This is Seeya. Last week, on June 30, he would have turned 100. He died a few months after he turned 98, just over one and a half years ago. He was born as the first World War was taking shape, and lived through a second, an independence for Sri Lanka, another brutal war and its end.
Seeya was an extraordinary individual. He didn’t have any health problems. He lived a simple life.
He was an artiste in all its forms. A ballroom dancer during his younger days, he was a champion at it, having won a number of trophies. He was a painter and a writer. He wrote beautiful poems and sent a couple to the newspapers. He sang, so well. His favourites included, ‘Home on the Range’, ‘I’m Getting Married in the Morning’, and ‘Old Black Joe’. He was a musician, playing the piano and the violin. He had learnt the violin only much later in life. What’s remarkable is that many of this, he learnt on his own.
But he shared whatever he knew. He is the one who taught all of us – my brothers, my cousins and me – the violin.
At a party, he will relate old tales, fill in during awkward pauses, sing and dance, and keep everyone entertained.
He never owned a mobile phone, he had never travelled the world, but lived his life to the fullest, enjoying all the little things and never complaining. His was a Buddhist, but he hardly went to the temple. Rather, he lived a moderate life, free of too many wants, needs and attachments.
His secret to a long, healthy and happy life – a glass of arrack every evening. He stopped this practice only when he hit 90! And walks, every day, whether it’s on the main road, to the boutique down the lane, or just around the house. Oh also, “catching up with friends”. Seeya had a ton of friends from the neighbourhood. As he grew older, he spent his evenings by the gate, chatting to whoever who stopped by him, and later invited his friends indoors to catch up. Topics of conversations with them included politics and interesting bits and details from the homefront!
As he turned 98, there was a tea party to celebrate his birthday. He was so happy to see a lot of people come. He sang, although he couldn’t quite catch that perfect note.
The thing is, it didn’t matter, for he was always content with what he had, what he had achieved, what came his way, and with what the future held him. And that’s what defined him, that’s what made him extraordinary at the end!
At 100, he has left us a heap of laughter, lessons and love. A simple and humble being, yet extraordinary in the life that he lived.
Here’s to Seeya; a toast and a song!