Our dear friend Suren Peiris left us on the eve of Easter last year, on April 12.
I first met Suren through his wife Thanja, who works for our Church. Also, the Peiris family worshipped at the Cathedral when I was on its staff. Our relationship developed with my interaction with the family through pastoral visits.
Over the years, this priest-parishioner relationship grew into a friendship. Other factors also helped: we became neighbours when I moved to Swarna Place, where Suren lived, and I was chaplain of the school where Suren’s son had his early education.
When I look back on my visits to Suren’s residence, I realise what a generous, sharing person he was. As a lawyer, he was always ready to sign legal documents for us. He was well read and could hold his own on many an important topic. We shared a love of books.
My library is full of books he gave me as gifts – books on the 1978 Constitution and on Indira Gandhi, among many others. And there is a book by his friend S. L. Gunasekera. In fact, Suren arranged for me to meet S. L. Gunsekera so I could talk to the author about his book.
Of course, we had our differences. He was the first to telephone me when he saw an article or letter of mine in the newspaper. If he disagreed with my point of view, he would tell me that he would write a letter to the newspaper to express his opposing views. One morning I opened the Daily Mirror to see a banner headline over an article in which Suren took a very strong stand against my thinking. Both Suren’s parents had adorned the Fourth Estate of our land, and it was natural that Suren should talk the talk as a child of that home.
Suren has his own concept of the divine. He said he found it difficult to accept Jesus as both God and Man. He believed that Christ was not the only way to God, that there are other roads to God.
Whenever Suren went overseas, he would bring me a gift. It was always something in keeping with my tastes.
Suren was a family man, with strong convictions about family and friends. He was deeply upset by the deaths of his sister and his mother.
It is not always easy to write about someone who has been very close to you. Although I went straight from Easter Service to pay my last respects to Suren and to be with his family on Easter Sunday 2009, it has taken almost one year to write this appreciation.
During these months, Suren must be much in the thoughts of Thanja, Brindhi and Sharen, who are assured of our prayers and love, and his friends.
May the soul of Suren and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.