Lalin (Vincent Mark) Fernando
1940 ~ 2010
Who was Lalin?
He is a complex character not easily described in a few words and what ever I write would not do him justice.
He was a modest fellow who stood in the back ground but you knew that he had influence a plenty. He was not the sort of person who wanted or needed the limelight. He is the one you call when you have a real problem, an issue or just wanted some advice.
His advice was always considered, honest and well thought out. He presented it to you in a manner which was unemotional and extremely logical.
He loved a debate especially when he was victorious. The mental challenge invigorated him. His only downfall was his one eyed support for the liberal party. Although he once conceded that a small select number of non liberal politicians were good at their jobs.
He adored his wife Carmen and his girls Dayanthi, Shamin and Michelle catering to their needs. Coming only second to them were his grandkids. These individuals had him wrapped around their fingers. Seeing a grown man giving his grand kids elephant rides in the family room was not uncommon even when they became teenagers.
He supported his adopted family Carmen’s brothers and sisters their siblings and nieces and nephews just like is own parents, sisters and brother putting their needs ahead of his own.
He loved technology especially phones and PC’s. He would often arrive home with a new PC for the grand kids to the extent that at one stage our house had the appearance of an internet café.
He had his own idiosyncrasies his love of chocolate which he shared sparingly one square at a time, his home phone system (phones everywhere including the garage and one on either side of the bed) and his use of words like “fellow” even when addressing the girls.
He was strong willed; he clearly determined what was wrong and right but did not push his ideas on others. He had the ability to hunt down the bargain and would never pay full price for things he believed he could get cheaper. His decisions were never rash but he would announce out of the blue that Carmen and he were going overseas at the end of the week.
He was both predictable and unpredictable most people would have been unaware of his work for charity. Each year he served Christmas meals for the homeless and he also examined and fixed donated electrical equipment to be sold by charity shops or to be given to the less fortunate.
He considered himself a practical joker some worked well and others were really lame like trying to convince a 15 year old that Mickey Mouse was on the phone.
To simply define him – he was loved by his family and friends.
“Solomon calling Peter”
My memories of my cousin Lalin
Lalin and I were only two years apart in age, but had similar interests that included a spirit of adventure. We grew up together, as I spent a lot of time at his parents houses both in Colombo and in Nuwara Eliya as well as the suburban retreat at Hendala, where we got up to a lot of mischief and adventures together. Lalin usually led and I followed.
I will leave out details of the mischief, but talk about the adventures. I still remember the time Lalin and I tried to navigate the Hamilton Canal from Hendala to Negombo in a small boat, only to be foiled by the floating water weed Salvinia. We spent the morning rescuing a fisherman whose outrigger canoe was stranded in a sea of Salvinia. The biggest adventure that he organized was a trek up Pidurutalawa – the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. There were about 15 of us. The way up was fine; on the descent I suggested we take one of the ‘short cuts’ that angled off the main path. Lalin refused to join, together with about half the group. I and my group branched off, agreeing to meet at the foot of Pedru. Our ‘short cut’ turned out to be an animal trail and it took us hours to get out of the forest. In the meantime Lalin had reported back home and had to face the ire of a number of mothers – not least that of his own, my Aunt Edith, a formidable character. We got back to civilization just in time to avert a police search party setting off. But Lalin took a lot of flak for no fault of his.
One of Lalin’s pioneering efforts was to form the Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers (Ceylon), when we were in our mid- to late teens. He brought back information about model aircraft flying from Britain and set up this club. It was a huge success. All the members bar one were teenagers. I flew models regularly till I left Sri Lanka for the UK in 1959; my first few nights in London were in Lalin’s room at Holland Park; he was away on vacation. My first meeting with Carmen was also in London, soon after the marriage. I shall never forget you Lalin.
“Solomon, over and out.” (Solomon and Peter were our code names)
Dr Malik Fernando
I will always fondly remember my Uncle Lalin as the quiet and unsuspecting family comedian.
