Yasoja @ 15 or 16 at Hikkaduwa
Hi! My name is Yasoja, Bennie and Manel’s first born and the first girl to be born in Siriniwasa after the 7 first generation Kirtisinghe sons. I thought I will share some memories of mine on Nungi’s blog.
I now live in Brisbane, Australia, with my husband Ranjith Rupesinghe, two children – Ranmali (shoterned to Rum by the Aussies) married to Aaron and Arjuna ( whittled down to Arj) married to Melanie and have two grand daughters Ella and Mia ( Ranmali & Aaron’s).
I don’t use a PC, nor e-mail or text messages. Instead I handwrite my letters. I do own a 10 year old mobile phone, which most of the time I forget to charge or leave it at home charging and forget to take it when I am going out. It’s probably an obsolete model, the rate at which new models come into the market. So I am one of those old fashioned “chicks” caught in a time warp. Frankly, it suits my life style to be on the slow lane. Oh! By the way, I don’t drive either. I take buses or taxi’s, and the family car sits secure in the porch while I run for buses.
I did drive Bennie’s car and – a blue Fiat Multipla was what it was called. He had a bug fiat before that and a motor bike and a Renault car before I was born. Bennie had no petrol for his Renault car to take my Mum to the Galle Mahamodera Maternity hospital for my birth as there was petrol rationing during World War II. So they tipped the bike over and collected the petrol from it, put in the car and that’s how my Mum got to hospital.
Bennie and Manel used to take me on the bike wedged between them but that did not please Hikkaduwa Achchi, my grandmother, the matriarch of the family. As the first born girl, I was much loved by her, the uncles and aunts in the family. Hikkaduwa Achchi died when I was three. But I do remember her propped up in bed with pillows and my Mum feeding her Rice Kanjie — hot broth made of rice in the long room (Diga kamarey). There was Dr. Mahappa – Uncle Ritchie her fourth son by her side popping a small piece of sweet juggery into her mouth. I believe she died soon after, — not from tha feeding but from a bad attack of asthma. My sister and I were bundled to Dr. Mahppa’s house in Ambalangoda. Children were often kept away from funerals.
Bennie says when she died my grandmother had Rupees 40,000 tucked in between the sheets in her Birawa Almirah — a small fortune then. She made sure her younger sister, Bala achchi knew about it but my mother was also told where it was in her wardrobe. After the funeral, the story of the hidden loot was raised by Bala Achci and my mother who was entrusted with the keys had got the money and given it to Loku Thatha – the eldest son – who without a moment’s hesitation gave it back to my Mum saying it was hers for looking after the Mother-in-law. So smoothly did Loku Thatha resolve most family issues that the seven brothers and wives lived out their lives without any quarrels and fights – very rare among families nowadays. The money apparently went to build a ward at the hospital in her home town Ambalangoda which to my shame I have never visited.
My mother too as traditions go kept her money in the folds of her clothes and literally lost a pot of gold in the 2004 tsunami — although I hear some things she had in the Birawa Almirah was preserved. So what’s a safe place to keep your money? I keep mine in a coke can!!!
Notes from Chuls:
1. The motor bike was sold by Bennie according to my brother Pradeep for a grand sum of Rs 1000 to one Donald Peiris and in the 1970’s was traced to a garage/workshop in Beralapanatara, a town in the deep South of Sri Lanka and the JVP stronghold. But before it could be bought back by Bennie (or more likely Prasanna), the JVP insurgency broke out. The bike was taken by a “Rathu sahodaraya” –a JVP comrade and never seen again.
2. So with this post the technophobic joins the blog world — changes do happen and a huge first step for this post as it formally opens and invites contributions and photographs with stories from other Kirtisinghe’sand relatives making this space a virtual meeting place for the clan. Some day we might be able to publish it:-)) . However, one caveat — no hate posts — it is not a space for attacking other family members and I reserve the right to edit stories but stories will need to queue up. I have two more from Yasoja to edit and look forward to the day, when she will shift from the long hand to Word. Hope springs eternal in the human breast:-))