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My friend Shanthi: A Personal tribute

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By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me”.

Shanthakumari Vignarajah ~ Feb 18th 1954-July 28th 2009

It is with a deep feeling of sadness that I write about my classmate and friend Shanthi who passed away peacefully on July 28th at her residence in Nallur,Jaffna.

Shanthakumari Vignarajah nee Rajadurai , known as Shanthi to her relatives and friends, and I were GCE-Advanced level students at Jaffna College (JC), Vaddukkoddai from 1970-73. Our friendship continued after JC days and her marriage to Vignarajah who also became a good friend of mine.

She was senior lecturer in English at the University of Jaffna. Her Husband is the High Court Judge in Jaffna.

Shanthi was one of the few persons on this earth who understood me well. She was a friend with whom one could talk freely about any issue and receive a sympathetic hearing and at times help and non-judgemental advice.

It is with a sense of loss and sorrow that I pen this a month after her demise. Several memories were revived these days when thinking about her and I want to share them here as a personal memoir cum tribute to this wonderful person and friend.

Jaffna College

I remember vividly our first meeting some thirty-nine years ago. It was not very pleasant. JC is famous for its ragging and as a fresher at Howland Hostel I had undergone quite a lot of it on my first evening/night as a boarder. Now it was my first day at school and it was the turn of the day-scholars to engage in ragging.

At one point Shanthi came up to me and tried to converse. It was her innate friendliness reaching out to this “new” student. I was however suspicious and thought she too was plotting to rag me. So I was taciturn and simply rebuffed her. Shanthi was annoyed and turned away. I learnt later that she described me as “proud and arrogant” to others.

But as the days progressed we became good friends. Life in a co-educational institution like Jaffna College was a fresh, interesting experience for me. The friendships that I formed at JC have proved durable and enduring. Of the girls at JC, Shanthi was the one I was closest to.

Both of us had turned our backs on a “science” education that was the craze in Jaffna and opted for the Arts. We offered the same subjects at the AL-Tamil, Logic, Goverment and English.

Jaffna College-Pic: jaeproject

English classes

JC at that time was divided as secondary and collegiate. We were in the secondary section but our principal Rajan Kadirgamar had made special arrangements for us to follow English classes at the Collegiate.

So Shanthi, Soori (now a lawyer in Britain) and I went over each day to the undergraduate or collegiate section for English. Our teachers were the Rev. Allan Gilberg an American missionary and the legendary JH Ariyaratnam who was also the Registrar at that time.

The pride of Jaffna College then was it’s Library one of the best of its kind in South Asia. Only undergraduate or Collegiate students could use this.Secondary school students were not allowed to use this Library and had to avail of a much smaller one.

Since we were following English classes at the undergraduates section we were also granted the privilege of using the big library.

Shanthi felt that we should utilise that Library only for studies related to English and not for the other three subjects as she felt it was not fair by our fellow classmates at the secondary section who were denied such access.

I agreed and so we did not use the better equipped undergraduates Library for the other subjects.

As we both studied the same subjects we had the same free periods too. Apart from this we were both Christians and members of the choir, SCM and Student YMCA. Both of us engaged in Tamil and English oratory and essay competitions.We represented the College at Valigamam west zonal and Jaffna district competitions.

Romance

In fact the first time I saw Vignarajah was when he turned up at Jaffna Hindu College for an all-Jaffna district awards ceremony where Shanthi and I were prize-winners. Vignarajah who had studied at the JC undergraduates section was now a Law student.

His romance with Shanthi had begun at JC. Though I knew about him, this was the first time I saw Vignarajah. Needless to say Shanthi was mercilessly teased the next day.

The Arts classes were in a block opposite the laboratory and could be reached via a narrow staircase. Neither the Principal nor vice-principal ever came up there on sudden “inspection”.

So we had a free run there chatting, arguing, teasing and even singing.Our class master then was Subramaniam Jebanesan who later became Jaffna College principal and the CSI Bishop of Jaffna.

I remember Shanthi’s favourite Tamil film song those days was “Thennankeetru Oonjaliley” sung by PB Sreenivas and Janaki in the film “Paathai Theeriyuthu Paar”. It was written by Jayakanthan and music composed by MP Sreenivasan.

Her favourite English song then was “oh wouldn’t it be luverly” the Marni Nixon-Audrey Hepburn-ensemble song in “My Fair Lady”. I can still hear Shanthi singing the lines “All I want is a room somewhere” and “Lots of chocolates for me to eat”.

She could also play the guitar. Shanthi had a Hawaian guitar and used to strum quite well. She used to go to Manipay for extra classes . It was amusing to see her cycle all the way to Manipay lugging the guitar along.

Popular

The cyclist Shanthi was a familiar sight in the JC environs .She would smile at those she knew while cycling and even greet juniors with a “how are you”?

Shanthi was like a sister to many younger girls at JC and immensely popular with them I have been pleasantly surprised on many occasions when old girls of JC would come up and tell me “You were in Shanthi Acca’s class”.

Other than being classmates Shanthi and I were also members of the same “red” house-Hastings. At that time Abraham or “green” house used to romp home as champions in the Track and Field Competitions. But in 1972 Hastings House was the champion.

Both of us were in the Atheletic squad and I recall the winners trooping down triumphantly to Shanthi’s house on College lane, Vaddukkoddai for a party. Later, to celebrate our victory , we went on a picnic to Valalai.

Shanthi’s father JP Rajadurai was a well-known figure at Vaddukkoddai. He was a retired postmaster and used to ask us questions and go off without waiting for our answers. Her mother , a smiling, friendly lady was graciously hospitable to us hostellers when we dropped in at their house occasionally.

Shanthi was the youngest in her family. The eldest was her brother Walter who was working at Browns in Colombo when I was at JC. He had later gone to the middle-east . After returning Walter worked in Kilinochchi for CARITAS. But he suffered a heart attack and passed away last September.

Shanthi’s sisters were Thamaraikumari who was a home science teacher at JC then. Arasakumari the other sister was a student at JC. She was one class higher to us. They are now in Britain and Denmark respectively.Shanthi was not only the pet but also the pride of her family.

The young idea

The student unions or associations at JC had names such as Academy. Lyceum, Brotherhood and Forum. Academy was for the AL students. Shanthi and I were on opposite sides when debates were held in the academy. Both of us competed to be student speaker at the annual academy dinner. I won by a solitary vote.

But Shanthi was magnanimous on another matter. JC has a college journal that was published each term from 1936. The Tamil version was called “Ila Gnayiru” and the English one “The Young Idea”. Being effectively bi-lingual both of us were on the editorial boards of both.

Shanthi was senior to me on the editorial board of “The Young Idea”. At one point she was entitled to be the editor on account of her seniority. Yet she was willing to be a joint editor with me.So both of us were co-editors in 1972 of the journal . This was my first taste of being “editor” thanks to Shanthi.

Our first “employment” was also a joint venture at JC. We were asked to teach English to some of the junior students by the principal. We were paid for this and it was the first time we ever got financial remuneration for something we did. I remember the joint treat we gave our friends at the tuck shop after getting our first “salary”.

An inevitable feature in a co-educational school like JC was the coupling of boys and girls. A boy and a girl would be paired off for some, any or no reason at all. They would be teased and heckled and “honourably mentioned” when Baila songs like “tarare tara poduda” are sung.

Given the fact that Shanthi and I had many things in common it was but natural for both of us to be “linked” by others. This was a source of private amusement to us. Shanthi’s romance with Vignarajah had commenced in 1968 in her early teens. Despite being at the receiving end of many jokes, the love of her life was Vicks.

Shanthi’s full name was Geetha Geraldine Shanthakumary. She was born on February 18th 1954. I too was born in the same year but a few months later. Vignarajah was elder to us but both he and I have the same birthday, May 21st.

Both Shanthi and I gained admission in 1973 to the University at Kelaniya for a BA degree in humanities. But I did not enter university and instead chose to go “off the beaten track”. Shanthi was deeply disappointed at my decision but accepted it. As I mentioned earlier she was one of the very few who understood me well.

My habit of not being in touch for a while and then suddenly turning up used to irritate her. “You can’t walk in and out of people’s lives like this” she would reprimand me. But she learnt to tolerate it and accepted me as a friend with all my faults . That was Shanthi.

Bread and wine

In 1978 when the Italian author Ignazio Silone died, Shanthi presented me a copy of his famous book “Bread and Wine”. In that she had underlined certain sentences and paragraphs pertaining to the protagonist Pietro Spina and his teacher Don Benedetto. Shanthi said she recognized Spina in me. I don’t think I deserved such a compliment but it was certainly flattering to hear her opinion.

