We mourn the death Mr. Kanapathipillai Pooranampillai 92, our beloved emeritus principal of Hartley College, Point Pedro - 1943 - 1967 and St. Johns College, Jaffna -1967 1976. He passed away quietly at his residence in England, last Sunday. A towering, genteel fatherly figure is no more with us. Let his soul Rest in Peace.
Mr. Pooranampillai, affectionately called "K. P," was born in Thunnalai, those days, a rural village in the Vadamaradchy region. In Sri Lanka, I have seen Mr. Pooranapillai as the only principal who enjoyed the confidence, trust and regards of the entire Sri Lankan student community.
Right throughout my life, I have proudly declared that I am the student of K. P, who instilled in me true sense of knowledge, life and of the world. I had a long love-hate association with him. The last time I saw him was when I was the Manager of Lake House Jaffna in 1974.
One day, he quietly dropped into my cabin in my office, when I was surrounded by my friends, to name a few Late V. Dharmalingham, former Federal Party M.P. for Uduvil, Late T. Rajalingham, at that time a Circuit Education Officer, Udupiddy and later TULF MP for Udupiddy, Poet Laureate, R. Nagarajan, writer and editor of Mallikai, Dominic Jeeva and others.
He walked in, inquired about our health, and blessed us. Spoke few words in his genteel fashion and then excused himself. That was the last time I saw him.
Earlier during my days in Puloly, until 1960, it was a usual sight to see him at about 5 to 5.30 in the morning, walking pass our road (College Road) with his wife by his side and a walking stick in his hand. He will start from his house located in the College Road, opposite to the Thamarai Kulam, slowly and gently walking towards the junction of the road where my house was located, waving and smiling at those who passes by and inquiring about their welfare and walk pass Vinayaga Mudaliyar (V.M.) Road, Court Road and back to his house before six in the morning.
He had a gifted memory, would identify anyone, name them, would address them, and would ask about the concerned persons father, mother and brothers, almost all of them would have been his past students.
Mr. Pooranampillai served as the President of All Ceylon Principles' Union and the President of Cricket Association in Jaffna. He was also the vice-president of Ceylon Methodist Churches, while he was in Sri Lanka.
I can still remember, when he returned from Birmingham in 1951, after his successful completion of Diploma in Education. During that time, I was in studying in the Form 1 Lower sixth standard. He was my English teacher from Form 1 Lower to J.S.C eighth standard. He taught us to write in simple English words and he had a very beautiful handwriting. We all tried our best to follow his handwriting but in vain.
After his retirement as Principal of Hartley College, he joined St. Johns College in Jaffna. I was told that he had some initial teething problems at St. Johns, to come to terms with those students, but subsequently, he emerged as the reputed person in the city.
Mr. Pooranapillai, a beacon of light, was a strict disciplinarian and instills sense of duty, discipline and order, in the minds and hearts of his students. At Hartley College, Point Pedro, he was ably assisted by S.T. Samuel, the Vice-Principal and R.M. Gunaratnam the Deputy Principal.
Later I learnt that he left for England due to the unsettled political situation in Sri Lanka. He passed away in England.
Along with Thousands of his students and his well wishers, all of us miss him. A great soul who did yeomen service to humanity is no more with us. We all miss him, but we would continue to cherish those fond memories of our able guide and philosopher forever. R.I.P.