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Foreword My sisters and I grew up with achchi. She was first and foremost achchi, then English teacher and at times Doctor (who gave us a sip of Brandy when we were sick!). Before I read A Reverie, I saw her as one person – a loving grandmother. I now see has as a child full of wonder, a mischievous student, a defiant young woman and much more. I am certain that others who know her will also see her with new eyes upon reading A Reverie. Although customs, fashions and modes of transport may change, achchi’s candid stories made me realize that the dreams, relationships, fears and aspirations of each passing generation remain the same. A Reverie breathes new life in to a family whose memories were shelved away in dust laden albums. I feel a deep connection to the vibrant characters in achchi’s book, of which many are my ancestors. She masterfully threads out personas, places, encounters and dialogues to create a rich tapestry of personal and family history. Such a backdrop really helps ‘third generation’ readers like my sisters and I to understand who we are and where we belong. Achchi’s prose and style flows gently and easily like a river. In addition to the narrative, the subject and style of the book also reflect changes that took place in her life during the time of writing. This makes A Reverie especially beautiful and compelling. I am extremely thankful to achchi for sharing her life in such an intimate and uninhibited way. This book is by and about one of the most influential and beloved people in my life. Reading it only confirmed my love for her and showed me new ways of relating to her. It enabled me to see the world through achchi’s eyes and to marvel at the beauty and innocence of that world. Anyone who reads this book will ‘fall in love’ with my grandmother. My sisters and I are glad that our children will read about the adventures, antics and musings of a wonderful little girl and fall in love with achchi in the years to come...
Niluka , Menaka and Anushka
Acknowledgments Publishing A Reverie has been a collective labour of love. Chandani and Senaka Samarasinghe lovingly contributed a family tree for this book. It’s part of a laudable initiative to map out the constellation of our ancestry. Damitha Silva undertook the lastminute, herculean task of transforming that family tree from a sprawling hand written diagram to the crisp digitized version featured this book. Chandra Silva and Rajendra Kumar contributed several priceless photographs to enliven and adorn this book. Many others contributed their time and effort to type-setting, proof- reading, editing, layout and printing. This book would not be in your hands today if it weren’t for their heartfelt endeavors.
The Author Mrs Leeda Wijewardena In Her Young Days
"Peace I ask of Thee O River Peace, peace, peace When I learn to live serenely, cares will cease"
My heart feels glad when I hear that birdsong starting with a warbling deep down in its throat and rising in to a high crescendo. I hear it far away in the distance. I have heard it in my childhood and later in far off lands thousands of miles away from my palm fringed island home. It is such a thrilling song that birdsong. It's not a soul searching mellifluous song like that of the peacock or the koha that ushers in the new year, but it is dear to me because it brings me memories of far away and long ago………
Early Years Perched on the road by the hillside was the house in which we lived. All along the front edge there grew a hedge of small pink and red roses. There were large pink roses too all well maintained and a pleasure to look at. In the garden on the left side of the house was a pool of sparkling clear water with large smooth stones around it. Some of the stones were conspicuously out standing while others were just the size to sit on. We sat there on some evenings when mother was not too busy to be with us. Mother was young and pretty and had her long black hair tied in a knot. Her home attire was a printed multi1 1
coloured long skirt and white blouse edged with narrow white lace but when she went out she wore saree. She was proud that she was one of the first to wear saree. With the new awakening the new generation gave up there Colonial Styles and got back to what was considered a national costume. Mother’s uncle had been an active member of the national movement which has inspired not only India but Sri Lanka too. Daya Hewavitharana and Anagarika Dharmapala had become popular names in Sri Lanka .It was Anagarika Dharmapala who has established our claim to Buddha Gaya which until then was solely considered a Hindu shrine. By the river was a red roofed four storied factory and office. Father was in charge of this division. A European planter was in over all supervision of all the groups belonging to George Stuart and Company in Yatiyanthota and Dehiowita. Sometimes he came on horse back and we hurried to greet him and to communicate with him in the little English we knew.
Father had got pneumonia which was considered fatal those days. He might have died had it not been for his
DMO friend Dr Munidasa after whom he named his eldest son. Father had been warded at the Karawenalla and it was mother's brother uncle SP who came to her rescue, others being in far away Matara.
Mother used to talk about her uncle Peter who used to drop in when on his Railway Trips. He later rose to be the first local Assistant General Manager of Railways, but I was too young to remember his visits. Our hero then was Indian Uncle who came on his rare visits from India.
Below the factory was the river - a shallow wide stream to be more accurate. We bathed in these waters and waded across collecting smooth rounded stones. In the evenings mother sent us for walks to the factory and riverside, sometimes going in the opposite direction we went for longer walks with father. I used to lag behind to pick the way side flowers. To this date I remember the sweet scent of the greens that grew on the hill side. They had their over flowing rills and trickles of water singing a strange quiet tune among the ferns. My grandmother used to be our most frequent visitor. But it was Indian uncle, my mothers youngest brother who
was our favourite. His white national garb of a Punjabi kind was an unfamiliar sight when all men -gentlemen -wore European Dress. His costume fascinated us. He was our Indian uncle of the Indian fairy tales."Tell us a story" we used to pester him, as we pushed each other in our attempts to hold his hand and walk with him. I think he did tell us stories as we sat by the water side. We were just the three of us- MR, Lily and I.JR was a wee baby and it was the three of us who considered ourselves important. I believe I must have started schooling in Matara by then. School Days St Thomasa's Girls High School Matara was where we all started our education. I had come to live with my Grand Mother in Matara. We used to get about in buggy carts, a popular mode of travel at that time. Jamis was our buggy driver .He dropped me in school and drove uncle to his office in the Fort .Uncle was a lawyer. Every affluent household had its own buggy cart .Another of my uncles was married to a rich lady from Anuradhapura had a Ford car. His car was a rare phenomenon, and specially so because it had the most amusing horn which the young
ones loved to toot when ever they got a chance "poop,poop,poop" it sounded.
I never knew when we had a declared holiday and there was I coming to school and finding it closed. A few others who were clueless like me finally went back home. Driven to my own resources I wondered round the vast school garden collecting flowers. Near the school gate was a mauve flowering tree which dropped a pretty carpet of flowers under its friendly shade. Picking massang, a rare species today was another of my pre-occupations. No massang tasted so good as the masang I used to eat in school. They were like small apples.
On one such day instead of waiting for uncle to pick me up on his way back home I plucked up courage and followed the others who were going back to their homes in the fort. But crossing the Nilvala on the foot bridge was a horrible ordeal performed with a great deal of fear and trembling. My heart might have been beating so hard that it was after I got past the Fort gate and in to uncle’s office area that I regained my composure.
Water babies I could sing and dance well, hence I was always selected for school concerts .Recently I met a schoolmate of mine after long years. We had both been fairies and danced in fairy wings. We wore pointed green caps, coloured pettaled skirts and even our green blouses and skirts had their lower ends cut to produce a petal effect. Grace still looks like a fairy even though she is a grand mother. My rose fairy friend and several others have gone to rest long ago. Miss B.D. Alwis and Miss Armstrong did good work guiding our stage performances.
When I was in the Upper KG I remember drawing a fish. The teacher in charge who has taken much trouble to show us a flat pink fish praised my drawing. I too thought it was good as the original. Cecily who sat next to me wanted me to draw one for her too. I was quite willing and we exchanged books. Meanwhile to hood wink the teacher Cecily went on using her crayons on my fish which turned out to be a sorry mess. I could have cried, for mine had been such a beautiful fish.
I remember taking part as a water baby in" Tom and the water babies". Coming to school in the morning, costume ,lunch and all there was a long wait till the concert was over at night. It was at the Broadway Hall."Little stream flowing through woodland and valley" which we water babies sang still rings in my ears. When I was in the UK I went looking for forget-me-nots growing beside such a little stream where the willows bend low and did I find them?...The willows were there in plenty but the forgetme-nots were scarce.
Tom was played by chubby Lorna Ferdinands who added a great deal of charm to her role. She is no more she left us a long time ago. Miss B.D. Alwis played a significant role in molding us in the middle years of our school lives. Later we had Miss Esme de Alwis who was a very good teacher. It was in her time I started taking an interest in all subjects rising to the first position in class - a position I maintained until I finally left school. I remember with a degree of pride how when the Senior Preparatory and Senior form worked together as one unit due to the shortage of numbers going up for Cambridge examinations (about 30 in all) or the scarcity of qualified teachers ( it may have been both) I as
a student in the Prep Form used to come top in the combined class.
While still in the Primary classes we took part in several plays such as "Get up and bar the door" but it was the musicals with Miss B de Alwis at the piano, that I remember most. I can still visualize her playing the piano, swaying from side to side and singing with us.
When we were in Cambridge Junior, the school staged a grand operetta. It was a big musical involving the whole upper school. Aruni Gunathilaka was the princess in "Princess Ju Ju or the Golden amulet." Brenda. Conyta and I were three prince who hoped to win the hand of the princess. Jane Selliah was the Emperor. It was a grand musical extravaganza with Japanese court scenes crowded with beautiful Kimono clad ladies, songs and dances galore. "Hail to the land of the rising sun" we all sang with gusto. Miss Janson taught many dances, two of which were a fan dance with colourful Japanese fans performed by the ladies of the court- the umbrella dance was by us, the princes in disguise. These Kimonos, fans and umbrellas were freely available in those days. Condemned to death
as an imposter who had stolen the princesses' golden amulet, I sang a sad "Sayonara"- farewell- to my beautiful princess when I was to be marched off by the Lord High Executioner. His tone and personality were both aweinspiring. "I am the Lord high Executioner" he sang. He could easily terrify any lesser mortal who would cow down before him. But as luck would have it, the golden amulet was found among the princesses clothes, and the emperor rose up to declare that all's well- that ends well. There was much singing and dancing in which the princess and the princes participated and everything ended on a happy note.
