TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


Lily Pushpam Edward: 

A champion of faith and prayer

Lily Pushpam Aiyathurai Edward moved on to glory on March 26. She was a simple yet amazing woman who persued God’s purposes for her life and those around her. She chose God’s best as her life’s goal and mission. Pushpam was a great champion of faith and prayer. She taught us how to pray and believe in God’s promises.

She was a great homemaker. A gentle teacher, she taught Physics, Chemistry and Maths in some leading schools in Colombo both government and private for 40 years. A silent leader who led from behind the scene, she never drew attention to herself. She was the Secretary of the Bagatalle Baptist Church.

She had a lovely voice, sang like a nightingale, had beautiful handwriting and played the violin skilfully. We have grateful memories about our Mom, which will remain with us until we meet her in heaven. She loved her parents, husband, children, siblings, cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews and lived a full life. She had a pair of eyes, full of compassion and love. I have also seen her eyes filled with fear, disappointment, sadness and pain but through them all, I saw in her eyes resolution. It must have been her unshakable trust in God, her Maker.

Mom portrayed the kind of woman that the Bible talks about – ‘she shall be called a woman’- there was no pretense about her. She was indeed a beautiful woman to the core, who reflected the love of God to all those near and dear to her. She treated people with utmost respect and dignity.

She was indeed a saint. Her mandate -to follow Christ with her life, which she began as a teenage – will continue through her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all those whom she touched during this earthly journey.

Timothy A. Edward


Saraswathy Somapalan

An impeccable character

My beloved wife Saraswathy, (Saras to her friends and Papah to her siblings) is no more. Her Athma left her body on February 4, 2019. Her demise was sudden, swift and peaceful, as she always wished it to be so. She was full of life.

My late wife was from a well-to-do, conservative Hindu family of (Malayalee) origin. She was born to Sangarapillai and Luxshmi Amma of Kotahena.

Her father was the proprietor of Lankfoto Studio at Bankshall Street in Fort. She was educated at Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena. Though she had the potential for higher medical studies, her education was cut short.

It was customary then for Hindu parents to give their daughters in marriage instead of a professional career. Ours was an arranged marriage in 1968. We had a happy married life and had three children. The first, passed away at the age of five, due to a terminal illness. The other two were a son and a daughter. We completed 50 years of married life last year.

As a wife, mother and a good human being, she was impeccable. She took much effort in educating the children and in their extra-curricular activities, such as taking her daughter for Bharatha Natyam dancing and son for Art class and Karate martial art. Her efforts were rewarded by the success of her daughter Jeyamehala and son Jeyakumar in their educational and professional career.

My wife, in her ‘outer life’, was of a friendly disposition and made friends. She never differentiated people on grounds of status. She was a sociable person and a popular member of the Kerala Samajam and participated in the social service and charity work, fundraising events and celebration of the national festival of the Keralites, “Onam.”

In her “Inner life”, she was religious, but not in the popular sense. She visited the temple occasionally. Her temple was the “Home”, where in a little corner of the room, she had the altar of Hindu gods, images and statues presided by the family deity, Lord Murugan. She spent one hour daily in the morning and evening, immersed in devotion and meditation, chanting in silence mantras, slokas and thevarams.

She had a deep interest in spirituality. I have seen her reading books, such as those of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Chinmayananda and Sai Baba. The spiritual videos of Indian Mystic Sadhguru, talks of Gopal Das had been downloaded to her tab by her son. She was greatly fascinated by the discourses of Sadhguru for his witty, unconventional, paradoxical views on spirituality, religion and other matters of life, death, the morality of good and bad. It was her habit to lie on the bed with her Tab in hand and listen to these spiritual discourses and “Satsangs”. I too joined her, listening to them.

She was a Rasika of Tamil melodious music of the 1960-80s which had religious content and philosophical meanings. Jesudas, S.P. Balasubramaniam, Unni Menon, Unni Krishnan, Soudararajan, S. Janaki and Chithra were her favourite singers. Her son had downloaded her favourite songs to a chip. She spends her late evenings lying on the bed, serenely immersed in listening to them.

Her loss has created an irreplaceable vacuum. A home that was filled with laughter, sweet banter, sounds of music and South Indian teledramas, family gossip and discussions, is overtaken by grim silence. As my son aptly observed, our home is like a Temple without a God. How true it is. It tersely summed the difference without her.

