Mr. Kandavanam Kanagasabai, who was well known among friends as “Kanagasabai” hailed from a devout Hindu family from the North. He had his education at St. Henry’s College, Illavalai, a Catholic institution, and was a hosteler during the 1950 era. I, a junior, was in the hostel during the same period. I addressed Kanagasabai always as “Annai” which means elder brother. He was concerned about us juniors who were in the hostel and the sportsmen of the College.
He was a great soccer player and at that time we had the system of “Forwards”, “Centre Forwards”, “Extremes” and “Fullbacks”. He was one of the sturdy “Fullbacks” of the First Eleven Soccer Team of the College. Whenever a member of the opposition team fouled, Kanagasabai would slowly come forward from his position of Fullback and would go after the player of the opposing team and retaliate by engaging him in a good foul, without causing hurt or injury. If there were any issues in the hostel about food and other facilities, he will take up the cause of the hostelers with the Bursars of the Hostel. In exterior he was a rugged, tough looking personality, but was very kind hearted and helpful to everyone.
Whenever a member of the opposition team fouled , Kanagasabai would slowly come forward from his position of Fullback and would go after the player of the opposing team and retaliate by engaging him in a good foul, without causing hurt or injury
After his departure from College, we did not have much contact. He engaged in business and established himself in Colombo. I became a teacher and subsequently joined the Police Department in 1957. I was posted to the Pettah Police Station in the year 1959/60, which was housed at Dam Street, Pettah. Opposite the Pettah Police Station there was a Rice Stores named K.K.S Stores. Since I hailed from Kankesanturai (KKS), I was curious to find out as to who was the owner of the KKS Stores. To my surprise the owner of this Rice Store was none other than Kanagasabai. From that day onwards we renewed our friendship and became family friends. My wife and I were invitees to all functions of the family. During this association we became very close to his family, his wife Navaratnam Amma, daughters Pamathy and Dayamathy, sons-in-law Ravindran and Jeganathan. Amazingly, he was a keep fit enthusiast, and he used to do a daily walk from Barnes Place to Independence Square. He was a very healthy person. He was a member of the Tamil Union Tennis Club and if my memory serves right, he also captained the Tamil Union Tennis Team. Whilst indulging in sports and other activities, he concentrated on his business and established rice mills and grain factories in the area. He was also a victim of the 1983 communal troubles, where he lost some of his properties. He had to leave the country and went to India until the situation returned to normal. Surprisingly, though he did not have any known illness, he became weak and was feeble. His devoted wife Navaratnam Amma looked after him and cared for him. The two daughters one of whom is a Doctor domiciled in Australia, and the other domiciled in Singapore, visited their parents regularly. Towards the latter part of June he was very feeble and the two daughters came down and along with his wife, cared for him until the day of his death.
Whilst indulging in sports and other activities, he concentrated on his business and established rice mills and grain factories in the area. He was also a victim of the 1983 communal troubles, where he lost some of his properties. He had to leave the country and went to India until the situation returned to normal
He was a benefactor of St. Henry’s College, Illavalai and the patron of the Henrician’s OBAColombo, and also a member of the Henrician’s Board of Trustees.
The Bishop of Jaffna the Rt. Revd. Dr. Justin B. Gnanapragasam, was saddened by his demise and had sent Rev. Fr. J.A. Jesuthas, one time rector of St. Henry’s College to represent him at the funeral. The present rector of St. Henry’s College, Rev. Fr. Godfrey Joel sent his message of condolence, and many members of the Henrician’s OBA- Colombo, were present at the funeral to show their gratitude for his benevolence towards the College as well as the Henrician’s OBAColombo. His demise is a great loss to St. Henry’s College, Illavalai, and to the Henrician’s OBAColombo.
We extend our sympathy to his beloved wife Navaratnam, his loving daughters Pamathy and Dayamathy, sons-in-law Ravindran and Jeganathan, and grandchildren.
B. Anton Jeyanathan, Rtd. DIG SLP SL