e-mail from Ramakrishnan P  received 11.2.2005

This morning I was shocked to read in The Star that our friend and Kirkbyite William Sabaratnam had passed away. I immediately called Mrs Sabaratnam to convey my sympathies to her. I told her how sorry I was to learn of his passing and remarked, “Though I had not seen him in many years, he was a good friend.” She responded, “He was a good father and a good husband.”

She was very calm and sounded well. I suppose when death stares at you on a daily basis, may be it is easier to accept its inevitability.

She informed me that he contracted pneumonia and was admitted to hospital on 8 February –the eve of Chinese New Year and the day of Ah Kau’s funeral. The next day, on Chinese New Year and the day after Ah Kau’s funeral, William Sabaratnam passed away. Since there was no publication yesterday, the obituary only appeared today.

According to the obituary, he was 68 years old and leaves behind his wife and 4 daughters. There will be a funeral service at the Tamil Methodist Church in Brickfields  at 3.00 p today followed by burial at the Cheras Christian Cemetry.

On 9 October, on learning of his ailment – nasal cancer – I recalled my memory of William Sabaratnam in a letter that I circulated. That information is still valid and it is reproduced:

“William Sabaratnam was from Block 9. He was tall and thin and I remember him in his brown suit. His favourite hang out was the billiard-table, forever banging away at the balls. He was pretty good at billiards and had won many prizes. If he wasn’t occupied at the table, he would be standing in front of the fire-place warming his back with his hands tucked into his trouser pockets and a cigarette dangling from his lips.

“I did not have much interaction with him in college. I’m not sure whether he talked much. Perhaps there was no need to speak. Billiards needed absolute concentration – that may be the reason. But I’m not sure.”

Tien Chong responded to this in his letter to me:


“You do have an excellent memory of him! Yes, William was in block 9 and his room was diagonally opposite. mine. Teong Kooi was his neighbour and they both monopolized  the billiard table and were twice college champions. These 2 shared the same interest in literature would discussed Tennesse Williams in great detail.

“Perhaps Teong Kooi can tell us what their thoughts on D H Lawrence were. These 2 had great in depth knowledge of his books and always tried to out do each other.

“ He was a keen cricketer too.

“I remember him well as we both spent many happy hours at Jacaranda Coffee house drinking coffee and making friends with our young English hosts.”

 In case, anyone wishes to drop a note to Mrs Sabaratnam, the address is: 589/2 Jalan NGP 2/7, New Green Park, 48000 Rawang, Selangor. Home telephone: 03-60916024.