― Nelson Mandela
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Our date with the Don
By Dr. Nihal D Amerasekera
Mahendra, Zita and I have made our lives in the UK. The seasons and the vagaries of the British weather have now been incorporated into our psyche. Our first mini reunion was held in London in 2015. We were delighted to hear that Sanath will be in London in June/July 2016 and will be free to meet us. It is said “If you want something you ask a man. If you want something done ask a woman”. This old adage still rings true. Zita despite her busy life rallied the troops and organised a get-together in a plush French restaurant in the Soho district of London. I am now a Londoner living just a stones throw away from the heart of that great city. Mahendra travelled all the way from Manchester to be with us on that afternoon. Zita came from far away Kent. We reached our destination through the dust and grime of road repairs and flying debris of building works.
After the incessant rain we’ve had this summer the sun shone brightly for us. Even the British weather greeted our valued guest. I had not seen Sanath since the early 1970’s when we sat the MRCP part 1 examination in the hallowed precincts of Medical College at Kynsey road. As we eagerly awaited our guest, Sanath walked in with his usual broad smile and warm greetings.
After the pleasantries we ordered the usual social lubricant of wine and beer which helped us to relive and reconnect. It was truly wonderful to talk of old times and of mutual friends. They were indeed our golden years. Sanath is a fine raconteur and kept us entertained with his enormous repertoire anecdotes. These were re-told with his characteristic no nonsense - matter of fact style. That is his hallmark, something we all recognise and have come love. The medical fraternity is not immune to controversy. Way back, there has been some intrigue, chicanery and mystery in medical politics in Sri Lanka. Many of these had taken place after we had emigrated. Those events were brought to life by Sanath in his own inimitable Hitchcock style, laced with his own brand of humour. Sanath has the most remarkable memory for detail. His limitless self confidence was a pleasure to experience.
The medical profession, patients and the general public value his skill, care and compassion. They respect his opinion enormously. He still gets much satisfaction from teaching and travels to Rajarata Campus to impart his knowledge to his students to whom he is a great role model, mentor and guide. Sanath has had an illustrious career in Medicine and made an outstanding contribution to higher education in Sri Lanka.
Sanath remains a gentleman to the core and always scrupulously honest, extremely kind and very generous. He made use of his profile to attract investments from abroad and spoke most warmly of his efforts to help his students, patients and those with disability.
We relived our years in medical school with great relish. Touching on those departed brought back memories. In our minds they will always remain youthful as we saw them first. It was wonderful to recall the events like the final year trip which has had a lasting impression on the many who joined in.
After the sumptuous lunch Zita took us to “Just Joe’s” for a cappuccino where we continued our banter. These meetings are sadly a rarity and would indeed be increasingly so with the passage of years. Time is something we don’t have in such great abundance. We said our goodbyes and parted with the usual promise to keep in touch. The warmth of our friendship will linger in our memories for a lot longer.
The flood of daily emails generated by his computer will continue to arrive on our PC’s to maintain the lines of contact open.
Friendships are one of life’s great gifts. Those made in the heady days of our youth are simply priceless. We are immensely proud of Sanath’s professional achievements. He has brought honour to our batch. Our sincere thanks to Sanath Lamabadusuriya for making an effort to meet us. May we have the good fortune to meet again.
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
― Nelson Mandela
― Nelson Mandela