May her Athma attain Moksha!

Family members


Chitrani Damayanthi Fernando

A compassionate friend

It was at the wedding of Amal and Erasha Hettige in 2010 that I met Chitrani Damayanthi for the first time. It was a joyous occasion for us as Amal’s parents Anton and Chrysanthi had been our sincere friends for many decades. Their hospitality was the hallmark of friendship.

I was enjoying the company of my friend Shanthini, when I had a surprise.

As we sat at the table, amidst the chatter and smiles of ladies, Damayanthi’s charisma, pleasing manners and pleasant appearance were much in evidence. She was a picture of composure and serenity. It may have been her husband, Warren, who said that there were two ladies with the same name at the table as I was her namesake. This encounter led us to experience her companionship.

It was after reading an appreciation which appeared in the Sunday Observer, in which a writer had paid tribute to her, that I came to know more about her. She was an embodiment of many virtues. Her compassion extended beyond the inner circle of family, relatives and friends, to encompass the people from all walks of life who were in need. She touched their lives in many ways and gave relief to them.

Her life and her memory would be an influence for us to carry out more social work.

Her family members will miss her so much, but they could console themselves with the thought, that while she gave so much love, care and showed kindness in no small measure, they also did their best for her at all times.

A lesson she taught was that while we care for our family members, and stand by them, we could also reach out to those in need, by managing our time.

We had a chance acquaintance, but her sterling qualities had a lasting impression on us, and her memory will be an inspiration She practised her religion ever since she had been a student of Methodist College, Colombo.

With the passing years, beauty on the outside may fade, but the inner beauty will remain. Through her kind thoughts, pleasant words and noble deeds, she served those in need. She didn’t consider their religion, caste or creed.

Damayanthi Perera


Anula Navaratne - A virtuous mother

I sat down several times to write about my mother (Amma) who passed away a year ago. I never imagined that it would be so difficult and painful. I could not help crying whenever I thought about her and tried to write a few words about her. Finally, I made up my mind to write something about her, because she was very close to my father, my sister and me. If she was still alive, she would have been 91 years old on April 16.

Amma was born on April 16, 1928 in Kandy. Her parents were Punchi Banda Ratnayake and Tikiri Kumarihamy Bambaradeniya.

My mother studied at Hillwood College, Kandy, and was a boarder.

Although her parents were living close to the College, she enjoyed being a boarder and used to regale us with stories about her boarding life. During her school career, all students had to wear the saree. She was a good tennis player. Even playing tennis, she had to wear the saree. Mrs. Soma Kumari Samarasinghe was the Principal during that time. My mother admired her and said that she was a disciplinarian. Amma was proud of her school. As she was good in Mathematics, she got an opportunity to teach the subject for a short time.

She married my father, Asela (Stanley) Navaratne in 1953, who was initially a Divisional Revenue Officer and rose to become the Government Agent, Colombo in 1978. As my father was a busy public servant, my mother looked after the home front, including my sister and me. When both of us were schoolgirls, she joined the Kandy Girls’ High School as the Librarian. She enjoyed working and always encouraged students to read.

Whenever my grandparents were ill, she took care of them, until my aunt came back from school to relieve her. When my three cousins were born at the Kandy Nursing Home, my mother stayed overnight with my aunt. Akka and I grumbled as we were young and lonely without her, but she disregarded our complaints and thought it was her duty to look after the parents, relatives and siblings.

My paternal grandmother had died when my father was 13 and he and the other siblings were looked after by their grandmother (my great grandmother). She was looked after by my mother with love and care when she was ill towards the latter part of her life. She used to worry whenever Akka, I or the domestics fell ill. For Amma, there was no difference between us and the domestics when it came to care and well-being. She really looked after them. I remember, one of the male domestics had contracted scabies and the doctor advised Amma to send him home as it was contagious. She ignored the doctors’ advice and applied the anti-scabies creams herself, bathed him and washed his clothes, without asking the other domestics to do so, until he was completely cured. None of us developed scabies. I think that is the reason, that when she was ill towards the latter part of her life, there was no dearth of domestics to look after her at any given time. They were all grateful to her as she was so good to them.

