“My “Bappa” Egerton Cooray never held powerful positions, was never ambitious and yet in my opinion he was the finest human being in the Cooray family”


By

Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Siblings have common traits and but each is nevertheless unique. All my uncles were greatly loved, but loved differently for different reasons. It is the same with Egerton Cooray, my father’s younger brother. Unlike most of his siblings, Egerton Bappa never held powerful positions, was never ambitious and yet in my opinion he was the finest human being in the Cooray family and undoubtedly the most light-hearted of the lot.

He was fond of all his siblings and was very loyal to each of them, but had an extra warm and special bond with my father, which perhaps made him extra special to me. He had an exemplary life. He had a very simple lifestyle and was a truly humble human being. He never aspired the heights most of his brothers reached, but never grudged their success, always full of admiration and always content with what he had.

Egerton Bappa revelled in the circumstances he found himself in, never lost his sense of humour and was always ready to laugh at himself. In fact it was impossible to offend him. He took rebuke with a smile, often cutting in by saying ‘I did something wrong and you are going to blast me, aren’t you?’ How could one not find that endearing?

He loved to be among people, loved to sing, drink a little and have a good time. He was never more happy than when he made others happy, made them laugh and forget life’s trials and tribulations. And yet he could be dead serious when sobriety was necessary. He was a devout Catholic who was always at the side of anyone who was facing a crisis situation. He could be emotional at time for he was a sensitive person, but one and all recognised and respected him for expressing himself frankly and without an iota of malice.

Egerton Bappa was not one who could be trusted with a secret. The entire family knew this. When he slipped he would admit and apologise: ‘Aiyo sorry putha I did a mistake, I forgot that it’s meant to be a secret.’ And that was that — we knew, all of us did, that he was a very honest man with an extremely big heart.

After his father passed away when he was very young, he took it upon himself to take care of his mother. I recall how he used to frequently visit achchi and make sure she was comfortable. He made it his business to take care of people to the best of his ability, always concerned, always worrying.

A few months ago I was in Sri Lanka. I didn’t get to see him and now I can’t forgive myself. He was in the best of health. He wouldn’t have complained and from wherever he is now I’m sure he would respond to this with characteristic dismissal: ‘don’t be silly putha’.

He left behind memories that will be treasured by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. I know he is in a good place and I pray that his wife Aunty Melanie and son Gihan Malli will have the courage and strength to contend with this terrible loss.

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