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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Remembrance of Our Mates

It is almost an year since Priya passed-on and I thought that I would pen a few words in remembrance of this sad event. I promised her dear husband Chula to do so at the time when I sent him our condolences. Unfortunately, family health issues overtook me during the period straddling 2014-15 and I was unable to do so. This would be an appropriate time to say those few words at the First Anniversary of her passing on and at the same stroke of my pen to remember other mates who have passed-on. Also recently our Zita after her meeting with Malkanthi in London  made a comment to a reply by me in our Blog that it was fortunate that I met Priya for the last time in 2007!! It was fortunate indeed that I met up with all those mates of mine  at the time.
We first met at Med School in 1962 when we were 'wide eyed freshers'  although I had some insight to Uni. life in the preceding year in the 6-Months !st MB Course. Priya and I knew each other, but rarely did we chat with each other. When we met in passing it was just an exchange of greetings dependent on the time of day. Do not get me wrong, I am NO misogynist.!! This association with Priya now reminds me of Scottish Folk / Country Dancing where the dancers change partners in the process of dancing say "Hello" to the new partner and "Good- bye"  to the former!!! So it was a case of "Hello --- Good - Bye" in our case and that was pretty much all we said to each other in all those years @{ Med School and we went our own ways after graduation. That was till about 3 decades later when our paths crossed again during the 35th Reunion at Hikkaduwa 1997!!!  

It was when we embarked into the busses in Colombo that our paths crossed & 'friendship' rekindled. I got into the bus and as fate had it, there was an aisle seat available and I sat there next to Priya. We instantly recognised each other at this chance meeting and after usual pleasantries of our batch--  of hugs, she said "Razaque, you look well but for some grey hairs on the side- burns" At first I was taken aback that she knew my name without any prompting & then I replied "You too look the same Priya, but for a bit of greying -that must be must be 'high-lights'.... eh" She replied "NO"!!--- quite firmly and said "They are real. It looks as only you & I are growing old GRACEFULLY and WELCOME TO  VANITY FAIR" We had hearty laugh and continued our journey to Hikkaduwa talking about our "spouses / spices" and our kids' achievements and antics in school and outwith school. That was a chance meeting with Priya after about three decades following those glorious years as a Med Students!!.After the Reunion we parted company and lost touch for another decade. In the interim, I had taken early retirement from the NHS and gone to New Zealand as Transfusion Medicine Specialist & Director at NZBS, Auckland. I was in touch only with Luckey of our batch as it was at the beginning of  the 'Internet explosion'.!! I returned to UK in 2006 after about a 7-year stint in NZ. It was time again for the next Reunion. This was the time I came into contact again with Priya via email as she was a major player on the Organizing Committee of the 2007 Reunion at Cinnamon Lodge. We met again at this reunion and "took-off where we left off".

We all had a great time @ Cinnamon Lodge meeting up with a host of mates I had not met for decades!! It was the occasion that we met Chula, Priya,s husband for the first time and my wife commented later --"What a wonderful couple they are". 

Following this Reunion  Priya and I were in e-mail contact as a way to communicate news. Then in 2009 my wife &  I had to undergo very major Cardiac Surgery and there was a great sense of family un-certainty & "End is Nigh" feeling that was in prevalence in the mood of the family at that time. The reality was that the family could have lost both their parents in the course of 10-weeks!!! That would have been a tragedy by any standards!! Somehow we managed to ride out the 'hurricane' and come out of it with somewhat minimal  consequences. Shortly after this was the preparations for the 2012 Reunion when Priya as one of the Organising Committee was in touch with me promoting the event. I informed that we would not be able attend this landmark event as much as we would have liked to, as we were recovering from the afore mentioned health issues. She was extremely supportive and it was at this juncture that she disclosed the predicament that she was in!!. Having had experience in treating patients in my speciality with similar medications that she was on, I was very well aware of the side effects that  I would not wish on even my worst enemies of which I have none!! As we both knew the seriousness of the situation, the only thing I could do was to reciprocate her kindness she accorded me and support her as much as I could. I was well aware of the mood that may have prevailed in the Priya-Chula household. It was this mutual understanding of our circumstances that led us to be more as 'Soulmates' in addition of our friendship as Batchmates!!.

She sent me some photos of the 2012-Reunion and in one she identified her as " the third from left WITH GREY HAIRS" ---- she must have written that with her usual CHUCKLES or maybe even CHORTLES?? I very much regret that I was unable to attend this occasion to meet her for the last time!!

