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"Ronnie had fallen down on the floor as if sleeping ... that scene keeps rotating in my mind!" -- Mariazelle

Singer Mariazelle Gunatilleka who was a longtime acquaintance of Ronnie Leach recollects her final memories of Ronnie and actor who suddenly bade goodbye while in Australia bringing a shock to his fans. Shown below is what Mariazelle said about Ronnie Leach:

"Ronnie is a noble man. We both came to know each other way back in 1973. We set off to Australia early morning last 27th. From the moment we boarded the flightwhat Ronnie did was watch movies. After that he began talking about those movies. We had to go to Australia via Singapore and after
getting off in Singapore, while walking along shopping complexes he spoke about things to buy when we were to return ... particularly he said that he wants to buy some ayurvedic oils. He made me understand that those were beneficial for aches in the arms and legs.

We attended the dinner concert on 29th Saturday in the city of Perth. At the concert Ronnie sang and danced as usual. On another occasion at the concert he invited a female fan to the stage and sang the song 'Kelle, kelle ... sudu kelle" and danced nicely. I am actually surprised ... when I recall how active he was that day.

Ronnie Leach was a person who had a very simple way with him. Most people are aware of that. It was I who first sang at the concert. Before the concert was over I left the concert and proceeded to the room in the flat allocated to me. The following morning told me that it was late in the night when he arrived. He also said that throughout Sunday he was to see an aunt and meet a crowd of relatives. That lady he visited was 95 years of age. So he was adamant in visiting her and I met Ronnie after that only at the dinner organised by our wellwishers. That party was held at the house of the musician called Arth Rathna Vibhushana.

Ronnie who came for this function was in a somewhat tired manner, I noticed. But I didn't give much thought to it. I thought maybe because he tired himself continuously. After the party we returned home and that was Sunday night. Ronnie who came like that I saw packing up his bags because of returning the following day to Sri Lanka. What he was so packing were gifts he bought for his children and his wife. "It's good if these are packed now itself", Ronnie told me. I then retired after to my room after telling Ronnie as I too was feeling tired and that was the last moment when I saw Ronnie well and alive.

I got up the following day early morning and then I proceeded to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea. But the moment I was coming walking my heart skipped a beat as Ronnie had fallen on the floor. I rushed towards him. I shouted out saying "Ronnie ... Ronnie". But there was no response from him as such. As help was needed by somebody, I rushed to the room and got hold of the phone and called an organiser who invited us to hold the concert, an Old Anandian of Ananda Old Boys' Association. He was promptly there and simultaneously an ambulance arrived with the medical staff. They checked Ronnie for about 10 minutes and finally remarked, "Too late!" Actually the moment I heard those two words I felt like my legs going lifeless. So I sat down there itself. From then onwards till some time passed I just went blank ... could not remember anything. Everyone around I heard trying to encourage me. I just could not think what came over me. It really was a nasty dream, so to say ... truly a horrible dream. Why did such a thing like this happen to Ronnie?

Ultimately I of course had to come all alone and break my journey at Singapore  Airport as on the previous occasion and what began running in my mind those things that Ronnie told like buying those ayurvedic stuff. I can't think why a thing like this happened. I can't believe still how I went with Ronnie and had to return all by myself to Sri Lanka.

I am a friend of that family. I recall a request on the day Ronnie's daughter Keshya got married. "If you can, come to church and sing a hymn and that would be the greatest gift that I have in mind to give my darling daughter at this time". I accepted this request of his and went to church that day and sang that hymn. As soon as I finished singing, Ronnie approached me and told me, "What you did I will never forget. I'll keep that in my mind forever".

Another thing that must be said is that he is a wonderful husband and father. Even as a friend ... there is no fear to go with him anywhere. There was such noble qualities in Ronnie. Even when leaving the island he checked about his health. It was after subjecting himself to a medical examination that he embarked on this tour in a casual manner. But existence in life is quite different to what we imagine. We just cannot adjust it or control it.

It is still a dream to me ... an experience which I cannot believe. How can I believe that Ronnie who went on this tour did not come back again! Ronnie was lying on the floor as if asleep. There was no change ... anything strange that I noticed. Aney there was not even a scrape. That scene keeps rotating in my mind!" Mariazelle finally ended by saying so.

-- Saman Priyankara Nammunige --

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