Manilal Dahanayake and B A Mahipal share their memories of Anton
It’s suffices to say that Anton and I are best buddies from the time I met him almost 60 years ago until last Saturday when he was sadly taken away from us. Joining St Sylvesters at age 15 I was to meet this adventurous, vibrant, reckless person, Anton.  He was a great influence in my life transforming me from a self- restrained individual to a fun-loving carefree individual for which I am so thankful. 
 In school, I was amazed at the lengths he’d go to, along with our other good friend Chin of same caliber simply to annoy the teachers.  Anton, trouble maker that he was, always challenged, and argued with teachers and the studious.  He was the leader of the gang, constantly getting us into trouble and I tagged along totally attracted to his individuality, and courage.

When I think of the way we played truant from school to bathe in the Mahaveli River at Lady Blakes, giving no thought to the dangerous currents, getting the first taste of toddy, flirting with the bathing damsels, any many more adventurous undertakings, I always wonder how we survived unscathed after these escapades.  Thanks to him I had all these and many more fun experiences which are hard to put on text.

At the Peradeniya University, he stood out for his flamboyant and stylish attire of bell bottom pants, white leather boots turtle neck polo shirts even though suited only for Winter wear.   He also attracted many Kandy/Campus girls by speeding around town in his notorious red MG sportscar.  In spite of these ‘extracurricular’ activities he was able to excel professionally in the fields of medicine.

In his next chapter of life he met the love of his life Vasanthi, a decent quiet intelligent girl quite the opposite of him.  She took him in her stride. He settled and toned down a bit after marriage, yet the individuality, recklessness and the boyishness never left him.  Our friendship continued after we both got married and fortunately for us, Vasanthi and my wife, Ramani got along well too.  Ramani still recalls the first visitor the morning after we got married was Anton knocking at the door – I guess to make sure that we slept well on our wedding night!!  

Later on we were surprised to find out that our wedding anniversaries fall on consecutive dates in October 27th and 28th and also on the 29th of Mahipala’s, another good friend of his.  Thereafter we always got together this time of the year to celebrate our anniversaries.
  
Although he studied medicine his love was mostly to the arts and history as evident by his beautiful expensive collection of antique furniture, books, coins statues  etc and his knowledge on history.  I must say with all his daredevilry he was extremely disciplined when it comes to pursue his interests as evident on the massive undertaking of writing his book, ‘Illustrated History of Sri Lanka.’

We grew old together always happily reminiscing about our passed experiences. Living oceans apart was hardly an issue for our friendship considering the weekly calls and yearly visits to each other’s homes or traveling together to other places.  Spending time with him even at our old age was no different from the times in our school and Campus days and to our liking he never grew up.

 Anton, I will miss you dearly, our weekly calls talking nonsense, discussing stupid “ideas”, and always complaining about something. We laughed together even on the day before you found out you’ve succumbed to this awful disease.  I do hope we will meet again on the other side. Thank you for being a good friend and enriching my life and my outlook towards it with your one of a kind personality

Good bye my dear friend, for now.

Mahilal Dahanayake
 



I first came to know Anton in 1967 when we entered Peradeniya university together with Mahilal. He studied Medicine while his long-standing friend from school days, Mahilal did a Chemistry Special degree. I joined the Engineering Faculty. After Uni, we met frequently during his early career engaged in private practice in Sri Lanka. After he left the Island, Lilani and myself always met him and Vasanthi in London on our visits to the UK. Anton always contacted me when he was visiting Sri Lanka.
 
He joined me on a few nature photography tours I planned: Havana in Cuba, and Pantanal in Brazil together with Mahilal while we visited Masai Mara in Kenya together with our wives.
 
Koththamalli (how our dear Dr Anton referred to Scotch) was a priority on every occasion we met.
 
Our wedding anniversaries were on 27th (Mahilal) 28th (Anton) and 
29th October (Mahipala) (though we got married in different years). What a coincidence! Last four years we celebrated our anniversaries together in Jamaica, USA, Italy and 2019 in Spain- We planned 2020 in Sri Lanka. Life is so uncertain.  It was on the 25th January 2020, I met Anton in Sri Lanka for the last time at Mahilal’s place to dinner. It was his birthday and Mahilal gave a surprise party.
 
Hope you are now with your classmate Chin. We are also getting ready to join you sooner or later.
 
Good night Sweet Prince

BA Mahipal

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