I came to know Suren when I was following my Advanced Level first year studies at Royal College. He was then preparing for his Ordinary Level. He had studied up to grade eight at S. Thomas’ Prep.
One day, the late Mr. Abeydheera, my class teacher, told me to help Suren with his Arithmetic and Sinhala. Suren’s mother had asked the class teacher to find someone, preferably an Advanced Level student, to help her son. I could not say “no” to my master, who was also sectional head at the time, and agreed to without any hesitation.
That was in 1969, the year I became both teacher and friend to Suren.
I would go to Suren’s house on Flower Road twice a week to share my knowledge with Suren. School ended at 3 p.m, and we would be at his house in less than 10 minutes. We would start our classes about 3.30 p.m. The servant Sumana would bring us a cup of coffee and we would go on working till about 5 p.m.
Suren’s mother Mrs. Roshan Peiris treated me like a son. Suren’s only sister was very attached to me. His father, the late Denzil Peiris, was in Hong Kong at the time, working for an international news agency. His parents were well known as journalists. Both had served as editors for newspapers and magazines.
Suren was a true son and a loving brother. This was obvious in the way he looked after his mother, who was bed-ridden for years, and the sister who was suffering from a rare ailment.
He was deeply affected by the demise of both his mother and sister.
He was a loving husband to his wife Thanja. They met as students at the Law College. He was very proud of his two children and would talk about how they fared at their exams. His daughter has obtained a Law Degree, and is preparing to enrol as a lawyer. It was gratifying for him to see a daughter following in his footsteps as a lawyer.
He was always keen to improve his knowledge and share this knowledge with others. He had a fine library, of which he was very proud. Whenever he visited India, he would buy quality books, and distribute among people who would make use of them. He gave me two books on Intellectual Property Law. He knew I was interested in the subject. He also gave me a marble Buddha statue bought in India. The statue is venerated by all at home.
We were friends for nearly four decades, and he was always conscious of the manner he should conduct himself in my presence, as I held a judicial office. Surprisingly, although Suren had been practising as a lawyer in Colombo and the outstations for 30 years, he never appeared in a court where I was presiding.
Suren had a respect for all the great religions. As far as I am aware, he followed Hinduism and Christianity. He was also an ardent follower of Sai Baba. He studied Buddhism as a philosophy.
At Suren’s funeral, the Venerable Viharadhipathi of Wimalaramaya spoke of how Suren and his late father helped the temple. Suren bore no malice or ill-will towards anybody. He would help people in need. The juniors in his chambers would vouch for this.
Suren’s untimely death was largely the result of his negligence with his own health. I had advised him many times to take care of his health. I heard about his death while I was overseas. I was able to be back in time to attend the funeral. Suren had an outstanding personality and a great sense of humour.
I pray that Suren will achieve the supreme state that his religion has decreed.
Justice K.T. Chitrasiri