A family Friend shares his thoughts
Dr. Anton Sebastian, fondly known to many as Thillahan, fell a victim to CORONA-VD-19 in London, U.K. on April 04, 2020 while working  for the British NHS at the Kingston Hospital in London. He was a Consultant Physician who answered the call from NHS to serve the needy at a time of great crisis. While treating infected patients he contacted the virus and succumbed.  
Dr. Anton Sebastian, fondly known to many as Thillahan, fell a victim to CORONA-VD-19 in London, U.K. on April 04, 2020 while working  for the British NHS at the Kingston Hospital in London. He was a Consultant Physician who answered the call from NHS to serve the needy at a time of great crisis. While treating infected patients he contacted the virus and succumbed.  

Anton (let me call him by his first name) was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka on January 23, 1945 to Dr. Gregory and Josephine Sebastianpillai. He had his primary education at St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna and moved to Kandy, a town in the Central Province of Sri Lanka at the age of ten where his father was a Registered Medical Practitioner. The latter had  retired early  from the State sector to run a Medical Clinic and a   Nursing Home which catered to the needy in Kandy  

Anton had his secondary education at St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy and entered University of Peradenia where he graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1972. A few years later he met a  charming girl, Vasantha Reginald, a Peradeniya  University graduate  and  married her with parental blessings. 

After two  short stints as a Medical Practitioner in Colombo and Jaffna , Anton  moved to London with his family in 1979. He joined the NHS and worked at the Kingston hospital, London and later qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. When he got a good job offer from a leading hospital  in the city of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he accepted the offer and worked there for more than a decade. He was a well-known Physician in the Kingdom even treating members of the Royal family. On his return to London, he became a Consultant Physician and soon became widely known for his prowess and even had a clinic down Harley Street, world renowned as the centre of eminent Physicians.   

Anton was a Doctor of Medicine but did not confine himself to Medicine. While always tending the sick with total devotion and passion, he found time to engage in several hobbies and literary efforts. He authored several books on medicine including one titled ‘History of Medicine’ which was a pioneering effort by a Doctor of Medicine. This apart, his hobbies included other fields like collection of ancient books, coins, antiques, stamps and what not. You will find shelves and shelves of well-bound books in his spacious home in Surbiton, Surrey. On my last visit to his home around five years back, I was treated to a fiesta of all his collections which included classic old cars. His collection actually astounded me. It struck me that he is one who could squeeze a 48 hour work into a 24 hour day. Amidst his encompassing work, he would find time to enjoy music and play Piano to relax with his family. He was a dedicated family man. 

Anton was always available for consultations to anyone who sought his services which he gave unsparingly. I have often disturbed  him often from distant Canada even at odd hours and he was always courteous and considerate. Anton took the initiative as a Founder, in setting up an after school centre in the village of Mathagal (from where his wife hailed ) called ‘Village Empowerment Centre’ where needy students are taught computer, languages, and other skills like typing, sewing and tailoring free of charge. He was a visionary indeed.   
 
Anton had  a passion for history and decided that he should explore the history of his motherland Sri Lanka. He took leave from his Consultancy services  went to Sri Lanka and toured the island even visiting several Buddhist temples and monasteries and spending the nights there. He told me that he was warmly received at every Temple he visited and had the opportunity to refer to ancient ola books. After a painstaking effort which was really herculean, he came out with a real masterpiece ‘An Illustrated History of Sri Lanka’, a massive volume of historical data which virtually stunned all readers. How he could have assembled all the data that had gone into this book remains a wonder. Medicine and History are poles apart but in Anton’s life the poles had met. The book which had earned the encomiums of historians, academics, professionals and even politicians has seen four editions, all of which were sold out in no time.  

God had blessed Anton with an intellect and abundant talents and skill all of which he used for the benefit of humanity. More than that, God has also bestowed on him noble qualities of humility, equanimity, compassion and genuine love for fellow human beings irrespective of class or status, all of which were always part of his life. Eventually he died, as he lived, for others. 

His death is an irreparable tragedy to his grieving family but they can take comfort from the fact that he is being hailed by thousands as one who had sacrificed his life in the service to humanity. 

May Anton’s Soul Rest in Peace and let the earth lie softly on his turf forever. 
 
Benedict Thomas (Benny)  ​​​​​​​

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