed since my Loku Bappa (my father Terence’s younger brother) passed away on June 7, 2009 at the age of 74.

He left this world to be with our lord almighty. He had a happy and contended life, and was a great strength and courage to his family.

He married Sudu Nanda (Ninette) in 1961. They lived an exemplary and happy wedded life for 48 years. They both enjoyed their life with the family. Sudu Nanda looked after him well until his end, and she was a loving and caring wife to Loku Bappa.

He was a loving father not only to his son, Ninesh and daughter Nilendrini, but also to Eromi and Kumar whom he never considered as in-laws. He loved his four grand children.

Loku Bappa had a great faith in God. After my father’s death, he visited me and my mother often and used to narrate old stories how God saved his life in many occasions. He played an active role in church activities.

At his young age, he offered his service to the Koralawella Methodist Church and later to the Rawathawatte Methodist church where he served as a circuit steward for some time. He too was a preacher. It was a great day for him when the church celebrated its 150th Anniversary on the same day of his 74th birthday. We never thought this would be his last birthday with the family. Along with Sudu Nanda, he was a member of the church choir too.

He encouraged me to write sermons and was happy to hear me delivering the word of God.

As a youth, he joined the Department of Motor Traffic in 1956 and at the time of his retirement, he was holding the post of Assistant Commissioner (Technical).

He had a love for vintage cars and took an active part in organising many old crock rallies and also took part along with Sudu Nanda in these rallies and won prizes. I remember both of them taking part in a rally dressed as a Hindu Bride and Groom just after their wedding.

May you rest in peace until we meet again on that beautiful shore!

Trishanthi Peiris Fernando


Marhooma Raihana Abusalihu:

Homage to a life well-lived

I do not write this in mourning, but in celebration of a magnificent soul and a wholesome life.

Nobody is perfect; my late grandmother, Marhooma Raihana Abusalihu, is no exception. Rather than striving for perfection, I believe that we must express and define ourselves through our interactions with others. To those of us who have had the privilege to know her, we know that this was the case with her too. She has changed our lives, inexplicably and irreversibly, turning all of us into a better version of ourselves.

Thinking about her often puts a smile across my face. She was an important presence throughout my childhood and teenage years. For some reason, thinking of her without that beautiful, warm and comforting smile isn’t possible. We were always welcome to her time, her counsel and her comfort, all things without which life would have been arduous and unenjoyable.

She was a good wife, a good sister, a good mother, a good grandmother and a good friend. I often recall upon my grandmother with a fondness that is impossible to recreate in any other situation. The experiences that she has left us with are wonderful ones.

I remember her from my childhood right up to this point in my life; a figure who has been an active person throughout all the highs and lows. We have shared our joys, our sorrows, our mistakes and our regrets with this mother, her child or not.

Her moral compass was unalterable, her actions driven by emotion, most commonly affection. Despite the sorrows that she has faced, the hardships that she has overcome, a smile was always alive on her face, a smile that has been burned in our memories, engraved in our minds, escaping the vacuum of time.

Despite my broken Tamil, my crude sense of humour, she would laugh her wonderful and unique laugh, showing her perfect set of teeth, appreciating me and my actions.

When I say that she was there for me, I mean it in a literal sense. She was there when I was born in Australia, came all the way from Sri Lanka to that previously foreign land, to be there for me and my mother; such was the person that she was: caring, considerate and helpful. The world is filled with people who nurture their egos throughout their lives from a very early age, plagued by their surroundings. I am proud to say that my grandmother was the very opposite. She held nothing to heart against other people, although she was never afraid to voice her opinion, another quality she embodied. Right until her last breath, she remained as she was from when I can remember, stubborn in her choice of doing good.

When most pass away, they cease to exist, but a few live on in the minds of the people whose lives they have touched. Her presence will be sorely missed by us and searched for. Although she has physically departed from us, my grandmother will continue to live in our minds.

It is said that good things end for better ones to start. Let us hope that her time here was good and her time in the hereafter better.

Iffat Azeez


Tissa Waidyarathna:

Guiding light in meritorious work

Tissa Waidyarathna of Maharagama passed away at the age of 88 recently.

He was a reputed Engineer attached to the Colombo Municipal Council. His father was an Aurvedic physician, Charles Waidyarathna of Kolonnawa and mother was Emali Perera.

An a devout Buddhist, he supported many Buddhist temples. He was the President of Sri Gnanarama Meditation Centre Development Society at Thalawathugoda and a Patron at Sangamitharamaya, Thalawathugoda. He had a good knowledge of “Abhidharma”. He was the Vice President of the Abhidharma Sabhawa at Borella.

His well-lived and fulfilled life is an example to all of us and fond memories of him will linger in our hearts forever. His life would be an influence us to carry out more social and religious work.

The flower blossoms and fades

The sun rises and descends

But the memories dignified and gracious

deeds and accomplishments of our friend

Would linger on never to fade away.

May his journey through Sansara be swift and short until he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!

A.D.T. Maithripala