She followed my career closely. She was not happy about my leaving the Tamil daily “Virakesari” and joining the English newspaper “The Island’. She felt I would not be given enough freedom to write there. But she changed her mind after a while and became a fan of my weekly column “Behind the Cadjan curtain” in the “Sunday Island”.

She remembered the salient points in each article and would reel them off from memory. It was not always praise and at times there would be constructive criticism that I valued highly.

There was one thing that Shanthi “hid” from me. This was her concern and anxiety for my personal safety . While she never expressed anything of that sort to me openly, I learnt after her demise that she had been regularly praying for me for many, many years. Characteristically she never ever told me this.

I was talking to her sister Arasakumari on the phone when she revealed that Shanthi had been constantly praying for my safety. Shanthi had said that while my articles were interesting and informative I was also endangering myself by writing them. I was touched immensely when Arasakumari told me that Shanthi had asked her sister to continue praying for me after she was gone.

I embarked on a journalistic career while Shanthi was reading for her degree. When working for the “Virakesari” I once compiled a feature interviewing young, educated women. Since everyone was saying the “usual, restrained” stuff I thought of interviewing Shanthi as I knew she would be boldly outspoken.

True to form Shanthakumari Rajadurai came out with some new, radical thoughts. She advocated a legally enforceable domestic code for households so that men could not exploit or control women. Shanthi’s views evoked a loud outcry. Many critical letters were sent to the paper.

Though Shanthi had strong views on the rights and emancipation of women she was not an ardent feminist. She was quite independent and chartered her own course but did not articulate her views stridently. In a sense she belonged to the “dual” tradition of a working woman cum wife-mother.

Notwithstanding her radical outlook , the varsity lecturer Shanthi was the typical housewife at home cherishing and looking after husband and children. She was a loving mother and devoted wife. The woman who once advocated a domestic code pampered her husband at home. It was a labour of love.

Pic by: HumanityAshore

Jaffna University

After passing out Shanthi was for a brief period an instructor at Kelaniya. She then went to the Jaffna university English department and went on to become senior lecturer. At one stage she became acting head of the English department.

Meanwhile Vignarajah had taken his oaths as an attorney at law and begun practising in Jaffna. The lengthy love affair was to reach a happy conclusion. They married despite some opposition over an inter-religious union.

Their family backgrounds were vastly different. She was a Christian while Vignaraja was from an orthodox Hindu family that retained hereditary trusteeship over a Moolai temple. Apart from the fact that both were JC alumni and that their fathers had been postmasters, there was very little in common between them.

But then despite these differences they got along well. Shanthi left her Vaddukkoddai home and went to Moolai, Chulipuram to live with her husband. Naturally, there were many adjustments to be made. But Shanthi rose up to the challenge and transformed her life in accordance with changed circumstances.

With the birth of their children life indeed changed for the better. The eldest was a girl Sangeetha followed by two boys Shavendra and Sanjendra.

I recall carrying Sangeetha as an infant in 1981. Shanthi laughed and laughed seeing my nervous clumsiness and discomfiture with her baby. I think the last time I saw the kids was in 1987. I saw Shanthi for the last time in Colombo in 1988.

Both Sangeetha and Shavendra are in the UK while Sanjendra is a lecturer in the Law department of Jaffna university. Sangeetha is married to Uthayashangar her cousin. Shanthi became a proud “ammamma” when their child Uthesan alias Timmy was born.

Whenever I visited Jaffna in the eighties of the last century I made it a point to visit the Jaffna university. The two persons I went to meet there specifically were both at the English dept. One was AJ Canagaretna, The other was of course Shanthi.

Moolai residence

I have also stayed with Shanthi and Vicks at their Moolai residence at times. Sometimes for several days at a stretch. Even my younger sister who also studied at JC has stayed with them.

It was very fortunate that Vignarajah and I communicated easily with each other and became friends soon. Thus I was a welcome guest with the family.

There is a saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Shanthi and Vicks were exactly that. There was a time when I was faced with an “emergency” of sorts and required urgent help. Shanthi got to know about it and together with Vignarajah provided assistance on their own without my even asking for it.

Unfortunately I was slow in discharging my obligations due to unexpected developments and as a result they had to undergo difficulties till I did so fully. But Shanthi’s faith in me never faltered during those days.Her strength indeed was her unshakeable faith. In her God and religion, her family, friends and humanity in general.

The LTTE was ruling the roost in Jaffna from the mid-eighties of the last century. This was a time when the legal profession in Jaffna was hit drastically. The practice of law virtually ceased and members of the black-coated fraternity swelled the ranks of unemployed. Later the LTTE established its own courts,lawyers and judges.

Like many other lawyers , Vignarajah too was affected. Shanthi was then a tower of strength to him and the family. She was sustained by her faith. Shanthi was always a religious person but had later on become evangelized as a born again Christian. It was this faith that made her strong and brave in times of trouble. One incident stands out in memory.

Views on LTTE

Vignarajah was closely associated with the TULF leader Appapillai Amirthalingam and was involved in politics then. Amirthalingam himself was in India. The tigers were angry with Vignarajah for organizing a meeting to commemorate Amirthalingam.

One day Shanthi was returning home to Moolai after work. When the mini-bus stopped at the junction before her stop she saw a crowd there. To her shock , Shanthi saw Vignarajah’s motor cycle on the ground and some tiger cadres surrounding her husband belligerently.

She jumped out of the vehicle and ran to the spot. Arguing vehemently with the tigers, Shanthi managed to persuade them to let them go. It was like Savithri of the Puranas saving her husband Sathyavan from the clutches of Yaman.

Later I asked her what gave her the courage to do so. She said that she had no time to think and only saw that her husband was in trouble. She was also sure that God would protect her. Such was her faith.

In 1995 the Sri Lankan Government established its writ over Jaffna again. The Judicial system was gradually restored. Vignarajah himself mounted the bench first as a magistrate and then as District judge. Currently he is the High Court judge in Jaffna.

Shanthi’s prayers were answered. However she continued at the University till March this year when she had to stop working due to her ill-health.

Shanthi was quite candid with her views on the LTTE. She disapporoved of many tiger activities and never hesitated to articulate them when necessary. But the LTTE too tolerated this “dissent” because the tigers knew Shanthi was simply being honest and had no hidden agenda.

Selva. Gajendran the TNA Jaffna district Parliamentarian was at one time the LTTE run student union president at the Jaffna university. On one occasion a foreign journalist interviewed Gajendran and requested Shanthi to interprete. She obliged.

At one point the journalist asked Gajendran whether it was possible for LTTE critics to survive in Jaffna. Gajendran then pointed to Shanthi and said “Yes. Madam here, is one such example”.

Prize giving

Shanthakumari Vignarajah was one who helped others and gave of her time to deserving causes. Shanthi has helped numerous people in need generously. All these things were done quietly without any publicity.

She played a significant role in the activities of the peace council and high security zone committee in Jaffna. Many officials were impressed by her but she always shunned the limelight.

A rare occasion where Shanthi sought the limelight was denied her recently. The Vignarajahs were invited as chief guests for the annual Jaffna College prize giving. Shanthi was to give away the prizes.

Shanthi had studied at JC from grade 1 to 12 and was very fond of the crimson and gold.Having received prizes year after year in School , the opportunity of handing them out would have been relished by her. She had some years ago proposed the vote of Thanks at the prize giving.

But despite Shanthi’s determination her health did not permit it. So it was her daughter Sangeetha who stood in for her and distributed the prizes. But Shanthi’s name is on the prize giving day programme.

Among the many things I admired the Vignarajahs for was their attachment to their land and people. Shanthi and Vicks stayed in Jaffna amidst much trouble and violence undergoing terrible hardship and suffering.

Both could have easily gone abroad as their siblings are all in foreign countries. They did not want to desert Jaffna and remained rooted to the soil rendering service to their people. I salute them both for that.

To be with god

Sadly Shanthi was afflicted with cancer and had a breast removed a few years ago. However this was only a reprieve and there was a malignant resurgence that proved fatal. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and her days were numbered. Her children and sister returned to Jaffna to be with her.

The pain was terrible but Shanthi bore it all with her customary grit and tried to be cheerful. Once again her faith was her strength. She waited for the end with the supreme confidence that she was going to be with God. This is what she told family and friends frequently

Shanthakumari breathed her last at 7. 15 pm on July 28th. Her husband , three children and grandson were around her as she bade farewell. Her sister from Denmark had been with her for several weeks but had gone to Colombo for a brief visit when Shanthi passed away.

Shanthi had three wishes as her end drew near. She wanted her sister Arasakumari to be with her during her last days.She wanted her family to be with her when she died. She wanted to be buried at Vaddukkoddai by the side of her parents.All her wishes were fulfilled.

