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There was much to do in the few days following my father’s death, but we had no complications, because both my mother and he had been very clear when they wrote their wills. My father had not wanted to write one, on the grounds that he had nothing in his name, but I had persuaded him that he had to because unexpected possessions could turn up. And in fact he certainly possessed a car.

He said he would leave that to me, but I thought that would not be correct given that I had persuaded him to write a will. He then wanted to leave it to Anila’s son, which seemed an eminently sensible idea, but she was adamant about not having a benefit for her family over and above what the children of my brother had. So in the end my father decided to give the car to Chamara who had looked after him devotedly over the last couple of years.

Anila, hyper-conscious of equity, suggested he leave it to both those who looked after him, but this was silly because Sunil, whom I had taken on when the Reconciliation Office closed, though a good worker, was not the old friend Chamara was regarded as by my father. I thought it best then not to consult Anila about the will in general, in particular the clause about a residual legatee, which was essential since one never knew what might pop up in my father’s name. Again he wanted to nominate me, but I insisted on Anila and he did not demur. This proved just as well, because there turned out to be a motorcycle he had bought for his last driver, Jayantha, and also some shares in my mother’s name.

The main house had been left by my mother to my sister and me jointly, on the grounds that we would not quarrel. This did not prove to be an accurate prediction, since we had very different tastes, but it was certainly true that no one could have doubted Anila’s financial integrity and sense of equity, and I hope she would say the same about me. Read the rest of this entry »

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From the start it was clear that 2014 would be a bleak year. My father was much weaker than before, and had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. We knew that this was a slow process and the doctors said there was no need for any interventions since old age was likely to do for him before the cancer did. But it was sad to see him weakening.

That year he decided to stay most of the time in his room. Previously he would be sitting early in the morning in the lounge, the lovely room at Lakmahal that stuck out of the main house, with windows on three sides looking over the garden with its cassia tree, and to the temple flower tree on the right and the ehela tree on the left. I would join him there for my morning coffee, and often he would comment on how he loved to watch the squirrels running up and down the trees, and along the wires. When the routine changed, and he stayed in his room, I missed him when I came up for my coffee in the mornings. He would emerge later, and we would go straight to breakfast and those moments of tranquility faded into the past like so much else.

We enjoyed the tranquility of the house, and it was noticeable that he was increasingly unhappy when my sister visited with a bustle of activity. She was doing her best to keep the house neat and tidy, but increasingly she was getting Pavlovian about this and building up a myth of an anodyne world which she had to rescue from her messy menfolk. What she now claimed Lakmahal had been was nothing like the reality, given that it had been a thoroughfare for so many, and both my mother and father had engaged in a range of activities all their lives. As my sister complained about papers everywhere, I would remember the piles of Girl Guide documents that littered the surfaces of my old room, next to that of my parents. My mother used to stay awake late at night in those days, chasing as Treasurer of the Guide movement after five cents that was missing as my father would put it. My sister’s own dining table was always also piled with papers, but she seemed to think that her principal function now was to sanitize Lakmahal.

At one stage she decided that the overhangs that protected the windows from the rain were crumbling away, and should be done away with. She had a point, in that once a lump crumbled off, but both my father and I would have been happier to let things be. But she was determined, and we gave in, which led to much hammering as her workmen chipped away, with my father covering his ears in anguish, which she did not seem to notice. I did not worry overmuch either, I have to confess, for I have never much noticed noise, and I was in any case out on many days. But my father obviously found it a strain. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

July 2019
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