FINAL FAREWELL: Siblings Nadirah, left, and Ijaz Cholai look at their father, Newsday photographer Sureash Cholai during his funeral on Wednesday at the Nur-e-Islam mosque in El Socorro. At right is Cholai’s sister Naseme Rampersad. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –
KNOWN for his gentle demeanour and dedication to duty, the life of Newsday photographer Sureash Cholai assumed full focus as friends, relatives and co-workers paid final respects at his funeral on Wednesday afternoon.
Cholai, 58, passed away on Sunday from a heart attack near his Santa Cruz home.
His media career spanned almost three decades, beginning with the TnT Mirror, the Sunday Punch (both defunct) and later with Newsday, where he worked with distinction for 19 years.
The funeral was held at the Nur-e-Islam Masjid, El Socorro.
While the service was scheduled to begin at 3.30 pm, mourners began arriving from as early as 2.45 pm to greet relatives and offer condolences.
Within minutes, throngs of relatives and co-workers packed the building’s hall, as some mourners stood near the walls.
Cholai’s niece Tahirah Ramsook remembered her uncle as a devoted family man who left a positive mark on everyone he met.
“While he was a man of few words, when he did interact with you, he ensured his words were always positive, always uplifting. He was attentive and usually bore a soft, gentle smile.
Sureash Cholai. –
“Uncle Sureash will forever be remembered as a humble, kind, selfless individual who had a strong work ethic that I am sure his co-workers can attest to.
“What I admired the most about him was that he never prioritised the materialistic things in life but ensured that he lived authentically, honouring values in all aspects of his life, respectful, caring, family-oriented, fair and these were just some of the values he instilled in his family.”
Cholai’s wife Sharmilla passed away in 2019.
Their children Ijaz and Nadirah were flanked by loved ones at the funeral.
Newsday’s acting editor-in-chief Camille Moreno, in brief remarks, remembered Cholai as a diligent photographer whose dedication to duty was matched only by the love for his children.
She said Cholai was an asset to the newspaper and took pride in his children whom he often spoke about.
“He took photographs which told stories.
“Some have the history as to when he first came in as a newspaper photographer, I will always remember him, not just for his photographs, I think someone did comment on his selflessness.
Newsday’s acting editor-in-chief Camille Moreno consoles Sureash Cholai’s son Ijaz during his father’s funeral on Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –
“He willingly gave up his time to anyone, young reporters, young photographers, I think he was genuinely a mentor. He loved what he did and he interacted with us as if we were his family.
“I do want to say to his children, your father was immensely proud of you all.”
During his address, Imam Sheraz Ali said while it was natural for those close to Cholai to feel a sense of loss, Islam taught that death was not the end, as the good deeds of people were carried into the afterlife.
He said such occasions allowed mourners to take stock of their own lives while praying to God for forgiveness for those who died.
“That is one of the reasons we do a Janazzah or funeral prayer in a few minutes, because when this life is over, what is left is what we have done and what we will have to give account for on the day of judgement.
“The life that we live is a test of how we are going to spend the time that we have, what deeds are we going to do?
“Allah does not do anything by mistake.”
Cholai was later buried at the El Socorro Muslim Cemetery, near the masjid.