Seeya, you were a legend and you will live on as one E. P. Paul Perera Today, August 11, marks the sixth death anniversary of E. P. Paul Perera, a man in possession of many prestigious titles but above all he was my grandfather and to us grandchildren, he was and always will be our [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



Seeya, you were a legend and you will live on as one

E. P. Paul Perera

Today, August 11, marks the sixth death anniversary of E. P. Paul Perera, a man in possession of many prestigious titles but above all he was my grandfather and to us grandchildren, he was and always will be our great Seeya. Growing up in Negombo and being a product of Maris Stella College, Seeya, was a true believer in justice and equality for all. He possessed the courage and perseverance to leave his hometown for Colombo to attend university with just one black metal suitcase (which is still in fine condition).

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in History, he eventually began his public service before going on to Law College, after which he started his own private practice – which was at the Ward Place residence itself. Whenever Seeya was concentrating on some work he would listen to classical music and when it played in the hall we knew that he must not be disturbed. As a child I vividly recall, ‘borrowing’ paper clips from his stationery jar and getting caught red handed, which resulted in a chase around the house. I was petrified but deep down I knew he was having fun as well – he never caught me!

Seeya was an avid story teller and as children we would eagerly sit in front of him while he reminisced about his exciting childhood, trips around Sri Lanka with the family and the many people he met along the way. However, one thing he never failed to include in at least one story was how much he loved his mother and his three favourite aunts. He would jokingly add how they would come all the way to Colombo just to spoil him with some of his favourite food – sau dodol, eel curry, fried pork, lunu maalu and caramel pudding.
Seeya was a religious man and never failed to make his way upstairs to the shrine room at least twice a day. Although he was a born Catholic, he still paid his respects to all religions be it Hinduism, Islam or Buddhism and his shrine room was a reflection of that. I believe as a result of marrying Achchie who follows Buddhism he became very much aware of the many different beliefs and as a result respected all. Occasionally, he would encourage us grandchildren to come up with him to at least place flowers, light the oil lamp or incense sticks and pay our own respects.

Something that many do not know about Seeya, however, was that he was quite the romantic. As heard through the grapevine, Achchie and Seeya had supposedly met at the dental institute located down Ward Place. The words exchanged are not all known, but clearly either Achchie’s charm or Seeya’s worked – a reason as to why he decided to buy the house down Ward Place itself, maybe. However, he did not stop here, April 12 being Achchie’s birthday meant she was not allowed anywhere near the kitchen, he always managed to make her birthday a special one.

Seeya was a proud man but most of all he was proud of his wife and children. No matter where he was he always returned to Ward Place for Achchie’s home cooked meals and if anyone were to visit, they were not allowed to leave without satisfying their stomachs as well. I know for a fact how much he adored Achchie and how he never failed to thank her on a daily basis for just being his one and only wife and mother to their children. He firmly believed Achchie was the glue that held us all together through the best times and the worst and today I believe it too. He most definitely loved and appreciated her beyond measure and never failed to mention it even when he took ill.

One memory I will never forget about Seeya is that when my own father was battling an eleven year court case, he stood by him till the very end together with Achchie, Ronald Baappa, Arnold Baappa, Pushpa nanda and Rodney Bapa regardless of his illness. He was and still is a constant reminder of how paramount family is. Seeya made sure everyone came together at least every Sunday for lunch and if anyone was absent, the guilt that came along with that was sufficient to never miss a Sunday lunch again!

Seeya’s many achievements including his career as a distinguished lawyer and his involvement in the political spectrum is an inspiration to us all. Despite this, he still managed to strike up a conversation with the simplest of men be it even a street vendor. Seeya had this extraordinary ability of speaking to just about anyone and getting them to narrate their life story. This would not just happen when he travelled but even when he was at home. I recall seeing him reclined in his rattan chair in the verandah talking to passersby and sharing with them some words of wisdom and hearing their stories. By saying ‘passersby’ I mean just about anyone because he always made sure the main gate was open.

Seeya, I have to say you have taught us well and your life’s lessons live on in all of us. We love and miss you beyond measure and not a day goes by when you are not mentioned. You sir, are a legend and will live on as one. May you rest in peace Seeya.

Kushmin Perera

She dedicated herself to the service of the Lord and mankind

Rev. Sr. Gratia Perera

Rev. Sr. Gratia Perera of the Sisters of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary passed away peacefully on August 2, at St. Joseph’s Convent, Piliyandala. She was 97 years old.  Sr. Gratia was the second daughter of the late Dr. Gabrial Perera and late Mrs. Perera of Ma-Eliya, Ja-Ela. She was born to a family of three girls and a boy. Her elder sister Flora Valentine and only brother Hector passed away earlier. Her younger sister Gladys Dissanayake lives in Negombo.

