OBITUARY : JEHAN RAHEEM – By Hugh Karunanayake

OBITUARY : JEHAN RAHEEM – By Hugh Karunanayake

Hugh Karunanayake

JEHAN  RAHEEM  (19. 6. 1935 – 25.10.2023)

Jehan Raheem, my  classmate through Royal Prep School and thereafter in Royal College,, and an outstanding  intellect, passed away in his home in New York, yesterday. His demise was mistakenly announced a week ago, but the end was near, and he finally  succumbed to the ravages of cancer in the morning of 25 October. A man given to a wry sense of humour, would have been thinking on the lines of Mark Twain on the unintended falsity, by exclaiming that “rumours of my death are vastly exaggerated”!

Born in Hulftsdorf where his father enjoyed a lucrative practice as a lawyer, Jehan was the eldest of nine children, all high achievers, with Jehan the eldest showing the way to his younger siblings. . Of portly build, he was a friendly and genial person very popular with his peers. The Raheem home first at 254, Huftsdorf and later at Clifford Road, Kollupitiya was a popular meeting spot for Jehan’s classmates. I recall the lovely biriyani meals we enjoyed at Ramazan when the Raheems ran open house to all and sundry, during their early days in Hulftsdorf, and later to continue at Kollupitiya.

The Raheem family was a cerebral lot, the pater familias giving primacy to education and ensuring that all nine children were well endowed academically. Jehan, who passed out with an Honours Degree in Economics/Accounting from Peradeniya, continued his studies to qualify as a Chartered Accountant at Ford Rhodes and Thornton. At Peradeniya he was much involved in drama productions associated with Prof Lyn Ludowyk and Jubal of the Drama Society.. He thereafter worked at Pfizer International as Chief Accountant. Soon he was on a  Fullbright Scholarship with the Universirty of Pittsburg, after which he served a few more years with the Fullbright Foundation. He joined the UNDP in the early 70s where Jehan rose to be Director of the Policy Division of the UNDP until his retirement in the early 1990s On retirement from the UNDP he took up a Professorship in Brandes University, New York.

Iqbal, the next in line of his siblings was a medical doctor and worked in England where he passed away. Among the boys the next was Azad who practised as a lawyer in Colombo and later in Melbourne where he passed away a few years ago. The next was Ismeth the well known Architect and antiquarian, followed by Omar the Engineer, and the youngest of the boys Gazhali also working for the United Nations. All six boys were educated at Royal College. The three Raheem girls Gulna, Rhyana, and Yasmin were all educated at Ladies College and are all renowned academics.

OBITUARY : JEHAN RAHEEM - By Hugh Karunanayake

                            Jehan and wife Eleanor

Jehan enrolled at Royal College in 1946 having joined from Royal Preparatory School with another approximately 100 boys Including me. Our batch of students is known as the 1946 Group. We celebrated 60 years of companionship in 2006 with a  dinner at the Colombo Hilton attended by 41 members of the group and their wives. Twenty  of those who attended travelled from overseas including Jehan who resided in New York over the past several decades. The celebration was repeated five years later in 2011,  but due to “natural attrition “ taking its toll, no

formal gatherings took place since then. The handful who remain  continue the earthly struggle but revel however, in any opportunity to meet, greet, and reminisce over old times, now sadly fleeting away from us.

My contact with Jehan after leaving school was sporadic, he residing in USA  having worked for the United Nations for most of his post University life. I recall meeting him when he visited the Marga Institute where I worked, in 1974, and remember the two of us sitting in the Marga Canteen drinking plain tea with a piece of jaggery in days of austerity. The last time I met him was when he visited Melbourne  a few years ago to bid farewell to his younger brother Azad who was terminally ill. That brief visit was marked by a lunch which was attended by Jehan and Eleanor, Fred Kreltszheim, Bryan and Mahal Wickremeratne and my late wife Tulsi and me. Jehan, Fred, and Bryan have an added dimension to their friendship having played in the Royal College rugby teams of the mid 1950s. Jehan with his burly physique would have, I imagine, been a good prop forward.

OBITUARY : JEHAN RAHEEM - By Hugh Karunanayake

Jehan and Eleanor with friends in Melbourne

               (From left: Jehan, Hugh, Bryan, Fred, Eleanor,Mahal, and Tulsi)

About 10 years ago he joined the Ceylon Society of Australia as an overseas member. Many were the transcontinental phone  conversations we had on a number of subjects, and my life has been considerably diminished by his sad departure.

“May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace and grant him the highest place in Jannah”

Hugh Karunanayake                               

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