At this juncture I wish to note that after the announcements of Obituaries in the Blog there is a flood of messages of out-pouring of grief from our mates who just 'come out of the woodwork' and a few days later all go into their 'dormant domain' only to reappear to at the next bereavement announcement!!!!. As such I wish to think of a few of my mates and colleagues who have departed  at this point. Firstly, Sunna de Silva a close friend and batchmate, then a classmate,schoolmate & latterly a batchmate in Bernard Randeniya, with whom I did a lot of studies together at school and latterly along with ND (still alive,'active and well) in Wattala!!! I was very close to Russell Paul from our 6-month Course days when he use to pick me up from home in Wattala and go Gampaha at the invitation of Siri Waidyaratne from the 6-months batch (now in a GP in NZ), along with a number of other mates to spend the day at the Botanic Gardens & visited St.Jude Church-- for the Desperates !!!. Of course I cannot forget the recently departed Malik Jaimon, a batch mate, member of the same community and latterly a relative by marriage when I married his cousin, Farina .I have not forgotten the other members of our '62-Batch such as Dawn, Sidath, Michael Satchi, Rajalaxshmi Sivaguru, 'Smiler' Sivakumar, Punsiri, BL & Lucien Perera,whom my last fond memory awas him breaking into song on the return trip from Cinnamon Lodge  and not the least that impish Veda. amongst all the other departed mates. I know I have missed out on some of my departed colleagues -- I am sorry my memory has let me down -- my apologies. Also there are three of my junior batch mates in Ananda Cooray who was also my class & school mate, Ananda Perera (latterly a Brig. Gen. in the SL Army Medical Corp) & Jayasinghe (a childhood Polio victim) -both schoolmates.
 We should at least occasionally pause a moment in their memory of the great times we had in those few years together at School & Med School.  

 May they all attain Nirvarna / Heaven /Jannah according to whatever religious persuasions they belonged to. In any case, if the above destinations are not "available" they will am sure be having a jolly good time in ETERNAL ELYSIUM, toasting us the LIVING of this uncertain WORLD of OURS --to join them in the JOLLIFICATIONS!!!!. 

RAZAQUE AHAMAT

Blog Administrator's note: Today's Sunday Times (published in Sri Lanka) carries two appreciations. One on Priya by her sisters (Rani, Rohini and Srini) and another on Vedavanam by our own ND Amerasekera.

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151004/plus/appreciations-2-166614.html



The appreciation on Priya appears in today's Sunday Island as well.

32 comments:

  1. Razaque
    Thank you for remembering our dear departed friends. It is our thank you to their contribution to our lives in those magical five years. Then building careers and bringing up families took over our lives. But those memories have stood the test of time.
    ND

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  2. One day we shall die. But all the other days we shall be alive. Despite the bad prognosis let us make the best of the rest of our lives. Cannot think of a guy more positive than Razaque.
    God Bless you my friend.
    ND

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  3. Razaque, that was wonderful! I was fortunate to meet Priya during the 50th anniversary celebrations and had many opportunities to talk to her about life, friendships and what matters in our relatively brief span of existence. She was wise, brave, thoughtful and all in all an exceptionally lovely person. I shall always remember her with a great deal of affection.

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  4. Thank you ND & Mahen.
    Cannot agree more on your comments, Mahen. She was indeed a very brave thoughtful, wise. witty and very affectionate Lady. The comments that you & I have mentioned above is only a very mild testimony..
    May she attain Nibana.
    Razaque..
    .

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  5. Razaque
    Yes, you did miss out a few names of those dear departed. But that is excusable as our memories have had enough remembering the small print in the Cunninghams and the drugs,dosages and side effects in D.R Laurence Pharmacology. I remember Tudor W as we worked together in Surgery in Kurunegala. He was a fun loving character who would do almost anything to help a friend and always a fearless ally. After lectures Tilak Dayaratne gave me a lift to Nugegoda in his shiny red Ducati. Although reclusive he was kind and generous and a wonderful friend. I just picked out 2 from our past as they rarely get a mention despite their contribution to our lives long ago.
    ND

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  6. There are many more. The full list:
    1. S.R. (Sunil) de Silva
    2. A.R.K. (Russel) Paul
    3. Dawne de Silva Paul
    4. Bernard Randeniya
    5. Niriella Chandrasiri
    6. V. Ganeson
    7. L.G.D.K. (Irwin) Herath
    8. V.Kunasingham
    9. B.L. Perera
    10. B. Somasunderam
    11. K.Sunderampillai
    12. Tudor Wickramarachchi
    13. K.N. (Kiththa) Wimalaratne
    14. Anna Ponnambalam Sathiagnanan
    15. A. Satchitananda
    16. N. Sivakumar
    17. T.A. Dayaratne
    18. Sidath Jayanetti
    19. N. Balakumar
    20. Kamali Nimalasuriya de Silva
    21. K. Sri Kantha – 15.9.13
    22. P. Lucien Perera – 14.6.14
    23. Priya (Gunaratna) de Silva – 8.10.14
    24. Arul (Sivaguru) Balasubramaniam – 15.10.14
    25. W. Punsiri Fernando – 15.11.14
    26. W. Rajasooriyar – 6.1.15
    27. M.P.C. Jaimon – 26.3.15
    28. S. Vedavanam – 1.7.15