A touch of Shakespeare Next year the Seniors presented "As you like it" and " The Tempest." even though we were not old enough to
appreciate Shakespearian drama we cannot forget some of the melodies that linger " where the bee sucks, there suck I", "Under the green wood tree", " It was a lover and his lass" are some of them. Then Gladys and Ariel in Tempest did a superb performance. And how is it that I remember Mabel Jayasekara as Portia in "The Merchant of Venice" or was it in the boys school next door that we saw
the complete play performed by their seniors and staff. But those were the days with intelligent pupils and encouraging staff there was much we could achieve. Our principal at that time, Sister Mary Kathleen, was a driving force and a dynamic personality who disciplined us. The very sound of her jingling keys struck terror in the heart of the younger students. It was she who directed "The Midsummer Nights Dream" played by the Seniors of her time. But our good fortune did not last long. She was transferred to Bishops College as principal.
When Miss Thambimuttu a new graduate teacher who joined our staff. She infused a new and different enthusiasm into us. In Tagore's "Post Office", I was the uncle and the youngest of the Livera's, Phyllis was my nephew. Phyllis gave a soulful rendering of a dying child earning for holidays and home. Acting in such drama was one thing, but watching such drama was not much fun, I always thought. No wonder Rabindranath Tagore's "Post Office" was not one of his popular dramas. We could have acted something better I thought.
The Golden Jubilee of St.Thomas' Girls School The Golden Jubilee of the school was celebrated with a great deal of fanfare. Considerable energy was spent on the Sports Meet and Inter-house activities. They were so popular that we would do anything for the House and the House Captain. We were caught in an infectious whirl of explosive enthusiasm. At the Grand- finale which was the Prize Giving the Governor of Ceylon presided. However out-door activities were the highlights for us. We had several dances- one to the music of the Blue Danube. Another, a Kalagedi dance - rather a dignified performance unlike the lively dance of today. However the greatest attraction was The May Pole Dance in which my normally quiet sister Lilly was a gay participant. With the bubbling energy of Youth children would dance endlessly marveling and raveling the colourful mystery of the May Pole. At night the school premises between Broadway hall and Main Street were a real fairyland with multi-coloured lanterns. Everything worked out beautifully and we who were young students carry with us haunting memories of our Golden Jubilee Celebrations. Soon we were back in school and engrossed in our school work.
Being Girl Guides was another popular activity under the tutelage of Miss Armstrong our Guide Captain and subsequently our Guide Captain and subsequently our District Commissioner. Scouting and Girl Guiding were very popular in Boys and Girls schools (there was no cricket then),
We were proud of belonging to various groups such as Golden Orioles, Wood Peckers and King Fishers -proud of our array of efficiency badges and emblems. Many were the camp fires we had and many were the rounds and songs we sang deep in to the night. Attending the All Island Rally at Girl Guide Headquarters in Colombo and at the Viharamahadevi Park was a unique experience. The Boy Scouts had also camped there in their tents and open air groups. It was a memorable experience sharing combined knowledge. It was the first such rally held in Ceylon.
Sinhala Drama Prior to the times I write about, when we were penalised for talking in Sinhalese within the school premises it is no wonder we did not blossom out in the direction of Sinhala drama. Those who had their primary education in
vernacular schools, we couldn't equal. However, the Seniors staged "Yasalalaka Tissa" where the King was ousted by the gatekeeper whom he resembled. My aunt Derbie- a senior student played a prominent part in that play. But one short skit I will never forget. In those remote times we had a humorous play which caused a minor uproar. It was about a vedamahathaya who doled out impossible remedies to his patients. I happened to be the Veda. However, the words spoken seemed to have upset the finer sentiments of the English speaking elite audience. I don’t think anyone blamed me but the new teacher who haled from Moratuwa and was in charge of the item came in for considerable blame. The Principal Sister Ada Mary who understood no Sinhala was clueless and caught unawares in the hullabaloo.
Towering above all these mishaps, guarding and guiding the destiny of the close-knit family (I don't think we were
more than 600 on the role), was Sister Ada Mary our English Principal-infallible and indefatigable and everlasting ( so seemed to me) She was the veritable Rock of Ages, I thought. I remember how she took our singing classes. We were singing about Queen Dido and Aeneas stately and tall. To Sister, "Aeneas" was the same as anayass and ( to the amusement of singing students) or "Anyarse" (the way Sister pronounced that honorable name Sister who saw nothing amiss went on with her surplice sleeves flying in wild animation. She was as good a conductor of music as any in the present day.
In the hostel We were a fairly big group among the sixty five boarders. I don’t think we resented the hostel routine. We were well disciplined waking up with the bell which informed us about various changes in the schedule. We soon got used to Sister Ada Mary, Huldah, Evelyn and Joan Margret befriended us at various times of our school life. They were not only our superiors but kind friends. In later years I visited sister Joan Margret at East Corinstead in England. She was very old, confined to her bed but mentally alert. She remembered only the Christian boarders of her time.
No wonder she wasn't one of our teachers. Miss Kemps was our matron and was a kind and gentle lady. She made our hostel a home for us. There were little ones like my sister Nellie who became hungry long before the lunch bell. She used to stamp her feet and cry and make such a fuss that the kinds nuns rushed to pacify her with a biscuit or two.
After lunch which was most popular on the days when the menu consisted of meat, dhal and pol sambol we made a beeline to the tuck shop. There was not much of a choice of material there, but the coconut rock Sister made and sold at 10 cents a piece was delicious. I can still see the rosy pink colour and feel the taste of that coconut rock that never tasted better anywhere else in all these years. It was superb!
On Saturdays and Sundays after lunch we had a period to rest. We all had to be in bed. Sister distributed books for reading and also gave us a few coloured sweets which were brought in a big tin. She carried to each boarder’s bed-side, no conversation was allowed and we had to be in bed till the next bell announced tea time. After tea on
Saturdays we got into our neat white uniforms and school ties and got ready for a walk to the beach near Browns Hill. This was a outing we looked forward to. On Sundays the Christians went to church with the nuns and after Even Song, the Parish priest Rev. Clive Perera came to tea with the nuns. He came in his open two seater sports car. He was a jovial priest. Often he brought visitors to see the nuns and on one such visit sister brought them round to our study where the Seniors were deeply engrossed in their home-work. To my utter dismay Sister singled me out as a good student and the visitors who took some special interest on hearing about a good student took a keener interest in me and there was I with a copy of "Wuthering Heights" carefully concealed under the History Text I had placed on top. Father Clive said " Ho Ho," with a merry twinkle in his eye, and the kindly visitors only smiled, but I didn't know where to hide my head. To my great relief neither Sister Ada Mary nor the Matron who supervised our studies pulled me up and the incident was soon forgotten.
Sunday Evenings On some Sundays we-Christians and non-Christians sat in the study and sang hymns. Hymn books were distributed and to us, singing a hymn was like singing a song. However on some Sundays when the Christians went to church with the nuns we who were left behind threw sticks and stones and even our shoes at the massang tree which grew in front of the hostel. How we relished the ripe fruit. I don't think we cast envious eyes at the Sappatilla tree which grew behind the hostel and was within easy reach. There wasn't a ghost of a chance of getting any because Sister Ada Mary's butler Hendrick and his kichen staff were always around and inform" Sitter" - that's what he called her -about any miscreant who touched the hollowed fruit which was reserved for the nuns and the teachers.
But one day Mabels' shoe was found in the thorny massang tree.Mabel was a popular senior boarder. There was no doubt about the ownership' because it was made of crocodile skin. But could Mable do such a thing would have puzzled the nuns for quite some time before Mabel Jayasekera was finally reprimanded.
Sometimes we managed to do a hat collection for two loaves of bread and a tin of salmon carefully hidden away until midnight. It was a midnight feast we enjoyed immensely in the semi-darkness of the dim lit Senior dormitory.
The little boarders were an endearing lot. On the day that the new church was consecrated there was a grand function and all the boarders too were taken to the function. I, a senior by then was not feeling sorry I was left behind because I had fever. I was too sick to think of the function I had missed. I was awakened late in the evening by little hands that pulled out patties and sandwiches and biscuits and cakes out of their pockets. They placed them beside me, sorry that I could not enjoy the goodies they had, had. What dear little people to be so considerate but I couldn't eat a thing they had brought .They were bitter in my mouth.
A few months before I sat for my Cambridge Senior Examination I got an attack of mumps. Confined to the sick room I was given soups and puddings which I could
swallow easily. I was given books to read and I read almost one book a day. I had right Royal treatment. Soon after I started my baths more than half the dorm caught the infection, and the tragedy or comedy was that they had no preferential treatment. Only conjee and corriander!
Soon after that, not even two months later we got measles. The hostel had to be closed and the boarders sent home. Home was too far away for us, so we had to go to grandmother. On our way there Silva who drove our buggy made an error of judgment ending in all six of us going down in to the drain measles and all. At the start the buggy has been covered all round in the way the Muslim women do when on a buggy ride perhaps visiting friends and family-but after the fall there we were on the Old Road exposed to the sun and the wind and prying eyes waiting until Silva got the buggy started and the poor bull made comfortable. I had the feeling of sand in my eyes and the others too were having various degrees of measles infection, but thank our lucky stars we were back in the hostel after a little more than a fortnight of grand mother’s hospitality.
