Knowing neither Sinhala nor English


Recently, I received a call from my local bank. The female Manager calling asked me whether I was 'Mr. Gihan Fernando'. I answered in the affirmative. Then she told me that my name in the cheque (deposited that morning) had some letters behind my name. I then asked her what the letters were. She told me that there were three letters E, S and Q!

I repeated to her what my English teacher, Mr. V P Cook taught me, in standard six (Lower 4) at S. Thomas' College (STC), Mount Lavinia, many moons ago, that it stood for 'Esquire' and that one can use either Mr or Esq, and not both together, with a name!

This reminds me of another story. One rainy night a few years ago, I gave a 'lift' to my Sinhala teacher Mr. G K Mandawela and Prof. Vini Vitharana a Sinhala scholar, who taught 'Hela Basa' at STC at the behest of Warden De Saram, and ended up with an abnormally high percentage of Sinhala failures at the GCE (O level). In the course of conversation Mandawela then asked the Professor whether in his opinion, ‘Sinhala only' was a success. These were his words in impeccable English:

"I say, Manda, I was one of the people who campaigned for it, but we fell flat on our faces. Today's child knows neither English nor Sinhala. Just watch them messaging on the mobile phones!"

BTW (sic) Professor Vitharana was the one who suggested to Sports Minister Nanda Mathew that Volleyball should be the National Sport of Sri Lanka.


Class of '56

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