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Tuesday, 17 October 2017
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Kalu Willie, Sudu Willie PDF Print E-mail

This is a story originally related to me by my mother.
 
It was the year 1950 and my mother was expecting my entry into the world, and had to come over to Colombo for her confinement and delivery which was arranged to be at Durden’s Hospital in Kollupitiya. My parents were resident at Inginiyagala during this time as my father, an Engineer with the Department of Irrigation, was involved in the Gal Oya development project.
 
Of the immediate family at that time, my elder sister though only 4 years of age was placed in the hostel at Ladies College, Colombo, along with a personal maid to look after one so young. She would be parted from the family for a few years as she was to also school then at the nursery at Ladies College under the caring and watchful eye of the Principal, Miss Simons.
 
This left only another member of the family who needed caring and feeding during the absence of my mother from home as father could not be relied on to take good care. “Duke” the German Sheppard (Alsatian) that was the pet and joy within the household.
 
So word was sent out around friends and family for someone to look after Duke for a couple of months until my mother returned to Gal Oya with me as the latest addition to the family.
 
Now my father who hailed from Baddegama in the south of Ceylon had relatives in that village and also the surrounding areas of Galle, Hiniduma and Akuressa. During this period in the history of the country it was the practice for marriages to be arranged within families of similar standing taking into account the same caste, religion and shared land ownership, which represented wealth and power in rural Ceylon.   They were members of the Govigama caste and owners of paddy lands in the Southern Province. Among the better known and larger families within this circle were the Amarasekera, Dissanayake, Jayasekera, Hettiarachchi and Adhihetty. Several of them became members of the Church of England and gave Anglicanized names to their next of kin. With this came rewards from the ruling British administration in that government positions such as Mudaliyars, Kachcheri Clerks, Post Masters and other lucrative trading opportunities were given to them over the other villagers.
 
Amongst my father’s relatives were one of the extended families mentioned above from Hiniduma. Now within this same family group, two of the families had named their sons “Wildfred” in keeping with the then popular practice at the time of giving English names to their offspring. Due to genes within the clan’s bloodstreams which were mostly inter-bred but for  the occasional marriage outside the clan, some of the larger family group were fair and light skinned, and the others were more representative of the people of the south and were dark skinned. But it so happened that this genetic makeup came in useful to differentiate between the two Wildfreds.
 
One was called Sudu Willie and the other Kalu Willie.
 
Of all amongst the family who volunteered to look after Duke during the period of my mother’s absence in Colombo, Kalu Willie, a bachelor at that time, was selected to give a home and loving care to Duke.
 
Several months passed, I was born, and my mother decided that it was time to re-join my father in Inginiyagala. This was also the time that the family would be re-united sans my sister who would remain in the Ladies College hostel.
 
A postcard was mailed out to Kalu Willie that he should now return Duke to be with the family. During these past months, Kalu Willie and Duke had taken a real liking to each other and a close bond had developed between the two. Parting was hard. So Kalu Willie sent a postcard by return mail stating that he could not part with the dog. Naturally, this new situation and outcome was conveyed to all friends and family via postcard and word of mouth.
 
Around this same time another family from the Hiniduma clan, gave birth to a son and without any imagination for other Anglicanized names nor consulting anyone on the confusion that may arise in the same village, also named their new born son – Wildfred. He had the darker skinned genes. So now within the extended family we had one Sudu Willie and two Kalu Willies with the same family name.
 
A nephew of my father’s then came up with the solution on how to differentiate between the Three Willie’s.

From that day on within the extended family circle we had Sudu Willie, the new born Kalu Willie and then Balu Willie. Needless to say, a name he had to live with till he passed away during the late 1980’s.


Reminisces by  Hiran Adhihetty

 
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