More Cousins By that time my uncle's sons Indra and Chandra joined St Thomas'. They were day scholars. The lower KG in which Chandra studied was next to the Music Room. While we Senior Girls were singing with Sister Ada Mary at the piano, in comes a chubby intruder, Cousin Chandra also singing the scales "Cucku cucku cu coo oh ah" taking his place by my side. Sister who had a soft corner for the little one, never so much as scolded him, but gently lifting him up left him where he belonged in the KG next door.
Brother MR - Munidasa who was at St Thomas' until he passed Std 11 lead everybody a dance. When the senior girls were playing cricket, he would rush to the field and boldly run away with the wickets. With the senior girls screaming and running behind him he would run the length and breadth of the vast school garden until he decided for himself that he had had enough of the enterprise and surrendered the wickets.
On a Saturday where we had gone to the beach Jeswyn and Jinadasa had been following Sister Ada Marys wooly terrier Jill who had started to dig the sand looking for
turtle eggs buried there. Going down on all fours to help in the digging Jeswyn had got a cactus thorn into his knee. There was much anxiety and even a few tears too when some all knowing one said Jeswyn would die when the thorn reached his heart. When we got back to the hostel, the sister in charge of the sickroom dressed the wound and Jeswyn was none the worse for the experience.
Bazaars and carnivals No one ever stayed away from a carnival. The school had its own carnival, though not in my time. The two carnivals held in Colombo on two separate occassions -London Calling at the Vihara Maha Devi park and "Harbour Lights" at the Colombo harbour were magnificent. I was so enthralled by everything I saw, the glitter of the coloured electric lights simply hypnotised us - the teenagers and the little ones too. Father took us to both carnivals. The song "I saw the harbour lights" came about the same time and no wonder Harbour Lights continued to haunt us years later.
Borders - sisters and others When I left St. Thomas', it was 5 year old Chandra who took my place. She was supposed to have brought much luck to the family. Mother used to send Arnis Appu with a parcel for us all. On such an occasion she said we had another little sister - that was Arundathie.
Meanwhile, I should not forget to remember others who made my school life worthwhile. We had at the hostel Marguerite, Myrtle Phoebe and Philine Peiris. Placida Wijesinha, Gwen Karunaratne, Aruni and Nancy Pearl Wijetunge, not forgetting a host of others who enlivened life in our hostel. Marguerite de Mel used to get lots of chocolates - slabs of Nestle and Cadbury which we valued highly because of the tokens in each pack. We collected these in albums - pictures of English Royalty, places of interest in England, English flowers and many more.
Phoebe and Philine, Margarette's cousines, joined Bishop's College. Margarette who went with them came back and she and Myrtle remained at St. Thomas' throughout.
Disappointment Nanda, who settled down in London was another of my classmates. I got the Senior Prize for English Language at the last prize giving of my school career but the leatherbound gold lettered "complete works of Shakespeare" the Eileen De Mel Prize for English Literature went to Nanda Muthucumarana. I suppose Nanda was senior to me and had joined us having had her earlier education elsewhere and deserved it, but how I wish I had got it. Of what use was English Language without literature! This was one of the few disappointments in my school career, which was otherwise a happy one.
Lucky escape Regina and Mercy Gnanamuttu, whom I considered my best friend, the Livera sisters and so many other bright faces I seem to see as I look down the years. Unforgettable is Leela Nanayakkara who was thrown under the piano stool when a huge tree crashed on the school roof in a huge storm. She was sitting on the piano stool, lucky to have been saved with only a spinal injury, whereas the rest of the furniture, with the exception of the piano was reduced to smithereens. Although a senior student, she
too had forgotten that she needn't have come to school that day - it was a holiday.
When I look down the years I remember with gladness, the time we spent at St. Thomas' Matara. In the early days we sang the school song to the tune of 'Dyou Ken John Peel'. Later, when a new tune was introduced, we sang joyfully
"In our work and our play, through the live long day, we'll be loyal and true and keep in view our school's good name...".
Those were happy days and happy years. We loved our school and were really loyal and true to it.
Happy times Spent with grandmother in her home at Walgama Matara
My Beloved Grand Mother Johana Pujitha Gunawardena nee Panditha Gunawardena
CHAPTER 2 Matara Grandmother
My grandmother lived in her ancestral home in Galle road, Walgama, Matara. Before my sisters and brothers invaded the field, I was the first member of my family to live with my grandmother. I accompanied her wherever she went. She used to visit her relatives in Madihe. We did not go there by buggy cart but walked across the coconut lands, most which were ours or belonged to our relatives. We jumped over stiles and went through Hettige watta to Bajjang watta and Walauw watta chatting with people whom we met along the way to the seaside, where Punchi mahaththaya, a popular Ayurvedic physician lived.
Grandmother was a fast walker and I could hardly keep pace with her, but more so because I got left behind as I lingered to pick berries and flowers and meekaranchi (both fruits and flowers were edible). But we made it somehow, I running half the way. The Ayurvedic physician we visited was a relative. He was an expert orthopedic surgeon. He had a special ward for those who came from far off places to seek his aid. He had a brother who took
after him. Although he ended up as a lecturer at the Ayurvedic hospital, Borella, nevertheless did not have the same healing touch.
Most of the houses we visited were close to the sea; but I had no fascination for the sea. I still prefer the peace and serenity of inland waters to the awful grandeur of the sea. In Madihe, grandmother visited her favourite cousin Reverand Pannasiha's mother. They both had a lot to talk about while I sat on an interesting Dumpty like structure keeping myself turning round and round - clock-wise and anti clock-wise. I have a faint recollection of the Mahanayaka. He was a tall school boy always busy with his books. He was a student at St. Thomas' Boys' School.
Open Air Dramas Not far from my grandmother's home lived grandfather's cousin, old Gurunnanse Mutta. He had been a popular Nadagam Gurunnanse in his heyday. The old ralahami had, with the collaboration of friends and relations in the locality produced open air dramas. He was very popular.
Sometimes my grandmother visited sisters in Polhena - an adjoining village. The youngest Welvina was married to my grandfather's uncle and was well to do - not only having many coconut lands, but also many sons in government service. We used to go there by buggy cart. I don't know why we didn't walk there as we did to Madihe. Two of grandmother's sisters were married to grandfather's uncles and were Jayawardenas like us. The youngest of the grand aunt's daughters was Derby, a senior student at St. Thomas' and we called her Derby as we did in school, but the day she married her cousin, uncle Diwin (who was also my mother's cousin), an advocate, I had to call her aunty Derby. The other Mrs. Velmina Jayawardena was said to have been the beauty of the family but I scarcely remember her, except for the fact that she was a very fair old lady. There was a very old custom prevelant among the families those days. On Poya day, my grandmother observed Sil and her youngest sister, Welvina sent her noon dane - a large plate of rice and curry fit for a princess. It was served in grand style and the magic was there was enough and more for all four of us who were in grandmother's house. Sometimes this was delivered by a servant, but often my grand aunt who accompanied the
servant made respectful abeyance to my grandmother after serving the meal.
Tall and Good Looking My grandmother was a dignified lady with a wonderful store of wisdom. Her mother had been a Miss Fonseka from Bambalapitiya. They owned most of the properties bordering Galle road from Kollupitiya to St Peters' College area and Wellawatta canal. When her mother died my great grandfather Pelene Panditha Gunawardena the renowned scholar had married a Miss Serasinha from Pelena and had several children one of whom was the Rev. Pelene Vajiranana Thero later of Vajiraramaya,
Bambalapitiya. Grandmother who lived with her father and step mother in Pelena had gone to a school -Bouna Vista Galle- one of the earliest missionary schools for girls. After that she had been sent to a finishing school of a kind. She had been taught cooking, sewing and lace making as befitted young ladies of her era. Perhaps her education was an all rounded one. But proof I have is that she could sign her name in English. I still treasure her signature in my autograph album.
I used to visit the ancestral Pelena home with my grandmother. She told me how one day a young English speaking gentleman had come to Pelena to another house to see his prospective bride. After having seen the girl, the young mans parents had decided to pay their respects to Pundit-Tudawe Pandita Gunawardena before returing home. Then quite by chance they saw the Pundits elder daughter Dona Johanna, the young man decided that she and she alone must be his bride.
After the visitors left Johanna had been summoned and asked to decide whether she would marry a rich merchant or an educated gentleman and it was no wonder she made the right decision. That’s how Dona Johanna Panditha Gunawardena married Jacovis (Jacob?) Poojitha
Gunawarena. He had become a Christian to gain an English education and employment but once again he reverted to his Buddhist faith to marry the Pundits daughter. He had been for sometime on the staff of Royal Academy which had preceded Royal College of today. Later he had left for Kacheri service. His salary had been around fifty Rupees- a princely sum in those days. After marriage the new couple settled down in Walgama Matara and had four sons and
three daughters. Of the eldest Arthur AP, Sugathapala SP, Upatissa UP and Junian Piyatissa JP, who grew up to be handsome men. Arthur was a planter, SP an executive at Bosanquet and Skrine, UP a lawyer and JP a teacher at Mahinda College Galle. Mahinda College had an Englishman- Mr. Pearce, as Principal. When Mr. Pearce left Mahinda, and went to India JP also followed in his footsteps making India his foster mother. He visited his mother and family on very rare occassions, and once we all gathered at Seeta Vasa, Walgame to welcome Aunty Sushila his Indian bride from Benares. Later they came to live in Ceylon at grandmother’s request. Although Uncle JP came back home his heart was always on the other side of Palk Strait.
The loss of Uncle UP, an up and coming lawyer was a crushing blow on my grandmother. Uncle had died of appendicitis, unbelievable in these days. Uncle had been married to a gentle lady Rosalin Dias Abeygoonewardena, and had three little sons. By this time not only Loku Mamma but uncle SP had lost his beloved Jessie. She had died a short while after Jeswyn was born. Uncle had been heart broken. I cannot remember their wedding but
judging by their wedding photograph they must have been a remarkably good looking couple.
