Toronto Sun

July 22, 2001

Brother and sister laid to rest together

Two tots killed, locked in car trunk remembered for their zest for life

By BRETT CLARKSON -- Toronto Sun

Although their young lives were ended by tragedy, little Shyami and Sajeev Mahendran had an infectious zest for life.

Sadly and suddenly this week, their lives were cut short.

The two were laid to rest yesterday -- five days after they were found dead in the trunk of their family's Honda Civic beside their unconscious mother.

Yesterday's emotional service drew hundreds to Ogden Funeral Home in Scarborough, where a touching shrine of flowers and photographs magnified the loss of two bright and beaming children.

"It's hard to believe something like this can happen," family friend Robin Subryan said, looking at photos of the two kids. "It's unfortunate."

In pictures, three-year-old Sajeev's smile looks too big for his tiny face. In another, five-year-old Shyami is dressed in a clown outfit, her face lit up with a joyous grin.

"This past week has been a trial of faith and love," said Siva Sivanesan, a cousin of both Jasotha and her late husband, reading from a statement prepared by the family.

"We will cherish the wonderful memories we have of them forever."

The siblings were interned in tiny white coffins in a private service at Highland Memory Gardens, near Don Mills Rd. and Steeles Ave. E. -- forgoing the standard Hindu custom of cremation, in keeping with the belief that young children who die will be born again.

At least 500 people -- possibly as many as 1,000 -- attended yesterday's funeral presided over by a Catholic priest.

While her children were buried, their mother Jasotha Mahendriran remained under a suicide watch by a police guard at Scarborough General Hospital.

She appears in court Wednesday to face two charges of first-degree murder.

"As a mother ... it cannot be described in words how she feels," said her friend Yaso Sinnaburai.

This week's tragedy is the second for the family in the past year. Last August, the children's father, Mahendran Thiyagarajah, was killed in a workplace accident.

Jasotha Mahendriran was left traumatized by loss and never recovered, say those close to the 32-year-old.

When thank-you notes were sent out by the newly widowed mom after her husband's funeral, one neighbour couldn't help but notice something Jasotha had written.

"I cannot remember the exact words, but I remember ... she wrote that '`I'm going to live without him for a while.'"

"It never occurred to us what she meant," said the neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous.

"They were good kids; they left good memories."

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.