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This post ends with the death and the funeral of my grandmother. She had been ailing so it was not a shock, but it was difficult to register that the powerful personality was no more.

And I describe too another death, of someone I hardly knew, but which was unexpected and tragic.

The picture is of my grandmother and my aunt Lakshmi, at my sister’s wedding in 1986, the last picture I have of her dressed up. She was always a grand figure despite her small stature.

The death of my grandmother

Regi spoke at the Council that evening and then I called Palihawadana about what was happening and found that he too was worried about the future of the AUCs. But given the prevailing political uncertainty it was difficult to know how to proceed, and in fact the following day the President dissolved parliament, with an election fixed for August.

I worked at Nirmali’s that day, also preparing for my paper for Leeds, and then next morning, after dropping in at the UGC I went with Nirmali in her van to the Ministry to pick up Rapthi. We dropped in that afternoon at the Hanwella and Ruwanwella GELTs and then drove up through Ginigathena to the Hatton Resthouse where we spent the night, with cards after dinner. Next morning I dropped in at the house of the Talawakelle Coordinator and then at the Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela RESCs and then went down to the Moneragala GELT but found it had finished early. We then went to an English Day at one of our project schools, left books for Mrs Siriwardena with her husbamd, and stayed that night at the Victory Inn where Nirmali and I had stayed for our first teacher workshop at the Buttala SIDA Centre.

Next morning we went to Girandurukotte and observed and took classes and went to Mahiyangana Resthouse for the night. I was shattered to find that one of the waiters who had looked after us so well on previous visits had died, swept away when waters had been suddenly released from the reservoir, when he had been bathing in the river.

We had classes again next day at the centre and then we drove back to Colombo, taking the boys also with us. Early next morning my mother asked me to look at my grandmother, who had stopped eating a couple of years ago. She had indeed died, and though she had been fading it was sad to see that once vibrant figure curled up lifeless on her bed. It was a merciful release, for her and also my mother who had had to care for her alone with all her brothers dead, even while her own heart condition was deteriorating.

I stayed at home that day though Siron dropped in for books, and in the evening I went to a requiem for Merle and Glen Perera. The latter, who had stood by me steadfastly during the problems at S. Thomas’ had died suddenly a few years back but her husband had survived though shattered by her death.

Next day I had to go to the UGC for a seminar we had arranged, but was back for the service at home before another service at the Cathedral and the cremation. Early next morning I went with my cousin Shan to collect the ashes, and then worked at Nirmali’a and in the afternoon at the UGC, with a quiet dinner that night at my sister’s.

Rajiva Wijesinha

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