The daughters my grandmother had were Flora Jane, Sujatha and Leela, all beauties in their days. My stately grandmother spoke such words of wisdom. "Dress well" she said meaning that " the apparel oft proclaims the man." "Be frugal in your expenditure, don't spend extravagantly on food and drinks; no one knows what goes inside of you". "look after your money-though you may be willing to part with yours-you cannot go asking people if you happen to be in need." She used to say "neither a lender nor a borrower be."
I had heard other ladies speak with disdain, sheer arrogance. My eldest aunt was on the haughty side-but not so my grandmother, and my gentle aunt Sujatha and my good mother. They were gentle in demeanor as well as speech.
The Abrahams My mother's eldest sister had married a son of a rich leather merchant. Uncle was Don Carolis Abraham. They had started life at Bambalapitiya where her eldest sons were schooling at Royal College and their daughters at Holy Family Convent. Windowed quite early in life, she left her home in Colombo and settled down on Mirishena Estate Kalutara. Her estate of rubber and coconut provided her with a comfortable income. Her eldest son Victor joined the CGR. Another son Hector who was at the Medical College died of Typhoid. It was tragic and unexpected blow. Her younger sons never came upto that level. Geeta, Ena and Nerissa were all good looking girls. Specially Nerissa "who looked liked an ancient Sinhala princess" so said my friends who saw her when she came to see me at the Training College. They were after a wedding.
My mother was the youngest of grandmother's daughters Jane, Sujatha and Leela. My father was a nephew of the Jayawardena who my grandmother's sister was married to. He had studied at St Thomas' Boys school in Matara. It was his proud boast that he had walked five miles from his
brothers home in Dondra in order to get to school. Later we heard that Dondra was only three miles away. He wanted to make a favourable impression on his sons, now boarders. They were studying in relative comfort at St. John's College Panadura in "Lansi school". His father was from Dickwella where assets were reckoned not only by "goda bima" coconut lands but also by mada bima paddy lands and by herds of buffalo which made Rahuna famous for its curd. My father was the youngest of a family of eleven brothers and three sisters. Having got through an examination from which would have made him eligible for coveted Government service, he had however followed the advice of his brother in law to be and joined the plantation sector which had "so many fringe benefits", so they said.
Mirishena Estate Kalutara North
"Peace I ask of Thee O river Peace peace peace When I learn to live serenely cares will cease"
I was by the Kalu Ganga. Their bungalow was on a hill which sloped gradually to the river. I loved that river and longed to bath in it. My cousins were not interested. A film of soft dust settled on your skin after a river bath was their excuse. Long afterwards I heard a tragedy had befallen them .A cousin of theirs from Bambalapitiya who has been recuperating after a nervous breakdown had got drowned after playing in the shallow waters near the river bank. He had been playing" wolf wolf" with passing fishing boats shouting to them and calling them to his rescue but
sending them back once they came. One day when he had actually got in to trouble and shouted for help they did not take him seriously and he had got drowned.
By the house on the hill was a huge banyan tree -Nuge the botanical name Ficus Bengalinsis a landmark you could identify from the Bo Tree in Kalutara South. They said that
on some nights strange lights - devata eli -rose from the Nuge tree and flitted to the Bo-tree on the lower reaches of the river. I never had the good fortune to witness this phenomenon, but I believed in it's existence.
Like all other families the Mirishene residents had a big buggy cart (cars were scarce or even non-existent during this period). They had a big white bull but this bull would never allow his buggy driver to tie him to the yolk with out the lady of the house or one of the young ladies patting him on his head and tying the first knot.
I loved to walk from the bungalow area to the riverside. In a small area of flat land bordering the river, village women made cadjans out of coconut fronds .On the hilly slopes they tapped rubber which they carried in pails to the smoke-room where the latex was converted to sheet rubber. There were veralu and mango trees on the estate. Nerissa and I would eat so many mangoes in one sitting that to this date I can't imagine how we ate so many. Only the seeds collected in a heap would bear testimony to the extent of damage done but nobody bothered because mangoes were plentiful.
The vegetable plots on the soil enriched by receding waters of the river in flood were luxuriant. The Watakolu (fence buoys) which have more fruits than leaves is still a favourite of mine. I must admit that no Watakolu tasted as good as those cooked in the Mirishena kitchen.
Swing and Rabana playing As children, Nerissa, Wopedeva and I used to play on the swing during the new year season. Wopedeva who studied as Holy Cross college always beat me at Carrom and cards. Although I had been rated as very intelligent according to my performance at school, I thought Wopedeva was heaps better than I. During the New Year season the women labourers from the estate warmed up the household rabana and played familiar tunes (Tum tumba gata thunata palan, thiththa kekiri thunata palan).
Often the ladies of the household and even the more fashionable Don Carolis cousins - visitors from Colombo joined them. It was a jolly sight to see aunty Rose and her cousins with bejeweled rings on their plump fingers playing the rabana. This they did well, even thought they
were the piano playing crowd. Their coconut property was at Heediya Watta where we spent the day sometimes, travelling there leisurely by buggy cart. But trouble seemed to be brewing over there. Boundary problems had come in to a climax with the watcher shooting a stubborn villager who refused to allow the construction of a fence. To save her son, his mother had jumped in front of him. Both the mother and son had died on the same spot. Lokku Mamma, who had been an eye witness to this tragedy, was implicated in this case, which cost the Abrahams a tidy sum. She also had to look after the watcher's family until he came out of prison.
Matara Way back in Matara, uncle Arthur's sons, Amaradasa and Sugatadasa lived with my grandmotrher. In the adjoining village, Pamburana, was my aunt Sujatha and her family. This elder sister of my mother's had married in to a fairly rich family, where the only son, a reckless type had run through his resources leaving my aunt and children in relative discomfort. Being educated, the children soon picked up quickly, entering universities here and abroad
and achieving what earlier generations had failed to obtain.
Uncle Arthur's sons, Amaradasa and Sugathadasa were with grandmother because by this time, their mother from Kahandawa in the deep south was no more. Memories of Kahandawa nanda are associated with uncle and pots of curd he always brought, but I don't remember her. In the evenings, all the nephews including Dywynne ayya were at grandmother's house to do their homework with uncle U P. Amaradasa was always in hot water - cutting school and playing volleyball with the village boys. When he came home late, uncle would thrash him until he howled in pain. His brother was quite a contrast - very docile and never offending anybody. I felt sorry he would leave when he became a monk. I remember the ordination ceremony when with shaven head, he joined the Order. He left us to join the Vajiraramaya in Bambalapitiya where he was entrusted to the care of Palane Sri Vajiranyana thera, a grand uncle.
Grandfather’s brother Another faint recollection of early days is the memory of seeing in the rear of grandmother's house, in a room, a very old gentleman with long white hair and a flowing white beard. He was reclining on an easy chair. He was being fed by the man who looked after him. He was C P muththa, my grand father's youngest brother who had worked with Daya Hewavitharana and Anagarika
Dharmapala and others in the forefront of the Buddhist cultural revival. He had had a hand in designing the Buddhist flag, someone said in later years. At the time I saw him he was very old and recognized no one.
Harvesting season - Akurassa During the harvesting season, grandmother visited Akurassa just to keep an eye on things. Jamis drove us miles and miles by buggy and no wonder I fell asleep on the way. We stayed the night in the Vidanaarachchis house. It is the best house in the village. We slept in a four poster bed on a fine mat of multi-coloured reeds, beautifully woven in an intricate design of birds and flowers and leaves.
Jamis had started a romantic affair with grandmother's cook. He used to visit her at night when all were asleep. The kitchen window was as far as he could get - but at least he could speak to her. Grandmother who got a wind of this romance got white sand spread outside the window, hoping to do some clever detective work, but Jamis was too shrewed. He swept away all the tell-tale footprints and grandmother was left once again without sufficient proof of their rendezvous. However, not long afterwards, with grandmother's blessings, Jamis and Hinni Hami settled down in their home in Akuressa. It was Jamis who looked after the paddy fields.
Dondra In these early years, I remember accompanying grandmother to the Dondra fair. It was like a village fair of today, not very much bigger, but it was an important annual event, especially because it coincided with the festivities of the Dewundara Devalaya. Of all the things that caught my fancy were multi-coloured glass bangles that glinted so beautifully in the sunlight. Grandmother brought me a few of these scintillating bangles - not as many as I would have liked to have. To compensate that
she brought Kalu Dodol - my favourite sweet meet and the best sweet meat we can boast. It was twisted in to sheathes made of dried Aricunut leaves.
When Jamis left Silva became the seethawasa buggy driver. He drove us to school and uncle to office. Uncle U P, a lawyer was a handsome young man. I remember some teachers remarking that he was very good looking and wondering whether he was still a bachelor! But I was not as fond of him as I was of Indian uncle. He was Indian uncle of Indian fairytales.
Uncle S P By this time, Nalini too had joined us. Pretty Nalini had no mother and we were extra kind to her. She wasn't at St. Thomas' for long. She meant much to uncle S P and St. Thomas' wasn't good enough for her. She must go to Visakha Vidyalaya. She must be another Indira Gandhi? As his expectations were fairly high, she left us. Uncle was a popular parent at the Visakha hostel. "Everyone rallied around to speak to him and I rarely got a chance to do so" Nalini said. He was like a film star, I used to think.
