Our mother, Chandra Navaratnam nee Rajasingham, hailed from a lineage of Priesthood, the Reverend Sam Morse being her Great Grand Father. She was the 2nd daughter of Charles and Ranee Rajasingam, and sister of the late Ranita Thavam and the late Raju Rajasingham. She was an old girl of CMS Ladies College, Colombo, and during the World War II years, studied at Chundikuli Girls College Jaffna, before returning to Ladies’ College to finish her secondary education.
During the 60’s, our family moved from Colombo to Jaffna, as Dad, who was a Station Master in the Railway, was transferred to Jaffna. Five months into his new assignment, Dad died of a severe heart attack. Mother decided to stay on and raise the children in Jaffna. It was the grace of God that provided her the fortitude and the will to courageously continue to raise her children. Through the ensuing years, she was able to juggle her parental responsibilities with her teaching workload at St. Johns College, as well as giving after school lessons of piano, speech and drama.
Mother involved herself in Church activities as well, accepting the offer from the then vicar at St. John’s Church, the Rev. Raju Coomaraswamy to be the regular organist. She was already an accomplished musician attached to the Trinity College of Music Speech and Drama, London, when she started giving piano lessons at home. For some time, our living room was used as one of the examination centres for Jaffna. Her former students will also remember the annual picnics that she organized.
She so admirably handled the dual role of mother and father, a picture of health and a pillar of strength to all of us. From our younger days she instilled in our minds the importance of leading a Christian life. Her favourite quote was ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. She was also very well versed in child psychology. Never raised her hand on us for any naughty or careless deeds. Instead, she would make it a point to teach us where we went wrong, to make us realize our mistakes.
She used a lot of proverbs and teachings throughout our childhood days, which really helped us siblings go through adolescence. She ensured we were well provided in all necessities. I can still remember how meticulously she organized our meals, always making something different for dinner. April & August school holidays were spent in Colombo with our relatives. December holidays were always spent at home, as all of us siblings took part in Christmas activities. Mother was the organist for the church as well as the school carol services, while we also sang in the choir.
Mother was a real source of knowledge on any topic under the Sun, and so much so that was known as Dr. Navaratnam in the family circle. She was so energetic and active all the time, a pillar of strength, courageous, humble, simple and fun loving too, and more than anything, she led a selfless, sacrificial life throughout. The beauty of her life was that she simply enjoyed all what she did with a cheerful heart.
We will also remember her for her resilience and resourcefulness, and we are ever grateful to God for having blessed us with one of the ‘BEST MOTHERS IN THE WORLD’ or rather, THE BEST.
Children Rajan, Cynthia, Sharma, Chrisso and Ravi
(Sri Lanka – Canada )
Excerpts published in the Ceylon Daily News 13.06. 21