Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Doctor Remembers - 1

Extracted from the book "The Life Story of Dr Nihal Karunaratna", by Dr Nihal Karunaratne of Kandy, Sri Lanka"

In January 1940 my father, (Dr George Wilfred Karunaratna), took me to the Royal College Boarding in his black Mercedes Benz. The Hostel was the large mansion of Sir James Obeysekera called "The Maligawa", situated on 10 acres of land opposite Royal College on Reid Avenue. It had an enormous drawing room, library and dining room downstairs with expensive antique furniture. Upstairs was the dormitories, Forms I-II on the left side, Forms III-V on the right side, and the sweniors in the middle. The Masters in Charge had two rooms on either side. Downstairs was Matron Albrecht's Dormitory for those in Royal Prep.

My father told the Master who was at the front entrance, "this is my son Nihal - I'm giving him in your charge! If there is any problem let me know." He got into his car, turned around and said, "Make me proud of you, son" and drove away. Baffled, terror stricken and sad I watched the car drive away - Mr Mendis politely said, "Boy! Take your suitcase, go upstairs, turn right, and your dormitory is there, find yourself a bed and locker." My suitcase consisted of three white shorts and shirts, two khaki shorts, two blue shorts, and three colored shirts, three sarongs, three pairs of socks and tennis shoes, three towels, four sheets and three pillow cases. At the age of 10 carrying that weight was like carrying Sigiriya Rock on my back!

Having struggled upstairs I found a vacant bed by the wall and with difficulty I got the suitcase on the bed. On the adjoining bed was a slim dark lad. I greeted him by saying, "I am Nihal from Kandy and Trinity." to which he replied, "I'm Zylva, Maliyadeva and Kurunegala." and so began my life long friendship with Dr. Upendra de Zylva, my cousin and closest friend. We made a formidable combination that ruled the Junior Dormitory!

pp 18 & 19 - Royal College Boarding Days

Dr. Nihal Karunaratna has been practicing as a family physician for the past 46 years since joining his father, the late Dr. G W Karunaratna in 1959. Like his father and six uncles before him, he was educated at Royal College, Colombo, and Clare College, Cambridge. Thereafter, he followed in his father's footsteps toi Middlesex Hospital London.

He is the author of "Udawattakale - The Forbidden Forest of the Kings of Kandy", "from Governors' Pavillion to Presidents Pavillion", "Forest Conservation in Sri Lanka from British Colonial Times" and "Kandy Past and Present".

He served the University of Peradeniya as a member of the Council from 1982 to 1989. In appreciation of his service of over 35 years to inculcate a sense of environment awareness and to take the idea of environmental conservation to the youth, the public and government officials, and for the preservation of the unique forest of Udawattakale, he was awarded the Degree of Master of Science, Honoris Causa, by the University of Peradeniya.

His unique record of service to the general public was recognized by the award of the National Titular Honor, "Deshabandu", in 1991.

For the valuable service rendered to the Kandy Society of Medicine, the general public at large, and the contribution in environmental and wild life conservation, he was awarded the Fellowship of the Kandy Society of Medicine. In appreciation of his services to the people of Kandy in chairing the Kandy Hospital Committee for 28 years and collecting public donations of over 150 Million Rupees for the expansion and improvement of the services of the General Hospital, the Kandy Municipal Council named Hantana Road as Deshabandu Dr. Nihal Karunaratna Mawatha.


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