September 17, 2012-Jagath Fernando
Gajan attended Royal College from 1966-1974 where he represented the first X1 cricket team in 1971 and 1972. He had the distinction of making the highest fresher’s score in a Royal-Thomian match at that time when he most unfortunately was out just short of a well-deserved century for 97! I was fortunate enough to be able to watch and experience this classy knock at first hand from the other side of the wicket for the entire innings where we were associated in what was then a record breaking stand of 178 runs.
He left for England to complete the first phase of his higher studies where he graduated from Oxford University and represented them in cricket. He then proceeded to Harvard University in the US
to do his Masters after which he returned to the Cambridge University UK to do his doctorate which he did not complete as he was recruited by the World Bank for their Young Managers Program. He has the unique distinction of representing both Oxford and Cambridge at cricket. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies Gajan returned to Sri Lanka and represented the country in a Test match when we were still playing unofficial tests. He also played for Sri Lanka in the ODI team.
Gajan spent the rest of his working career with the World Bank and held such positions as Operations Manager, Sustainable Development Department, South Asia Region. He was married to Dhammi who too comes from a sporting family, her brother Thiruchithampalam being a well known rugby player at Royal in his day. He has two daughters. The older of the two Ishani is in the 2nd year of her Medical Residency and Anjali is doing a Degree in Law.
The comments above are some of the key events and achievements in Gajan’s relatively short life. However if I were to finish my appreciation by simply stressing his qualities as a gentleman, I will not be doing justice to him, his family or you the reader. I therefore wish to make a sincere effort to weave a tapestry by depicting the environment in which he grew up in ways which will, hopefully, provide a more complete picture of his life. In every society there are some families that are known and recognized by a family name and in this instance it was so of the Coomarasamy family (quite obviously from his mother’s side ) of whom his Uncles Raju and Sathi stand out.
Raju was a loved, respected and well known figure in the higher echelons of the UN Agency he worked for – the UNDP. Sathi was equally well known locally having represented Sri Lanka in cricket, been an active member of the Tamil Union Cricket Club and ending his professional career at what was the well-known firm, Shaw Wallace & Hedges Ltd.
Raju’s children, Indrajit and Radhika, need no introduction, although both have spent much of their working lives overseas. Indrajit schooled in Harrow, UK where he played cricket and rugby for
his school. He returned to Sri Lanka and captained both the CR & FCC and Sri Lanka at rugby and represented the Tamil Union at cricket. He completed his higher studies in Economics at Cambridge and Sussex University. At the time of his retirement, he held the position of Director Economic Affairs Commonwealth Secretariat. Radhika completed her studies in the UN school in NY and thereafter at Yale, Harvard and Cambridge. She then worked for sometime in Sri Lanka at the ICES before joining the UN where she has served in many capacities, including Special Representative for the Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict Areas. What pedigrees! Of Sathi’s children probably the best known is his youngest daughter Anushya. We were colleagues at John Keells until
she prematurely quit her job as the Group Finance Director.
Gajan’s father ‘ Pat ‘ Pathmanathan was a Civil Servant (a very respected service in his day and time!). Little known about him is that he captained Jaffna Central College at cricket for two
consecutive years ! He too, like his son Gajan, was a very soft spoken person. Gajan’s first brother Viji is a double accountant and works for Ernst and Young London as an Executive Director
Capital Markets. His second brother, Dai, is the Managing Director of George Steuart Teas who is himself an accomplished cricketer having played X1 cricket for Royal College. Dai’s son Devin is an outstanding young cricketing prospect for Sri Lanka and will captain Royal College at cricket in the coming season. His sister Dharshi represented Ladies College at Hockey played cricket for the
Colts CC and completed her Degree in the US.
From all that has been said above it is abundantly clear that this is a very versatile and talented family which can boast of many achievements both intellectually and in the arena of sports. But
boasting is hardly their style!
To my mind this is what stands out most about this family which I have known from my very early days. They have shown all those qualities of decency, simplicity, humility, integrity and, above all,
mutual respect for all human beings. They are a family of true class, people who have lived by their values in a world where these are increasingly only spoken words. They truly epitomize the simple, honest, hardworking kinsmen of Our North whose one ambition in life is to educate their children, earn a honest living and improve the lot of one’s family. For these values they found themselves on the wrong side of the northern rebels who despised the cultured. On the other side of the divide they were sandwiched in a hostile majority environment that surely made their lives unpleasant many a time. It is no surprise then that many from this family, including Gajan, chose to work, live and educate
their children outside the country.
Yet those who know them well know they consider Sri Lanka their home and dearly look forward to the day that ALL such decent and peace loving citizens of this country of all ethnic origins can live
together in equality, with mutual respect and in harmony.
This then will be the greatest testimony to the life that Gajan and his family have led for all the World to see!
May he Rest in Peace and May God Bless him and his family