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    Replies
    1. The list is getting longer every time I look at it.
      Life is an illusion.
      ND

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    2. Luckey,
      Thank you for the up tp date list. At the time I wrote the Blog Posting, I did not have the whole list in my fading & faded memory. Also my computer was 'playing silly buggers'. It crashed 8 times before I FINANLLY got this 'version' completed to my relief!!
      Now that I have the details , I could pen a few lines of REMEMRANCE at leisure. Thanks once again, Luckey.

      Razaque

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  7. Bobby Somasunderam had a batch get together in his own home near Manchester. It was well organised and well attended. We had a great time with sing songs and plenty of chat. Sydney Seneviratne attended and also Mahendra, LPJM, N Balakumar and many others. Soma was a great smiler and was full of laughs.
    ND

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  8. I remember that occasion well ND. In fact I posted a picture in 2012

    http://colombomedgrads1962.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/e-mail-and-photo-from-speedy.html

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    Replies
    1. Saw the photo. What a wonderful memory of friends and friendship. We cannot recreate that again as some have left us. Reminds me of Joni Mitchell's song about life's illusions
      ND

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  9. Razaque, that to me is a touching, heartfelt appreciation and remembrance of our dear departed batch mates remembering the golden moments you had with them especially Priya.
    I met Priya at the 2012 get together. I heard about her illness. When I spoke to her I did not have the courage to mention her illness. How DOES one do it! It is so sad, so unthinkable. But then hardly any time afterwards I heard the final news of her demise. In the meantime she and I had exchanged photos of the get-together and had friendly email conversations. This is life. And we are all at that time when we have to keep this fact of the end in view. I don't mean 'be miserable' We have to be so happy we have had such a wonderful life. We had one another's company in real life and through the pages of our dear Blog. So let's hold our heads high and walk tall!
    All the best to you Razaque, your family and all my dear friends in the batch.
    from Zita

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Zita.
      This posting was rather hurried in view of the computer issues I had when preparing this POST.. More importantly was the comment you made "You were fortunate that you met Priya in 2007" in response to one of my 'comments' This was one of the triggers that egged me on for this post.
      Now that I have the 'whole up-to-date list', I can pick one by one and write how my relationship was with each of them was!!!

      Razaque

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  10. Looking at this list, I want to talk of one of them, Ganesh. Dear, dear Ganesh!
    He was my good friend during the batch and before that at the Central Bank while waiting to get into Med School, and thereafter if he ever saw me at a party or anywhere, he would spring up from nowhere with a yoo hooo! and such friendliness that all the months and years melted away. His smile was unique. You always felt happy in his company. I am so glad we all had his company and those of all the wonderful batch mates on this sad list provided thoughtfully by Lucky. Now let's appreciate the company of those we still are lucky to meet and chat with, according to the good advice given on our blog by Sriani.
    Zita

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  11. Mahen & ND,
    I was at that Bobby Soma's party TOO. Made a 900-mile round trip from Aberdeen to Cheadle and back -- without a change of clothing IN 36 HOURS --BY BUS!!! If you two missed me "SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SPECKSAVERS" -- even better GONE to OUR ZITA!!
    Shall elaborate further in my next Posting

    Razaque..

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  12. Razaque
    We saw your unmistakable frame in the photo that Mahen posted on the Blog. It certainly did smell like 36 hours!!
    ND

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    Replies
    1. Razaque
      You know I am joking. I can only use such language with friends like we have been. Friendships we made in the Faculty are priceless. I can only emulate a small fraction of the fun that Claude Bernard generated during those wonderful years together. Laughter then was endemic. I can still see Bernard's murky smile after some mischief and hear his guffaw.
      ND

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    2. Razaque
      You know I am joking. I can only use such language with friends like we have been. Friendships we made in the Faculty are priceless. I can only emulate a small fraction of the fun that Claude Bernard generated during those wonderful years together. Laughter then was endemic. I can still see Bernard's murky smile after some mischief and hear his guffaw.
      ND

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    3. ND,
      As you say, I HAD a large frame -- after losing < 6 stones recently. yet have broad shoulders!!!
      I have taken all sorts of comments thrown at me all my life on my 'broad shoulders' & so, why not now??--- in through one ear & out of the other and does not stick anywhere in between!! ! DIN'NAE WORRY MATE.
      'Words like SPIT -- once out cannot be retrieved'

      RAZAQUE ----- Speedy's SUBSTANTIAL friend

      Delete
  13. Razaque
    I wish you well. You've always had broad shoulders and a heart of gold.
    ND