Though Shanthi had become an evangelical Christian the CSI bishop of Jaffna Rt. Rev Daniel Thiyagarajah consented to her burial at Vaddukkoddai. There was a service at Cathedral Church, Vaddukkoddai and Shanthi’s remains were laid to rest at the Church cemetery . In her own words Shanthi is now with God.

I am indeed blessed to have been her friend . She was one who understood me well, tolerated my faults, gave of her friendship and never demanded anything in return. Such souls are rare in this world.

I thank God for Shanthi as she abides with the almighty. My thoughts are with her family and friends.

“Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me”.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

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143 Comments

  1. Dear Jeyaraj,

    Your beautiful tribute to Shanthi also brings out very endearingly many notable facets of life at Jaffna College at a very impressionable period-1970s. Four years later after you joined the College (1974) that life was almost completely snuffed out by the government taking over the Undergraduate Department.Your tribute also touches briefly how the Undergraduate Department and the School Department were inter-twined.Thats how Vignarajah of the UG department found one of the brightest jewels of the School Department in 1968 ! I was not altogether ignorant of this alliance !

    You are accepted and honoured as a thorough,erudite,versatile journalist of international repute today .You have used your skills to weave out a fine work of art in portraying the life of dear Shanthi who I knew from birth.My parents and I knew the family for three generations.My children came to adore and love her as a dear acca and my son worked with her as junior colleague for some years in the English Department of the University of Jaffna.

    Your serene friendship with Shanthi of four decades, which may sound some – what unorthodox to a Jaffna community, speaks volumes of the quality of co-education at Jaffna College.This needs another article !

    A few years ago I spoke at the reception here in Toronto of a couple who met each other for the first time in Grade 5 !

    It is well known that there were boys and girls who studied together from Grade 1 to the degree classes too.

    Besides the classroom you were involved together in those vibrant activities in the choirs,Student Christian Movement (SCM), Literary associations, sports meets and inter-hostel socials.It is but natural that a few found their life partners too. As Principal Balasingham in his first Prize-Report in 1967 referred to the healthy co-education at College saying ‘…there were some flutters but no blemish ..) You have expressed very classically another dimension of co-education in your unique relationship with Shanthi and her family as a true friend for almost four decades.

    Your offering English together with Shanthi I remember very well along with others in the 70′ & 80s.I kept English in the curriculum in the A.L. classes when almost all schools in Jaffna had given up.The classes had just a few less than six.I do not want to mention names here but look where these students who offered English are today.One of the best teachers I recruited to teach English in 80’s Ram Kandiah retired Lecturer in English at the Palaly Teachers’ Training College, now living in California sent me a card saying ‘that the best period of his teaching career was at Jaffna College’.This probably was due to the calibre of English students he had at that time !

    Ever since 1936 when the Journal ‘Young Idea’ was established it had co-editors for the first time in 1972.It was you and Shanthi. I have with me a list of editors-English and Tamil from 1936 to 1980.You will note a galaxy of men and women who were one time editors as professors,ambassadors,lawyers, doctors,educators,journalists,etc. I guess you were cradled in journalism being Editor of the Young idea.You reminded me some years ago that I was the only principal in the history of Jaffna College who censored the issue of the journal once.You showed your courage as a journalist even in 1971 critical of the government ! I did it with good purpose and still stand by it in the interests of the College with a hostile government !

    May you continue your splendid contribution in your vocation as a journalist for may more years.

    Rajan Kadirgamar

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Thank you very much Sir for the comment and sentiments expressed. Those days at Jaffna College with you as the principal were wonderful. Thanks for the information that Shanthi and I were the first joint editors of “The Young Idea”.

    As for your censoring the 1971 1st term issue of “The Young Idea” it was due to two things. Nirmala Rajasingham who was the Editor at that time had written an editorial that was sympathetic to “youth” problems and somewhat critical to the Govt of the time. I had written about the JVP and predicted an insurrection.The JVP uprising commenced on April 5th 1971.

    “The Young Idea” was scheduled to be out on April 7th 1971. With emergency and curfews being declared you had no choice other than to “ban” the issue.

  2. Very nice tribute DBS.I remember both you and Shanthi at college. She was a good person.God bless her soul.

  3. I studied English from her at Jaffna university. Very helpful and kind to students like me who were not good in English. She will teach patiently. Very sorry to hear she has died. My respects to her memory

  4. I knew her as undergraduate in Kelaniya campus. She mixed with all students from different communities. Very friendly, nice and kind. I am sure she is with God as she wanted.May she find eternal rest in God’s abode.

    Very moving tribute DBS. May God bless you too.

  5. I have read many of your articles on politics and war. But this your tribute is I think the best of all. I wish you will write more humanistic articles like this and not on dirty war and politics. This lady must have been very special for you to write so movingly.It was very touching. May she rest in peace

  6. I agree with Nihal (#6). This tribute reveals a sensitive, sentimental side of DBS that is not very well known.Yes ,DBS should and could write more pieces of this type.

  7. Dear DBS

    Your tribute to your friend and classmte at Jaffna College was touching and informative. To a Southerner like me I learnt a lot about school life in Jaffna. Your college must be a wonderful institution for you to be so nostalgic

    May ms, Shanthakumari Rajadurai Wignaraja rest in peace

  8. Deeply touched by your tribute. Surely this lady was loved by her family and friends. My deeepest condolences to them on their loss.

    She is surely with the Lord now and she will surely love you all from above.

  9. Dear DBSJ

    I have become an ardent fan of your writings, as an Indian I never knew any one of you, but this tribute of yours to a friend brings back some sweet memories of my dearest friends in school,college and university days. This tribute was excellent . My heartfelt regards to you.
    Rana

  10. Dear DBS,
    Thank you for the write up.
    Arasakumari was in our batch.
    The article brings sorrow, but with good old memories of our great college
    Godbless,
    Jeyapalan

  11. Dear DBS

    I don’t know the lady but she must have been a great person for you to write this beautiful tribute. I can sense the pain and grief you feel over her loss. Using those verses from Alfred Tennyson’s “break,break,break” poem that we learnt in school at start and end of article was most appropriate.I have always felt you are a sentimental, deeply sensitive person who tries hard to hide those aspects. But articles like this exposes the real You. And I like that. Like others on this blog I too wish you will write articles of this kind more often

    May your friends soull rest in peace

  12. The beauty of this essay of tribute onto a layman Sinhalese like me is a mix of compassion, brotherly love and twisted fate of history.

    I have never seen Jaffna prior to the troubles. I do not know DBS nor do I have heard of Shanthi till I read this blog.

    The bottom line of this essay is girls & boys in Jaffna during those years had a nice time together, often embedded with a rich culture. Just as my father & mother did in the south.

    However, the disturbing events since early 70’s changed many of the Northern girls & boys to drift apart from the traditional southern way of entering university and finding jobs, raising a family, flourishing with a business, partaking in arts & culture etc. Contrarily, The northerners were uncertain of continuous eduction, job insecurity, families members killed or migrated, low business confidence, and hardly any cultural enjoyment.

    That’s what I sadly read between the lines of Shanthi’s story. I wish if an engine of time travel could get us all back to the early of the 20th century and correct the mistakes of the then govt policies, LTTE hegemony and reverse hatred of people of both divide.

    My sympathies to Vignarajah & Children. DBS too.

  13. Two spin-offs I missed to pen DBS.

    1. The resolve of the Vignarajah family to stay put in the peninsula at the time trouble brewed and continued is striking. It is not only courage but a faith on the established government system that Shanthi went onto University teaching and Vignarajah going upstream in the judicial service.

    2. Given that now we have normalcy in the north,(though may not be perfect till the IDPs are resettled) I trust the Diaspora could now come and go safely to the peninsula to meet relatives and in this instance the funeral of Shanthi. I’m sure DBS must be longing for that journey since being away in Canada for a long time.?

    Yes Channa.Hopefully that day will dawn very soon……………DBSJ

  14. I have heard about Jaffna College. I learnt a lot about it from this article. Thank You Mr.Jeyaraj.May your friend rest in peace

  15. Many of us left Jaffna to save ourselves.It is very couragous that Vignarajah and Shanthi remained there in Jaffna and faced the wrath of the time.I salute both.
    Jaffna college has a great contribution through its students
    in the present crisis and DBS is one of them.
    Ratnam Ganesh.

  16. An elegant yet emotional tribute. I feel as if I know the lady very well. Thank you DBS. May Shanthi find eternal rest and peace

  17. Dear DBSJ

    A Fantastic tribute to a dear freind. She seems to be an amazing person and a wonderful human being.

