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This describes a visit to Girandurukotte when none of the ladies was around, and I stayed in teacher quarters. Then, after recording the death of the first British Council Representative I knew, Bill McAlpine, who had stayed on in  Sri Lanka, I look at a lovely holiday Nirmali and I had at Belihuloya though Ena who was to be with us had to head back to Colombo for her sister Phyllis was ill. She lingered for a few weeks, but I record her death too, in May.

The picture is of much and widely cherished Bill McAlpine. Unfortunately I could not find any pictures of Phyllis.

Two deaths

At Batticaloa I went to the RESC and the District Education office and then went to Girandurukotte where I saw the two younger teachers re time-tabling. I spent that night, for once, at the rooms in the complex where the teachers were put up, perfectly acceptable though of course the agriculture bungalow was much nicer.

I took classes the next day, morning and afternoon, and then left for Colombo. I must have used Nirmali’s car for I returned it on the Sunday and then had a CLD seminar at the Oberoi where I spoke on education.

Next morning I saw Richard’s mother and also Bill McAlpine, who was very ill and died later that day. I spent most of that day at the UGC, tidying things up before the New Year holiday, with dinner that night at the Kinjou Restaurant, hosted by my aunt Lakshmi. Phyllis Ratwatte, Ena’s sister, was also ill and I saw her in hospital next morning before going to Belihuloya via the Eheliyagoda RESC. Ena and Nirmali went with me but after Ena had called Colombo she went back since it was clear Phyllis would not last.

Nirmali and I had a restful time, marking and setting papers, getting to the Balangoda Resthouse for calls home on the 13th, and going up to Haldumulla on New Year’s Day for diesel for there was nowhere nearer. That suggests we had a car, which I assume was Nirmali’s but I cannot be sure. On the Friday we went to the Belihuloya post office for calls, and on the Saturday to the Balangoda Resthouse, for we did not have access to phones at the AUC and those were long before the days of mobile phones.

Nirmali went back to Colombo on the Saturday and Kithsiri came to take me on Sunday for a journey east, which has been described in the parallel series.

Back in Colombo several days later, we had a seminar at the UGC for GELT coordinators and then I went to Nirmali’s for IB work, going next morning to examine at the Overseas Children’s School. I was back at the UGC in the afternoon, and that evening went to the Council for a farewell for Marcus Milton, the last Assistant Representative with whom I had worked.

Phyllis had died and next day, after working at Nirmali’s, I went to the funeral, and saw Ena afterwards, having gone in between to the Shakespeare celebration at the Council which we had arranged. Ena was staying with Mali, her nephew Raji’s wife, who had spent much time with Phyllis in hospital. Raji was away, as was his younger brother Suren, who did however manage to dash back in time to get to the cemetery just before the cremation.

Rajiva Wijesinha


September 2022
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