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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering Bernard Randeniya

It's nearly 12 long years since our friend and colleague Bernard passed away. In this short essay, "ND" recollects his association with his bosom pal.

Bernard Randeniya – A Life Remembered
By Nihal D Amerasekera
At Medical College he was known as RADW Bernard. Although we were in the same year I got to know Bernard when my parents moved to his home town of Wattala in 1963. We travelled daily by train to Maradana with Razaque Ahamath. We began to study together for the intensely difficult 2nd MB examination and struck up a friendship which lasted a lifetime. During those heady days of our youth, there were many fun filled events like the Block Nite, Colours Nite and other Medical College functions. Those bring back numerous memories of music, dancing, fun and laughter. Bernard always featured in them prominently and never missed an opportunity to enjoy.
He immersed himself fully in the life of the University playing a full part in its activities, always. Bernard took part in the festivities of the infamous Law-Medical match with the rest of us. I recall with much fondness the camaraderie during a trip to Kandy with Bernard, Lucky Abeygunawardene, Sanath de Tissera and Lakshman Jayasinghe.  These are memories that will remain with us for many more years.
After Internship in Ragama he married Ranjani Wijetunge, his sweetheart from schooldays. I visited them when he was DMO in Rattota, MOH in Minneriya, Medical Superintendent in Kalutara and also when he was the Director of the Cancer Institute Maharagama. In this his final posting  I was immensely fortunate to be his host in England when he visited the UK for a Conference. Each time we reminisced at great length the good life in Medical College and the wonderful friendship we enjoyed.
Bernard was held in high esteem in the Health Service as one of its most colourful and successful managers, and as a man who led from the front and inspired all those who worked with him. His great professionalism was accompanied by an infectious enthusiasm for life and mischievous sense of humour. He used his charm and skills of persuasion to obtain expensive equipment for the Cancer Institute to benefit the numerous patients who came for treatment. Despite his achievements he was also a modest man, protective of his privacy, embarrassed by praise and with a deep aversion for publicity.
In early 1999 when we met up in Colombo, he gave me the sad news of his illness which proved terminal. I kept in touch with him and admire the courage which he showed until the very end. He passed away with great dignity in November 1999 at the age of 58 years. Bernard was a devout Catholic . His faith gave him great comfort during his final illness.
His cheeky grin and infectious laugh are precious memories for us all. Bernard was my best friend and I will miss him. He was far too young to leave us.
May his soul Rest in Peace.

1 comment:

  1. I, Zita, read this fitting tribute to our batchmate and friend Bernard Randeniya. I was so proud of his being there at the head of Cancer Institute. I remember how he treated my cousin, Rev Sis Sheila when she had cancer. I'll never forget his kindness to her and to the many patients I sent him. It is sad to lose our friends but if we think of them as people who played their part in this world, to the full and served human beings to the best of their ability they do not die in memory. They forever live in the minds of the people they served.