Our house was like a tuition class in the evenings. Amma used to help us in mathematics. She taught the domestics how to read and write. The domestics hated the classes as they had to do homework. Amma used to tell them. “At least you must know how to put your signature”. One domestic eventually became a banker.

Amma had the common touch and encouraged many, including our neighbour’s children to do well in their field. She was never envious or jealous. A neighbour’s child, who came for Amma’s funeral told me that Amma was the best person in the neighbourhood. This was not told to please me, but with a good heart. She spoke to them with a genuine smile. Sometimes, as young children, my sister and I were jealous of them, as we thought she liked them more than us. For her, everyone was alike. Amma together with Daddy did charitable work in silence.

Amma was fond of gardening and loved landscaping. She was the one who supervised the construction of our Kandy house and did the landscaping, as my father was busy working as a public officer in many parts of the island. He only gave the money and Amma did the rest. She was a good cook and she taught all the domestics how to make a good meal.

She gave everyone sound advice. I think the credit should go to Amma and Daddy for my achievements in the academic and professional fields. I feel that I haven’t done enough for them, compared to what they have done to me.

Amma led a simple life. The simple funeral was a testimony to the life she lived. One year has passed after her death. I really miss her.

When my father passed away in 2016, I used to console myself, as my mother was living. Her demise has created a void in my life and in our family. The house is empty and the balcony that we used to sit and enjoy during the weekend is deserted. But her memory will live in our hearts forever.

I will try to live up to Amma’s expectations. The only promise that I can give you is to fillow the Buddhist path that you lived in, according to the teaching of the Buddha which you always believed in, and help others when they are in need.

May your journey in Samsara be short, smooth and painless until you reach the ultimate goal of Nibbana!



Chandrakala Senanayake Ratnayake - A perfectionist in all spheres

From the age of three, I have vivid memories of all the astounding times I had with my beloved mother, together in this riddle called life, for which I thank my samsaric karma, for creating my existence as the only child of such an exceptional lady, who sought perfection in all she did.

Moreover, I can never draw a blank to a single moment of the last three months of her existence in physical form, in which she fought incessantly, and with utmost braveness, clinging onto dear life. Life breaks everyone, but some people heal stronger in the breaks, they say, and my mother was one of those who healed stronger in the breaks. Nevertheless, life, once foaled, must reach its logical end: death; the eternal truth taught to us by Gautama Buddha.

However, when it occurs to our beloveds, it is impossible to bear, hence, I cried unceasingly when she passed-away, and even after the longest two years of my life, since her inopportune demise, I still cry warm and tacit tears, almost everyday, yet, with a promise to my beloved mother, that I won’t let those tears mar the smiles that she has given me, while alive. It indeed is not sagacious to compare the loss of my beloved mother to that of another, as it is patronising.

But my mother’s loss is undeniably the greatest blow. My mother lived a complete and dynamic life. Among seven siblings of the Senanayake family from Kurunegala, she was the fourth. Having had her education from Maliyadeva Girls’ College, Kurunegala, she joined the Hayleys Group back in the 1960’s, where she served for nine years. While in school, and in later years, she played basketball under the guidance of All-India Basketball Coach P. Chelladurai and also represented St. Anne’s College, Kurunegala in a trainee camp held in St. Anthony’s College Courts in Katugastota in the 1960’s.

After tying the knot with my father Cyril Ananda Ratnayake in 1973, she pursued a career at Marhaba Travels in Sharjah, U.A.E. where she served for several years before returning to Sri Lanka. Being the family-oriented woman, Ammi never faltered in her attention to the infinitesimal matters of my father and I. Later in her life, she, along with my father, lived with me, in California USA and in Sri Lanka until her passing.

My mother’s demise on May 12, 2017 has left ruefulness in me that seemed to progress with each passing day. Time shall heal, they say, yet remembering her burden so unanimous, which she carried with gracefulness and easiness, and the incomparable enchantment which was in her to watch, time has evidently only taught me, how to live with the pain in her absence.

I admit with painfulness that the challenging moments have been dismaying without her presence.

The dainty moments of joy have been dull in her absence throughout the two years that has passed-by.

She shall always be my Mona Liza, and she will always be beautiful in my eyes. She was, is and shall forever be my Ammi!

Sunalie Ratnayake