A little before 2pm on Aug 22 this year, my older brother Rabindran Devadason passed away from cancer at the Oncology Ward of Hospital Kuala Lumpur. We buried him three days later at the Cheras Christian Cemetery.

I’m writing this a week after he left us. With each passing day, I grow sadder. Rabin was a tenacious lawyer who followed in the footsteps of our father, the late ‘Lawyer D.A. Devadason of Malacca’, who passed away on April 4, 2008.

Rabin, the oldest of our father’s 10 children, was his favourite. I didn’t resent that and, to the best of my knowledge, neither did any of our brothers or sisters.

While we stemmed from four different mothers, and despite the deeply unconventional structure of our family, all 10 of us (Rabin, Eva, Viji, Rajen (me), Jaya, Rani, Sarah, Pushpa, Parames and Niza) grew up with a profound appreciation of — and tenacious commitment to — hard work.(As an example of the value of diligence, our younger sister Sarah, a career diplomat with Wisma Putra, leaves next month for Berlin as Malaysia’s first lady ambassador to Germany.)

Rabin was 17 years older than me so it’s not surprising that we weren’t the closest of siblings. But he was my big brother and thus influenced me greatly.

With my sister-in-law Emily’s permission, I had the privilege of sharing my eulogy at Rabin’s funeral service on Aug 25.The wake service the night before and the funeral service were compassionately conducted by Reverend Ronnie Chin and his wife Reverend Lisa Chin of Revival Centre Kuala Lumpur, the church that Emily, Rabin’s wife of almost 40 years, and their daughter Sapphire, attend.Throughout the five weeks in hospital leading up to Rabin’s demise, Emily and Sapphire were by his bed caring for him, comforting and reassuring him.I learnt lessons on focused, intense devotion observing them.

LESSONS CAUGHT, NOT TAUGHT

I also absorbed many lessons from my brother, both through explicit instruction — for instance, Rabin taught me to tell time on my first analogue watch sometime around 1970, when I was six and he was 23 — and far more often, through unconscious modelling in the ensuing decades. Those lessons unknowingly imparted by Rabin spanned life’s numerous dimensions. I gleaned them from him over each of the — thus far — five decades-plus of my life.

For instance and specifically within the context of money management and the closely linked area of career development, three of Rabin’s teachings to me were that...

1. It’s better to be generous than stingy even when you don’t possess much;

2. It’s beneficial to toil diligently and tenaciously;

3. It’s noble to serve all layers of society.

Unlike Rabin’s enduring, targeted 1970 teaching on how to tell time on my shiny watch, which our father had bought me, the three lessons I just listed were infused in me by Rabin indirectly, unknowingly and yet indelibly.As is usually the case, life’s most important lessons are caught, not taught! I learnt those three specific lessons by observing Rabin’s interactions with the world at large.

ALWAYS A FIGHTER

When Rabin was 36 and I was 19, we were both already studying in England. He had embarked on his second career in law and I had won a scholarship the year before from Davis’s College, Holborn, London to study for my A Levels. Sadly our father’s law practice was experiencing a dip at that time. Cash was tight. Still, I chose to fly to Rome from London in the summer of 1983 on the cheapest flight possible to visit friends I made the year before when I had first arrived in London in September 1982.When I told Rabin of my travel plans he gave me money. It might have been £100. (This was 35 years ago. I know it was a sacrifice for Rabin to give so much to me, and I have always been grateful for his tangible, silent expression of love.) Later when Rabin qualified as a lawyer, he set up his firm Devadason and Devadason in Kuala Lumpur, complementing our father’s established law practice in Malacca.It soon became evident that Rabin was not only unafraid of hard, hard work, he actively embraced it and thrived upon it!

Our father would comment on how industrious Rabin was, often staying past 9 pm in his KL office studying law books and working on his cases.Soon after my brother’s passing, I had more than a few conversations with Rabin’s long-time clients who looked crushed and sad.One after another, they shared with me how Rabin had worked steadfastly for them; how he was a “fighter” in court who never yielded ground and who did his best for them. Interestingly, a surprisingly large number came from modest backgrounds.I also know that Rabin, throughout his long legal career, won some complex, cross-border cases that were reported in the Malaysian Law Journal (MLJ).In the minds of his family, friends and clients, also through his reported cases, most importantly through his beautiful daughter Sapphire; and via the life lessons he communicated unconsciously to so very many of us, my brother Rabin Devadason’s legacy continues.

© 2017 Rajen Devadason Read his free articles at

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