The legendary Padma Maharaja



It’s almost three months now since she departed and how she is missed by all, be it at a social gathering or otherwise, her presence cannot be filled or duplicated. Always the epitome of elegance, Padma made a statement wherever she went. A void that is hard to fill and probably will not be.

I was as close to her as were her other closely knit friends; in her was a caring, concerned human being always checking on me as to how I am doing, and saying that I should move closer to Colombo, do better and more useful things with my retirement time…... It is hard to even think she isn’t amongst us and I’m still finding it difficult to accept the reality. I had the privilege of seeing her in hospital before I left on vacation to the United States and I pleaded with her to fight back as she always did on previous hospitalisations. But this time round it was not to be as she had reached the point of exhaustion.

As I embarked on my flight on July 18, I received the dreaded text messages and I literally cried all the way to my destination. I had hoped she would fight back once again though in my heart I knew she had given up.

Padma as many would endorse was the perfect hostess to anyone who walked into her gracious home. Here she was after returning from hospital and treating her visitors who came to see her with freshly fried ulundu vadai, patties, cutlets, a choice of fresh juices and the list goes on. That’s the way she was. How many special suddenly planned impromptu dinners and lunches would she organise and invite us over when a mutual friend arrives in the country? Her January 1 brunches were eagerly looked forward to and what a way to start the year...she spared nothing. From an elegantly set table, a lazy Susan loaded with typical Jaffna yummy dishes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, a delightful sweet treats corner in addition to her own kulfi ice cream which she did to perfection.

Her clothes store had the most beautiful hand picked items to savour, purchase, or simply try on! Semi-precious jewellery was her latest line and she loved pursuing this as it was up just up her street as she admired beautiful jewellery and only offered the best.

If we were sick, she would somehow advise us to go see the right doctor or what to do next. She opened her doors to me when I was in Colombo doing my run-arounds and was welcome to shower there and probably accompany her if we were going to the same function. As I walk in she would order me my favourite cup of strong tea with hot milk and no sugar and call Daya to make it for me. Of course it came accompanied with a piece of cake which I would refuse most times!

So that was Padma to us, gracious as always. I miss her calls "Yassie – can you talk now?" Be it early morning or at night. I really do. My apologies to Shobhana who I constantly bothered for updates as Padma’s condition worsened…because she was the one always around all day and all night. I pray her children, grand children, loved ones and siblings will stay brave and strong and continue the legacy she left. You are indeed dearly missed Padma.

-Yasmin Cader

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