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Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Open Letter to Razaque

To Razaque Ahamat

If I have spelt your name wrong, I know you will forgive a senior citizen.

I hope the atrocious winter weather of snow and storms in Dundee, Scotland didn’t dampen your spirit. You live in one of the most picturesque parts in the UK near the Highlands and Islands much closer to the Arctic ice caps than anyone else in our batch. With your affable manner and charm I am not surprised you have made friends in your neighbourhood who would offer you a whisky and company. After all, you are  in the land of the amber nectar. 

It seems so long ago we were fellow daily travellers from Hunupitiya to Maradana by train with ‘Claude’ Bernard. We never had the privilege to give our seat to a pretty girl as we never had a seat ourselves in all the 5 years. 

We three studied together in a class room at St Anthony's,  Wattala. As I have mentioned in this Blog before, you were there with us for the chat, sandwiches and Lanka Lime. When it came to reading, you quickly disappeared into the night saying you had an important appointment. I was the only non-old boy at your old boys lunch at St Anthony's. The three of us had an undignified exit from the event as we were carried like corpses to lie in the lawn outside until we sobered up.  I had to weave a complicated story for my parents to explain my unsteady gait and disheveled look. 

Being a Malay household, we enjoyed enormously your mum’s cooking. Although you never fasted during Ramazan you celebrated the end of the fast – Eid-Ul-Fitr with a huge feast with friends and family. The irony of it all amused us no end. Whenever I have watalappan, I am reminded of those wonderful Malay feasts of long ago. 

I recall the many Block Nights and Colours Nights when we enjoyed the evening with Claude Bernadr’s in-laws providing the food and drinks. We loved the good life, friendships and the camaraderie enormously. Those years as bohemian medical students are priceless memories. Time passed swiftly and relentlessly. It all ended with the Final year trip about which much has been written.  I wasn’t sober enough to recall any of it.  We bade our farewells in 1967 and our paths never crossed until we met again in the United Kingdom in the mid 1970’s. 

Life was hectic in the UK caring for our families and carving up a career.  Studying and examinations were an enormous challenge with a young family at home.  We overcame the odds and you became a haematologist and I proceeded to a life in radiology. Our paths crossed again when we met at the London reunion of our batch in the 1990’s.  You looked more rounded with your Scottish Kilt and it was a great privilege to meet Farina. After that brief encounter we parted never to meet again in person. I last contacted you when you were on a Locum tenens in Auckland, New Zealand, ebullient and full of life as ever. 

I am sorry to hear of your health issues but hope the pump, the electrics and the plumbing are functioning better now. I admire your light hearted attitude to the many adversities you have faced recently. You are indeed an inspiration to us. I hope the National Health Service will provide the comfort and the care you richly deserve. Keep writing Razaque as we love to hear about your perils and pleasures. Meanwhile, mind your fingers and don’t let them stray !! 

With my very best wishes 

Nihal D Amerasekera alias ND




  1. ND, You obviously had a great time with Razaque and CB. As I have noted befpre in these columns, I am full of admiration for the way Razaque is handling his health problems, a model for all of us in how to deal with unwanted visitors to our bodies. Thanks for your recollections.

  2. There has been no reply from Razaque for my open letter and the presumption is that he doesn’t use the blog and uploads information through Lucky Abey. It’s like whistling in the wind. What comes to mind is a Tom and Jerry cartoon, courtesy of Walt Disney, when Tom shakes Jerry and pleads with him “SPEAK TO ME PAL, SPEAK TO ME”.
    The emotions of dejection, disappointment and depression are not appropriate for a septuagenarian . But yet again they are all a part of the rich tapestry of life.
    Hence, I will retain those happy memories of years passed. Meanwhile may Allah give you strength and help you through adversity.
    May God Bless you Razaque

    1. It gave me great pleasure to speak with Razaque on the phone last night. He is full of the joys of spring despite the sweeping winds and the driving rain in Dundee. He will be replying my letter soon!! Razaque is an ardent fan and a regular contributor to the Blog.
      We started from where we stopped on that fateful day in 1967 and resurrected half forgotten memories of half a century ago. Having been a regular visitor to SL all through those years he knew much about people. Two of the medical students who travelled by train with us Ananda Cooray and Ananda Perera have both now crossed the vale. They both had the unenviable task of taking me home after the debacle of the Old Boys lunch at St Anthony’s Wattala. I will always remember them with much affection and gratitude.
      We spoke much about Maliq Jaimon and our bohemian lives together as students. I envy Razaque’s memory for those past events and the gilt edged details. It is always part of the fun to embellish them with gold. Time has robbed us of our youth but not our spirit. From where I am as I survey my life and that of my friends what amazes me is the awesome force of destiny.