Suja unlike Piyadasa had a family from the start, though her husband had vanished long before she settled into the household. Ena claimed that, when she first settled down in Alu after returning from the Virgin Islands, Suja was simply a household help who did not know even to boil water. There had been another cook in residence then, but she had obviously been unable to cope with Ena’s style of cooking and entertaining, and before long Suja had taken over. Our first trip down to the Sinharaja, when she improvised lunch on the banks of the Walawe Reservoir, was I believe her first great performance, and from then she never looked back.
She fell in energetically with Ena’s style of mixing things up at will, and though she never quite added passion fruit juice to coffee, as Ena claimed she might well have done in her enthusiasm to try new things, she certainly performed marvels when asked to turn patties into curry or cook ham with marmalade. Ena’s, or rather Suja’s, chutneys and jams were pure joy, made of tart berries and strange spices, and she deep fried to perfection, with an array of exotic leaves and thinly sliced vegetables appearing at intervals in the course of a meal.