Quite often he would have a new joke to tell everyone at one of the family get togethers that we all would attend throughout the year.
His jokes were always funny, entertaining and on some rare occasions Uncle would start laughing before he had finished telling the joke. His laugh was so infectious that you could not help but laugh along with him.
I will also fondly remember my Uncle Lalin as a very intelligent man.
On many occasions my parents would consult Uncle Lalin for advice and assistance and he would always be there for them no matter what time of the day or night.
Whether it was to have a simple chat or whether they were in need of good counsel about a specific issue, Uncle Lalin was always there to help.
I personally have a high level of respect and admiration for this remarkable quality that my Uncle had because I believe it is a quality that all of us could demonstrate more of in our lives.
Uncle Lalin was also highly respected by all of the extended family as a learned advisor on anything and everything such as computers, property, cars, mobile phones, etc etc.
I know that I and my family consider ourselves very fortunate and privileged to have shared many great times with Uncle Lalin and his family.
We will no doubt find ourselves remembering and reflecting on those good times that we shared together and we will smile and we will thank God that we had the pleasure of knowing such an intelligent, funny, kind and caring man.
We will always love you, miss you and remember you Uncle Lalin and may you rest in peace.
Love from Rolende, Romanie, Julian and Denver (your brother, nephews and God son).
We write to convey our very sincere condolences to you all.
Uncle Lalin has been a huge influence on my life, and I wish I had told him so.
He read and corrected every single assignment I wrote for my MA. He was amazing. He knew something about everything I wrote on, though my subjects were far removed from his. The manner in which he would string a sentence together, finding the exact word needed at the right place was remarkable. And when he couldn’t find this word, he would refer a book, (I can still picture it – beige cover), and find the precise word. Close was never good enough! He taught me to write, and this ability has been a huge benefit to me professionally. Each time I am stuck with how to put something, I ask myself, “what would Uncle Lalin say”, and picture his voice in my mind, and the right word/phrase/sentence structure generally comes.
In Australia, I told Uncle Lalin that I has entered my $300 dollar Alfa in a race. He never said anything about it but I knew from his body language that he was disapproving. Disapproving for a host of practical reasons, that came out in the series of questions he asked me. He questioned the validity of the car insurance in case of an accident, of my health insurance, and raised heaps of similar practical issues in this regard. It was a Sunday and I then commenced trying to replace the brake pads on the car my self and got into a glorious mess, and poor Uncle Lalin ended up spending a couple of hours under the Alfa undoing my mess!
Over the last few years I have been in touch with Uncle Lalin. I put off telling him about my decision to divorce, as I expected a conservative ‘catholic’ lecture. However, I didn’t get any lecture. >From his questions, I realised he was understanding what I was telling him. On this issue he tread a fine line, of being non-judgemental, not approving and not disapproving, but yet understanding my point of view. During my interactions with Uncle Lalin around the time of my divorce, I saw a side to him that I had never seen before. That was that he was not scared of being controversial, or scared of a fight. On all issues that I had sought Uncle Lalin’s advise thus far, he had always been diplomatic, and non confrontational. However, I saw a side to him that was clearly ‘when you need to fight, fight hard – and Win!’ During this phase of our relationship, I depended on him for analytical help. He was brilliant at sifting emotion from fact and analysing an issue so very logically.
Once late at night when I stayed in your house in Sydney, after dinner I made a cup of coffee for Uncle Lalin. He was shocked that I only put one spoon of sugar in it and so I hurriedly put another in. He sheepishly said “two more please”. I thought he was joking but he was not! And this is after he had eaten (I think) a whole row of a big Cadburys milk chocolate!
In all my interactions with Uncle Lalin, he stood firm for what he believed in, and never deviated.
Whilst I am devastated by his death, I have been enriched by him. What I have learned from him is engrained within me and through this, I will always remember him.
Roshi and Sheran.