Old Habits die hard- Trinity Memories - Revisited Part 3


They served only soft drinks as before in the Trinity dining hall. Oh, sorry they served only water then. For soft drinks and milkshakes we had to visit the tuck shop. We took our seats as ‘disciplined’ students like in the late seventies. Ajantha Fernando and Comrade Mano Sekaram wanted their seats reserved with napkins placed on them. Old habits die hard! We knew that they would serve us more than paan and parippu and papadam. It was felicitation time for our teachers.

Ranjan David, an excellent singer, went down memory lane. There were peals of laughter. He paid a glowing tribute to our former teachers and we listened like good old boys. Ranjan read out a list of teachers, minor staff and our dear school friends who had crossed the great beyond. Our faces were clouded with sadness because once upon a time we had sat next to each other in the same dining hall, fighting and laughing. Life is unfair. Isn't it? Who thought we had to stand in silence in their memory at this same dining hall opposite the quadrangle.

Our teachers were presented with tokens of appreciation. I saw Mr Weeraman of Ryde House fame. He was known as the Weera Man in his Weera Bike. But, he had a scooter. Someone recalled how he had, during his school days, hooted at Mr. Weeraman travelling with a girl in Peradeniya and got a slap for it later on. Some teachers have missed the bus and remain spinsters and bachelors like yours truly. It was heartening to meet my old house master, Lenard de Alwis, who later became our principal. A teacher with a large heart! I always had/have the highest respect for him though he used to chide and warn me. There was our agriculture master Fonny (Mr. Fonseka) another good man. Mr Ukuwela and Mr Dantanaryana were good teachers and they were quiet people then. I was happy to see them. Our house master Mr Obeysekera was there with his wife. She was quiet and still looked pretty. Then, there was podi (junior) Chandrasiri. He wasn't bad either. However, I was a great fan of the late loku (senior) Saman Herath Chandrasiri. So was Ajith Samaranayake, who once paid a glowing tribute to him. I saw Mr Obeysekera telling Kabir Hashim to answer the phone when he called him next. It was an order from an old teacher and Kabir said, "I will." I missed the presence of one and only Sunil Jayatunga, who was more than a teacher and our scout master, Mr Paul Jeyaraj, Uncle Kulu ( Mr Rajan Kulathungam) one of our favourite teachers of all time. Mr. Anthony, Mr SMFX Xavier, who once wrote in my report card "Capable. Regular. But very noisy", late Mr Cyril Weerakoon Mr Nanayakkara, Mr. Senaratne and Mr Anandaraja. Our late art teacher Mr Karunaratne and, of course, my first house master, Mr Sarath Bulathsinghala, who was a friend of my elder brother. Jeremy Rajaiah said how late Tuffy Theo Silva had chided him for mischief making.

Rain gods didn't allow us to tour Trinity. I managed to get a glimpse of the Ryde House. Old tuck shop was still there and we remembered old Karo (Carolis) and Leon. Gone are the days where we could get a plate of milk toffees, coconut toffees, rulang and toasted bread just for 25 cents. It was Aja Fernando, who first took me to the tuck shop all the way from the Junior School on my first day at school when I was home sick. MPT Fernando was on my up bed as we called it. He was another good soul who missed the tour. We remembered how students took Lalith up the Trinity steps to the tuck shop as he found it difficult to walk. I got a glimpse of the old sick room. The old printing press was gone. The room of our pianist and college Telephone operator, much loved Mr B. Alexander had been turned into an office. Then there was the old barber shop where we were sent for our haircuts. Twice I had a number 0 hair cut because the Vice Principal Mr Janz insisted that we have short hair cuts. My barber then was none other than Aja Fernando, who joined us on the tour and started a fight with Wally Jenkins for stealing/and eating his toffees when they were in the kindergarten (matron’s dormitory as we use to call then) Rohan Dedigama, who always tore his own shirts before a fight joined the fun. Some people never change. Why should they? We were born in the sixties, schooled in the seventies and still alive in 2017!

Next Week: Final installment: Singing by the Mahaweli and goodbyes.

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