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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dr. Michael Satchie (USA)

By Dr. Sirry Cassim

To put pen to paper in writing an appreciation on the demise of a close friend is a sorrowful task. SATCHIE (Satchitananthan) and I entered the portals of our hallowed  school Royal College, Colombo way back in  1954. He was admitted to the Tamil stream while my admission was to the English stream. Fate had it that a last longing bond between me and Satchie covering  three score years was to commence in 1956 when we were absorbed into the same class. It maybe the not so vociferous nature of both of us could have cemented this friendship as Satchie was a soft spoken personality thus blending us together. Satchie was a genius in many aspects but never asserted this characteristic in him; he was also methodical in his ways. He had an unusual trait generally stepping out of line as many of us opted to do Geography as a subject and if my memory serves me well Satchie chose Greek as his subject and was the only one in our batch to do so. His versatility was proved that in spite of doing classics, he ended up being a doctor.

Satchie was an excellent swimmer. I reminisce with a touch of melancholy the days when Satchie and I used to go to the St Joseph’s College pool (as Royal did not have a pool then) for swimming, Satchie coming all the way on his push bike from his Wellawatte residence to mine at Colpetty to pick me up, and then I do the riding while Satchie is on the bar avoiding the watchful eyes of the cops. After a good swim at the pool we go back on the same route I getting off at Colpetty and Satchie pedalling all the way home to Wellawatte

Satchie had extraordinary literary talents as were exemplified in his poetry and anecdotes, and another outstanding strait that he possessed was a beautiful fist which we all envied. His calligraphic writing was quite exquisite. I have a treasured possession of a beautiful rendering in poetry he composed in 1991 in commemoration of the marriage of my daughter, a grand masterpiece reflecting the close friendship we bore through the several years. He was an excellent chess player and also a versatile cook.

Satchie opted to do Paediatrics as a career. He proceeded to the US. In my long association with him I observed he had a habit of coming up especially after graduation with some intriguing and problematic questions which often kept us dumbfounded and grappling for a reply. One instance he posed me being an eye surgeon, the question what types of dreams the people born blind do dream of. I was unable to find a suitable reply and threw this question to the audience during my Presidential address  at the College of Ophthalmologists. I still do not till this day have the correct answer. Satchie was very keen on music and his repertoire ranged from Classics to contemporary music. In those halcyon days he used to advise me on what type of  Hi Fi equipment I should invest on.

I last spoke to my close buddy Satchie about a month ago and I was sad to hear of his decision not to fight his illness which plagued him for sometime. His family life also had many a pitfall losing his father in the dark days of the 1983 riots. His brother, Dr.Harin, too predeceased him having passed away a few years ago after making a name in New York as a leading Paediatrician.

Satchie spent his retirement glued onto the computer and he used to call his room the Ashram. Many a time we had long conversations on the phone on the subject of religion where we had diametrically opposite views. I sorely miss those long discussions and friendly discourses that kept us glued to the phone for hours with Satchie,which will retain in my memory for a long time.

 Goodbye farewell my dear friend I will surely miss your grand association and warmth friendship in the years ahead.

I conclude this tribute to Satchie  with a befitting couplet  from Gray’s Elegy which our great teacher and icon at Royal,  the late Viji Weerasinghe taught us in his English Literature class which is etched in my memory.  

FULL MANY A GEM OF PUREST RAY SERENE

THE DARK UNFATHOMED CAVES OF OCEAN BEAR

FULL MANY A FLOWER IS BORN TO BLUSH UNSEEN

AND WASTE ITS SWEETNESS IN THE DESERT AIR

Thomas Gray

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