L. John Deepal Peiris – An Officer and A Gentleman

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When I learnt that my elder brother Deepal had suddenly died of a heart attack in the morning of 16 September 2015, it took me several hours to get my bearings.

He would have celebrated his 67th birthday on 18 March, had he been among the living. Deepal never failed to wish someone on his or her birthday. He meticulously kept a record of birthdays of all his dear ones in his diary. In fact, the last telephone call he had made, probably less than an hour before he died, was to wish a former colleague on her birthday.

His friends in Australia gathered at a residence in the middle of the night, when the sad news reached them. Reeling in shock, they had been in absolute silence, most of the time. The only consolation to us is that his death was almost instant. He would not have known that death was so close.

He remained a bachelor and looked after our father very well till his demise in 2O14. He did everything possible to make my Father comfortable and saw to his meals and needs. Suddenly and shockingly, he himself died nine months later.

Deepal was born on 18 March 1955. He had his entire school education at Ananda College, Colombo.

He graduated from ‘Good’, ‘Very Good’ to Excellent in Mathematics in the Primary Class   Hodiya, in his first Year itself (1960). E. Perera was his first, class teacher. Throughout his schooling, he obtained good grades for Mathematics and English and all his teachers rated him `Very Good’ on conduct.

 When he was about 13 years, he theorised that a cashless World was possible. When I asked him how, he said, “each person`s account would reflect Credits and Debits on all transactions”. This was decades before it was thought possible.

Sometimes both of us would discuss at length, interesting incidents concerning teachers at Ananda College. He was taught by Green Jayewardene, Tissa Seneviratne, C.M. Weeraratne, BSE Galappaththi, NKB De Silva, SAGA Dharmasena , SU Medagama, Perdetta Dias among many others. Colonel G.W. Rajapakse was the Principal, during the major part of his schooling.

Soon after leaving school, he joined Grindlays Bank where he was employed till 1999. Thereafter he joined another Foreign Bank where he worked up to his retirement in 2013. He was highly respected in the Banking sector. Probably his best years were in the nineties when he was the Manager of Grindlays Bank, Rajagiriya Branch. He was a perfect example of an Officer and a Gentleman.

My brother was an unwavering fan of Australian Cricket and would take the side of Australia in every match. He was fascinated with Space Exploration, played Chess and collected vintage toy car models.

He has travelled overseas extensively, and his last visit was to Australia where he met many of his friends and colleagues who had migrated there, over the years.

Deepal would analyse local politics with remarkable insight. He would make predictions that appeared very bizarre on the surface. Surprisingly, political developments would often prove he was correct. My brother was very wise in his political thinking and would faithfully vote for the party or the party representative that he preferred at every election. He thought it was his duty to do what is best for his country. Deepal used to firmly object when politics was not played on an even playing field. When things were going from bad to worse, in the country, he used to calmly say ‘’People reap what they sow “.

 He had an excellent memory and would recall very old incidents in detail. Friends would contact him to obtain correct answers during live radio quiz programmes. His general knowledge was excellent. He was uncompromising in policy matters. He used to encourage me to buy locally manufactured products, wherever possible, to encourage local industries. He rejected the idea of staff members in institutions wearing T-Shirts on certain days.

“Ýou have to stick to official attire, every day you go to work” he used to say.

He was a very quiet person by nature and would often speak only when necessary. Deepal treated those working under him with kindness but ensured discipline at all times. Once the newly recruited son of a top manager at the Bank where he worked, ( a ‘terror’ by all means) was transferred to his department for training. The young executive was happily chatting with his colleagues seated on his table. Deepal approached him and instructed him to ‘get down’ to everyone`s amazement. The incident created a furore and relations between the Manager and Deepal eroded overnight.

A few days later, he found himself going up the lift with the Country GM, a foreigner. No words were spoken, but he had shown amusement and nodded at him in admiration.

He was an extremely honest person who would go to any length to keep a promise.

He was mainly instrumental in forming the Grindlays Club to accommodate Ex-Grindlays Bank employees. The club was his passion. He was deeply committed to developing and expanding its membership base. The night before he died, he had returned home from a club meeting where members had discussed about an upcoming event. He was the President of the area Lions Club and was involved in many social service activities at the time of his untimely demise.

“Those we love don`t go away

They walk beside us everyday

Unseen, unheard, but always near

Still Loved and still missed every single moment”

May he attain the Supreme bliss of Nibbana!

Hemal Ranil Peiris