My brother J. F Jeygarajasingham, affectionately known as Jega, is no more.
Jega had his early education at St Anthony’s College Kayts (previously known as Kayts at St. Anthony’s Tamil School during the time of the Brothers of the Society of St Joseph)After finishing his middle school education, he enrolled at St Benedict’s College, Colombo. The move to Colombo provided him with greater exposure and helped make a quantum leap in his learning.
After completing his London Matriculation, he desired to become an electrical engineer. However, his plans to enter the Ceylon Technical College did not come to fruition due to organisational changes that took place at that institution. During that time, he moved to Trincomalee where his brother was a Senior Tug Master with the Royal Navy. Because of his interest in electrical engineering, Jega too joined the Royal Navy as an apprentice. Jega was admired by his superiors because he spoke flawless English with an excellent vocabulary.
Later on, Jega became an English teacher in a small school in Muttur near Trincomalee. At about the same time, he became a correspondent for the prestigious Times of Ceylon newspaper and his news reports were regularly published. During that time, he contributed many articles to various other newspapers. Although he received many rejection slips at the beginning he was determined to succeed and within a short while he became a successful freelance journalist. The first article published in the Ceylon Daily News was on “Cheettu”, the chit system widely practised locally. The newspaper’s financial editor Alan Chalkly was impressed with his article. After the publication of this article, Mr Chalkly enquired about Jega from his fellow journalists. They had the impression that Jega was a retired civil servant, but he was actually in his thirties at that time. Eventually, Mr Chalkly met Jega and he was pleasantly surprised by his talent at such an early age.
"Even though partially disabled following a stroke five years ago, he had not lost his wit – anyone visiting him rarely went away without being treated to one or more of his jokes. He will be missed for a long time!"
After leaving the Training College, he joined St. Benedict College, Colombo as an English teacher where he also taught mathematics, science and arts subjects. Within a short period, he became competent and greatly sought after teacher. He had the rare gift of simplifying the language to make students learn it with ease. This coupled with his generous sense of humour made him popular with students.
Jega was the ‘official’ photographer and chronicler of activities of St Benedict’s College. He dismissed the common luxuries of a wristwatch and other ornamental trinkets - his early material possessions of significance were his precious ‘Minolta’ camera and ‘Hermes Baby’ typewriter. With his journalistic skills and love of photography, he revived the well-illustrated College Magazines and was instrumental in producing the epic ‘Centenary Souvenir’ on the occasion of St Benedict’s Centenary in 1965.
Kayts St Anthony’s College Past Pupils Association was revived in 1999 at a General Meeting held at St Benedict’s College and Jega was once again elected as the President of the Society and did a great service to his alma mater for many years.
He is a well-read human being of English and world literature. In a nutshell, he had a profound knowledge of literature and philosophy. As a scholar, he has a liberal attitude to life.
His motto is “We should live for others”. In English literature, he became familiar with the writings of leading authors and novelists like William Shakespeare, John Milton, George Bernard Shaw, H.G Wells, George Orwell, William Blake, Oliver Goldsmith and many other authors and poets. He also familiarized himself with the work of Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and many other philosophers and thinkers of the East and West. Another favourite saying of his was ‘Plain living and high thinking’.
Even though partially disabled following a stroke five years ago, he had not lost his wit – anyone visiting him rarely went away without being treated to one or more of his jokes. He will be missed for a long time!
May his soul rest in peace