It’s been a month since the demise of Nimal De Silva. Fellow Richmondite, chairman of Global Surgical products, Nimal, more importantly, was a loving father, a good husband and an amazing friend to many of us; a thoughtful, generous soul with a heart larger than life. A posthumous letter does little justice, but I feel that’s the least I could do to express how grateful I am to have known this wonderful human being.
Mawanana Hewa Nimal De Silva was born on 28th December 1946 in Ambalangoda to the late Mr and Mrs Edvin De Silva of Batapola was the fourth child of the family of five children. He did his primary education at Dharmashoka College and entered Richmond in 1966.
After leaving Richmond he got the opportunity to join his brother, Sarath in Japan during the early seventies which I believe was the turning point of his life. A spirited, go-getter by nature, Nihal soon ventured into entrepreneurship and started his own business in Japan and was offered an honorary citizenship in Japan 1975. Nimal met the love of his life, Saeko, in 1978 and got married a few years later. The loving couple was blessed with two daughters.
Despite all the comforts he enjoyed in Japan being a true Sri Lankan he migrated back to Sri Lanka during late seventies and ventured into the garment and surgical products trade which became an instant success, providing employment for more than 200 employees to date. “Japan” as he was known to his close friends was a charismatic, soft-spoken gentleman for all of his colleagues who associated him in the society particularly at Richmond College Old Boy Association, BRC and Royal Colombo Golf Club etc. He spent a substantial portion of his wealth towards the welfare of the society including his alma mater, Richmond. He never questioned the cause; if someone was in need, he would simply give with no strings attached. His philanthropy, in fact, is reported to have been misused by some. During the year 2002 when I was desperately searching for temporary accommodation in Colombo, Nimal most graciously invited me to stay with him at his home in Pepiliyana.
"A spirited, go-getter by nature, Nihal soon ventured into entrepreneurship and started his own business in Japan and was offered an honorary citizenship in Japan 1975. Nimal met the love of his life, Saeko, in 1978 and got married a few years later. "
Many are the conversations, as well as heated arguments, we have had about subjects ranging from politics to business to music and cultural diversity. He was a walking encyclopedia with a wealth of knowledge that put what we knew about life and other things to shame. The eve of 2002 general elections was a particularly such vivacious night where about 10 of us including Nimal were having an intense debate about the election outcome. As the row reached a boiling point Nihal stood up, poured everyone their last round of scotch and exclaimed rather loudly ‘Time for dinner!
You buggers are shouting because you all are hungry!’ That is one of my fondest memories of this gentle giant who always knew what to say. He used to constantly thank me for keeping him company during the time I took refuge at his place as though I was doing him a favour; In his generosity, he was simply oblivious to the fact that it was he, who was helping me.
That was Nimal; giving, nurturing and caring was so much a part of his DNA that he didn’t even realize he was changing someone’s life. Memories of this lovable maverick who indeed a gentleman par excellence will live forever in the hearts of many. Adios Nimal. This is not goodbye my friend. We will see you on the other side.
Bandula Wickramathilaka - Galle.