TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


Balasubramaniam Surendra

He never lost the common touch

July 16 2018 marks the 3rd month of the passing away of Balasubramaniam Surendra , Suren as he was known to many of us. It was with profound shock and sadness that his family, friends and associates learnt of the news of his passing away.

Suren was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and was nurtured in a privileged background, yet, he never lost the common touch, nor the ability to empathise, feel and respond to another’s need. He had his education at St Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia and following his professional studies he joined the family business which he was heading at the time of his untimely demise.

Suren was indeed a lively, sensitive, kind and gentle person, and always saw the good in every human being. Throughout his life he epitomized the values of kindness and uprightness. He was respected by all those he associated with.

He valued human beings over monetary gains and had a strong sense of commitment and duty towards the staff of his Company. I remember a staff member once saying, “ he would greet us and inquire about our well being and those of our families each day, as he came to work”.

He believed in the dignity of all human beings, especially, the down trodden. Following his death many were the tales of his selfless and generous charity and kindness which were all done in total silence.

Suren had a tremendous zest for life and was happiest when surrounded by his family and friends. His subtle sense of humour brought much wit and light entertainment to the times spent with him and the laughter and the memories of those wonderful times will always be cherished.

He would choose to talk of the funny side of life rather than dwell on the gloomy and the dreary. He was a dutiful, caring and beloved husband to his wife Uma, a devoted and loving father to his children Aparna and Santheep, a wonderful brother to his sisters Shyama, Vanaja and an affectionate and doting uncle to his nieces and nephews.

Being a diehard blue blooded Thomian, he greatly valued the kinship and camaraderie he shared with his STC batch mates. He was a generous host and together with his wife Uma hosted many a get together which will be remembered by all. The countless number of relatives and friends who flew in from different parts of the world for his funeral, all in the brief time of three days bore ample testimony to the respect and love with which he was held.

Today, we live in a society that encourages and advocates hedonism, self-interest, narcissism amidst an ethic that admires and values unbridled ambition, amassing material possessions, with no respect for human dignity.

Rarely are we privileged to encounter an individual such as Suren, whose values, ambitions, and motivations, run counter to the worldview of our time and age. Reflecting on the life of Suren we realize that the world is indeed poorer for his loss.

It is hard to believe that this larger than life personality is no more, yet, the lives of the people that he touched will inspire us to serve our fellow human beings with love, compassion and kindness and remember that every human being has his/her own worth and dignity.

Farewell dear friend, may you find eternal rest and peace.

“The First step to be a good man is: you must feel the burden of the stones someone else is carrying”

Mehemet Murat Ildan



Dr. Tilokasundari Kariyawasam

Your unconditional love was a blessing to my life

It is a year since Amma left us, leaving a deep void in our hearts. During this year there is not a single day that went-by when we have not thought of her. She was such an extraordinary person and her loss is heart wrenching.

My Amma, Tilokasundari Kariyawasam, was an old girl of Visakha Vidyalaya Colombo and Ananda College, Colombo. Later she entered the University of Colombo, to read for her B.A in Mathematics. While at University she acted the main character in a drama named “Sunethra”. The drama was produced by my father, Piyadasa Kariyawasam. Through the play they got to know each other, which eventually led to their marriage.

Her first appointment was as a teacher at Visakha Vidyalaya. Later, she completed her Master’s Degree at the University of Peradeniya.

In 1958, Amma was appointed as the Principal of Sangamitta Vidyalaya, Galle at the young age of 29. She took Sangamitta Vidyalaya to great heights achieving a record of 164 pupils who entered University in 1964.

In 1966 she was awarded a British Council Scholarship to read for her PhD in Psychology at the University of London. When she returned after completing her doctorate, in 1970, she was attached to Ananda Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo as Principal.

In 1972, she was promoted to the post of Regional Director, Education, for both Matara and Tangalle Zones. Thereafter, she held the posts of: Director for Teacher Training and Planning; Commissioner of Educational Publications; and Deputy Director General of Education. In 1989, she served as the State Secretary of Education and the Director General of the National Institute of Education.

My mother was blessed with 3 children. She had an inseparable connection with her family, as was evidenced by the profusion of love and care bestowed on her husband, children and grandchildren. We were surrounded by love in our happy home. Amma, you were just wonderful in a million different ways.

For that we are forever grateful. My mother was a constant presence from my formative years. She was not only a mother but a close friend, a confidante and a counsellor and she set us a great example. Every day, I thank her for being the pillar of strength in my life.

