“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.” -– Marc Brown
Even 15 years after the passing of our dear older brother, Srilal, we still feel an ache in our hearts.
On October 24, 1994, a devastating bomb at Thotalanga took the lives of many important leaders of our country, including the late Mr. Gamini Dissanayake. It also took away our best friend, our role model and our hero – our dear brother.
Aiya died two days after his 27th birthday. That day changed the rest of our lives in unimaginable ways. We never expected to lose our closest confidant and idol just as we were beginning to embark on our adult lives – at a time when we most needed him.
With the early demise of our beloved father, the late H. Joe Perera, we had to grow up a lot faster and be a lot stronger for ourselves, as well as for our dearest and sweet mother. She was only 48 years at the time.
Aiya was her pillar of strength. He knew exactly how to help her recover and regain her strength to look after three very young men who totally depended on her.
Aiya always expressed himself eloquently, and it wasn’t solely because of the thousands of books he had read. Any interaction with him was memorable because he expressed what he felt compassionately and unabashedly.
Aiya not only looked out for his family, he empathised with those in need. He had a big heart, and was extremely generous. After Thaathi’s death (he was the sole earner in our family), we had to be very careful with our savings. But whenever a villager or friend came to us asking for money, Aiya never refused. Although we needed the money, he would give it, saying they needed it more.
Aiya idolised Thaathi, who had been president of the Colombo Magistrates’ Court and also first chairman of the Western Provincial Council. This inspired Aiya to enter the Law Faculty.
He was an extremely bright and hardworking student, the youngest in his batch. Despite his promising future, he had a deep yearning to do something more meaningful and contribute to society in far greater ways. That is why he entered politics. He was driven by an intense conviction to make a difference. His childhood ambition was to become a priest, but his new passion shared the same intention – to improve the lives of his fellow man.
Aiya joined the political arena at the tender age of 22. He was honest and always followed his conscience, never letting external pressures sway his judgement.
He entered the Colombo Municipal Council at the age of 23, polling the highest number of votes in Colombo North and outperforming all the senior politicians. At 26, he was chosen to lead a delegation to Manchester, England, to represent Sri Lanka at an environmental conference.
Aiya had many talents and successes, but what we loved – and miss – most about him was his role as our big brother. He advised and guided us, and even bailed us out of trouble! We knew we could always count on him. After our father’s death, we depended on Aiya to carry the family forward and share Amma’s burden. Alas, he was taken away far too soon. Within a space of five years we lost both our father and our older brother.
Aiya, if you could see us now, you would feel extremely proud. We were inspired by your ever-loving, always compassionate, generous and determined nature. We remember you and Thaathi daily in our prayers, and you are ever-present in our hearts, as well as in the hearts of our little ones. Although they haven’t met you, they love you and look up to you, just as we do. We are confident that you are now resting in peace in the Kingdom of God.
Amma is also loved, admired and looked after in the best possible way. Her memory of you is ever fresh. She often joyously shares tales of your young and fun days with your nieces and nephews.
We are sure your legacy will pass from generation to generation.
We love you, Aiya, and though you are not with us in physical form, you are very much alive in our hearts.
May your sweet soul rest in peace.
Brothers Jayantha and Mangala