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  14. ND & Mahen,
    Come to think back on it at Soma's party there were better things to recollect on ie. the purpose-Bar built in his living room where he placed the two bottles of Malt I got him ( - not malted milk!!),, besides the wafting of my "36-hour SMELL"!!
    On hindsight, I now wonder if I did him and his family a favour???
    Also you may recollect the HOPPERS<.EGG-HOPPERs & SEENI_SAMBOL Breakfast laid on for us by his perfect hostess of a wife,
    One of the SASSANKS at the party, I remember wanted to have good Malt with a mix and was asking for COKE-- if in Bonnie Scotland, he would have got same treatment that William Wallace got!!!........ Drawn & Quartered!!!.
    That occasion at Cheadle was the very first time I met so many of my batch-mates in one place for almost two and a half DECADES since leaving Med School.
    Following that was at the 1992 Reunion in LODON where, you may recollect that most of us in UK met up again.

    Razaque

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  15. Yes I do recall the fine hospitality and the gorgeous food laid out by Soma and wife. Subsequently Soma did Psychiatry locums near to where I live and came home for dinner a few times. I did visit him in his hospital flat when we both drank far too much. We were both young then and our livers were in far better shape. I drove to Cheadle with LPJM who is now leading a quiet life. He lives 20 minutes away from me and we last met about 6 months ago.
    ND

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  16. When I heard of Soma's demise, I felt a tinge of guilt in my heart that I may have contributed to the events that followed, albeit that happened years later!!
    May his soul rest in peace, be it in ELYSIUM
    Razaque

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  17. Razaque
    When we went to Cheadle Soma was a social drinker like you and I. You took the Single Malt with the goodness of your heart and many others too may have taken whisky for the event. His problems arose much later on and you could not have known what the future held for him. So sleep easy my friend. We cannot change the course of destiny or negate its awesome force.
    ND

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  18. Thanks ND,
    Sometimes one begin to wonder & blame oneself thinking of any obscure reason that may have had any fragment of a reason!!
    That's just human I suppose!!

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  19. I just remembered another incident. After our Reunions in SL usually Swyrie & Bala accord us a Party -- Re-Reunions. At the one in 2007 my wife was having a chat with our Kusuma & Priya. I approached them -- of course 'non the worse for a few drinks', & I said "Menna ape Kello" and had group hug! Priya instantly said "ONNA ITHINNG THANN KIYANAWA"?? Ae all laughed and that was the last time I saw Priya!!!!!!.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, once again forgot ID for the above!!!
      It was, AGAIN.... ME...RAZAQUE.

      Delete
  20. I know that the initial response was an out-ward courteous & polite 'group hug'. and a laugh!!!!
    Nevertheless,I wonder on hind sight, what each of the 'girls' were thinking individually, but did not wish to express openly??? ------- Girls?!-Girls?? Girls???
    Any comments?? --- I am being provocative!!
    Razaque.

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  21. In fact I was thinking "glad I was rescued from a BAD OWNER!!"
    My wife would have thought "caught the FISH THAT GOT AWAY"
    (ND will know what the above means??)
    Kusuma would have thought "Bloody 'B____h' , she beat us to it!!"
    Cannot say what Priya would have said -----as she is not here to defend herself...........!!!
    Razaque.

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    Replies
    1. Raz
      I remember it well but will remain with me and me alone. There are something best kept that way.
      ND

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  22. Zita.
    Thank you for your comments on our friend Ganesh.
    I knew Ganesh from our 1st,MB Course & subsequently working at the
    Central Bank during a long break after exams-- the guy that smiles/grins from 'year' to ear!! He was an extremely friendly and generous guy so much so he used to take a few of to see films at Majestic Cinema -- though he never paid for us nor did he allow us to pay for the previiledge because his brother was the Manager of the cinema and we all got good complimentary seats-- gratis!!!!.So much so some of "broke" 'US' used to go to Majestic and tell his brother, Sivanesan -I think , that Ganesh "asked to see you" & get free tickets--- cheeky devils!!!
    Great Guy may his soul 'Grin' away in eternal peace.
    Razaque.

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  23. Last night I had a dream -- not a nightmare, of our dear departed Kunasingham aka Kunam. It was like good old days in Med School!!!
    As you may be aware that he was in our 1st MB Chemistry course -- the ELITE GROUP!!. Some of the others were, Luckey Abey, Cyril Ernest, Kunam, Zita, Puanam Ramalingam & of course -- Yours Truly!! --amongst others that were sent to the Other Place!! We were a great bunch and Kunam was also known as "TRASHER" as his most famous saying was --"Trash the bugger" at the slightest provocation, if there was any???
    Razaque..

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