Friday, March 17, 2017
The Mini Reunion in St John’s Wood, London 13th March 2017
From Nihal D Amerasekera
From the dying embers of the great reunion in Negombo, Pramilla brought with her a spark and a bit of magic to gather together a few friends in London and fire-up our memories for a trip down memory lane. Pramilla spent a short 6 days in London during which she executed her idea with a series of emails, Viber, phone calls and text messages. She who planned the idea became the architect the builder and the financier. We have no words to thank her enough for her efforts, patience and kindness to bring us all together when at this stage of our lives time is of the essence and everyday is a bonus.
It was bright and sunny spring day. The reunion was held at Richoux, an iconic French eatery, in a leafy part of London in the shadow of the Lords Cricket Grounds. We started the proceedings at 4pm with a short “Do you know” contest to see if we could identify our friends who spent 5 long years with us in Medical School until we dispersed 55 years ago. That was a disaster as many faltered badly. Failure to recognise one another brought peals of laughter as each tried to prompt the other’s recollection. I may have been the worst culprit not having attended any of the Reunions since the one in London in the last century.
One would have imagined everyone would recognise Rohini Abhayaratne (Daughter of the then Dean of the Faculty of Medicine) – not true. I took an unusually long time and Sunil missed the boat completely. I met Rohini after many decades. She most certainly hasn’t changed very much, it is just our memories have withered with time. Indrani Subramanium was a lot more tricky for some of us but I had forgotten her name and called her Yankee Bala’s sister. I met her last at Bobby Somasuderam’s reunion in Cheshire. It was a delight to see her daughter and grandchildren. We all missed recognising B.T Batuwitage. Even after his name was mentioned Rohini completely failed to place him. It was wonderful to see “Batu” who was visibly unwell and remained rather subdued all through. C’est la vie. He was a GP in Wales, greatly loved and respected by the large community he served. We must thank his wife Geetha for bringing him to meet us all the way from Guilford. Zita Perera-Subasinghe came to us from Southend-on-sea which is a good long way and had to stay in a hotel for the night. She was in fine fettle with jokes and stories showing off the photos of her first grandchild born a few days previously. Sunil Abeysuriya and I endured the perils and the torment of signatures, revisals, examinations and clinical appointments together, being an “A” like myself. I was seeing him after nearly 55 years. As always Sunil wasn’t short of stories of his colourful life in the trouble spots of this world. It was indeed a great pleasure to meet his wife, Sirima. She too grew up in the village of my forefathers which I knew and loved.
There was a lavish spread of cakes, sandwiches, chocolate éclairs, muffins, scones and clotted cream. The finest blended English afternoon tea helped us to wash it all down. The child in us surfaced to look at them wide eyed and with great interest. The enormous appetite we all enjoyed in our youth is now a distant memory. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and we failed to finish the food laid out before us.
The days in the faculty was a slice of our common past. The institution molded a part of our character. We flew out into the wider world to carve up a career and care for our families. We have all closed the chapter on our professional lives. Now calmness prevails as we embark on the final laps of our journey.
There was a wonderful buzz of excitement as we shared reminiscences and riotous exchange of jokes. Despite the passage of time the closeness was palpable. The years seemed to slip away as we exchanged memories. Time passed too quickly as we enjoyed ourselves and soon it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes making fervent vows to meet again in the summer. Once again I must thank Pramilla for being such a fine hostess and organising such a wonderful reunion at such short notice. In the confusion of nostalgia let us not forget our teachers, lecturers and professors who taught us beyond the call of duty to become useful citizens of this wonderful world.
This is not goodbye but au revoir – until we meet again.