Posterity

This week I discovered that two of my ancestors have their own entries on Wikipedia.

My great-grandfather KS Arulnandhy (1899-1972) was Sri Lanka’s (then Ceylon’s) Deputy Director of Education.

Harry (HAP) Sandrasagra KC, a great-great-uncle, lived from 1875 to 1940 and was a lawyer and member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon.

A remembrance of him at the Sri Lankan Daily News website, written by Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of his death in 2012, contains three gems.

On his command of the language:

A brilliant lawyer of convincing ability, he spared none, judge or lawyer, who thought they could get the better of him. He gave no quarter to those who tried to belittle him and showed no respect for them, however highly placed they might have been. Harry Sandrasagara was born and educated in Jaffna. He had no peer in the use of spoken English. He used to say that he knew only Jaffna Tamil English, taught by a Frenchman. He was short in height, small made and somewhat dark complexioned.

On his skills as a lawyer:

His brilliant gift of rhetoric which he used most effectively took him to the top of the profession. Facing a jury he would play with words like a cat playing with a rat. He would tease and tantalize before he killed, such was the effect of a cross-examination of witnesses. With his intimate knowledge of men and matters and with his disarming friendliness which was always dangerous, he would break them down. Further Sandrasagara profoundly understood human nature and foibles of men. Perhaps, this accounted for his success as a criminal lawyer.

And this, slipped in towards the end:

One day while walking down a London Highway, he was mistaken for the Emperor of Abyssinia.

But the final sentence would be a rather satisfactory conclusion to anyone’s life:

Undoubtedly, his name will best be remembered by all for the gallant and straight fights he used to put up in defence of human liberty.