V. Raj Sripathma
It was Tuesday morning, May 11, 2010 when I woke up early as usual to surf the World Wide Web typing www… and trying to download your email, ironically you were leaving all of us from this living world to the world of eternal rest. I least realised that I will not be getting anymore emails from you. You being my father’s brother’s son were to our family most close, lovable, sincere, caring, large-hearted and affectionate… where words can’t describe you. Why did you leave all of us so soon is my puzzled question with tearing, swollen eyes. I know no one can answer it other than the creator of us all.
Being born to a father who was a great and simple person you also followed in his footsteps of simplicity. Never a boaster yet a great achiever, in such a short span of life you held portfolios from Accountant, Group Internal Auditor to Director and Managing Director. You had clients globally and became famous next to no time. Being a specialist in conducting lectures and training courses for professional accountancy bodies you were instrumental in my success at my accounting exams where you gave a lot of encouragement. You sent valuable study packs to prepare for my exams at a time when courses were poorly conducted in our country, to be able to earn two British professional qualifications along with my Honours degree, but my heart sobs in deep sorrow when Vibushan told me that you promised to help him with his studies in Financial Management upon your arrival from China but fate had other ideas, my dearest Raj Anna.
I vividly remember my childhood days coming to your Nawala Road house calling it “The swing house” where there was a big swing and you used to carry me and put me on it and push, and the thrill I used to get going up and down. The jam fruit tree near it was always full of fruits. Later on when you all moved into your own house you became more involved in professional studies while I was concentrating on my studies in school. After that was the sudden death of my uncle, your father. Soon our talk turned to professional studies.
When you established your college in London you told us that you had the blessings of my parents and that blessing was contributing to your success. Even though you lived a short life yet you achieved a great deal globally, and went to the top like your father, my dearest uncle.
During our holiday in London you drove us through the city showing us all places of interest. You know how much I hate the cold weather and I knew the efforts you took to make your home warm with the heater and the fireplace just to make me comfortable there. You were so happy — a time we can remember with a lot of emotion and affection. You loved your motherland always and said that Sri Lanka is very green. Whenever you touched down at the Katunayake airport one of the first things you would do was to call us as your love was genuine. Never a jealous person, you gave advice in the best interests of relatives and friends and had no personal motive or agenda as people do in today’s society.
This was the foundation you laid for your children Vishala and Vibushan who are kind and caring. God gave you a very good life though not that long but he definitely did one thing — he gave you a very devoted wife in Bhama who is a living angel. This is what my parents, your beloved uncle and aunt used to say always.
Your heart beat stopped, taking you away from all of us but left a heartache which aches and aches for which there is no medication from any pharmacy in the living world other than in the land of the eternal. While I am still on the computer tapping on the keyboard talking to you my dearest Raj Anna I know for sure that my email In-box will never again be filled with emails. You have gone away from all of us physically to rest at the feet of Lord Shiva. May your aathma attain the state of supreme bliss.
One of the oldest practicing surveyors in Sri Lanka, Mervyn Setunga passed away on 18th June 2010 at a private hospital. He was 81 years of age at the time of his demise.
He was born to Richard Phillip and Gertrude Setunga (nee Lewke). An old boy of S. Thomas’s College Mount Lavinia he made his alma mater proud by being one of the oldest practicing surveyors in the Chartered Member of the Surveyors Institute of Sri Lanka. His interests in life were many, but at his heart his purpose in life was to serve the people of his country.
During President J R Jayewardene’s regime he served as a member of the Municipal Council in the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia electorate. His exemplary life-style earned him the title of Justice of the Peace all island. He was offered the post of an ambassador in a foreign country by late President Jayewardene, but gracefully declined due to personal reasons.
His motto in life was simple living and high thinking. This proved very well even when he associated high officers in the then government of Sir John Kotelawala, Lalith Athulathmudali and Dr. Anandatissa de Alwis — he never lost the common touch.
He was ever humble and always lending a helping hand to those who were in need. He was one of the few members to receive life membership of the United National Party by Ranil Wickremesinghe. He was the President of the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Lion’s Club, actively involving himself in social service during his presidency and even after.
He was blessed with a wonderful wife Srima, three children, Dharshini, Dhushianthi and Lasantha. He was a loving grand father and a great grand father. A faithful and a righteous follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, I could say he was indeed a big brother to me in every aspect. May you rest in peace.