Rev. Small – reminiscence, for the record
When I joined Richmond in 1954, I was 5 months shy of my 5th Birthday. I had seen Rev. Small on the hill on several occasions during that time and later on, but it was in the sixties that I really came into personal touch with him. I was living on Richmond Hill Road at the foot of the hill and had my entire education at Richmond. Apart from my siblings and parents both my paternal and maternal grandfathers lived with us.
Rev. Small would walk past my house often in the evenings and if he saw my paternal grandfather in the veranda he would drop in by for a chat as they had known each other from their teaching days. When I first saw him passing my house I thought he was going to town for some errand but with passage of time I realised it was not always the case. By and by he would visit us often and he would sit with my grandfather and have long chats. I later realised Rev. Small yearned for company.
My paternal Grandfather A. D. Jayasinha was the former Headmaster of Mahinda College although an old Richmondite who played in the first XI in Cricket. ‘ADJ’ was on the Mahinda Staff during Mr. F. L. Woodwards time and Rev. Small was a good friend of Mr. Woodward and it was that association that continued on to the sixties.
My mother once invited Rev. Small to have dinner with us and I remember that night well. We had egg hoppers for dinner and Rev. Small thoroughly enjoyed the meal. My mother seeing that he enjoyed the meal extended a blanket invitation for him to have dinner every day if he wished to and he accepted it. He would come often, around 4:00 PM, have evening tea and stayed on for dinner. Rev. Small was two years younger than my grandfather. What they discussed centred mainly of their teaching days at Richmond and Mahinda, and Cricket. Although my grandfather had lost his sight due to cataract he had a good memory. My grandfather was good at Latin and Mathematics two subjects Rev. Small too excelled. I have overheard them at time discussing about Latin language.
My maternal grandfather Pandith C. A. Jayatilaka was a Sinhala Scholar who studied at Maligawatta temple under his own maternal Uncle, Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thero. He was a Pali and a Sinhala scholar the first lay examiner of Buddhist priests ‘Pracheena’ examination; a Notary Public by profession. Until his death he worked and went daily to his office in Ambalangoda by train and would return in the evening. He too would join the conversations although he did not speak English much. I was amazed to hear Rev. Small speaking Sinhala with him and their discussions centred about Buddhist Philosophy and the languages. Some days the late Prime minister Hon. Dr. W. Dahanayake who was one of our neighbours would drop in by if he sees Rev. Small and my grandfather in conversation. So it was teachers and pupils meeting! I know from personal knowledge that they really enjoyed each other’s company reminiscing old times.
My younger brother and I or one of the several cousins who was living with us would walk back Rev. Small up the hill because it was dark although he insisted that he could make it by himself, something my father never agreed to and he accompanied us at times.
Many times my brother would go with some of his friends to Rev. Small’s room to do some cleaning and help tiding up. I know that there were several other boys as well as teachers in the boarding house who took pains to see that Rev. Small was comfortable and looked after well. Mr. D. G. Welikala the Principal and his wife too had a great affection to Rev. Small specially the young sons and daughters of Mr. Welikala.
after a clean up…
Standing (L to R) : de Silva, Nihal Welikala, Channa Wijesekera, Kantha Lamahewa and ?
Squatting: M. Y. C. Perera and N. M. Gunasekera
Rev. Small once sent a letter to my father cautioning him about some mechanisation that was going on. My father was coaching Richmond at the time and we know how much some resented it although he was nonpartisan when it came to Cricket. For him Cricket was a Gentleman’s game. Going through that mail I felt how much Rev. Small was concerned about my father’s wellbeing.
It is baffling to understand as to how Rev. Small went to Colombo at that age unaccompanied; either he had no one to accompany him or he did not seek any ones assistance; the latter more likely. The reason why he went to Colombo is another mystery. If not for that fateful last trip he made he would have lived for some more time. It grieves me to understand how a bus driver could be so heartless to have pulled the bus before Rev. Small got into it causing the accident.
Rev. Small, leaving his beloved richmond for the last time
The casket of Rev. Small being taken for burial by the Old Boys. On the left, Mr. Daya Fernando, and on the right Mr. Gernie Abeygoonewardene and Mr. Sirimal Fernando (behind and partly hidden)
Rev. Small your memory is ever fresh.
I found an article written by Mr. Joe Simpson, who was a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) teacher at Richmond during the sixties, about Rev. Small and it is interesting reading. Click HERE to read the article or it could be found under “Morning Star” from the drop down menu.