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Saturday, March 14, 2015

In Memory of Arulnayagi Balasubramaniam

ND had come across this on the Internet. It's five months since Arul passed away. But not too late to post a tribute to a member of our batch.

Obituary for Arulnayagi Balasubramaniam

Niskayuna - Arulnayagi "Arul" Sivaguru Balasubramaniam, MD, 71, passed away peacefully at home, on Wednesday, October 14, 2014. She succumbed following a courageous battle of cancer. Arul was born on August 26, 1943 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, the daughter of Thialnayagi and Sivaguru, her father being the superintendent of examinations for Sri Lanka. During her childhood in Sri Lanka she attained several academic honors, excelling in both mathematics and science. She was the prettiest and most admired girl in her class. She attended medical school in Colombo, Sri Lanka, graduating in 1967 and married her life's love, N. Balasubramaniam, in 1969. Upon emigrating to Schenectady with her husband and first son in 1973, she undertook training and subsequent fellowship in pathology at Ellis Hospital, from 1975 to 1979, achieving American Board of Pathology certification in both anatomic pathology and cytopathology. Following her training, she became an attending pathologist at Ellis in 1980, until her retirement in 2012. She remained a steadfast physician and supporter of Ellis and the Ellis Hospital community. She was a member of the Schenectady County Medical Society, New York State Medical Society, American Medical Association, College of American Pathologist and Association of Clinical Pathology. During her 41 years in Schenectady she enjoyed exercising at the Sunnyview Hospital Wellness Center where she made several friends, including Lois Wagner and daily walks around Iroquois Lake in Cenral Park year round, and at local malls. A gifted and caring homemaker, Arul enjoyed preparing elaborate Sri Lanka meals for friends and family, receiving repeated accolades for her tomato and eggplant curries. She was a talented seamstress and demonstrated her caring by giving gifts of handmade baby clothes to the newborns of friends and family. She was an avid traveler, having visited dozens of international destinations, as well as the Arsha Vidya spiritual retreat center in Pennsylvania, where she began and deepened her practice of yoga and other spiritual disciplines, which came easily to her keen intellect. Arul was devoted and caring towards her extended family and shared a special bond with her sister in London, Sivanayagi (Thevi). She supported and cared for her family, friends and community in many ways, and regularly put others needs first. Arul is survived by her husband, Nadarajah Balasubramaniam, MD; her two sons, Sanjeeve Balasubramanaim, MD, MPH (Washington DC) and Rajev Balasubramaniam, MD (Los Gatos, CA); her sisters, Sivanayagi (London) and Suntharanayagi (NY) and brothers, Sivarajan Sivapalan, and Sivaraman (all of London) and Thangavelan (NJ); two grandsons, Adithyaand Vedanth (DC); daughters-in-law, Bhararthi (DC) and Vinodha (CA); brothers-in-law, Nadarajah (UK) and Nallainathan (NY) and sisters-in-law, Sakunthala (UK), Raji (UK), Ananthi (UK) and Sharmila (NJ). Funeral service will be conducted on Saturday morning 9 to 12 p.m. at the Daly Funeral Home, Inc., 242 McClellan St., Schenectady. Calling hours Friday evening 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday morning 9 to 11 a.m. at the funeral home. A cremation to take place at Park View Cemetery. The family wishes to thank the staff that cared for her from Community Hospice, with special thanks to Jessica Thomas and staff at National Institutes of Health; Dr. Voleti, Dr. Thomas Goodman and staff, as well as Indira, Susan, Marcella, Ratna and Heidi. Memorial donations may be made to Ellis Medicine Foundation, 1101 Nott St., Schenectady, NY 12308, Community Hospice Foundation, 295 Valley View Blvd., Rensselaer, NY 12144 or the Central Park Rose Garden Restoration Committee, to commorate Arul's life of devotion, intellectual brightness and caring.


  1. Thanks ND/Lucky. Although I remember her as she was in the Med Fac, I had no contact with her subsequently and it was so nice to read of her achievements and even more, to learn what a great human being she was. I cannot but wonder, as I do from time to time, how much Sri Lanka has lost by the emigration of so many talented doctors. Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "If" comes to mind with suitably modified lines of course. She was clearly an exceptional person -a good doctor, citizen, wife, mother and friend. Those who had the good fortune to be associated with her were indeed fortunate. May she be in eternal Peace.

  2. As I recall Arul was a quiet and reserved girl in our batch. I have learnt recently through personal communications with friends that she was very helpful, kind and considerate in the toxic environment of Medical College.
    May She find Eternal Peace

  3. Thanks Nihal and Lucky for posting this obituary.
    Arul was indeed reserved and quiet.Owing to her modesty her deep inner beauty and wisdom were lost on all but the very few in our batch who worked closely with her.I was privileged to be one.
    A verse from Thomas Gray in his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard comes to my mind.
    "Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The deep unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste it's sweetness in the desert air."
    I was happy to see those close to her appreciated her true worth.
    May she have eternal peace.

  4. A summary of Arul's attributes as I found in med school was in my first posting into this blog on 17/10/14

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Rohini
      Having read your poem, a heartfelt tribute to a friend, I took the liberty to re-publish it in this final farewell. It is most poignant and touching knowing the context and the pernicious milieu in our student days when help was needed most.
      The following script by Rohini Anandaraja
      Remembering Arul Sivaguru Balasubramaniam
      Arul, my dear friend....
      Arul my dear friend of med school days
      So gentle, thoughtful and caring in her ways
      Her quiet wisdom, her beauty, her grace
      Stay etched in my memory for ever unerased

      'Tis sad our paths never crossed again,
      With the best of intentions it was too late -
      Yet from our brief encounter there was much I gained
      From compassion, empathy, sharing - a few to name
      To all of the goodness that ran in her veins.

      My life was enriched by having known her-My love and sympathy to all her family

  5. ND,
    Very sweet of you- Thankyou

  6. I am glad to read these wonderful accounts as a tribute to the life of Arul. I remember her very well. But like, ND, I too feel sad our paths never crossed again. If her family see this I hope they understand the love we feel and our appreciation of her as a member of our unique batch of 1962 medgrads.
    Zita (Perera) Subasingeh