    May her soul rest in peace. My deepest sympathy’s to her family and to you as well.

    Take care my freind

    Angelo

  18. “You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your “friends.'”

    HI Annoi,

    Well written emotional tribute. I am deeply touched Annoi!. It is not that easy to find a true friend like Shanthi, and especially a friend who can be remembered throughout the life……………

    It is also hard to find a friend or friends who can bring back cherishing memories.

    “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

    You are absolutely right Annoi, in saying that a very few remained rooted in Jaffna. It is an irreplaceable loss.

    May her soul rest in peace.

  19. Jaffna College has the best School ibrary in south asia even better than the Inidan libraries. I’ve been there

  20. Dear DBS

    I don’t really know Shanti.

    After reading your tribute, one thing struck me; education system in those days produced such high caliber people.

    I truly admire her for her courage to remain in Jaffna and serve to their people. Your tribute to her is very inspirational.

    My heartfelt condolences to her family. May god bless her soul.

  21. Thank you Mr. Jeyaraj for breaking your long silence with this touching article. Just like Channa i also wish that we could change the past mistakes and have the same glory in Jaffna as ever. Your friendship reminded me of my university days.

    May shanthi rest in peace!

  22. A very moving tribute written with feeling and pain. Another side of DBS. May Shanthi rest in peace.

  23. It was a very moving article. I was also a student of Jaffna college. I studied there for nearly eight years, and then left to Singapore. When I was a student there, Jaffan college had everything, good facilities, social life, variety of sports, cutural life,etc. I had enjoyed everything there. This article has revived my memory.

  24. DBS, I dont know who Ms. Shanthakumari Vignaraja was. I hadn’t heard much of Jaffna College. But after reading your remarkable tribute I feel as if I knew Ms. Shanthi very well. I feel that I studied at Jaffna College. Above all I learnt a lot about you

    Thank you vry much and may the good lord bless you

    May God grant eternal refuge to ms.Shanthakumari

  25. My eyes became wet and teary reading this. Not only loss of bright lady but the misery caused by the unwanted conflict to her relatively short life.

  26. Jeya, a well written and moving tribute. Thanks to you we are able to read it. I was admitted to JC in 50, but unfortunately I went to Colombo school for UE.

    All the best to you Jeya and may God bless Shanthi for her to rest in peace.

  27. Dear DBSJ

    Very sorry to hear about the death of your friend Shanthi in Jaffna .My her soul rest in peace .

    In this context I would like to ask you as to how is the situation in Jaffna now ? Are people leading normal life there or are the conditions still horrible there ? Is it possible for people to travel to Jaffna freely now ?
    Hoping for your inputs on the current state of Jaffna .

    ———

    Thank you but I will answer your questions on another occasion.This is a tribute only………DBSJ

  28. Dear DBSJ,
    I never seen JC or Mrs Shanthi, after reading your tribute to Mrs Shanthi I felt like I lost my elder sister.

    May the Almighty Lord give strength to her dear ones and family members to bear this loss

    Thank you for taking us to the Jaffna life style, which I wanted to see and enjoy over 3 decades, hope I will do before my time up

  29. As usual a good writeup from DBS. Very touching.

    EDITED

    ———
    Thank you but I had to edit your comment as I dont want “politics” to invade this tribute…….DBSJ

  30. Very nice tribute. Learnt about Jaffna College and Mrs. Vignaraja through this.She must be an amazing person for DBS to write this with so uch of genuine feeling. May she attain Moksha

  31. Brought out the wonderful school life. I reminded of Sinhala song”Gamey Pasaley,Apey Panthiye” (In our village school ,in our classroom).Thank DBS

  32. Once again you taught us Love and Mankind through Shanthi’s tribute.

    My thoughts are with her family. May god bless her soul.

  33. I knew Shanthi at varsity. She was friendly with Sinhala undergrads too. So sorry to hear about demise.I am sure she is with God. My thanks to DBS for this brilliant tribute

  34. Sorry for writing again.

    I just went through my album & found old group photo with Shanthi Rajadurai. So sad to see her bright smile.

  35. I was in first Sinhala undergraduate batch when Jaffna college was taken over as part of University Jaffna campus. I stayed in house in Sankarathai. Very happy time. DBS artical brings those memories

  36. I remember Shanthi very well at Vidyalankara campus. She spoke to us very nicely. Once she came with me and Mangalika Premaratne to see “eya dan Loku Lamayek”. We told the story to her to understand. Very sad to hear the bad news.

  37. Dear DBSJ,
    Thank you very much for this trubute to your friend. This is a storey that needed to be heard. I am sure if wanted, Shanthakumari & her husband could have left SL for greener pastures long time ago. With their education any nation would have welcomed them.

    But they didnt.

    They has faith in their country and its people. An important lesson that the younger generations of Sri Lankans of all races should learn.

    (Most of whome like to take the easy way out. Enjoy the free education and the moment you have the degree at hand, start looking for PR, citizen ship etc etc.)

    I admire their courage and determination and express my condolences to the family and friends.

    On a different note, you seem to have a vivid memory of the times you had in Jaffna before the troubles started brewing. How about bringing these memories back to life in a book?

    I would like to suggest a book similar to ‘It was the babbler’s nest’ by Conrad Flesinger. (One of the best books I have ever read) About being a boy and growing up in Jaffna.

    If you write it, I will translate it to Sinhala for free.

    Thank you for the suggestion and offer. I havent read “it was the babbler’s nest”. I must get hold of it soon…………DBSJ

  38. as a mother and wife she was the best…itz not amazing to know that she was a best friend as well..thatz my beloved mother’s nature all through out her life…transparent honesty was the theme of her life.
    itz very true that God creates Mothers to feel his embracing touch..
    world’s best amma
    thank u ever so much uncle for proving your great honest friendship.
    may God bless you

    Sanju ,I was blessed to be your mother’s friend and it was a privilege to write this tribute……..DBSJ

  39. I too studied at Vaddukkoddai in Jaffna university.In 1977 the Tamil people looked after us carefully and sent us home safely. But some of our people told all lies in Anuradhapura that Tamil people attacked us and caused a lot of violence against innocent Tamils. Later the govt closed down Sinhala stream at Jaffna campus. It was great pity. I stayed in Arali with Tamil family. My room mate was Premarathne

    Reading your tribute brought memories of Vaddukkoddai back. I sympathise with you and Shanthi madam’s family

  40. DBS
    Many thanks for another excellent article. Your article shows the culture of Jaffna probably around 1970’s when I used to visit. I thought as a fortunate Singhalese, Jaffna and it’s people were wonderful. But many Singhalese do not have this experience.
    I thought you also studied at St Thomas’ College Mt Lavinia? Am I right?

    Yes.I studied at Prep in Colpetty and College at Mt.Lavinia.I came to JC for AL……….DBSJ

  41. Thanks for writing such a beautiful tribute in the memory of your friend. When reading between the lines, we could very well understand about the peaceful environment and the discipline in Jaffna in those days. Those beautiful days, we could trust others and be friends with them without thinking of their religion, sex or ethnicity. It was same for the north as well as for the south. Now the society is different, things are changed. Thank you DBSJ for changing your tune from war related articles. As channa suggested, I also think that you should write more and more articles about the beautiful life you had in Jaffna, so people like me from the South can understand about the culture, value system etc of the Jaffna people.

  42. This is a beautiful piece of work. Having known shanthy aunty from Childhood I can say this is a fitting tribute to an exemplary lady!

  43. She was a wonderful teacher.I respect her a lot.I am proud of her for staying in Jaffna without going abroad like so many others like me. God bless her in heaven

  44. wonderful tribute uncle….we are so very proud of our darling amma….. i’m happy that she is free from all her sufferings and pains and she is resting with her sweet Jesus…. she was the best mom one could ever have…
    thank you very much uncle for this wonderful work of yours. I’ll continue to pray for you…..as amma did….

    Sangeetha, writing this was the least I could do for your mother my friend.Thank you for saying you will pray for me like Shanthi.God bless you all……………DBSJ

  45. Jeyaraj, I did not know her much personally but knew that she was a very nice person. Shathakumari was a good friend of my sister who joined the College later. She has told me what a good person she was. You brought back a lot of the fond memories of living in the Howland hostel, the ragging and what not. Even the language and words you have used matched our time in the school. I think we made fun of you saying that she was your GF didn’t we ? Anyway it was a very nice tribute to a good friend.

    Rajendra, Thank you. Can you e-mail me at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com please?……………..DBSJ

  46. i know shanthy acca very well when i wasin tholpuram after she married my relative mr vignarajah( rasa anna).she was a woman of good principles,unbiased love and great faith.Although she married into a well respected orthodox hindu family in moolai she adjusted very well and treated all her husbands relatives with full of love and affection.may her noble soul rest in peace and may GOD
    almighty consoles her loved ones..

