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Old 08-06-10, 09:07 AM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default Anil Gamini Jayasuriya

Anil Gamini Jayasuriya

Anil was a legend even from his school days. Newspapers of the day would carry reviews of art works and he surprised his teachers by discussing Picasso at a very young age in Class IV. He and I were together at St. Thomasí Prep School, Kollupitiya, and apart from being schoolmates our families moved very closely with each other. I have vivid memories of the times we spent together.

His artistic talents were discovered by his equally creative mother, Ena de Silva, the wife of Osmund de Silva, the Inspector General of Police. His grandfather, Sir. Richard Aluvihare, was also an IGP. Though he came from that distinguished background he was the simplest of men that Iíve met. He was almost child like.

He was always absorbed in books and Iíve heard his teachers say that even while the class was going on he would place one of his books on the floor and strain his eyes to read it from his chair. From his young days he developed a passion for nature. Our families would often spend holidays in the wild parks of Wilpattu or Yala. In his early days most of his paintings were of wild life. He created a style of his own which was more ornately oriental than Western.

He impressed the Headmaster of St. Thomasí Prep, J. T. R. Perinpanayagam, so much that he invited him to design the entrance to the new wing of the school built by the renowned architect Jeffrey Bawa. The students of St. Thomasí can be proud that it was one of their old pupils who left his indelible mark in that wing. Later, as a more mature artist he was commissioned to fill the vast space in the foyer of the Oberoi Hotel with his art.

As everyone knows, he was also the mastermind behind the Ena de Silva Batiks, a brand name very popular in Sri Lanka and abroad. Anil steadfastly stuck to his art while the lesser folks like us took cricket and other sports. Of course, the source of inspiration, guidance and encouragement came from his loving mother, Ena, who adored him. For many years he grew up as their only child until his sister, Anula Kusum, was born.

From St. Thomasí we moved to Royal College in 1955. Anil, as usual, was always at the top of the class. Year after years he carried away the class prizes. At Royal he distinguished himself as the president of Science Club. He was also a member of Rifle Club, a Queenís Scout and very good swimmer, a little known fact among his friends. Although he did not represent Royal at swimming competitions under the distinguished coaches Nightingale and Thiedeman, he swam for the love of sport at the Galle Face swimming pool.

It was his love for nature and wildlife that made him pursue zoology at the University. He entered the University with an average score of 98%. That didnít surprise his friends. It was at the University that he met his soul mate Averil Lokubalasooriya, his darling "kella" who by no means was second to him in academic studies. Anil passed out with first class honours and was awarded a scholarship at Oxford to do his Ph.D..

Unfortunately, a tragic motor accident interrupted his academic career. But Anil recovered to continue in his field of art and nature.

It is with deep sorrow that I pay my respects to my old friend. His gentle nature and warm friendship has left indelible memories. The lives we shared together with out families, at school and in our holidays, will remain with me forever.

Anil, my dear friend and brother, in recollecting the days we spent together I can only thank you for your loving embrace and the joy of knowing such a wonderful human being.

God bless you my brother
Deva. Wilson
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