Death of Ananda Senaratne

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By 2017-11-19

By Udeni Saman Kumara

Kirindiwela Ananda Senaratne 'Maama' passed away last weekend. At the time of his demise, he was 88 years old. His death makes me feel sadness and regret that a library member would feel when, due to some reason, a library is destroyed. In short, 'Maama' was a treasure trove of stories. He was born as the youngest son of the Siyane Korala Kirindiwela Bogahawatte Walawwa.

Since there are a number of amazing stories from his life, I feel that something should be written about him. My mother was Srimathie Senaratne of Kirindiwela. She was his elder sister. Uncle Ananda was born on 7 March 1929 at the Bogahawatte Walawwa which is located in an attractive environment on a small hill on the road that runs from Kirindiwela town towards Radawana. Today the Bogahawatte Walawwa is the Kirindiwela Police Station. It is a large building with Sinhala tiles on the roof and includes a centre garden with high arches on a land of about 4 acres. The entrance to this ancestral home is through a road with 'Walas Endiriya' hedges on either side which adds to the splendour of the building. The story of how this ancestral residency became a Police Station is an extraordinary one.

At the beginning of the twentieth century about 1900, Don Baron Senaratne, who was Uncle Ananda's grandfather, built the Bogahawatte Walawwa. He served as a Police Chief under the British Government. The building was completed by our grandfather Don Edward Senaratne. He served as a Village Headman. When the Walawwa and the land of four acres were willed by our grandfather to Uncle Ananda, he was only 18 years of age.

Maama obtained his education at Laurence Vidyalaya in Gampaha while his two sisters Srimathi and Indrani studied at Holy Cross Convent in Gampaha.
When it became difficult for a Hackery (Bullock cart) to travel from Kirindiwela to Gampaha daily, grandfather obtained a house from Gampaha and settled the children there.

At that time unlike today, the Siyane Koralaya had three Police Stations. Those were at Senerathgoda, Pugoda and Veyangoda. It was the Pugoda Police station connected to Kirindiwela. People of Kirindiwela had to travel to Pugoda to obtain police services. The request made to the British Government to set up a Police station in Weke, Kirindiwela was rejected since a suitable building for the purpose could not be found in Kirindiwela.

At this time, my grandfather came forward and informed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at the time in 1947, Richard Aluvihare, that they could set up a Police Station for Kirindiwela and that he would provide his house, Bogahawatte Walawwa, for the purpose. This was stated in a letter sent to the IGP. Accordingly, a Police Station was set up at Kirindiwela, Bogahawatte. Deputy IGP G.L. Pripette had taken the initiative in setting up the Police Station. A lease agreement has been signed on handing over the house to the Sri Lanka Police and a sum of Rs. 50 had been paid as an annual lease instalment to the name of Ananda Senaratne.
Later the amount had been increased to Rs. 80. Grandfather Edward Senaratne often spoke with pride about handing over the house to set up a Police Station and he was of the opinion that it should be reacquired.

The room in which Indrani nenda and I slept in, when I was young, has now been transformed into a prison cell. My mother used to relate this story with a smile. In 1949 the lease agreement was annulled and the Bogahawatte Walawwa was assigned to the government for a sum of

Rs 35,000. At that time, uncle Ananda was 20 years of age and until he completed 21 years of age, that money had been retained by the Gampaha Kachcheri, uncle told us.

We have to recall with gratitude that the officials of the Kirindiwela Police who paid their respects to uncle Ananda at his funeral and provided Police guard for his funeral procession as well. Uncle, who built a house on a land close to the Police Station lived there happily until his demise.

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