Last Thursday, 23rd March, I met Mr. Alston Perianayagam and 2 of his friends after our 6.45 am Mass. He and his friends are originally from Jaffna, Sri Lanka and presently residing in Toronto, Canada for more than 20 years. During the war in Sri Lanka, Alston left to Toronto for studies and settled there. He has come to visit Malaysia for a few days in memory of his grandfather.
I had earlier, on 16th March, received an email from Alston mentioning about his trip to Malaysia to trace back his grandfather’s heritage in Bukit Mertajam and Kuala Lumpur. His grandfather was Mr. Santhiappillai Soosaipillai and his grandmother Mrs. Soosaipillai Mariapillai. The late Santhiapillai was a Malayan Railway Station Master in Bukit Mertajam and Kuala Lumpur. Before World War II he was transferred from Bukit Mertajam to Sentul. He commuted daily from Sentul to the Kuala Lumpur Station then. He was the Station Master at the main Kuala Lumpur station and resided in Sentul during the period of the Japanese occupation from 1944-1946. He passed away during the bombing in 1946.
Ever since he was transferred to the KL Railway Station he became actively involved in Church activities and he was a very respected person in our Parish then. That was probably the reason why, that when he died, he was buried at the same place where the priests and nuns were buried (which was then the church backyard, where now the school is located.) The local authorities had later exhumed all the deceased persons’ remains and then reburied them all in one plot at the Christian Cemetery, in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
After Santhiapillai’s passing, his wife Mariapillai, left to Sri Lanka with his children. One of the children was Soosaipillai Perianayagam who was born in Malaysia and passed away in Sri Lanka in 2013.
After morning Mass last Thursday, I had a chat with Alston and also took him for a tour around the Church and school grounds. We met the Principal of SMK Convent, Sentul, Puan Debbie Yeong and fortunately, she gave us permission to visit her school archives. There, we detected Alston’s aunty, Agnes Gomez, who started schooling on 8 January 1940 at Convent School. His aunty had visited our church and school in 1980s. With the photographs and other details which were brought by Alston we succeeded in locating his grandfather’s previous burial site, his aunt’s school registration date and her classroom. On our way back to the parish office, we also met with Puan Valarmathi, the Principal of St. Joseph Tamil School.
After almost a two-hour tour around the church and school compound I contacted Bishop Emeritus Selvanayagam who is temporarily staying with Rev Fr. Stanislaus at the Chapel of Christ the Light, Desa Jaya, Kepong. Alston came to know Bishop Selva through his aunty, Agnes Gomez. After meeting me he left to Desa Jaya to meet Bishop Selva and then to the Christian Cemetery at Cheras to pay his last tribute to his late grandfather before leaving to Canada.
Mr Alston’s visit has enlightened me a bit about our own Church history. I shared information about Alston’s grandparents with a few of our senior citizens and I am sharing this amazing history with you now. If you have any such similar information of this kind please do share with us – at least our coming generations may treasure our history and the growth of the Church in Sentul.
Fr. George Packiasamy.