Peris nee Ratnayaka on her 90th birthday:
We are honoured to call you 'AMMA'
90th birthday tribute to our mother -
Courage, strength and determination are the words that would come to
mind when we think of our mother Kamala Peris (Nee Ratnayake). A lady
born to a family of status and class, amongst the tea plantations in the
beautiful country village called Deniyaya in Southern Sri Lanka. She is
the 7th child (out of 9) born to Muhandhiram A. A. W. Ratnayaka, who was
a planter, entrepreneur and a philanthropist.
Her life's journey was a difficult path, yet she drew strength from
her heritage and her roots to hold herself with utmost respect and
poise. She fought for her rights and for her ancestral grounding through
a modern changing world.At the tender age of 23 she met my father (Dr
Nicholas Peris) who was on his very first appointment as a medical
officer in Deniyaya. He was called to consult her during an episode of
viral influenza. Fate was such that she was attracted to the 'House
doctor' and later married him - a man who was brought up in Colombo with
education and strict family rules.
life changed, moving around the country as my father was fulfilling his
medical appointments in various towns in Sri Lanka. He later became a
specialist/consultant in Leprosy in Sri Lanka.
Mrs Kamala Peris led a life that was totally different from her
upbringing. As a wife of a Sri Lankan doctor - she had many social and
community commitments, which kept her lifestyle busy. She followed my
father when he took a position in the Royal Flying Doctor service in
Darwin Australia in 1974 with a young family, only to face one of the
worst natural disasters in the history of Australia - Cyclone Tracy on
Christmas Day 1974. She was caught up in a lifestyle she never imagined,
yet she held her head above the waters with courage and determination.
She longed for her family lifestyle in country Deniyaya - yet she
adapted her lifestyle for the demands of bringing up a young family in a
foreign country.Women of this nature are rare. She is one of the most
kind hearted, generous and loving human beings you could ever meet. She
has a heart that is open to help anyone. Her wisdom and intuition and
her unconditional love for her family is an inspiration for all who knew
She is a 'loving mother' not only for her children, but also for her
brother's and sister's children as well our friends. She would sacrifice
her happiness to give people around her, the BEST. She has faced many
sad events in her life. She lost her father at a very young age and her
mother passed away when she was only 27 years. Her greatest loss was
when she lost her youngest sister at a very young age.
Her five sisters and three brothers have now passed on. Mum is the
only family member alive from her family. My father passed away at age
57, she was widowed at age 55 and never remarried.
We gathered on the 26th of April 2015 in Sri Lanka,to celebrate her
90th Birthday; to show her how much she means to us, to show her our
love and respect for who she is and to thank her for sharing her life
with us. It is a blessing to have her in good health and in good spirits
to such age - We are honoured to share our lives with her and to call
her our 'AMMA'.Mum has being an inspiration for all us.
Through good and bad times, she has been there for us. She did the
best she could, from what she knew. She held us together as a family
with patience and courage. She is blessed with 6 healthy children, 10
very loving grand children and beautiful great grandchildren. She is
also blessed with very loving nieces and nephews, who hold her with
utmost respect and love.
You are an inspiration to us all.
Wishing you a very special 90th birthday AMMA.
From your loving family in Australia
Enatilaka Hemakirti Dissanayake:
A friend indeed
I had jokingly asked him to write my elegy, when I passed away. It is
an irony of fate that I have to write his now.
Enatilaka Hemakirti Dissanayake born on March 8, 1933 at Hunnadeniya,
Dikwella, was a friend and roommate when we were studying at Piliyandala
Central for the University entrance examination.
'Enatilaka' being the name of a famous scholar, had been proposed by
the head priest of his village temple to his father who was the local
Coroner. For family members, his name was a tongue twister. So they
called him 'Erand' with which he appeared to be uncomfortable, being a
strict follower of our culture. His friends called him 'Dissa'. At
lighter moments, I teased him with 'Nayakatuma', associating the second
half of his surname with political leadership.
After passing out from Peradeniya in 1954, Dissa worked as a teacher
and acting school inspector for a couple of years until he was selected
to the DRO's Service, facing a tough recruiting exam. Dissa was not
happy with the pomp and honour attached to the post. He felt embarrassed
when his vidane arachchis addressed him as hamuduruvane. Besides he did
not find the job intellectually satisfying and resigned to the surprise
of thousands who were going hammer and tongs to get there. Others who
joined as DROs with him ended up at the top of the Public Service.
Dissa's next position was as Registrar of the Vidyodaya University
where its intellectual environment gave him job satisfaction. The last
President and Speaker were on the staff of Vidyodaya during Dissa's
time, a fact that he was reluctant to talk about and the other two never
forgot. CR was very receptive and courteous to Dissa, whenever he met
him in public. Although MR was willing to offer a high post to him in
his retirement, Dissa chose not to dress himself 'in borrowed robes'.
Contentment and renunciation were Dissa's characteristic qualities.
