Nihal ‘s family is very closely related to me and our family in that his father George Wijesekera, former senior assistant secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration is my first cousin. My father’s family comprised of thirteen siblings and consequent to this some of my first cousins were older than my mother, in fact I believe George’s mother was the eldest in the family of thirteen. My father was about the ninth in sequence, probably leaving a gap of about twenty years between my father and the eldest. The age difference was not much between Nihal and me. We were more friends than relations like Reggie Wijesekara, Roy Wijesekera and Sirimal Constantine. Nihal and his sister Daisybelle were well known to our family as my dad kept in touch with all his relations. Nihal’s parents, George and his wife Daisy were residing at Nugegoda and we used to meet Nihal & Hiranthi in an annex next to the parent’s house. Nihal’s parents were very much concerned about Daisybelle as she lost her husband Elmore when she was very young and had a son by the name of Prasanna.
Nihal had proceeded for his higher education to the United Kingdom and qualified as a Chartered Civil engineer when he had met Hiranthi. In 1973 he returned to Sri Lanka with Hiranthi and decided to live in the annex next to their parents at Nugegoda. It was then that I came to know Nihal & Hiranthi very closely, when he joined the Department of Irrigation. He worked as the General Manager of the Department of low Lying and Reclamation Board. Nihal was a very quiet person, always helpful and appreciative. He was in some ways different from his father especially the social life. Nihal was handsome and smartly attired all the time and always committed to his job but never agreed, even with his superiors to bend the rules or get involved in political decisions or appointments. He was a good professional but would have failed in business as he never wanted to take calculated risks. I remember him relating an incident as he was hauled up before Minister Gamini Dissanayaka for failing to carry out illegal orders and when he explained the reason to the minister giving valid reasons Nihal’s decision was accepted. He was typical of his father whom I knew when he was in the Public Administration Ministry. Nihal was a person with good principles, probably acquired from his father, very humble and had great compassion. Nihal was a very loving person and was ready to entertain and enjoy music and dancing and travelling. Hiranthi was an ideal partner to him as she was an extrovert and fun loving too. Dammie and I were lucky to have them keep our company during our courting days and most of the time on week-ends or on Fridays we met at their annex and danced our cares away making room in the annex by adjusting their furniture. Nihal had a lovely music set up which was as good as any music provided at a dance. He was soft spoken and gentle, but had his own sense of humour! He wanted to be meticulously dressed and enjoy life but not to waste money and knew his limitations. He was very selective of his friends. He hated violence, probably that was one of the reasons he decided to migrate to Australia in 1988.
Hiranthi and Nihal once joined us on a trip to Tangalle to my grandmother’s house then occupied by my maternal aunts, Aunty Daisy & Aunty Milly. I was loaned a Morris Mini car by my brother-in-law Duggie and managed to come back in a day having seen my parents in Kalahe. Our friends Gaya and Chithrani organised a trip to Jaffna along with Chandana Samarasinghe and we had a good time with my Jaffna friends Mr. and Mrs. Rajasundaram at Chullipuram.
Later in life Nihal & Hiranthi built a beautiful house at Dutugemunu Street which was very modern and well equipped as their sons required more space to move around and after our marriage, we continued our close association even after my daughter Sheventhie was born in 1977. Nihal & Hiranthi had two smart and well disciplined boys. Nihal and Hiranthi with the children migrated to Australia in 1988 as the situation in the country was not ideal to bring up their children.
Nihal & Hiranthi both being professionally qualified had made a correct decision and never had regrets as they were both gainfully employed with Nihal being the only Chartered Civil Engineer in The Clan.
Nihal was able to progress in his objective of educating their sons with a vision and proper plan. He was a devout Catholic. He achieved his ambition to have a loving family life and he certainly believed in this saying “There are two things to aim in life: First to get what you want: and after that to enjoy it: Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
I am sure he did enjoy life to the end !Nihal was able to live up to his Father’s expectations and certainly did emulate his high degree of honesty integrity and commitment towards his job and the family. Both Hiranthi and Nihal were blessed with the family being there for them. Darshan married to Karen produced two sons, Tryan and Tyler whilst Priyanka married to Nisha produced four daughters, Eden, Avery, Kaya and Zara. It would have been most gratifying for Nihal to be with them even when he was hospitalised. When Dammie and I met Nihal and Hiranthi in 2018 in Melbourne Nihal indicated to me that he was in good health, except that he was diabetic.
His illness created several complications and when we tried to speak to him Hiranthi indicated that his speech was weak but he could listen to what we spoke as Hiranthi had put the speaker on in the mobile phone. We did pray for his recovery by offering ‘Divine Mercy’ prayers and God decided to take him into his fold.
Our deepest sympathies to Hiranthi and the family. We shall continue to pray for the family and the soul of Nihal.
Please be assured of your Lord your God as stated in JOHN Chapter 14, verse18, “I will not leave you desolate: I will come to you.”
Nihal De Alwis