As he was a successful executive at Basanquet & Skrine, he was able to take a special interest in his mother and family. When he paid a visit to Matara, he was able to bring gifts for everyone. Although uncle Arthur was the eldest in the family, it was uncle S P who was called upon to steer the family ship in events of emergency. I can not remember my grandfather. He was probably no more by the time I came in to this world and so it was always grandmother who ruled the roost at normal times. I must say uncle S P was a very duty conscious son and brother but misfortune had befallen him when he lost his beloved Jesse. Aunty was a kind and beautiful lady. It wasn't easy to get over a death like that of hers or for a matter of fact, death of any kind. So we must understand why he wasn't interested in marrying aunty Jesse's sisters but it would have done him a world of good, because he seemed so lonely in later years. Although uncle was caring and concerned about his kith and kin, he was not extra lenient. He knew when to be strict and that is all the more reason why everyone looked up to him. When there was cause for anxiety in our family, when we were children, it was uncle whom mother sent for. His very presence gave her courage to face any situation.
In later years, my brother who had joined the army as a Second Lieutenant and was under training in Diyathalawa had met with an accident. He had incurred a spinal injury. Father and uncle had visited him. In his usual disciplinary tone, he shouted at brother "pannina kehelmala pannina hatiyata panninne nathowa mokkadda me karagaththe". The whole ward had burst in to fits of laughter. Brother who was in pain had forgotten about his pain and joined in. Immediately after the first onslaught, uncle had toned down and spoken like the good uncle that he was.
Ghost Writer Seethawasa, Wakgama, Matara was normally a quiet household, but there were periods of feverish activity. Uncle contested and won a village council election. It was in the Tihagoda Godagama area but names seem to get mixed up and become elusive to me after all these years. Later it was thought he would contest the Matara seat in the state council, but fate had decreed otherwise and my kind aunt was widowed early in life. To think anyone could die of appendicitis is quite unusual today. But it did happen and the three little sons grew up without a father 43
their mother and grandmother guiding their destinies. I was deeply moved by uncle's death. I wrote one of my first poems which was published in the school magazine. "This girl could never have written this", some of the Pundits at the other side of the school wall, St. Thomas' Boy's school said. But I was 13+ and did write it. But my own teachers did not doubt me.
To the Sky:
O sky Now when I look upon thy star bespangled face I think of joys and sorrows that do quick proceed Thou art not always starlit Black, darkened clouds trespass thy way So is it with life Joy never lasts, sorrow is always on her path So do we midst joys and sorrows live But must go when we are called Along the path which we have traced
When I look back on my poem later, I myself wondered whether it was my uncle's death which inspired me or
whether it was my dead uncle who inspired me to write it. Strange things do happen in life and we cannot account for them.
Aunty Roselyn My uncle's sons, who attended our school at the beginning, later shifted to the boy's school and Ananda College, Colombo. Rahula College, Matara was also becoming popular and my youngest cousin, George attended that school. My grandmother was deeply shaken by the loss of her son and so was my bereaved aunt. It must have given them some solace in later years when my aunt's brother, Harry Dias Abeygunawardena, making Seethawasa his headquarters contested and won the Matara seat in the State Council. But that was on a Communist ticket. However I was not there to experience the tremendous amount of activity that must have been in operation. I had passed my Cambridge Senior examination and shifted to St. John's College, Panadura for my London Matriculation.
Sekkuwa In the years before uncle died, and even afterwards, the household was a hub of activity at various times. When the harvest was brought in, long "magal" mats were rolled out in the spacious backyard and the grain was dried well before it was stored in a huge wooden box which occupied half the kitchen. Once in two or three months, coconuts were brought and heaped in great mounds in the backyard. Many men were employed to husk the coconuts. They were split in two and placed faced upwards to dry in the warm sunshine. The 'palamada' which were formed inside some of the coconut was good eating and were sold to women who carried them away in large baskets.
After the coconut kernels were removed from their shells and dried for many weeks in the open yard, they were fed in ti a stone grinder - a sekkuwa - to produce coconut oil. A bull was tied to one end of the long pole attached to the giant grinder. The bull was driven round andround by a boy employed to keep the sekkuwa turning. Once the oil was collected, the refuse was sold as fodder for cart bulls. The sekkuwas have disappeared completely from homes
these days but in those days, young masters of the house had much fun sitting beside the sekku drivers, helping it to go round and round. Gone are these leisurely days and nowhere does anyone see a sekkuwa in coconut growing areas of the south. The introduction of machinery in factories has ousted this ancient mode completely. If at all it serves the purpose of being an ornamental feature in some fashionable urban garden or tourist hotel. The oil extracted through the sekkuwa was not used for domestic purposes. For this purpose, oil was made differently.
Scraped coconut was boiled in a large bronze vessel, squeezed by hand and pounded in a wooden mortar by two women who took turns in dealin the alternative shots. The thudding sound of the pester and mortar, the creaking of the sekkuwa, the slow grinding of kurakkan on the small stone grinder were familiar sounds in the rear sections of old homes in the south in bygone days. Nevertheless, the ladies of the household who took great pride in their black long hair used neither of these varieties of oil. They used the "ran thambili" - kind coconut scented with roasted dil seed and dried savandara roots.
Matara breadfruit season At certain times of the year and quite often, cart loads of breadfruit fruit from various parts of the village were sold by the cart load. The fruits that were part broken were cut up and boiled to be distributed among workers - both men and women. Balaya cut up and curried accompanied the boiled breadfruit. Sometimes, scraped coconut was an addition. This was enjoyed heartily by one and all. Today, people will shy away from such heaty combinations. But in those days they ate it and there were no unpleasant after effects. In fact I have heard it said that even poorer, ill-nourished women became robust and round during the breadfruit season. Breadfruit was also dried and store away for a rainy day, at least to supplement the big eaters among the workers. The breadfruit cut up was par boiled in hot water and cut again in to thin strips. These were spread on coarse mats and dried in the hot sun. The cutting up was a slow process which required many hands. It had to be completed as quickly as possible. I too found it to be an interesting past-time. Squatting on the floor and cutting up the soft breadfruit with a sharp knife held firmly between the big toe and the second. Many women helped
in the operation. At the long back verandah, were full of hands at work.
Temple visits Sometimes we went to a temple at Divigalahena and on Poya nights we walked to the Pamburana temple to listen to the Bana preachings. Walking back in the moonlight was pleasant and even the hooting of the night owl, earlier considered to be eerie and foreboding had become a soothing night song.
When I look back on the earlier period of my life, I find I have a certain empathy for the buggy cart. I knew people conduct Hakeri races but I don't know why they don't popularise races of buggy carts.
As in a dream, I remember the girls who used to go to school by buggy - Johanah in her buggy cart, the Welage watta sisters in theirs, Chandra Wanigasekara and her long legged brother in their shinny new buggy, the Perera's in their large buggy and aunty Derby's cart in which she was always chaperoned by one of her parents and so many others, especially so when I saw the school buggy cart on
the day the old girls visited St. Thomas' Matara. How I wish I could get in and ride that cart once more. But before I could voice my opinion, a more energetic young person, Esther, had already jumped in and was being driven around the school quadrangle.
Walgama Walgama Matara was a sleepy hamlet by Galle road and there was little to disturb its peace in the days gone by. On a long weekend sometimes, grandmother brought us from the hostel. When school closed for the long holidays, it was grandmother who took us to our parental homes. People rarely travelled by bus. Long distance travel was always by train. That would mean you were living close to a station - which couldn't always be. However, we set off early in the morning to get to Kamburugamuwa station. Jamis got the buggy ready with candles lit inside the two lamps to the right and left of his driving seat and we sat in the rear and made the slow, sleepy ride to the station. To begin with, all round us was darkness and the candle light cast eerie patterns on the road. We had started so early, that when we finally got to the station at daybreak, we had a long wait until the train came. We had set off too
early, but that was my grandmothers' way of doing things. No one would question her because everyone knew she would never miss a train.
Grandmother was a welcome visitor in the homes of her children in Kalutara, Horana and Pannipitiya. Our first stop was at Mirishena estate, Kalutara, where grandmother's prosperous daughter lived. After a few happy days with cousins - Ena, Nerissa, Edmond and Wopedewa, we resumed our journey to Horana.
"We are what the winds and waters have made us"
Sorana Horana This was where we spent a very happy childhood. Grandmother too liked staying with her youngest daughter. So my cousins Jeswyn and Nalini also found themselves spending a considerable part of their holiday with us. Sometimes our little cousins, Indra and Chandra joined us. Uncle J P and aunty Susila came to stay with us no sooner schools closed. By then uncle had returned from India. He was principal of Gamini College, Bentota. He always preferred working in rural areas. He did not want the big schools in the town. Uncle was principal of Hunumulla Central and Gamini College both. Little Usha who studies in uncle's schools and the Blue Mountain (Nilgri) school in Utih to begin with finally joined the Madras Medical College. She brought a great deal of happiness in to their lives. Later, when they settled down in Woodland Avenue, Usha and her children were devoted to the grandparents.
Having many visitors was always a welcome proposition because we had a large bungalow, many servants to help and plenty of good food too. Sorana was a rubber estate, one of a large group of estates belonging to George Stuart and Company. Sorana was ideal for a holiday. In the spacious bungalow and on the estate with its hills and valleys, lakes and ponds and streams, we spent many happy years.
Before school closed, mother was ready for us. She had made quantities of sweets - Milk toffee, puhul dosi, Kalu Dodol and sometimes Bibikkan and Muscat too. I being the eldest was entrusted with the keys of the safe. Sweets were given at appropriate times by mother. But M R impatiently removed the hinges of the safe and took whatever he wanted, while I who was the custodian of the safe had my fill. The younger folk who were clueless about these pranks were content with whatever mother gave. However, the present day child would not be interested in eating these sweets. He would definitely prefer short eats and cakes. We had a dairy which supplied milk and curd. In our large back garden grew many fruits - plantains, papaws, mangoes, pineapples, passion fruit and dodan.
The bungalow at Sorana had a right wing and a left. The boys had the smaller right wing to themselves while the girls had accommodation on the right side which extended to the kitchen and servants' quarters. In the rooms adjoining the kitchen, all the domestic activity involving the female population took place. Beside the normal household chores, there was the pounding of paddy and the grinding of kurakkan.
In Kaluthara and Horana, it never rains but pours. Prior to the introduction of electricity and water service, we had great fun running from sprout to sprout in the rain pouring down in torrents. We were not supposed to do it but we did it very gayliy. No coughs and colds, no fever - we were immune to all that.
Normally we bathed in a lovely pond near the fields. It was a secluded spot and the water was within our reach. With all the fresh air and sunshine and cool, clear water, we grew up, the seven of us. MR an JR now borders at St. John's College, Panadura and us at St. Thomas', Matara. But these were holidays and we were free to wander, free
to roam as we wishes, provided we kept to safe areas and Guneris accommpanied us. Next to the girls' large bedroom was a smaller room with a built in table and wooden seats used originally for what I do not know. It became our favourite resort for reading, cooking and all kinds of kindred activity. The entrance to this was through the side garden but we always got in through our bedroom window which had our names and nick names carved on it. This was specifically our domain. I don't remember the older generation having anything to do with it except when we invited them to taste out cooking. Meals were heavily subsidised by the main kitchen but this was our own - not only girls own but boys own too (there were popular magazines by these names).
In the front garden, bordering the wide green lawn were many huge trees with bright green foliage and vivid orange flowers; the young buds of which we use to spurt a colourless liquid to annoy one another. White temple flower trees which grew near the front garden wall not only provided flowers but gave us comfortable seats among their gnarl branches. On the further side near the house were guava trees we climbed to eat the ripened
fruits which grew there. Situated a short distance from the bungalow was the main factory, a four story building in which crepe rubber was made. Sometimes, when we had visitors, father conducted them on a guided tour of the premises and we too trailed behind them. Otherwise we had very little to do with the factory or the office. In the evening when the work was over, we ran races and also played cricket on the factory lawn, which was very spacious. Father joined us sometimes when we played cricket. Further end of the factory was the stores, where rice and food stuff was doled out to the labourers and rubber tappers. The older Tamil women wore saree minus blouses but the younger ones wore blouses to match their colourful long skirts. Close by was the bakery where a friendly man with a black moustache which turned upwards at either end made excellent bread and cakes on request.
The Lakes Beyond our back garden were two lakes - one small and the other large constructed for the purpose of storing water for pumping to the factory. Around the bigger lake were bamboo groves on the embankments and slopes. On
this bund - between the lake and fields below, we spent many an evening listening to records play on our portable gramophone "my blue heaven, the donkey's serenade, the whistler and his dog, the woodpecker's song, oh wonderful child, somewhere over the rainbow, will there be any cowboys up in heaven". Bing Crosby, Gene Audrey, Frank Sinatra were popular singers. Gene Audrey singing "Darling how can you forget so soon?" was more a plaintative wail than a song. We had Sinhala records soon "Sara Surathi Ramya, Wandanawe Yamu, Gauthama Siri Pada Wandimi Samanala kande, and Rukmni Devi's Siri buddhagaya, dadi kala matha and a host of others."Vile malak pipila kadimay" had become a popular hit. Jeswyn and Jinadasa used to dance to this tune (and Jinadasa is no more). Sometimes J R enlivened these proceedings by playing the mouth organ. It was he who like a one man band accompanied us when we went for walks or climbed hills. There was a favourite of ours - Narathana kanda, which fired our imagination. Na (iron wood) and rubber trees grew on top too and as we clamoured up the slopes, climbing over boulders and rocks, both Guneris and rubber tappers told us stories of cattle theives and robbers who used the rock caves for their nefarious activities. Where
the iron wood (Na) grew, there was a large slab of stone well maintained by the sun and rain. We sat on it when we had a picnic or watched the bright red sun going down leaving a big beautiful red, orange and gold sky. But we never dared to stay too long because night would soon be upon us. Down we clambered as fast as we could, until we felt safe in the paddy fields below the lakes.
During the day sometimes my brothers, with Guneris's help made raft like bats with banana trunks, straddled together with spikes driven in to them. They rode from one end of the lake to the other from Fort Fredrick to Fort St. George (we were steeped in the history of the British empire and hardly had regard for our own). Brothers knew how to swim but we didn't never dared to enter the water - even to pluck the white Olu which grew there.
Vesak On Vesak days we decorated the front verandah and garden with coloured lanterns, flags and festoons of garlands made with strips of brightly coloured paper. There were a few Japanese lanterns and other decorations pulled out from where they had been carefully stored after
the previous year's Vesak celebrations. After Vesak celebrations, the servants usually scraped the candle wax which had fallen on to the cement floor and recycled them in to candles with the help of a papaw stem. After one Vesak, we thought of doing it ourselves. Lily had the papaw stem while I poured the re-heated candle wax, not only in to the papaw stem but also on Lily's hand. She screamed in pain. I had heard that salt was the best remedy for burns so I dashed in to the kitchen and brought the salt water which I poured on to Lily's hand, which was extremely red and blistered. Lily screamed louder and louder so I rubbed the salt in to the affected areas. Larger blisters came up and I got really frightened. It was a great relief that mother had come and was scolding me. Lily was taken to the hospital at the boundary and received prompt attention. Although the burn injury healed quickly, pinkish white marks remained for many years. We fortunately saw the last of them a few months before Lily's wedding.
Father takes us on tours Sometimes father took us on trips to such memorable places. We started by going South, visiting friends and family in theTangalle/ Kataragama areas. Driving cross59 61
country we were in the hills - Banadarawela, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Matale, over to Mahiyangana. Soon we were in the historic Polonnaruwa/ Anuradhapura regions. Having worshipped at places of religious interest, we were once more in the North West coast driving homewards. Even after children got married and numbers increased, we rarely missed this annual trip.
Sinhala New Year Who was more welcome than the Koha who ushered in the New Year. We loved to hear his voice and tried to imitate him and thought the world of him, little realising that he was an unattractive bird, somewhat like a small crow. When he heralded the New Year, it was time for everyone to get ready.New clothes were bought and dresses sewn. Presents (a general gift that would benefit everybody) like games was bought and hidden out of sight until 14th April). Meanwhile, the house itself was full of the aroma of different kinds of sweets - Mung Kawum,kokis and finally, kawum (oil cakes) were carefully stored in new earthenwear vessels. Making kalu dodol was a laborious process, but if made, it was the favourite of the season. All this we watched, sitting by the fireside.
Sometimes, many hands were at work and there was a great deal of excitement. Twirling the ekel to correctly to get the "kondey" of the kawum needed skill and couldn't be mastered by the likes of us.
On New Year morning the table was laid with milk rice, oil cakes, kokis, ripe plantains and a host of other sweets. A brightly polished brass lamp stood on the table as it did every year, shedding a warm glow. It gave a cheery aura of peace and plenty as it brightened our tabel every April. Father, mother and seven of us in brand new clothes, sat round the table and partook of the first meal at the auspicious time. The servants lit crackers. Later they too sat at the same table and had their meal and even the cows in the dairy were given their share of kiribath. Father gave us money which we were supposed to keep until the following year but I must admit we spent it on our first visit to the hostel tuck shop.
On New Year's day, the lunch was also a grand one. We ate sitting on a mat, at the centre of which was all the rice and curries. Our plates had plantain leaves on them. This must have been a Hindu custom my father observed but
we never hear of it today, nor do we continue to do so in our own homes.
Another special feature of the New Year was the swing. We spent many an hour swinging and swinging, sometimes alone and sometimes in twos. "How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue...". We sang "Onchili gee" too. We played gamed with cadjunuts. Each one of us was given a quota from the cadju bank which mother operated. We played "wala kaju" and "namawala" lucky if the marble is rolled from a considerable distance from the nine holes rolled into the centre hole and we gathered all the cadjus in all nine holes, but even if you got one hole you got the contents of that hole.
"Panchi" was another popular game. There was a special board marked out for the purpose of playing panchi while at the head near the board game. We others had when it came to our turn, to drop the seashells "kawadi" and count the numer that fell the face upwards. Like in the game of Ludo, these numbers were entered on the board by means of pawns of different colours or shapes in order to get the final win, Panchi, like Ludo, was a team game
enjoyed by family and friends. It's a pity that these games are no more. The computer loving chiled of the present day knows nothing of these games we children played.
Temples On bright moonlit nights on Poya days, we walked to the big temple beyond the town. The trip to the Rajamaha vihara we liked, but I must admit that it was the moonlight walk we enjoyed above everything else. On other days, we paid a visit to the avasa - the smaller temple nearby. It was across the fields. We could hear the chanting of pirith in the evenings, and when the temple bell was rung, it reverberated in the cool twilight air, adding to the peace and serenity that prevailed. The poem "village song" echoes the beauty of the quiet evening.
"Come now oh come, the temple bell is ringing The west is all aglow with golden fire"
It was mother who instilled into us the earliest essence of religious wisdom. Our parents and the priests in the temple and our relatives who were priests were the pillars that helped us to prop up out Buddhist faith. In school we
didn't learn Buddhism. Christianity and scripture were compulsory. This did not worry us. We took it all in stride. In fact, though a non- Christian, I often won the scripture prize. One day my principal, Sister Huldah who was fond of me said that I was a better Christian than Christians. I was deeply elated. In later years my uncles and cousins ridiculed me for having such a gullible follower of the Christian faith. Even my Indian uncle condemned my "decadent Christian ideas" as he called them. He, like all other Indians was deeply immersed in the Independence struggle in India. I thought then that it hardly matters what name you give your faith. It is the guiding principals that must be instilled in to the individuals so that they are assimilated and we become good human beings.
Table-Tennis One New Year day, father gave us a new present. It was a Table Tennis set. He couldn't have thought of anything better. We were in later years, most of us champs at table tennis. When the war broke out and Australian soldiers were posted at so called vantage points and one was our favourite hill, Narathana Kande , they palled up with my brothers and came over to play table tennis. My brothers,
who were Boy Scouts had fun at night, signalling to them with torches. It was the Norse code they used for exchanging messages. Later, after the Australians had left, Punjabi soldiers were posted at various places in our neighbourhood and in Sorana too. I remember some of them teasing my sister. "Chota chokere, chota chokere nami nami?" (little girl, little girl, what's your name?) but she was shy and never answered their questions. With her curly hair flying, she would make a beeline to mother and hide. She was a teeny weeny little one with a fine head of curly hair.
A little learning is not always a dangerous thing, because our servant who had been sent to Colombo to see our brothers in school had been waiting on the roadside for a possible chance to get back. "Kia batha hai" Punjabi soldiers in a truck asked him. "Horana ganta hai" had replied and they had given him a lift to Horana. He was ever so proud about his ability to converse with the soldiers in what he thought was Punjabi language.
CHAPTER 4 Growing Pains
Brothers MR and JR were already borders at Ananda College, Colombo when I joined the London Matriculation Form at St. John's college. One of the two hostels for girls was close to the school laboratory, while Ameshurst where Miss Beth, the school principal of the Girl's school presided was some distance away beyond the Girls Home Science section and Tennis Court. Miss May Young was matron of St. Patricks. Her younger sister Cissie Young also lived there. St. Patricks was our hostel.
The principal's bungalow where Mr. And Mrs. Cyril Jansz Jr and their pretty daughter Rosemary lived along with her two brothers was on a terrace below. Beyond this spacious bungalow and bordering the Kuruppamulla road was the boys' hostel. These college buildings were on a large property owned by the Jansz family. Sometimes children of other family members like the talkative Peter Janz joined the school. Jennifer Jansz, Mrs. Jansz's good looking sister and Dorothy Koch, Glencora Keyt, a relative of
George Keyt, the painter, were besides many other Burgher students and teachers whom I remember. If a boy made a foolish mistake in class, another would shout "Hey, where you come from?" and ridicule him.
Of course, we Sinhala students were a majority and this was a co-educational institution where there was a certain spirit of friendship - for which I think the genial Mr. Jansz was responsible. Mr. And Mrs. Jansz were a handsome couple and we seemed to feel that we were part of a large extended family. Some of our teachers - Cissie Young, a famous beauty in her day was out Botany teacher. Miss Olive Blacker and Peglotte had spent the better part of their teaching lives in the Panadura schools of which College was a mixed institution while the Boys School was for boys and the Girls School exclusively for girls. Then we had the Maddkumbura Primary to which I have heard very distinguished persons refer to as the place where they began their schooling.
I was proud to belong to this vast institution and was quickly immersed in the various activities of the school and hostel. Our studies were directed by many qualified senior
teachers. Mr. Jansz himself did some of the Senior Science subjects. He was son of the founder principal Cyril Jansz who was confined to a wheelchair at the time I entered the college. We were fortunate in having very good teachers like Mr. Roberts who was a Cambridge graduate and many other London graduates like Mr. Dias, an excellent Mathematics teacher. Mr. Wickramaratne, Mr. H.A.V Soysa, Mrs. Samarasekara and many other qualified staff who made it possible for St. John's College to be one of the premier educational institutions of the time.
The annual cricket match (Johnian - Cambrian) was the most important item on the school agenda. For weeks the schools were full of enthusiasm. Whether the match was played in Panadura or in Moratuwa, our excitement rose to a fever pitch. We girls as well as the boys sang and cheered ourselves hoarse from the Grand Stands while more energetic Old Boys and young sang and danced baila. They had their own bands too with drums and other instruments. At the match end, whether we won or lost hardly mattered because a good time was had by all.
We also played an annual all girl cricket match on Founders Day. It was in no way equal to the cricket fever of the Big match. Another popular event was the cross country race in which boys of college and schools took part. Apart from the Johnians Day celebrations, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides activities and Campfires - there were the Tennis matches and Swimming Meets activity going on. The school had a farm of the Hirana road where students experimented in Agriculture and dairy farming.
Apart from names I have mentioned there, there are a host of boys and girls, brothers and sisters who are not easy to forget. The Diases, Goonewardenas, Fernandos, Senanayakes, Kothalawalas, Senevirathnas and
Samaranayakas. Pramawathie Dias, Malathie and Nita Cumaranathunge - who died early in life, I do remember with sadness, the mischievous boys who were always in trouble are remembered as are the clever ones who rose to outstanding positions later in life. Very much a part of the college, Krishna the peon cum gardener and Enga who sold Kadala and Wadey near the boundary fence. During the lunch intervals we sometimes walked down to the
college gate to buy Elephant House ice palams which were becoming popular.
I think I liked this school very much. So much so that in the school magazine I wrote "will you remember me" to my classroom (with apologies to R. L Spittel)
"Will you remember me when I am gone When other students this my place do own Will you remember me?"
At the end of my school career, quite contrary to my wishes, I found myself entering the Teachers' Training College. I never wanted to be a teacher.
The World War War had reached us. Japanese bombs had fallen in Colombo, which was virtually evacuated. Some schools had opened in hill stations. Others had closed down. People abandoned their city mansions and sought the relative safety of their relatives in rural areas. Shops closed and while in Colombo, we took our chance to buy articles
now sold for a mere son. I brought two sarees - one a mauve and the other a cream net with a silver ivy design on its border, which was later dyed into a sea green. It was beautiful. We had plenty of money having corrected Std V exam papers for the first time in our lives. This was at the government Training College. We were on Thurstan Road near the University and Royal College. We had finished our first year at GTC.
Rationing of food became the order of the day. My brother who came home from the hostel had joked "rotti and lunu miris for dinner and lunu mirris and rotti for breakfast". We in rural Horana weren't badly hit but in Colombo we had to give up our college premises, GTC and hostel and leave for home. Next year we began under war time conditions. The girls were put up at Fountain House on Dean's Road, Maradana. Lectures were at St. Joseph's College. Soon St. Joseph's too was commandeered by the army. Driven from pillar to post, we found ourselves quartered in four fairly large houses at Havelock Road in Pamankada. Once again, the men students had to find their own accommodation. Lectures were in a school somewhere near the Wellawatta canal - the present
Lumbini Vidyalaya. When the year ended, we found ourselves fully fledged trained teacgers, ready to go in to the world as professionals.
Becoming a doctor? Maybe someday My Chinese friend was wily with excitement. "Just think of it Leeda, we are trained teachers" she said. I got up as from a long sleep. I wasn't unduly elated because teaching wasn't the career I would have liked to choose. My dream was to become a Doctor. It was my father's wish too.
At one time my horizons seemed to be brightening. Doctor and Mrs. Amirthalingam had joined St. Thomas' Boy's School and Girl's School, Matara with Sister Ada Mary's acquiescence. I had made a start in Botany and other Science subjects at the Boy's School but unfortunately for me, my mother and my lawyer uncle, who should have known better, opposed it. Had my youngest uncle been in Ceylon, he would have promoted the idea, but he was in far away India, but I who had no luck was thrown in to the teaching career.
Englishman At GTC , Mr. Bleakley, was our Vice Principal and lecturer in Mathematics. He was a kind, elderly gentleman and I suppose I was a good pupil and one of the youngest too. He found me doing my problems with apparent ease while the others were still struggling with them and remarked " And this is the fool (referring to me) who was asked to go to the University but opted to come to the Training College".
I should have done better because I was quite good in Mathematics and university education would open up new vistas, new avenues for the likes of me - he must have thought. Little did he know that Medicine was what I yearned to do and my heart was never in the Teacher's Training College.
Elders, all except father had decided that sons should do Medicine and not daughters. Moreover, I was the eldest girl in the family and should not devote so many years to studies. My father had his Doctor - Dr. Blaze's backing and would have encouraged me, but it was finally decreed that my brother was to be a doctor. He was in the Pre-Medical
class at Ananda College when the war broke out. To my father's great disappointment he joined the army as a 2nd Lieutenant without so much as asking for my parents' permission. And there ended my father's dream too because he never encouraged anyone else in the family to take to Medicine. Even my younger brother became a lawyer, not a doctor. But my dream was still a dream. I kept on dreaming this dream till after I got married and had my first baby. I was so involved in her world that I forgot all that I had not achieved. To study Medicine, to become a doctor receded in to the background and I was fully involved in my baby's world. I forgot all I had not achieved. My heart and soul were in this child. This was my greatest achievement.
Little did I realize what this attachment was going to cost me. Our lives and destinies are pre-ordained, little can we do to override this Karmic destiny. Our present is but a cog in a wheel of long sansaric destiny and that is why we are where we are today. We all have our dreams, but there comes a time when our dreams fade into the background as we face reality.
Marriage Marriage meant shifting to Galle. I had already been a teacher at Sacred Hearth Convent, Galle and resuming duties here and shifting to Mountain Hall Galle came in stride. This was a large estate with a big bungalow and dairy. The Senaratnes who lived in Mountain Hall were a friendly group of relatives of my husband. "It was our good fortune that brought you to us" said my sister-in-law who received me with open arms. I was very welcome among her three sons and step children.
