Letters from my father Bennie & Bala Malli

When I lived abroad from 1966, it was the letters from my father Bennie (Bhasura) Kirtisinghe that kept home sickness at bay.  In an era where there was no email and even telephone conversations had to go through an operator the letters were the umbilical cord to the family. I used to get 3 letters a week in the period 1966-1969. Sadly, most of it is lost but some remain from the period when we lived in Penang and then Kuala Lumpur and in Brunei Darussalam. The letters are a rich chronicle of family life that has faded from my memory, but to read again his scrawling hand writing is to relive the past and enjoy the humour.

He also created Bala Malli—- what this generation would call an avatar.  His letters were signed simply as Father, Thatha, Father B or  by his avatar Bala Malli.   Cool is what he was.  Some of the stories appearing on this blog will be by Bala Malli, some by me.

 Bala Malli has been the fly in the wall at the family house  of the Kirtisinghes  called “Siri Niwasa.”  It was built by my grand father K.H Bastian by the coral reefs of Hikkaduwa. I hope this blog will give a glimpse of a past where life was easy and flowed gently — there were no TV’s, i-pods, -pads Internet or email  but a house that was always full of interesting visitors  — some were even famous –in a day and a time when there were no hotels and Hikkaduwa had only a small government rest house and we  had a freshly washed beach to do geometry!! 

This is dedicated to my grand daughters Tara and Laxmi and to my grand nieces  Ella, Mia, Edie, Ruby, Anoushka and Zara and to my nephews Matheesha, Kanishka,   and grand nephew Henry and to the many generations of Kirtisinghes and their extended families. It is also specifically dedicated to my two nieces Annemarie in Melbourne, Australia and Eshanie in Vancouver, Canada.  They have taken the time to read the past blog entries – when there were not many.  There is also my nephew Ushantha who just remineded me that I didn’t have any new blog family stories.  I hope their thirst for news of their family roots will be met somewhat and it will encourage the globally dispersed cousins to meet in blog space and even contribute and introduce the 3rd and 4th generation.  Some I have met only on Face Book.  As Father B would say “such is life!” — we now no longer meet at family birthday parties, dane’s (alms givings) or even at funerals. 

And also I hope it will spur my akka- Bennie’s eldest daughter Yasoja – a techno phobic to get on the net to read the blog. She has an old fashioned very orderly scrap book of family history –  mine will be a miss mash of stories but we were always different. She couldn’t figure out Bala Malli as he had not appeared in the letters my father wrote to her — maybe I can pull it together into some order in a book.


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4 thoughts on “Letters from my father Bennie & Bala Malli”

  1. I am assuming that this site is done by that aunt of mine whose name starts with “Chul”; I am still not sure though this is familiar territory for me. First of all, this is a beautiful creation about a family that has originated in one place and now dispersed far and wide.

    When I scrolled down there is that familiar face with two boys and that familiar VW.

    I found this beautiful site when I did a search for “Ranil de Silva” and there was this link that mentioned about “Hikkaduwa”, “Ranadeva” and “Ranjith” and M. W. R. – all familiar tag lines that would make me look twice.

    Must do something similar to at least get our family photos on the web, for posterity.

    Great creation,

    With warm regards,


  2. It is a great pleasure to see this blog and about Benny mama.
    Accept my deepest sympathies of t’sunami tragedy & Prassanna aiyas demise.As we studied together at the Institute of National Development Studies in Green Path.My father is 1st cousin of Prof M.B.Ariyapala and his name Waduge Premadasa of Pannamgoda.My mother was Mahamadachchige Vilot Ranee De Silva
    from Hikkaduwa.Her ancestral house was Samudragiri in the junction where present Bus Stand was built.Pradeep malli used to visit my father during Sinhala New year.By the time Are you a member of Kashtriya Maha Saba.I was but now I dont get any news from them.Ranjith from Dehiwala 0112723235

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