I first became acquainted with Sunil not as a former Attorney General of Sri Lanka and individual in his own right, but as the husband of Senanie a former pupil of mine, after they migrated to Australia in the early ’90s.
It did not take long for him to demonstrate that he was his own person and unlike any other, with a quirky sense of humour and decided views on anything under discussion. He was also a source of sound advice to anyone in a quandary, legal or otherwise, which I personally found invaluable on more than one occasion.
Sunil was an accomplished actor on stage. Before I became aware of Sunil’s histrionic talents which were inherited by both his children, Sidat and Samanti, he demonstrated his interest in drama when Samanti played a leading role in Let’s Give Them Curry.
He was instrumental in forming the Sydney Kolam Maduwa drama group and, in fact, was the one who suggested its name and drafted its constitution. Before long he was involved in Kolam productions including The Lost Culavamsa where he was unforgettable as Lady Muriel Panabokke. He went to much trouble over every accessory and article of clothing he wore – not just to be but to look the great Dame.
The untimely death of his daughter a few years ago was a devastating blow as he tried to come to terms with it and carry on with his usual pursuits.
He had many talents apart from his facility with words, written or spoken. He was a skilled carpenter and could turn out stage sets or items of furniture as required with little apparent effort; he could even paint and sew.
His razor-sharp mind could cut through unnecessary detail to identify the crux of any matter.
He was a connoisseur of good food and a whiz in the kitchen turning out gourmet treats for visitors or family. He was one of those rare gifted persons who are blessed with the ability to excel at whatever they choose to do. In fact I wonder if there was anything he could not do once he set his mind to it?
He will be sorely missed by Senanie, his wife of more than two-score years, and his son, Sidat.
He will also be missed by the various societies and groups to which he belonged as well as by the wider Sri Lankan community in Sydney. He will also be remembered by his numerous friends and associates with affection and admiration for his wisdom, wit and bonhomie.
In Shakespeare’s immortal words: “after life’s fitful fever” may he “sleep well”.