International » South Asia

Updated: July 24, 2013 03:25 IST

This warm heart in a foreign outpost will be missed

Meera Srinivasan
Comment (3)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Hema Perera. Photo: Special Arrangement
Hema Perera. Photo: Special Arrangement

Returning to my home-office from a meeting or a press conference, I’d got used to find steaming hot tea in a flask and a plate of sandwiches waiting on my dining table. 

 They were from the “lady downstairs”. I already knew about her before I moved to Colombo four months ago. My predecessors had told me about her. I thought they were exaggerating a landlady’s warmth and affection for her tenants, until I got here.

 Then I saw for myself the tray of goodies waiting for me day after day, morning and evening, sometimes laden with neatly cut sandwiches, or cakes that she had made or just cheese and crackers. The tray would be taken away as quietly as the full one had appeared. It was almost like magic.

Her sweet-toned “good morning” when she spotted me leaving for a walk soon became addictive and I began realising what my colleagues meant in their praise.

I dread going down in the morning now, for I will not hear that warm greeting any more. Hema Perera, owner of the premises housing The Hindu’s home-office in Colombo for nearly three decades, passed away here on Tuesday. She was 81 and is survived by her daughter Deeptika Amarasinghe and son Anura Hettiarachchi.

Her warmth and hospitality were not reserved only for The Hindu’s  Colombo correspondents. This is how she treated everyone around her — friends, relatives, her domestic help, the cook, driver, and The Hindu’s office help.

The Hindu has been a tenant at the Pereras’ spacious upstairs apartment ever since the first correspondent was posted here in the 1980s.

 It was their warmth — Mr. Perera passed away in 2007 — that made The Hindu’s office The Hindu’s home.

Ms. Perera was one of the daughters of Angulugaha Gamage Hinniappuhamy, founder of Maliban, a famous biscuit company. Former correspondents who dropped in to see her on later visits to Colombo never left without a box of Maliban biscuits that she would unfailingly press into their hands, along with other gifts for their entire families.   

A very gracious landlady. I have heard landlords resorting to unfair methods to evict
tenants. Here is a person, who has won the hearts of the persons in charge of the office
Of Hindu, offering goodies to the occupants morning and evening with a smile. This
Speaks volumes about her upbringing in life. I am confident, that her children will continue
The same life style, and continue her legacy. May HER TRIBE INCREASE.

from:  C p Chandra das
Posted on: Jul 24, 2013 at 08:04 IST

Very touching indeed! May her soul rest in peace.

from:  Uttam Atluri
Posted on: Jul 24, 2013 at 07:50 IST

Really a great lady. If all the landladies behave in this gentle manner, many may not like to
Purchase own homes. The tribute about this gracious lady gives also a clear message to
The landlords of many houses, who ill treat the tenants. The writer is confident, that her
Children will not fail in any manner in imitating their mother in PR activities.

from:  C p Chandra das
Posted on: Jul 24, 2013 at 06:03 IST
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