The First Generation of Kirtisinghe’s in front of Siri Niwasa
As told by Bala Malli
Thatha says this photo was taken when his Loku Aiya our Loku Thatha came home. He had apparently cut frogs and studied them in London and got a Masters degree and later became the Professor of Zoology at the Colombo University.
In this photo he is in the back row in the middle with his welcome garland of flowers. Seeya looks quite happy and proud and Achchi looks as if she is already plotting to get a suitable wife for the London educated son. Loku Thatha looks sad as if he has left his heart behind in London. I don’t know how true it is but according to Thatha he wanted to marry an English girl and Achchi wouldn’t have none of that. Everyone had a lot of respect for Loku Thatha and after achchi’s death, he was the undisputed head of the Kirtisinghe clan.
On the end of the back row to the left is Richie/Richard who changed name to Rathnasara. He is the no 4 son and looks quite dashing in national dress. He gave it up for an army uniform when he joined as a doctor. He kept a good library and had a photo of him in uniform looking really spiffy in uniform. During his army days, Richie Mahappa loved to go dancing and he would relate to Podi Akka how after a night of dancing he would go to sleep partly dressed so he won’t be late for next day’s army roll call. When Podi Akka asked him why he didn’t go dancing after he got married he let out a loud cackle – and said “with your mahamma? No, not even thinkable!! Poor man, marriage must have taken all the fun out of his life but then again I might be wrong he lived the longest out of the 7.
Next to him is Albert, the second born, and the only one who didn’t take a Sinhala name. Albert was the first adventurer who changed careers and dumped what must have been a boring dead end job as an Inspector of Schools and went to Hong Kong to manage and run the Windsor jewellery shop.
Next to Loku Thatha is Punchi Mahappa , no 3 son and Thatha’s much loved Bala Aiya. Lionel took Haripriya as his Sinhala name. ( Haripriya Kathawa/story will follow later on) . He was a Botany graduate and worked in the dictionary office and he used to say SWRD – Banda was a friend of his. Podi Akka says when she went to Colombo Uni, Punchi Mahppa was known as the “Hat and Umbrella man” because when he came to the Uni to visit his pal Prof. B.L.T. de Silva, He would get out of the car with his hat on and then open and umbrella too to protect himself against the sun. He was dead scared of falling sick.
Vinnie ( Vincent changed to Vidyasara) is our favourite Vinnie Mahappa who went on to become a Physics graduate and the Vice Principal at Ananda College where he was known as Kiththa. He loved radios and music and was very well read and a very gentle man at home. But apparently he had a different reputation at Ananda. In an oft repeated tale, he had once caught Ranjit Aiya (MWRN De Silva a.k.a known as Dryya) cutting classes and had told him to go home and pluck coconuts without wasting Ranjit aiya’s parents money.
Our Thatha is sitting in front of Seeya and Bertie Bappa is seated in front of Achchi. This must be the last photograph of Seeya. Thatha and Bertie Bappa were in School at Dharmaraja College in Kandy when Seeya died. But the newspaper obituary notice only mentioned the 5 elder sons and didn’t carry the names of the last two. So the boys in the Boarding had teased Thatha and Bappa saying they were adopted and couldn’t make any claims as nephews of the Principal of the school P.de S. Kularatne, who was Achchi’s younger brother – our Punchi Seeya.
Bertie Bappa also became a very successful GP in Moratuwa but unlike the others he changed his name and took another English name Cyril. However, he was known all his life as Bertie. He became the wealthiest out of the 7 brothers. Podi Akka christened him Sir Bertie… but then that is another story.