The stark reality of death has removed from our earthly scene my Trinity College Kandy and Napier House friend, Tyronne.
My thoughts certainly look back at the Trinity of our time. On Saturdays, in the mornings since we were free, we used to go shopping and spend his pocket-money buying the latest records for he loved music. Then, he used to go to one of the staff bungalows, play the records and keep them with his teacher till the end of the term.
During our mid-term holidays, we both went to Colombo. He used to stay at Dematagoda where one of Sri Lanka’s well-known writers lived, whom he called “the Railway Burghers.” I used to stay at my mother’s place and Tyronne and I used to visit a fellow Napierite who belonged to the Islamic community. He used to give us what they are known for; the delicious buriyani and wattalappan.
To my mind, the high-water mark of our friendship was when I left Trinity to study at the Peradeniya University. At the end of the term, our chaplain called the two of us from our house and two others from the other two houses to go to Batticaloa to attend the annual Church of Ceylon Youth Movement Conference. Tyronne came to Badulla where my father worked in the estates for the British. There he learnt to play a card game called bridge which my father used to play with his staff for my mother was deceased and we the children were away.
After the Batticaloa conference, Tyronne came with me to Badulla, spent a few days and got back to Atabage where his father was a planter. Then, it was my turn to visit him, for I had to go to Peradeniya for my medical tests before entering the university.
When I was at Peradeniya and he was at Trinity, we used to keep in touch. After leaving school, with the help of the famous Mr. Sinnathamby of the Trinity College farm, he began life as a planter. After some time, like most Burghers of that era, to my mind due to S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s “Sinhala only within twenty four hours” policy, he and his family left for Australia.
Since one of his children was living in Dehiwela, he used to visit her and her family; he used to contact me from there. Once we planned to have a lunch at a famous restaurant in Colombo. After the meal and a good conversation on Trinity, Napier and Australia, I pulled out my wallet to settle the bill when he told me; “Sydney, after going to Australia, I have learnt that one must always share the bill.”
On another visit to his daughter’s house before Christmas, he telephoned me asking to come for a pre-Christmas dinner, which sadly I could not attend. I say sadly for after that I never met him.
When I saw his obituary in the press, I called his daughter, but his grandson answered. He was a Royalist. He told me his grandfather had cancer and therefore his mother, Tyronne’s daughter, was in Australia to take care of him.
When Tyronne’s daughter came back to Dehiwela after the funeral, she told me they would have a thanksgiving service in Colombo which I missed. However, I was able to speak to her over the telephone. She told me that one of Tyronne’s Trinity friends, also a planter, had taken her for the Trinity Old Boys’ lunch, where she was able to meet many of Tyronne’s friends. She thanked me for the telephone call and said she wanted to either meet or talk to another Trinity planter. I have been in touch with Tyronne’s mother and therefore his family can be assured of my continued interest in them.
May Tyronne’s soul along with others in his family rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen!