Today the 14th day of March is his birthday. It is fifteen months since he passed away.
It is my privilege to write about the late Mr. Bandaranayake, however, it is a privilege tinged with sadness, when I reminisce the times I worked with him, enjoyed his hospitality, and also been a recipient of his concern, kindness and generosity. From the time I knew him, until his last days, he was to me an affectionate and a respected “Sir”.
I met him for the first time on April 24, 1978 as a young Assistant Legal Draftsman. That was the day, I joined the Legal Draftsman’s Department, in the Ministry of Justice situated in Hulftsdorp. Along with me, there were seven others recruited as Assistant Legal Draftsmen. Before commencing work, as of practice, the then Office Assistant Simley Fernando (now deceased) took us around the Department first to meet the Senior Officers, and then the working staff, to familiarize us with the workings of the Department.
Soon we were taken to Mr. Bandaranayake’s room. He was then, the most Senior Deputy Legal Draftsman second in command in order of hierarchy. All of us walked into his office with much trepidation. We were led by the Office Assistant. When we walked in, we saw stacks of files on his table, and he was very attentively working on a file. Before we could be introduced to him, he stood up from his seat and told all of us “Come, Come, Sit, Sit”. Besides Mr. Bandaranayake’s own chair, there were only three other chairs in the room.
He offered his own chair to one of us. Then he requested his peon to bring more chairs into the room. Simultaneously, he gave another errand to the peon, and that was to bring cups of tea for all of us. The then peon Dharmasena brought the cups of tea, faster than bringing the chairs, perhaps so that we would gulp the tea down and leave the room. Mr. Bandaranayake soon realised what was going on. While we were sipping our tea he walked with us to the long verandah which was outside his room. While standing, he spoke to each one of us individually, and then told all of us, “You are fortunate to get into this Department. All of you must work hard and I am sure you will be happy here.” One of the recruits with me then, was my dear friend Sriyanganie Fernando (now deceased). While leaving the place she whispered into my ears “Hari Honda Mahathayek Neda Mano. Api Hari Lucky” …………………………… “A very good gentleman isn’t he Mano? We are lucky!”. I endorsed her statement.
Readers, I seek your indulgence for a minute to digress. The lady referred to in the above paragraph, my dear friend Sriyanganie rose to be the Additional Legal Draftsman. Later on in life she was a much sought after draftsman of legal documents by one and all. She was a legislative drafter par excellence. I am saddened by her untimely death. The legal profession and the country is poorer by this great loss. May God Grant her eternal rest.
"At that very first encounter with him what captured my mind instantly was, Mr. Bandaranayake’s humility, simplicity and kindness. In this day and age it is rare to meet a Public Officer of his ilk"
At that very first encounter with him what captured my mind instantly was, Mr. Bandaranayake’s humility, simplicity and kindness. In this day and age it is rare to meet a Public Officer of his ilk.
From the time I joined the Legal Draftsman’s Department, until his retirement, I had the privilege of working with him. First as a junior officer to him, then as an Associate Officer when I moved up the ladder as a Senior Assistant Legal Draftsman. Sir, was knowledgeable. Any mistake made in a draft by a junior officer was unobtrusively scrutinized by him and corrected. He never embarrassed a junior officer. It was very comfortable working with him. Sometimes as Legal Officers we had tense moments, when our Bills were taken up in Parliament. He always accompanied the junior when necessary to Parliament and made him or her feel at ease. There had been occasions, he acted for the Legal Draftsman of Sri Lanka. Though he held that position, only for short periods, he adorned that chair with aplomb. Then there came the sad moment for all of us, when he retired from service in 1984.
After retirement, he was much sought after for his ability and integrity. Immediately after his retirement, he served on the Law Commission in far away Trinidad for a short period. Back home, he was a consultant in legislative drafting for the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Department.
Mr. Bandaranayake was a scion of an illustrious family. He was affectionately and popularly called “Lakshman”. He was a Barrister-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn. Prior to joining the Legal Draftsman’s Department, he worked for a period in the Inland Revenue Department and also with the late Mr. S. Ambalavaner, Barrister-at-law and Tax Consultant. Income Tax Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Corporate Law, were all up his street.
During the last few years, he was more in retirement. He was a great music lover. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation English Service was one of his favourite channels. Golden Oldies were songs which he listened to with nostalgia. He enjoyed visiting his estate in Kirindiwela and his face would lighten up when anybody talked of his school, St Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. Living in that vicinity, I am sure he kept up with the activities of his Alma Mater.
He wished well for others and felt happy about another’s success, a rare trait among many human beings. If ever he read in the newspapers or heard from someone of an achievement or an appointment of one whom he knew, he would immediately telephone that person and convey his good wishes. My late husband and I had been on many occasions recipients of this kind gesture.
Though he retired in 1984, from the Legal Draftsman’s Department, he did not lose touch with his friends and colleagues in the legal profession. More so, he retained his friendship with those of us, who were in the Legal Draftsman’s Department. At every Annual get-together the Department had, Sir, was there enjoying the company of all, happily socializing and relishing the food and drink. We enjoyed his birthday parties. On a few occasions, he dropped by, at my residence and delivered “Rambuttans” from his estate. He would, on and off, give telephone calls to some of us whom he knew closely. That was his kind of way, of keeping in touch, with friends and colleagues.
"Into each life, whatever the degree of its lustre some rain must fall. To Sir the rainfall came in the form of ill health. It is comforting and consoling to all those who had respect and affection for him to know, that the last years of his life, when he was almost confined to his home, he was cared with love and affection by his caring wife Manthri, and his devoted son Niran, and was also well looked after by a faithful attendant"
Into each life, whatever the degree of its lustre some rain must fall. To Sir the rainfall came in the form of ill health. It is comforting and consoling to all those who had respect and affection for him to know, that the last years of his life, when he was almost confined to his home, he was cared with love and affection by his caring wife Manthri, and his devoted son Niran, and was also well looked after by a faithful attendant.
He passed away 14 months ago, on January 13, 2016. I am certain after his trial by fire cleansed all human weakness, he is, enjoying a plentitude of happiness in a world of love and peace.
My late husband and I, both had great respect and much affection for him.
His journey on earth came to an end fourteen months ago, ours may continue for a short while more, but the fragrance of his memory will remain undimmed and undiminished in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him including myself.
Goodbye Sir! May you rest in peace!
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die” Thomas Campbell.