I was determined to make a success of my marriage even though others thought differently. My husband had been a teacher at Royal College. Having done a two year training course at GTC and got a degree too, D.S. Wijewardena became principal of Siddhartha College, Balapitiya. We were entitled to a spacious bungalow in Ambalangoda.
While at Mountain Hall, Jonathan Senaratne had suggested "Ask for a house at the Fort, Galle. This is no place for you". But we didn't. A Grade I Principals post became available at Kalutara and with courage, my husband took over. While working at Gnanodaya College,
Kalutara, we lived at Duwa Pansala Road. Available to us was a spacious bungalow with a big garden in which grew several kinds of fruit trees. We had Walgampayas and several other good families to associate with but we also had also had Ananda Godage for unwanted publicity.
Mrs. Don Carolis Abraham, my mother's elder sister, a rich land owner was back again in our lives. Life went by like a song with old friends and new until we finally brought a property at Hena Road, Mt. Lavinia and shifted there. Good fortune which always seemed to guide out footsteps now seemed to fore sake us. Tragedy after tragedy came our way. Unbearable. To top it all was Shreen's suicide. How could we face all this with courage and confidence?
Asoka was a bright student at Royal and we had so much hope in him and his inevitable success. He started associating riff raff in the neighborhood and slowly got dragged down by them. It was to our utter dismay that he got involved in a car accident which impeded his momentum at a crucial age. Despite these challenges he's made a good come back in life. He married Damayanthi, a
caring and sincere daughter-in-law and set up a vehicle repair workshop after working in Oman for many years.
Our good angel Chandrika came to our rescue. She became a Chartered Accountant and restored the family's dignity and good name. She has her own printing company in Kelaniya as well as other estates and enterprises. She married in to a good family of relatives and rose to a position in which she is held in high esteem.
CHAPTER 5 Coming Home Hena Road The Hena Road garden was full of flowers. Bonnet flower trees grew by the front garden wall during the season. There were three lots with large pink bunches of flowers. Mid-way on a structure constructed of coconut husks, several placed together, grew the Kadupul - a rare variety resembling whitish pink lotuses. Four or five flowers grew at a time and people who saw them from the roadside flocked to admire them. They blossomed at night and the early hours of the morning. These flowers did not bloom always but at rare intervals. Along the garden wall on the right hand side, a few bougainvilleas and the painter's brush with an abundance of mauvish, purplish flowers covered the garage roof. On either side of the portico grew two trees - one a pine tree and the other a beautiful tree with dainty, small branches which everyone admired. Over the gate was a creeper with sprays of Mauvish flowers. On the temple flower tree hung float earthenware pots in which grew various kinds of flowers and ornamental plants.
On Sundays the little ones, Niloo, Menaka and Anushka were with us doing Mathematics with Seeya and extra English with Achchi. I remember how naughty little Menaka used to climb on the bonnet of grandpa's car in order to look at the kittens next door, basking in the sun among the painter’s brush that grew on the roof. "Get off my car Menaka!" Seeya would shout and Menaka would slide down with a mischievous laugh.
Vivian At the turn to Hena road, I had witnessed a memorable scene. The school bus had dropped me at the Hena road halt, when I saw men dancing on the roadside. They were both young and old Marxist colleagues. Just then a car drew up and a lady got off. I recognised her. She was Vivian Goonawardena, a senior party colleague of the Marxists. Lifting her saree by one end, she joined the dancing men, who now started clapping and dancing. They continued merrily. Turning in to Hena road, where they continued for a while. The car drew up once more, and madam, who stopped dancing, got in. It would take her to Lalith Athulathmudali Vidyalaya, the venue of the day's meeting.
Convinced by an 'idiot' who lived down Hena road. Asoka has decided to finally shift us from Hena road. "Oh they are becoming old and you should look after them or come and live with them" he said. But we were very comfortable with a home, a cook, a car and a driver who did our marketing and other odd jobs. Although in my heart of hearts "how long can we carry on like this" seemed to be there.
I was not sorry to leave as most of my friends or almost all had passed away. They were good friends. Mostly Premadasas, Jayasinghes, Dharmasenas - and we were the only ones left. We had so many other friends too - the squirrels and the birds.
When Asoka undertook the responsibility of shifting us from our home, Chandrika and Tissa were happy about us coming to their home. These were days when I could walk about, watering plants and making myself useful in several minor ways. I was quite happy in my new home in Caldera
gardens, Dutugamunu street. Our children and grand children were good and kind to us.
Niloo - Nilu biloo of a bygone era From Kiri Kung to little girl... 'Titta titta' she called her father Tissa - used to give achchi little gifts and a lot of love. Did a degree at Clark University followed up with a MSc at Leeds University, UK and I hope it will be a PhD in years to come. "How is it that you are so good at Mathematics and English" the Dean of Clark University had asked her. "My grandfather taught me Mathematics and my grandmother taught me English" she had proudly proclaimed. We were proud of her.
Tissa - my good son-in-law Chandrika and children were away in London or USA. I was very ill. Only Padmini was left behind. When Tissa was informed, he got down an ambulance in which he took me to Asiri. I was sick on the way too. Having got to the hospital I told Tissa - we will need a lot of money just now.
How do we set about it? “TAAS” he said. I regained my confidence.
Next morning, Anura was there and as Anura's aunt I received the best of kindness - but now, Tissa keeps his distance, maybe to avoid the old who may cause trouble once again. I'm so full of aches and pains I don't know what I should be doing. Arthritis to add to everything else. I would like to see Nilu getting her Phd. How long? 2 years? 3 years? But at this rate, can I do it? It would be good to put a peaceful end to my life? But can I do it and bring shame on my children and grandchildren? No, never. Can't I sleep and sleep forever - go on sleeping forever?
Anita, Neram and Delicia were my welcome visitors. They came often. I heard that Anita died and now I hear that Delicia has got some serious complication - liver I'm told (not Anura's line of business and he has put her on to another doctor). May the blessings of the triple gem be with her. May the devas protect her (My eyes are weak. Really, I have only one eye. Dr. Charitha Fonseka said I had a non- functioning optic nerve- as good as gone).
Letter to the Londoners O Ye Londoners! How are ye faring? Is the winter cold or is it still a long way away or are you happy to have just a few snow flakes only? I can not say how wayward winter can be. I remember something I have heard "If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?".
I can remember watching Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) many winters ago. What a marvellous play that was! I still have faint recollections of that book I read long years ago, or maybe a film I saw in days gone by.
I remember the glitter and glamour of days spent, shopping at Harrods with its four or five entrances. There was so much to see and so much to buy (if you had money). It was summer and choc-a-bloc with gay shoppers. Arundathie had to set up body guards for me and even for Sena (fearing we would get lost in the crowd). I remember seeing Westminster Abbey where all great Englishmen hope to have at least a niche reserved for themselves. But I would like to remember what I saw from Westminster bridge...
“Earth hath not anything to show more fair, Dull would he be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty, Ships, towers, domes, temples and theatres lie All open to the fields and the sky, all bright and glittering in the smokeless air, Dear god, the very houses seem asleep. “ (Wordsworth)
Congratulations Nilu Bilu! You are at BBC! What a prestigious place! We are proud of my sweet Nilu. Like all doctors of medicine going or aspiring to higher climbs, we are proud of you my Menaka Medico. Sweet Menaka Medico and Michael, these are times when life flows by like a song and everything is really bright, happy and gay. You have left Punchi eka here for us at least to glimpse of while she shuttles to and from the Faculty of Law and India and Macau. She just returned from an Indian debate or what I do not know. We are o.k. over here. I of course am full of aches and pains. A & P as his Lordship, Tissa, Lord of the manor calls them. I suppose all I can do is (as Jesvyn Seeya says) "grin and bear"... what else?
There is a little garden outside my room where I had planted Bougainville flowers a long time ago. I don't think those plants are there anymore. I can see them no more. Every morning I can hear little birds and squirrels play in my garden.
Come, Come Awake, the sun is rising Your feet across the dews a path has made Within the hedge the little birds twitter The squirrel gambols in the sunlit glade
Come now O come, the temple bells are ringing The sky is all aglow with golden fire Wafted across the field is pirith chanting The evening star comes up the eastern sky
Flying home to roost, no bird songs break the silence Flying high in rank and file they quickly fade A gentle silence, a gathering calm, A peace over all pervades.
Time moves slowly and days merge in to a hazy mass called the past. Sometimes I lose track of night and day. It doesn't really matter anymore. With my loss of vision and care routines, it makes little difference to my life. Time has become intuitive rather than something to be read off a clock.
I just want to let go... The past trails like a veil of memories behind me…a reverie...
Thank You Amma and Thaththa…...
Amma, you and thaththa by the lives you led showed us in no uncertain way how a good Buddhist, a good human being should live their lives .We were so fortunate to be born to good parents like the two of you. The only way we can thank you is by promising to continue living the principled good lives the two of you led and encourage our families to uphold these values too.
Start of an Independent Life
My School Days - St. Thomas Matara My Mother & Father
DSW @ Kalutara Moment of Glory
With Friends @ Galle Convent
Happy Times - Good Old Days
@ Sorana Estate Horana
@ Ramagiri Panadura
Pirith @ Ramagiri Panadura
Kataragama Trip Aug 54
@ Ramagiri Panadura
Happy Times - More Recent Times
Celebrating the 60th Wedding Annivasary
@ Hena Road Mt. Lavinia
Family Picnic @ Bolgoda Lake
Some of The People I Love
Nellie’s Wedding Aunty Derbie
Mother In her Young Days With lily & Son
MR & My Family
Aunty Evy 94
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