After visiting the house  yesterday to condole with the family and having met Rajan’s son Rajiv-for the first time- i feel compelled to add to what has already been written by other friends/schoolmates/colleagues. Perhaps this is my tribute to Rajan’s memory.

It was in a way a touching meeting which revived  memories about Rajan, some of them from the distant past and long buried. I was trying to explain to his son, a young man possibly in the same age group as mine,  my connection with his father. In the process, i realized that i was presenting to Rajiv aspects of his father that he was not aware of.

At STC we were always in parallel classes or the same class. Infrequently we found ourselves sitting next to each other. i remember that he was bemused by my general indifference to much of the classroom teaching and my obsession with other sources of knowledge. He was fairly diligent and i was not.

I used to admire his calligraphy- exquisite in the eyes of a man to whom drawing a straight line was the limit of artistic ability; particularly the style that he brought to bear even on the generally grisly drawings of dismembered animals-rats, dogfish and skinny wrinkled frogs – depicted in those large, square zoology ” practical books” that we self consciously  carried around.

When he was editor of the college magazine he was kind enough to accept some of my juvenile compositions- in retrospect highly pretentious as well-  for publication. There was also a heated  argument once,  about the title of one of those articles.

Perhaps some of will recall the quaint custom then, of passing around ” autograph albums”, for comments from our mates. Mine disappeared a long time ago but, strangely, i can still recall what Rajan wrote in it- a line from a poem penned by an obscure Victorian era poet- “……the mill will never grind with water that has passed….”, accompanied by an avuncular admonishment about being more industrious and, typically, embellished with a pretty line drawing of what represented a water mill. Thereafter, he went on to write a classification on every page- unsolicited by me- which annoyed me very much then. In retrospect, i realize that, that was very much in character, the early signs of  Rajan’s sense of order and clarity which was later to be reflected by an order of magnitude, in the enterprises that he so successfully led.

We had  little interaction after leaving school, except at infrequent ” old Thomian’s ” gatherings – Royal Thomian matches- mainly in special enclaves like the ” Stallions” and “Mustangs”. I used to meet him more often at the Hayleys premises several decades later, when i joined the company but the interactions were formal and circumscribed by hierarchical protocols. In between there were a few  personal encounters, unplanned, when, well lubricated, we shared thoughts and views on a wide range of issues. My last meeting with him was at the class of 55 gathering in March this year, when Tanky gave him a glass of wine.

t always seemed to me that his consuming passion was what he did at Deans Road, a commitment which produced exceptional outcomes. Whilst being good friends at school, as most school boy relationships are, ours did not develop in to a close relationship in adult life. But he came across to me as a man who cared deeply about the things that he did, a caring which was extended to those who worked with him. I am also tempted to suggest that he deliberately separated his two selves, Rajan Yatawara the corporate leader and Rajan Yatawara the private man and fellow Thomian.

In essence, he was a truly decent and honourable man,  simple in himself but very successful at addressing complex issues. He will always be remembered with much affection and great respect.

Anura Gunasekera

Personal email to S. Thomas Coolege Old Boy’s Forum on 7th November, 2017

Image Source: (8/11/17)