Dr. Lou Adhihetty – An Icon of Wesley has faded away
One like me should be forgiven for thinking of Lou Adhihetty as an immortal. Oh yes, for many of these years I never thought people like him could be taken away, but he has gone and by that I mean his mortal remains will soon be but dust and a large looming gap will be left in the lives of people all around the world and “more larger and more looming” in the lives of the Boys of Wesley young and old, past and present.
It was two years ago, at the Aigburth cricket grounds in Liverpool, I watched Sussex and Lancashire battle it out while sitting next to a white haired gentleman with a posh accent. He had been at Cambridge he told me and knew a Sri Lankan – Dr. Lou Adhihetty!
I went through the whole story about Lou’s records at Wesley College and conveniently slipped in that I was even lucky to be able to torment the great man with my off spin in the 1960s when he skippered the Old Boys XI in the founder’s day match. I left out about the time he was our PT master while on a summer vacation from Cambridge University because I was otherwise a source of his torment. The man introduced himself as a clergyman and in my mind some things are best left unsaid.
In the late 80’s in Paris I wore a sweater with the Wesley College double blues while the rest of my team sported the Standard Cricket and Athletic Club’s red and black striped woollies! Up walks a man and asks me why I was dressed differently and I replied, “because I am a Wesleyite and these are my colours!” David Barmes was a friend of Lou’s and this should indicate that I was living in a very small world! David and I became close friends for ten minutes and then I tormented his team while they batted! Dugal Jansz also a Wesley vice captain in the 1980s turned out for the same team - Geneva CC of Switzerland in the 1990s.
But my hero-worshipping the Adihetties, the Fuards and the Claessens took root in my father’s love for Wesley and the game of cricket. I learned about these people along with the stories from the classmate of another great, Mahadevan Sathasivam and the cousin of Ashley Casie Chetty a former Wesley wicketkeeper. Dad took me to the Wesley – St Peter’s match in 1955. In between the icy chocks that often made me sick, I watched two of the best schoolboy teams battle it out. Lou got a ton I think and so did Clive Inman! Samsudeen and Abu Fuard, Maxi de Silva, Harold Juriansz, and the youngest of the Claessens, a left armer, the late Herman made the side a stronger team than most club XI s. This was in keeping with the golden age of Wesley College where the academics and the sportsmen excelled under Cedric Orloff later Lou’s mentor.
But Lou like all the great sportsmen of Wesley in those years was available when advice was needed. He was as down to earth as other greats who walked the corridors of the school. As primary school boys we were seated closest to the senior prefects who stood at the second door in Assembly times. We were many to gape with open mouths at Lou or Ansar and want to imitate their every gesture. Even right-handers switched over to batting left so they thought they looked like Lou. We heard that he was also a brilliant student and we’d all liked to have been brilliant students and we dreamed on, till it was our turn to don the whites and wear the blazer. It was then that I realised that I would never be a Lou Adhihetty in sports or in studies. Millfield College, Cambridge University, ICI, Switzerland news of Lou always filtered back. The good news and now the bad.
This monumental old boy will be among the very few others who will never be forgotten for their sportsmanship, their academic ability and their leadership. I would advocate a change of us naming buildings after heads of the school who dragged the school into the decadent doldrums it is in today. If all and sundry could be treated like this people like Lou Adhihetty deserve to be put on a much higher pedestal – for he is one of the many true Wesleyites who would have moved mountains to uplift his old school and ours.
Lou to you, true old Wesley a giant among men, I will mourn you as long as I live.
Rest in Peace.
Peter Casie Chetty