  47. im very pleased to see a comment made by our beloved and most respected principal of jaffna college mr rajan kadirgamar.i studied under his leadership from 1981 -1989 at jaffna college the greatest educational college in jaffna.SIR you were the greatest example of good character and discipline.you did a wanderfull job of managing us the (rebellious students) during the crucial period of our life.we are very gratefull to you all our life .may god bless you abundantly .

  48. This is a beautiful piece of work. Having known shanthy aunty from my childhood I can say this is a fitting tribute to an exemplary lady!

  49. Dear DBS

    Articles like this about loveable people in North and South are a great way to make all of us understand how close we are.

    Do you know that I called my grandmother Ammamma too?

    The article draws me a familar picture even though I have never lived in Jaffna. (apart from very fond memories of Jaffna and its friendly people during my only visit as a kid long before the war started)

    I have no hope on most politicians including the present government. I will only be surprised and dissapointed if tamil people do not fight for their rights possibly with different means that would make room for non Tamils to support.

    I have learned to love beautiful people both Tamils and Sinhalese and others. Shanthi akka was certainly a loveable person and she deserves your moving tribute and our respect and admiration. may she rest in peace.

    Saman

  50. DBS..you did a wonderful job

    She is my dearest loving sister who showerd immense love and affection on me..I have no words to explain it.

    She was a wonderfull soul

  51. Tribute was nice DBS, I too studied at JC. You took us back old days. We too sympathise with you and Vignarajah family on her demise. Now we can celebrate Amirthalingam birthday or his death anniversary in Jaffna.

  52. Dear DBS

    Sorry to hear about the death of your friend Shanthi akka and my deepest sympathies to her husband and children. Your tribute to your friend is very touching. Way of your writings and our respected principal Rajan Kadirkamar’s comments brought my sweet memories of JC that we call “Kaloori Vassantham”. I respect your friendship with Shanthi akka and her family and as an old boy of JC (where I study short period of time in late Eighties) I can value that. I came across several kinds of friends in my life but friends from JC and Vaddukoddai are significant sort and we still keep in touch each others. Three years back we organized small get together in London and our batch mates (including JC) from all over the world came with their families. It was very wonderful time.

    Friendship Forever!

    Rgs
    Mavady

  53. Dear DBS

    Sorry to hear about the death of your friend Shanthi akka and my deepest sympathies to her husband and children. Your tribute to your friend is very touching. Way of your writings and our respected principal Rajan Kadirkamars comments brought my sweet memories of JC that we call Kaloori Vassantham. I respect your friendship with Shanthi akka and her family and as an old boy of JC (where I study short period of time in late Eighties) I can value that. I came across several kinds of friends in my life but friends from JC and Vaddukoddai are significant sort and we still keep in touch each others. Three years back we organized small get together in London and our batch mates (including JC) from all over the world came with their families. It was very wonderful time.

    Friendship Forever!

    Rgs
    Mavady

  54. Dear DBS,

    Thank you for the wonderful tribute you have paid to someone who was very much close to me and my wife krisha. It also brought back memories of JC at that time.

    I have treasured memories of Shanthi especially when working with her in the same department at Jaffna University. She has been my mentor and shared her knowledge and resources with me in teaching. Many times she and Vicks have given me lifts in their car from Vaddukoddai to Thinnevely and I remember all the lively conversations we had on the way.

    The comments written in this blog speaks for it self of the sentiments that you have expressed.

    I also want to say that I am a regular reader of your articles and I admire your honest report of what is happening.

    Continue with your worthy writing. All the best.

    Thanks Katpahan.Writing this revived nostalgic memories of JC…………DBSJ

  55. I too was GCE-Advanced level student at Jaffna College , Vaddukkoddai from 1970-73 in Bio Class. Mr. Arokkiam. Mr. Soudrarajan, Mr. Shanmugadas and many others were our teachers. I still remember her face. I am very sorry to hear this sad news.

  56. I studied at Jaffna college in seventies. I remember Shanthi Acca very well. and you also Jeyaraj. I was student in supplementary English classes you both taught us after school.She was a gentle person. I am very sad at her loss

  57. Mrs.Shanthakumari taught me at Jaffna university. She was kind and duty – conscious. IDBS am able to read what you have written mainly due to her encouragement to make me learn English

  58. Dear Mr.Jeyaraj

    Thank you for an eloquent tribute to your friend. Though I dont know Shanthi the way you have written has made me feel that I know her really well. I also got insight into Jaffna school life through you.Like other commenters I also request you to write more articles different to your usual politics articles. You have a knack for capturing our hearts with articles like his.

    Nimmi

  59. Jeyaraj,
    This was not only a great tribute but educational. Friendship is the pancea the world needs now.
    Thanks for sharing your memories. May her soul rest in peace.

  60. I knew Shanthi when she was at Kelaniya. A very genuine,friendly girl who interacted with members of all ethnicities. May she rest in peace

  61. I knew both Shanthi and Jeyaraj at JC. I like Jeyaraj article on Shanthi very much. Shanthis was very good to all of us. I pray to God for her heavenly rest

  62. Shanthakumari and Jeyaraj were in higher class when I was in lower school. But I knew her better later when I went to Jaffna university. She was very kind to us all. Thanks to Jeyaraj for very nice article. Our sympathies to her family

  63. Shanthi was very good friend of mine in younger days. She was a true,devoted person.We lost touch for many years.I am very sorry to hear about her illness and passing away.May she attain Moksha.

  64. This tribute is well written.It evokes memories of my experience at Jaffna college when the All – Ceylon Schools basketball nationals were hosted by JC in Vaddukkoddai. The school was wonderful and students welcomed us southern schoolboys with lots of affection. we were treated well by JC students. I learnt there that Jaffna college was the first school in Sri Lanka to introduce basketball.

  65. dear dbs

    took me some time to read this as i am travelling through many countriesat the moment. what a lovely article. with all this war and hate it is refreshing and like a breath of fresh air.

    Thank you very much Shankar……………DBSJ

  66. Your friend Shanthi is a very heroic person. Honest people are always heroic for they think of others before themselves. May she rest in Peace and may she find eternal happiness!

  67. Reading Jeffreys comment about going to jaffna college for basketball nationals makes me write this. I went to Jaffna college from Colombo for the all – ceylon schools hockey nationals. We were well treated there and staff,students of JC were very friendly and cordial with us students from colombo and south. The JC hockey master Anantharutnam was extremely attentive & helpful. It was a very good college in nice environment. DBS’s tribute revives such pleasant memories

  68. Dear channa,

    This tribute written by DBS takes me to my schooldays. a near by village of his but 10 years afterwards. I was not so concern about my class mates.I mised many good things..Introduced High degree of commpetiveness in the education system erroded every thing,First the sence of beauty,
    compasion,English,and our relatively non-violent culture. we all fought for nothing, we lost the paradice. but have hopes on memmories of DBs like people to rebuild it.
    May santhy acca rest in peace.

    Parathy

  69. I knew Shanthakumari at Jaffna university. Very kind and gentle person.Always cheerful. This article by DBS is very different to his others. Wrote by him well. brought tears to my eyes. God bless Shanthakumari

  70. this tribute is lovely. you write articles like this so very well, the little personal details and touches make her come alive for those who don’t know her, like me. also enjoyed learning more things about you through this.

  71. Thank you DBS very touching tribute,I know Shanthi acca from my childhood,we grew up in the same neighbourhood.Her name very well match her face,wonderful lady.My deepest sympathy to all her family members,May her soul rest in peace.
    Sahadevan

  72. Thanks for this nice tribute. I’m also going back to my college life at JC. I was class mate of Sangeetha. I knew madam Shanthi Vignarajah as sangeethas mum first and later I met her at Jaffna university. She is such a wonderful person. May she rest in peace. God bless her and her family.

  73. Dear DBS,
    Thanks for the emotional tribute to your friend and my senior mate, which touch me with sentiments. It is very sad to hear the demise of Shanthi acca as we recall, at an early age. I have known Shanthakumari during my days at Jaffna College and was being a junior student to her, in the seventies. I still remember her smiling face, cycling along the college lane and say �Hello� with her specific type of her spectacles, as shown in the photograph. I believe, she was a school councillor during that period.

    My heartfelt condolence is to Mr.Vignarajah and his Children!
    May her soul RIP!

