It gives me great pleasure to write a few lines of appreciation about Sivaji, who died prematurely at the age of 71. As he prefers to speak in English in some functions, I wish to write the appreciation in English.
His father being a registrar of marriages and deaths and a popular personality in Uduvil was a friend of my father. Normally Uduvil students come to Skanda for their studies. But Sivaji’s father sent him to Jaffna College where he had his Secondary Education. After his studies he became an English teacher and taught in outstation schools and came to Skanda in 1986 as an English teacher. During that time, there was a dearth of English teachers and Skanda was very fortunate to have him as an English teacher. Not only did he develop Skanda, he developed himself by acquiring a degree in English followed by a Postgraduate qualification in English. By his very hard work, sanctity, honesty and humble qualities, he became school principal.
When the late Kamalanathan retired as principal, there were lots of aspirants for the post. Most of them were very influential and happened to be old students. I was very keen, that Sivaji should occupy that seat. So, I phoned up my good friend Mr. Divakala, then Education Secretary of the North-East Provincial Council and requested him to appoint Sivaji as principal. Mr. Divakala told me that he does not know Sivaji and that he trusted my word and appointed him as principal, in spite of the fact that Sivaji was not an old boy. Later on, we invited Mr. Divakala for the memorial oration of my father. After observing the performance of Sivaji, he said that what I had said about Sivaji was 100 percent true, and that he was happy about the appointment he made on my recommendation.
We have an annual memorial oration for my late father at Skanda. When I think of inviting a guest speaker, I always get advice from Sivaji and Thirumurugan. Sivaji, usually gives the best advice possible. He always attends the function annually, but did not attend the last time due to ill-health.
In one of the meetings of O.S.A and S.D.S during Eeswarathasan’s tenure as principal, it was decided to erect a statue of my father at Skanda. The principal appointed a committee to look into this. Sivaji, along with the late Paramanathan played a key role in this venture. Sivaji and some others went to the sculpture’s place to see the formal stages of the statue and approved it. The statue was unveiled in September 2017 under the auspices of the former Governor, Northern Province Mr. Reginold Cooray. Sivaji gave a very good speech in English which attracted the attention of the audience.
During that time, there was a dearth of English teachers and Skanda was very fortunate to have him as an English teacher. Not only did he develop Skanda, he developed himself by acquiring a degree in English followed by a Postgraduate qualification in English
Sivaji used to say that he was filled with joy and satisfaction to occupy the chair of principal of Skanda as it was occupied by a galaxy of eminent men of great calibre.
Whenever I used to meet him, I would inquire about his health and advise him accordingly. I am happy that I met him during the April New Year, when I went to Jaffna and had a long chat. I never thought that would be the last time that I would meet him. However, I am also satisfied that I had spoken to Mrs. Sivaji, the day before Sivaji left Colombo after his treatment was over in May.
I have lost one of my great friends. The education world in Jaffna has lost one of its eminent teachers. May his soul rest in peace.