By Pradeep Amirthanayagam
Now More Than Ever It Seems Rich To Die
To Cease Upon The Midnight With No Pain
My dearest Terrence, Arvindh. Amrita and Aunty Sonia, Ajit, Aunty Arlene, family and friends.
When I proposed the Toast on Annou’s 40th birthday, I didn’t for a moment dream that just 5 years later I would have to make an Eulogy for her. Annou was born on a special day -September 8 and shared her birthday with our Blessed Mother.
Annou was a caring and loving wife, a devoted mother, a dutiful daughter and a sublime friend. Each of these roles, were specially crafted so that she made you feel very special.
I have had the good fortune of knowing Annou since she was 12, as she is the niece of my Uncle Kumar and the Rode family had a special affection for my mother. At that time she was mostly in the company of the 3 J’s, Jojo, Jijee and Jean. They were such a closely knit unit. Annouchka didn’t change from 12 to 45 ! She was always very simple, carefree, fun loving, loved music and loved to dance, preferably without shoes! Being a general’s daughter didn’t affect her!
She had a magnetic personality and was able to readily draw people to her. Her infectious laughter still resonates in my head.
Being the only daughter, Annouchka was the pet in the family. She was passionately fond of Uncle Bull and vice versa. How well she took care of him during his illness.
Annou did her parents proud at school and ended up as the Deputy Head Prefect, and also played basketball for school. She was one of the most sought after Bridgeteens ! At that time I was instrumental in introducing my best friend Terry to Annou and soon it blossomed into romance. We are all aware that they made a beautiful couple and despite being separated by many seas whilst Annou was away in Canada they married twenty years ago and were blessed with 2 adorable children, Arvindh and Amrita.
Annou had a very special group of friends but Minal and Shyamala were an integral part of her final years in school. There were no parties without them. What a blast they used to have. My memory goes back to the party they organized post July 1983 during the afternoon – As there was curfew in the nights.
Annou excelled in her career. PR was her middle name – she could walk with Kings but not lose the common touch. At this point my memory goes back to a lovely photograph I’ve seen with President J. R. Jayawardene having Annou on his lap. I’m told that President JRJ was very fond of her. Annou could as easily relate to a street kid, a driver or office assistant. She would instantly engage him or her with a glint in her eye and with a radiant smile, she would readily refer to them as Kolla or Kella.
Having cut her teeth at the Colombo Hilton where she truly excelled – that is where she built a strong bond with many people who ended up being her closest friends – Yasmin, Nadine, Sam and Teruni. In fact Sam ended up being family marrying Rohan.
From there Annou forayed into Advertising and took to it like a duck to water, where she served as Client Service Director at Holmes Pollard & Stott. From Annou my friend to Annou my colleague. There I experienced firsthand her dynamism and unstinted loyalty – She spent a good 7 years at HP&S and at the same time was instrumental in launching the Education gateway Edlocate where she functioned as its first Executive Director. Her role in setting up the company and steering it during its formative years was substantial.
Despite her career she spent quality time with her first born Arvindh. Then came the birth of the beautiful Amrita and Annou stepped aside to be a full time mother. She seemed totally relaxed in this role and she once told me she enjoyed it to the hilt.
But soon, she was offered a lucrative and challenging assignment by John Keells Hotels. JKH was her focus and each time a new property opened or was rebranded she behaved as she was literally giving birth again ! so tirelessly involved was she.
Annou was house proud and kept a meticulous home, and she knew how to entertain and make someone feel totally at home.
Annou loved to cook ! she didn’t cook a meal – she prepared a feast ! She used to often phone and ask me do you want me to make you a trifle or a lasagna! the list is endless. She knew the likes and dislikes of everyone. When Terry’s friends met and if it included Hiran Cabraal, Annou would always bring along a freshly baked butter cake. Hiran loved her butter cake and would keep eating more and more on the pretext of straightening the edges! and she would tell him to make it straighter.
Annou was passionately fond of Terry and was always happy to concede to Terry whenever there was an issue, by simply saying Terry you’re the boss! The kids were her life, everything centered around the 2 of them.
How she yearned that Arvindh will play the big match this year. That was Annou’s dream! But unfortunately it was not meant to be ! But I am sure her wish will come true!
Annou left us so suddenly, without notice, without a struggle or murmur. She seems to have settled down pretty fast in her Heavenly abode.
We all know how she cranked up the music in the heavens at the time of her funeral. The vibrations were felt all around us! Also just hours after her ashes were immersed in the waters of the Nilwala on the April 14 the man eating croc, lay captured in its trap!
You and I will surely experience more events of this nature in the days and years to come.
Knowing Annou so well I’m sure she would say ;
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there ; I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die
26th April 2012