Being the versatile person, she became a culinary expert who prepared delicious meals for us. Mutton Biriyani was her specialty. The door of her home was literally open to her friends, relatives and acquaintances to walk in and enjoy her hospitality. She was generous beyond measure.

Amma was keen to acquire knowledge, and her interests were eclectic.She was a voracious reader. Every morning she would get up at 5 a.m. and start writing articles, books or read.

She was the author of many books covering a variety of subjects such as, Education, Psychology, Buddhism, Intelligence Tests, Children’s’ stories, etc. She was the recipient of the Presidential Award three times.

Amma was a beautiful lady with a beautiful heart. Her desire was to dress well. She favored beautiful, bright coloured sarees, and was conscious about her appearance even in her old age.

I was blessed and fortunate to be able to look after Amma in my home during the last four years of her life.

My mother lived a complete and a dynamic life.We take joy and pride in looking back, as Amma lived a life to the fullest and gave us nothing but the best.

Amma! your unconditional love was a blessing to my life. Amma! to me you are the greatest mother in the world.

We will cherish your memory forever. May you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!

Miuru Kariyawasam


Raymond Perera

Hard to believe that you are no more!

The vacuum you have left can never be filled

Even after six months since your demise it is very hard and sad to believe that you are no more with us.

Your demise was so unexpected and even you did not think you would go so soon.

You have left a big vacuum in our lives, which we are still trying to come to terms with, but unfortunately neither me nor your three children can accept your departure.

From the moment you fell sick with your last words to me, “Come and have dinner” you lost your consciousness never to return till you passed away after one and a half months, at the ICU at the General Hospital. Your only son took control of the situation like a tower till your two daughters arrived within twenty four hours of notice from Canada and the States.

They never left your bedside. It is ironical and at the same time you were fortunate to be attended to by your own daughter who within this one and a half months did not leave your bedside, even when you were attended to by other doctors and consultants who did everything possible to bring you back to your former self, she was with them all the time. But to our great dismay and sorrow when you left us stranded, on your last journey, we completely collapsed.

Your youngest daughter for whom your pet name is “Chuti” even gave up her job over there in Canada to be with you and look after you. We all did our best but you went without even a good bye. Your son was the father to all three of us in that dark moment. Informing about your demise to your friends, relatives and others was not easy as none of us were in a proper frame of mind.

But our friends and relatives passed on the news to the best of their ability while we were in a daze unable to think of anything.

All those who heard about your departure came to Barney Raymonds Funeral Parlour to bid you good bye. Many of your friends and colleagues at the Maharaja Organization S-Lon division who you had not met since leaving the Company in 1987, were there to wish you good bye. S.C. Weerasekara the present group Director of S-Lon Lanka Pvt. Ltd. paid his last respects to you on behalf of the Capital Maharaja Organization Ltd. Even after the lapse of many years I was able to recognise them. Bandu and Mangalaleshwaran, Thilak, Vincent, Loganathan, Lalith and Nandana Hewanayake were among them.

I know you would have smiled from wherever you were at their not forgetting you and coming to bid you good bye. It was thoughtful of Mahinda Wijesinghe who is a close friend of the family, to give the funeral oration that further made us and everybody present know of who Raymond Perera has been.

I can remember the smile that brightened your face whenever you spoke of your days at Maharajas. Everybody who has had contacts with you, speaks well about you, and it gives us the family, a humble pride for what you have been. We are still unable to come to terms with your demise. Not a single day passes without our eyes getting blurred, when we think about you. The vacuum you have left can never be filled.

Good bye to you Raymond. Good bye thaththi. We will always remember you and hold you in our hearts and pray to Jesus to grant you eternal rest till we meet again in our next life. Our most dear wish is, to let us be one family not only in our next life, but in all other lives to come. May God bless you and may you rest in peace in the arms of our lord.

Nilani, Samudra, Sarah and Chuti


Soma Muriel Cabraal

Epitome of love and sacrifice

A year has passed since you left us and much has happened which you would have loved to be a part of. We trust that you watch over all of us from heaven above and smile at that which you would have been proud of.

A year has passed and you are still the epitome of love and sacrifice for us; the true essence of duty and the prime example of Godly fear. A decade later, undoubtedly, none of that will change.

A year has passed and we still miss the stories you would tell and your presence at evening tea; the things we’ve learnt of our heritage and of your own experiences over the years. Other stories cannot take that place.

A year has passed and nothing quite fulfils the emptiness you left behind. It might quite certainly remain as such in the years to come.

A year has passed and you are truly missed and thought of often, dearest Mamma; a God sent angel, a model for us all! May you continue to rest in peace and rise in glory!

Oshanthaka Cabraal