When politics disturbed his working environment at Vidyodaya, Dissa
joined the State Engineering Corporation as its Personal Manager but
dissatisfied again with routinized administration, he shifted to the
Agricultural Research and Training Institute. Though his post there was
'Registrar', he got happily involved with the curricular activities of
the Institute,. Dissa spent the longest span of his chequered working
life at the ARTI.
With his excellent command of both languages, Dissa was an asset to
me in my writings. At school he won the first prize for English Oratory.
His translations of the press releases of leading institutions were
published incognito, at his request. I ignored his wish when I used his
translations of my own work. On my last visit to Dissa, when he had only
a few days to live, his apology for not completing an assignment given
to him touched me deeply.
Panita was Dissa's soul partner for over fifty years. Though they had
no children, the two of them enjoyed life to the fullest, being each
other's shadow to the last. Being a self-effacing, unambitious man,
Dissa was not a Karma Yogi, but under pressure, he had the capacity to
climb great heights. When he was over sixty, at my bidding, Dissa
competed with candidates less than half his age at the Law College
Entrance Exam and got selected. But feeling insulted by a disparaging
remark made by the then Chief Justice about aged entrants, at the
inaugural dinner, Dissa gave up his legal studies. Unassuming, though he
was, Dissa stood for his self-respect, uncompromisingly.
Dissa was a friend indeed. May he attain eternal bliss!
- Somapala Gunadheera
'My career at St. Benedict's College'
My career at St. Benedict's College (Primary) as teacher,
principal/headmaster spans 37 years from September 1963 to August 2000.
W. G. A. Leonard Fernando
One hundred and fifty years in the life of any educational
institution is a milestone. St. Benedict's College was founded and
nurtured enormously by the selfless service of the De La Salle Brothers.
During the 150 years of educational and character-building service to
the nation, St. Benedict's College has enriched its reputation.
When I joined the tutorial staff on September 1, 1963, then, director
Rev. Bro. Lawrence Justinian directed me to the primary school
principal, Rev. Bro. Victor Thomas who welcomed me and I was made class
teacher of grade 5A2 -English medium. I taught Grades 4 and 5 and gained
In 1978, I was appointed master-in-charge of prefects and discipline
and I discharged my duties justifiably. In 1986 I was appointed Vice
Principal of the Primary section by Rev. Bro. Alexander Cyrillus. I
worked under two directors and three principals and I gave of my best to
develop discipline and education. In May 1994, I was officially
appointed principal/ headmaster of the primary section. It was a
challenge to be the first lay principal of the primary.
I was focused on improving the religious environment, discipline,
education, computer science, sports, and cultural activities and give
them an all-round education. The new primary education system was
scrupulously followed at St. Benedict's primary and involved much
dedication. The teachers were equal to the challenges it posed.
Our students did remarkably well in the Grade 5 government
scholarship examination during my tenure as headmaster. Teachers of the
primary section spared no pains to achieve this task
Twelve Aptiva IBM computers have been gifted by generous Old Bens of
the UK. The UK OBU President, Dr. Gasper Gomez made the presentation.
Children from Grades one to five have the opportunity to profit from
this endeavour. Mr. John Fernando, merits special thanks in this regard.
The Sportsmeet was formally inaugurated in a fitting manner during my
time and held annually at the Sugathadasa Stadium. I appointed qualified
officials to run the meet and the performance of our athletes was
Children were given the opportunity to play tennis and to participate
in all island tennis competition. Guidance was given to ShanthiLal
Perera our tennis coach and MIC.
Regular cricket practice was held after school and weekends under Old
Ben, Terence Perera and children were encouraged to go for practice
regularly. Old Bens Ranjith Fernando and Felix Dias were ever ready to
help us and I thank them sincerely for their genuine service.
A mini basketball team was organized and coached by me in 1972 and it
was captained by Delukshan Fernando. Sinhala English Tamil Days were
held annually to promote the talent of children in aesthetic skills.
The new primary building was built during my tenure. It became a
reality when it was opened on March 26, 1999 - three storeyed - a hall
on the top floor and 17 class rooms. The children went into occupation
on May 24, 1999. Thanks to the Old Bens world over who assisted. I was
selected for the Principal's Conference in Singapore in 1996. It was a
superb conference which involved school administration in which many
Lasalian educators from various countries participated.
I was conferred the distinguished Lasallian Award in May 2008. I have
served as vice president, secretary and treasurer of the Teachers' Guild
and I extend my cordiality to all my colleagues for their unstinted
cooperation. Our former energetic secretary Mr. C. Padmanadan deserves
my thanks for his loyalty.
I was inspired and assisted by Rev. Brothers Edward Vaz, Hendry
Dissanayake, Philip of Jesus, Bertram Perera, Randolph Arsekularatne,
NimalGurusinghe, BenjamineGunathilake, Late Lawrence Justinian, Late
Victor Thomas,Late Alexander Cyrillus and the late Lewis of Jesus who
have left an indelibe mark.
- W.G.A. Leonard Fernando
Former Principal /
Headmaster of St. Benedict's College Primary