    Further, your tribute has once again taken me to my nostalgic memories of my college days at Vaddukoddai , in Jaffna. The photo you displayed in the blog is the area where the annual prize giving usually takes place. Your article also recalled me the fond memories of our beautiful college and also our typical blend of Jaffna lifestyle, brought in front of to your fantastic readers.

    Ever since the civil war erupted, we were compelled to move to the Colombo and at presently in abroad, which made me lost in contacts with some of our old students and staff. I have visited JC after long gap in 2003 and met the known available staff. I had an opportunity to meet our Principal, Mr. Rajan Kadirgamar, a couple of years ago, in Sydney.
    Being a fervent fan of your columns since your �Island� and �Frontline �days till now at �Transcurrents�/ dbs jeyaraj blogs, I always have high regards and admire your art of writings, clarifications and especially for your unbiased views.

    I have known you as a senior Arts student in the GCE (A/L) class room, located above the chemistry Laboratory, and was being in the �Young idea� Journal of our college. Also, met you during the stay in Madras(Kodampakkam) for the Indian election coverage for �The Island� in the early eighties.
    This piece has touched a different dimension away from your usual political track, may be the news could be related to an old student or something like a family member, of our Jaffna College.

    Thanks once again for your excellent piece of memories!
    Best wishes.
    T.Chandrasegar

    Thank you.If I remember correctly were you not studying geology in India?…………DBSJ

  74. Shanthi acca ws incomparable. Jeyaraj you have encapsuled her fine attributes, life at JC, changed circumstances of Jaffna and your close friendship in this moving tribute.Thank you

  75. Excellent tribute DBS. You really know who Shanthy is and you have described her so beautifully. While reading I felt like my darling sister had come back to life. Thank you ever so much for bringing her back to life.

    It was very interesting to read about your first day at Jaffna College. Shanthy really came to cheer you up but since you misunderstood her she got annoyed. It is typical of Shanthy.

    As regards the Virakesari interview you are 100 percent correct. Shanthy would fight for women�s liberation but when it comes to her own life she cheerfully attended to all her husband’s needs devotedly for 29 years.

    It was amusing to read about her rescue operation at Moolai. Shanthy infact had on many occasions jumped into the lions den or the tigers cage in order to save a humanbeing. She was fearless. Her courage came from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

    It kindled so many of beautiful memories to read about her Hawaiin guitar and her cycling down College Lane. While reading, I wished with all my heart that the clock would go backwards and I could see my precious sister riding her bicycle with her beautiful smile..

    It was nice to read about the many comments by her Sinhalese colleagues. Shanthy loved the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers alike. She always said that all were created by God and all are precious in God�s sight.

    I can just imagine what Shanthy would do if she read your tribute � Shanthy would have raised her eyebrows with a pleasant smile and would have said � DBS IS BORN TO WRITE!!

    Once again thanks a million for the beautiful tribute.

    Thank you Jika.I was blessed to be your sister’s friend and paying tribute is a privilege………..DBSJ

  76. Madam Shanthakumari Vignaraja lectured me in English at Jaffna university. Sincere teacher whom we all liked. I regret her loss very much. My sympathy to family members

  77. Dear Jeyaraj,

    Many thanks for this beautiful tribute to Shanthi acca. Her family was closely related to both my parents. I knew her as an older sister when my father was posted to Jaffna in the early 70’s. I am fowarding this to all my relatives who would love to read this.

    Dharinie

  78. Dear Mr. Jeyaraj

    Your emotional tribute to your departed classmate and friend is very moving. I was touched.May Mrs. Shanthakumari Vignaraja rest eternal in the heavenly abode of God almighty.

    I must however commend you on this piece of remarkable writing. I am a Sinhalese residing in Australia and have visited Jaffna only twice in my whole life. On both occasions we were on pilgrimage to Nagadeepa.

    But your tribute article transported me to Jaffna and provided insight into school life there. I also learnt a lot about ms. Shanthi and feel as if I know her intimately. Such is the power of your writing.

    Please continue writing and write more sir ,of the people and places and events. I think you have a great role to play in bringing our people together and what better way than to write about people and places.

  79. Shanthi acca was very helpful and kind to me at Jaffna college. I havent seen her for more than 30 years but I always think of her . I was very sad when friend told me she had died and asked me to read this here. Jeyaraj I remember you also as Shanthi accas class friend. You wrote very nice article about her. I cried when read it

  80. Shanthi acca was senior in school to me at JC. So was Jeyaraj. Later she taught me in university.A very good peron. I am very sorry she passed away.My sympathy to family.God bless

  81. Dear DBS:

    An emotional tribute revealing a remarkable personality of your classmate and also my one of my seniors in Jaffna College.

    I am very glad to learn how a life of a friend from school days to old days can affect one’s life in a positive way.

    Kesavan

  82. Dear Jeyaraj

    I belong to an earlier pre-independence generation at Jaffna College. I migrated in the fifties and havent had much contact with the “ole” country.Reading your moving tribute enabled me to know how the College had been functioning in the 70’s and 80’s. It gave me immense satisfaction to know that all the traditions of the institution were maintained. The co – educational environment at JC was its hallmark. I am glad that such an atmosphere prevails still. Your friendship with ms. Shanthakumari is a wonderful example of that spirit. I thank you for this article and may Shanthi rest in peace with God.

  83. DBS,
    Great writing. You have exceeded or beaten your own target in writing. I thought your ealier tribute for Neelan set the standard for your glowing penmenship. But this tribute to your classmate blew all your earlier writings. Excellent!!.

    I think we all have to pray for your safety. Keep writing!! As “TCK” suggested above, you should seriously give some thought on putting together a book on SL living.

  84. WONDERFUL TRIBUTE DBS. I KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO LOSE A GENUINE FRIEND. MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.

    IT’S GREAT TO HAVE YOU BACK AFTER THE BREAK. I’M SURE YOU WILL HAVE MORE THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT.

  85. Really touching nostalgia and educational too on the classic Jaffna we never saw. This could well be a story from a similar base in Colombo, Kandy, Galle or Matara involving Southerners. It goes to prove yet again why we all should be one. Time is running out on us all the time leaving only memories like this.I wish i knew this lady!

  86. Dear DBS,
    Thank you for bringing this tribute to the world. She was my teacher and then my colleague at Jaffna university, a very good friend eventhough she was more than a decade older, the real mentor in my personal life. I met her last in 2007 when I permanently left my career and country. I had few contacts even after that. She never complained about her health. Such a wonderful person. I can’t forget those days of being together at Jaffna University and having fun at the Senior Common Room where we used to go for our tea. I couldn’t belive her demise. That wonderful face lives in my heart and her beautiful voice ecos in my ears. May her soul rest in peace. In her own words, yes, she is with the supreme power ‘God’. Our thoughts are with her family ( I have met Sangeetha few times in the University when she was school girl and have seen her son’s photos from this lovely ammamma).

  87. Dear DBS,
    Thank you for bringing this tribute to the world. She was my teacher and then my colleague at Jaffna university, a very good friend eventhough she was more than a decade older, the real mentor in my personal life. I met her last in 2007 when I permanently left my career and country. I had few contacts even after that. She never complained about her health. Such a wonderful person. I can’t forget those days of being together at Jaffna University and having fun at the Senior Common Room where we used to go for our tea. I couldn’t belive her demise. That wonderful face lives in my heart and her beautiful voice echos in my ears. May her soul rest in peace. In her own words, yes, she is with the supreme power ‘God’. Our thoughts are with her family ( I have met Sangeetha few times in the University when she was school girl and have seen her son’s photos from this lovely ammamma).

  88. Dear DBSJ , reading all the comments just show how compasionate we all can be to each other.

    I know you mourn the loss of your friend Shanthi ,I would like to share this exceptional rendering of ‘Amazing Grace’. This was sent to me by a friend of mine and is a balm to soothe your soul.

    This is also specially for all my tamil brothers and sisters.-

    Four Men singing at the Coliseum in Rome. Awesomely beautiful! Sends chills up your spine, and brings tears to your eyes….

    Click on the link below and enjoy! It is an enjoyable 4 minutes. Bagpipes and all.

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1785324681?bclid=1338935106&bctid=1913313052

    Thanks Dilshan.I just listened to it twice.Wonderful. Amazing grace is one of my favourites…..DBSJ

  89. Dear Jeyaraj,
    Shanthy’s sister Thamarai is a class mate of mine and I know the family well as we were few in the Sunday School and church set up.
    Lots of friends of mine who have read your article has commented that it clearly gives them a glimpse of what life was at Jaffna College and Vaddukoddai in particular.
    Shanthy was with my sister Lily and I have been kept informed by her regarding Shanthy’s progress.
    Well said and may her soul rest in Peace.
    Ranjit Thambyrajah

  90. Hi DBSJ,
    I have been a fervent fan of all your writings. Your writings are so precious and I hope you archive them for future generations. This tribute is extraordinary. It brought tears in my eyes even though I have never heard of Shathi before. May her good soul rest in peace. Let all of us pray the common God to bring back the peace and prosperity to our native land where every human being can live with dignity… Bring back the old good days..
    Regards,
    Harry.

