Thursday, April 2, 2009


Lloyd Fernando is a MALAYSIAN but he was born in Sri Lanka in 1926, and in 1938, at the age of twelve, he migrated to Singapore with his family. This early migration across the Indian Ocean had an enriching influence on Fernando, the writer and scholar, as it was to plant the seeds of a transcultural, diasporic imagination in him at an impressionable age. Life was moving along at a steady pace, and Fernando continued his schooling at St Patrick’s, but the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1943 to 1945 dealt a severe blow, interrupting his formal schooling and, most tragically, costing his father’s life in one of the Japanese bombing raids. Following his father’s death, Fernando started working as a trishaw rider, construction labourer and apprentice mechanic, to support himself and the family. He also joined the Ceylon branch of the Indian National Army, not impelled by any ideology but out of a sheer necessity for self-sustenance.

After the war, Fernando completed his Cambridge School Certificate and embarked on a school teaching career. In 1955, he entered the University of Singapore, graduating in 1959 with double Honours in English and Philosophy. In 1960, he joined the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur as an assistant lecturer, and returned to the same post four years later, having obtaining a Ph.D. in English from the University of Leeds, England. In 1967, he was elevated to Professor and Head of English at the University of Malaya, posts he held until 1979. People retire at Malaysia at 55, and so when it was time for him to retire, Lloyd didn’t want to have to continue on a yearly contract, and not be certain of anything. He decided to take up law. He went to England and studied law at City University and then at Middle Temple, coming back with his law degrees. He joined a firm, and eventually started his own practice here, which he continued right up to the time he had a stroke, which was in December 1997.