Having successfully completed her initial formation leading up to her novitiate at Mattakkuliya, Sr. Gratia toiled at the General Hospital, Colombo, for nearly 20 years. Her compassion and warmth brought comfort to thousands of patients who came for treatment.

When the Franciscan Sisters left the General Hospital Sr. Gratia continued her mission in another institution- the Fatima Clinic started by the late Rev. Father Peter Pillai. She served this clinic for six years – from 1959 to 1965- when she was beckoned to another form of apostolate, at St. Anthony’s Convent, Borella.

In 1967, she was invited to direct the Sisters at the Franciscan Convent in Negombo, as their Superior. She was instrumental in building the premises in which the Negombo Convent is presently situated. In 1972, she was appointed Provincial and she had the rare privilege of being the first Sri Lankan Provincial of her congregation. She served as the Provincial of the Congregation for many years with dedication and devotion.

Later she served at several convents of her congregation including Borella, Polonnaruwa, Rajagiriya and Moratuwa.
During these past 74 long years, in addition to being the Provincial of the congregation, Sr. Gratia served her congregation in many capacities in various parts of the country. Her services as a nun, as a Superior and finally as the Provincial were outstanding.
She reiterated on many occasions that the secret of her fruitful career as an apostolate was her closeness to God and giving prominence to God in all her day to day activities. Her deep-rooted Christianity was her strength and what gave vigour to her life.

“To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for any rest,
To labour and not to ask for any reward,
Except to know that I do thy will, O God:”

These soul-stirring words of St. Ignatius of Loyola would have undoubtedly urged Rev. Sr. Gratia Perera to dedicate herself unreservedly to the service of the Lord and that of mankind.

Sr. Gratia always followed the rules of her congregation to the last letter. Even at the later stages of her life she did not take a single day off more than permitted by her Superior when she visited her relatives. She would return to the Convent after such visits on the exact date and time.

Sr. Gratia performed her duties cheerfully with dedication and devotion. She has always lived a simple and an exemplary life. She seemed to follow the motto of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus that ‘Love is repaid by Love alone’. It is said that greatness is never measured by birth, wealth or fame, nor by the worth of one’s material possessions, but those in whose hearts you live. Sr. Gratia is a good example of this.

Notwithstanding her duties and commitments in the religious life, Sr. Gratia never lost touch with the members of her family. She had a large circle of relatives consisting of nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and grand nieces, and great- grand-nephews and great-grand nieces. She never forgot to send her relatives a card for a birthday and for special occasions like Easter and Christmas and visit them whenever possible.

Deep in our hearts she will always stay loved and remembered. May her gentle soul rest in the peace of the Lord whom she served faithfully.

Varuna Senadhira

She taught me the concept of loving kindness

Felicia Silva

Aunt Felicia Silva was almost 30 years my elder, she was my mother’s contemporary in school, Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena, in an era gone by and a friend of the family. The epitome of an exemplary Buddhist, who lived the Dhamma she taught me the concept of loving kindness and also of living every moment of each day. We always shared interesting conversations and interesting bits of news. Whenever I dropped by at 30/10 Longdon Place in the mornings, she was interested in sharing the goings on of the world seated in a chair in her sitting/dining room. She shared the happenings and gossip too, which of course included her own comments and her opinion.

The newspapers and television kept her abreast with world events though she was past the age of 90. She was interested in watching selected television programmes mainly religious talks, news bulletins and teledramas. Cookery was another subject she loved to share with me. One of them was the secret of a good curry — three essential sour ingredients goraka, lime and tomato or tamarind.

She was interested in gardening too and helped me with the plants on my balcony, which I cultivate and nurture. She knew as much about plants as she knew about birds.  When I visited her at home she would sometimes ask me to play the piano which I did with pleasure as she was a great audience. She had her old favourites like, ‘Home on the range’, ‘Silver haired daddy of mine’, ‘Silver threads among the gold’ , ‘Que Sera Sera’ among others.

She would say ‘God Bless you’ always on my saying goodbye. This was something that delighted me as it showed she was sincerely happy about my visits.

She enjoyed the company of her grandchildren who are here in Sri Lanka, unlike many families whose grand children are overseas.

Kumari Sittampalam

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