  91. I remember Shanthi from the 70’s and the 80’s. First, from the days when I sang on the St. John’s College choir; the much-looked-forward-to annual combined carol services when Shanthi was with the Jaffna College choir. I also remember her cheerful demeanour and unrivalled popularity at Jaffna University during 1979/1980, where I was an Assistant lecturer in geography, with another JC alumnus, the late Dr. Luther jeyasingham as department head. She would light up any building on campus by her mere presence. May she rest in eternal peace.

    Thanks DBS for a poignant piece of writing. Just judging by the more than 100 responese you have received, one can see how peaceful a land Sri Lanka can be, only if we focussed on our similarities, rather than the insignificant differences. Good job, mate!

    Rajan

  92. Mrs. Shanthakumari Vignaraja taught me English in the Jaffna varsity. She was kind and considerate. I owe her a very great deal.

    My deepest sympathies to her family

    Mr. Jeyaraj thank you for writing this

  93. Shanthi Miss, as we call her, was a blessing to this world of horror. Her empathy made everyone to be a friend. She fulfilled all what she need to as a person born in this world. She had been the best child of God and She will be forever. Everytime I think of her, I see that beatiful smile cheering everyone on her way. She was a sunshine to everyone who was closer to her. Her life is unforgettable as her loss take it over. I pray for her eteral peace and harmony for her family forever. She is definitely with the ‘God’. How we can forget her?

  94. She was a good friend of mine though we lost touch later.I am sorry to hear of her demise. My heartfelt condolences to her family. She is with God.

  95. Shanthi acca was one class senior to me in Jaffna college. But I went after JSC to Colombo. But we used to come to Vaddukkoddai for holidays. I kept in touch with her then. She was very good friend like a real elder sister.

    I feel so sad to read this. I was not in JC when you studied there DBS. But I really liked what you wrote here. my sister passed it on

    Our family conveys sympathy to Shanthi accas family members

  96. DBS, This is indeed a fitting tribute to a great benefactor and humanitarian. What surprises me and what I wanted to ask you is why did the LTTE spare her? Was it because even they recognised her unselfishness despite being opposed to them? The LTTE bumped off people for far less…..

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    This is what I wrote in the tribute-

    “Shanthi was quite candid with her views on the LTTE. She disapporoved of many tiger activities and never hesitated to articulate them when necessary. But the LTTE too tolerated this “dissent” because the tigers knew Shanthi was simply being honest and had no hidden agenda.

    Selva. Gajendran the TNA Jaffna district Parliamentarian was at one time the LTTE run student union president at the Jaffna university. On one occasion a foreign journalist interviewed Gajendran and requested Shanthi to interprete. She obliged.

    At one point the journalist asked Gajendran whether it was possible for LTTE critics to survive in Jaffna. Gajendran then pointed to Shanthi and said “Yes. Madam here, is one such example”.

  97. She was lecturer when I joined Jaffna university. Helped me with studies. Whenever I ask her advice she always gave it. I fell in love with another undergrad and asked her for advice. She guided me well. We got married due to her support only

    I am very sorry about her death. Jesus will definitely take her in his arms. God bless all

  98. Dear Mr. Jeyaraj,
    Thank you very much for such a moving tribute to my teacher. My heart-felt condolences to her family and friends and especially to you.
    Mrs. Shanthi taught me English at the University of Jaffna in 2000 and 2001. She was very simple, plain speaking straight talking compassionate lady. She used to discuss everyday events at the beginning of the class. The day after Nimalarajan was mudered she told us Nimalarajan had already predicted his fate when he was talking to her. She was visibly upset and felt sorry for him.

    May the God almighty give her eternal life. RIP

    Nilanthini Suresh

  99. She was my english lecturer in Jaffna U. Sincere ,inspiring teacher.I am very sorry to hear of her death due to cancer. But she is in heaven with Lord Jesus.My thoughts and prayers are with her family

  100. Dear DBS,

    My heartfelt condolence to you, Judge. Vignarajah, Children, their friends and families on the demise of your beloved Mrs. Shanthakumaty Vignarajah.
    I never met or knew about her, but from the pouring condolence messages and tributes from all over North, East, South and West, I simply understand how a wonderful human being she is.

    I also embrace the bravery of Vignarajahs to remain in Jaffna to serve their people and the pain and suffering they might have gone through in doing so.

    By openly writing the tribute to your beloved friend, you also bring tears to so many eyes, witnessing what the true friendship is. Also your tribute opened up immense flow of love from so many people beyond all the human made barriers such race, religion, language, colour……

    May Shanthi’s soul rest in peace.

    Thayaparan, T
    PEACE ON EARTH

  101. Dear Mr. Jeyaraj

    Thankyou for the Tribute to a lady whom I havent met in my life but after reading your article, I wished that I have met this lady. I do have a special admiration for those who stayed back in Jaffna where as cowards like me taken the first opportunity to fled our homeland.

    “Nalla poratathi poradi visuvasathai kathukonda athma” May her soul rest in Peace, and our almighty give the sterength to her family to accept her loss in life.

    On a lighter note…

    “Kuttu vendinalum mothirak-kayal kuttu venduvathu nallathu ” enpathu Yarlpanna pallakam.

    You have got a good explanation and an accolade from your Principal as the first comment for this article. That is very commendable and very special for a student whether they are young or old. – not that every student get this opportunity in their life time. Perhaps a one in a million chance.
    Best wishes for your continuous craftmanship.

    regards
    Saba

  102. Dear DBSJ,

    I have written a couple lines re. Shanthi earlier, but
    I thought of adding a bit more to that.

    When I read your tribute to Shanthi, I learnt a lot about the
    life you had before LTTE. I have never been to Jaffna.
    You gave us a beautiful picture of your youth and the life
    in peaceful Jaffna. We lived in down south Galle
    and Matara area, and we all had the same aspirations
    to be educated and get a nice job and be happily
    married. I can picture how Shanthi was riding her
    bicycle carrying her musicle instrument in those narrow
    streets saying hello to everyone. Not a worry in the world,
    and everyone knew everyone. You could not describe
    that any better.

    I hope and pray that the day will come soon for
    people in the North to have that peaceful life again.
    I hope for DBSJ to be able to come back to SL and
    go down memory lane one day without any fear
    of anything or anyone.

    May Shanthi rest in peace.

    God bless all..

  103. Hi Jay,
    It is an excellent tribute. I wish some one would written a tribute like this to Dr Rajini Thiranagama who was killed by a tamil terrorist group many years ago. I always feel it was a huge loss for peace loving people in Sri Lanka.

  104. Mr. Jeyaraj,

    You have done it again! Another masterpiece in true DBSJ fasion. How you make this personal tribute to your friend interesting reading to many of us is beyond me.

    Growing up as a Sinhalese in the south, I always thought of Northerners (Tamils) as very much alien to us (Sinhalese). The student life you describe is no different to to the life that we enjoyed in the south in the 1970s. We never think of or never realize the commonalities we share. I did not need any further confirmation on this regard after reading your description of the song tarare tara poduda. We sang this very song often, under similar context, never realizing that most of the words are in Tamil.

    Thank you,

    Marlon

  105. My deepest condolences to RT Vignarajah who was very friendly with me at law college even though he was senior to me. I did not have an opportunity to meet him again after 1984. RT, where ever you are, God Bless you.

    I have met that pleasant looking Shanthi once at Jaffna campus in 1981/82 when I went to meet another English Lecturer Kanchana Sriskanda nee Thirunavukkarasu at Jaffna campus who was good friend of Shanthi then. Then only I knew that she was Vicky’s fiancee.

  106. Mr. Vignarajah and children,

    After reading DBS’s article and so many people’s condolences, I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to say anything more than what most of the readers have said. I am deeply touched by the outpouring of affection for this lovely lady and my deepest condolences to you Sir, your children and grandchild.

    When I first arrived at Jaffna College to do my A/L’s, it was a nightmare of a start due to the ragging by the seniors. Having lived in the comfort of home cooked meals, pampered by seven sisters and far away place from Batticaloa-it was hell. To top it all DBS was in the opposite bed to mine at Howland Hostel.

    DBS and Devapiriyan Asirwatham took a special interest to rag me. I took each, one at a time and straightened them right out. From then on, I became fairly close to each other during college days. DBS would endlessly talk about politics, movies and I all knew he would go on to achieve great heights.

    During this time, I also met a few compassionate friends such as Maiureshan, Thura, Ranjit Emerson, Winthy Jeyasingam and Shanthi.

    Compassion and kindness was Shanthi’s forte. She reached out to anyone and made them comfortable. Knowing quite well that I was new and from a distant place, she would inquire about the hostel meals, my family in Batticaloa, the life I had there, about my studies and my sports activities.

    I also thought that she had the weirdest of glasses a young and beautiful girl would wear. Her enchanting smile is unforgettable.

    One of the saddest cases of apparent loss is when a sister and child passes away from this physical world and the siblings, parents, children, and the loved ones are left to watch its empty place, to miss its loving prattle.

    I pray for the strength you need to face this time of isolation and uncertainty. I have faith that God’s hand will be upon all of you for his consolation while you mourn.

    You have lost one whom you loved dearly, one who perhaps was the entire world to you; and so to you that world seems empty. You feel that joy has left you forever, that existence can be for you henceforth nothing but hopeless sadness, naught but one aching longing for “the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still.”

    “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing Love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

    When Jesus saw her weeping…He was greatly disturbed in spirit…Jesus began to weep.
    John 11:33,35

    Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

    Be assured that God shares our sorrow and will help us. “Heaven is where God is” and “God is love.”

    I have lost a good soul from Earth but be comforted that she is in a better place with the LORD
    My Prayers and thoughts are with you all

  107. Having seen Hemantath Abeykoons comment (52) also brought me back memories of the university days at Vaddukoddai. We were the pioneers of Jaffna University, which was founded in 1974. Until the campus at Thirunelvely was set up, we were at Vaddukoddai. Part of the JC premises were occupied by the Jaffna University. We moved to Thirunelvely in our 2nd year. One third of our batch mates were Sinhalese. We had Sinahalese lecturers too. We had a real campus life, while we were at Vaddukoddai. Though our knowledge in English was limited and never knew Sinhalese at that time, we became friends and treated them cordially as our guests and fraternal feelings developed between us.

    Our Sinhalese batch mates were with us until August 1977, when communal violence engulfed the country. I still remember how we bade farewell to the Sinhalese students and lecturers. How we all gathered, as Tamil students and lecturers, at the entrance at Thirunvelvely, to send them off in buses, wishing them a safe journey. We then looked around, everyone was hurrying to get back home. When we got to our rooms we realized there was going to be a curfew and we were wondering how to go home. There was a tank moving down Thinnevely road, which drove fear into us. We managed to find our way home, with a few friends getting together and hiring a car.

    It was with sadness I read what Hemantath wrote. It was a reminder of how much we have gone through together. We still have confidence that Sinhalese and Tamils as ordinary people, can live with each other. While we pay tribute to our dear Shanthi, it is also an appropriate time to remember all those who died. How many more able and innocents, we lost during these 3 1/2 decades, especially during this recent war, who remain unnumbered. Let us rise up from being emotional, to do something to find a way to live peaceably.

  108. First of all thank you very much for writing a tribute to your good friend with all memories of Jaffna College and my deepest sympathies to her husband and children.

    I was also a student of Jaffna College, studied there from kindergarden very junior for her and today when I saw her picture here I remember her and she is coming in my eyes.

    As our most respected principal of Jaffna College Mr. Rajan Kadirgamar comment here that you have brought back the beauty of the co-education of Jaffna College with your true friendship of four decades is true.

    When read the comments here I noticed most of them remember those old days of Jaffna College & our Sinhalese students they appreciate the culture of Vaddukoddai & Jaffna College. Those days in 70s when Jaffna University campus started in Vaddukoddai (JC premises) how the Sinhalese, Tamils students & Sinhalese lecturers united in a new atmosphere.

    We lost so many things in this 40yrs & now we have to go long way to get something to find a peacefull life not only in Vadduloddai, in our nation for our loving people.

    May her soul rest in Peace .

    Simharaj K. Varma

  109. I have never seen nor heard about Mm Shanthi; However your writing evoked my memories about my time in Jaffna 1980-1990;

    Also my father used to tell me his time at Jaffna (teaching at a very famous school in Jaffna town and buying bread at city bakey and bring it home etc etc etc); You know those happy nostalgic days of an old teacher;

    May Mm Shanthi’s soul rest in peace.

  110. Only this evening I heard passing away of Shanthakumari, through my classmate Kirubanandan from Perth (Australia). He said to visit this site to read about the tribute.I was happy to see the photo of her with those glasses, I ever remember her. Jeyaraj’s tribute bring back memories of my life at Howland Hostel too from 71-73, the ragging specially by ET Aseerwatham, Dayananda and others The days we spent in the hostel, sports grounds. Allwere brought back by your tribute. Thanks for mentioning the Abraham house, I was a proud member of that house. Please pass on our deepest sympathies to Vignarajah and Shanti’s children. (I have noted N.Rajendra.too commented but he failed to sent me an email re Shanti.)

    Thank you DBS.

    Shanmugapalan

    Shanmugapalan,good to hear from you after all these years………..DBSJ

  111. This tribute by an old boy of Jaffna college to an old girl is heartfeltly touching.

    My humble suggestion is that JC alumni abroad should award a special prize for English to a student at Jaffna college in memory of Mrs. Shanthakumari Rajadurai Vignarajah

  112. The following is an appreciation appearing in “Sunday Times”plus section of September 6th for Ms. Shanthakumari by Mr. VT sivalingam. I am posting it here for everybody to read –

    Cherished friend, doting mother and teacher of teachers

    Geetha Geradine Shanthakumari Wignaraja
    This is a tribute to a charming lady with a winsome smile, sweet and serene as her very name implies. The best go before their time to the land beyond. Those whom God loves die young, they say.

    One such person was Mrs. Shanthi Wignarajah, the better half of one of our High Court judges. She was a multi-dimensional personality, dear to all, a rare being of virtue and culture: cherished companion, doting mother, teacher of teachers at the university who kept alive the English Language unit, guide and mentor, respected by the academic community, and ever hospitable, who gave ere charity began. Those near and dear to her enjoyed her sweet delicacies.

    People like Mrs. Shanthi Wignarajah are the beloved of the angels. Let this one thought console her near and dear ones. She was to say in one word: “Non pareil” – beloved of the Lord.

    Let us find solace and comfort in the thought that her soul is enjoying eternal bliss in Elysium, with her fond angels in everlasting glory. May she enjoy perpetual peace.

    “Millions of roses watered by my tears bloom in her memory for ever”

    Om Shanthi! Shanthi! Shanthi !

    V. T. Sivalingam

  113. Beautiful tribute!
    Shanthi had been a great personality.
    sad to recall the type of life Jaffna. Channa you are a wonderful person.

  114. Dear Mr. DBS:

    Thank you very much for such a moving and touching tribute to Shanthi Akka.

    I am friend of Hon.Wignaraja’s younger brother Alagarajah and I know Shanthi Akka from mid seventies. She was a wonderful Jeevan with the pure heart. Surely she will be missed.

    My deepest sympathies to Wignaraja & children, Thambia and Rajadurai family.

    May her soul rest in peace

  115. DEAR DBS,

    My deepest sympathy to Mr.Vignaraja and his family,

    Genuine disclousure in this your friend Shanthi’s article can’t match to any hieroglyph

    May Shanthi’s soul rest in peace

  116. Dear Jeyaraj,

    A wonderful tribute to our class mate. Yeah, I can remember her with large classes, our time she and her sister Arasakumari was with us in the College. Soth he and Sakunthala were the only girls in our class.

    I can remember the fresher’s ragging as we both got caught on the same evening. You were from Colombo and I was from St. Anthony’s College, Kandy.

    May Shanthi rest in Peace.

    Samuel Ratnam

  117. occasionally and I’m lucky to report this newest statement is actually somewhat good quality and a great deal better than 50 % the various other trash I read today

  118. Hi DBS Jeyarajah
    I enjoyed the comments of Late Rajan Kadirgamar and your response.He Knew every detail of every student of Jaffna college.When late E A Champian was in charge of the ‘Young Idea’,I was in the editorial board. I do not know of Late Shanthi as I left Jaffna college in 1963.Jaffna College has aided me at every step along my journey of live and that is something for which I will be ever grateful to my parents and the teachers at JC. I am talking about the inner trasformations that have taken place, that made me a responsible human being.Jaffna College’s calling cards are exactly that.When I contacted Late Kadirgamar about an year ago, he sent me an E-mail detailing every aspect of my brother in Sidney and my sister in USA. He was the encylopaedia of Jaffna college.I attending his Thanks Giving Service in London. God bless.

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