Now that we have read of Trinity and Kingswood Kello and Cambrian Kellos too I thought of talking about the Rajans’ Kello.
Perhaps the first and the Oldest Rajan Kella was Maya Kularatne (later, Senanayake), the daughter of Principal P.de S Kularatne, who joined Daharmaraja in 1936. She was probably a contemporary of Tissa Devendra, prolific contributor to’ The Island’.
In fact, he had written about her before, that their family (D.T.Devendras) shared the Principal’s bunglow ‘Ardnerarie’ the famous, where D.H. Lawrence had resided when he lodged in Kandy, in those early days. Maya had two years at Dharmaraja and shifted to Colombo when Mr. P. de S. Kularatne had to return to Ananda as Principal. Maya’s brother, Ananda, who was the Cadet Sergeant of Dharmaraja that won the De Soyza Cup in the year it was introduced in 1937. Ananda later joined the Royal Air Force in Britain during the WW II where he performed several bombing sorties over Germany and eventually was lost in action, suspected to have been shot down. Ananda’s grandson and his family recently visited Dharmaraja to see the Dharmaraja war memorial where his grandfather’s name was inscribed as the top name. Here is a photo of little Maya at the flag Post on the Dhamaraja Summit at Lake View.
Later, when she grew up, Maya married, having met each other at the University, Stanley Senanayake who later became IGP. At that time, the twosome was said to have been held as the handsomest couple in town. They had three sons two of whom Sanjiva and Saliya played cricket for Ananda. Maya Senanayake’s greatest contribution to the Police was the introduction of the Police Wives’ Welfare Association to look into the welfare of the Police rank and file. The wives of the three Service Commanders emulated this step, and I believe all these four organizations are thriving, rendering great service to their personnel.
Few years ago, the Colombo Branch of Dharmaraja College Old Boys’ Union invited Maya as Guest of Honour to felicitate her at an AGM held at the 80 Club. She was then 84 years old. In her speech, I recall her recounting an incident where an elephant who was engaged in pulling a big roller to level the playing field at Lake View, suddenly getting angry and letting off the roller to go down the pallang! And, how he was made to drag it back to the ground. Here is a photograph of her addressing the Old Rajans at that meeting.
Maya was followed by Ran Menike Devenedra (later de Silva), younger sister of Devendra brothers Tissa and Somasiri the offspring of Dr. D.T. Devendra who then taught at Dharmaraja. Few years ago, in a beautiful article published in ‘The Island’ she wrote of her days at Dharmaraja as a kid.
Then in the early fifties, we had several girls in our Lower School at the Bilimoria Building. There was Rukmani Welagedera the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Welagedera of the College staff who had married for love, having met at Dharmaraja. Sweet Mr. Welagedera was incidentally the Sinhala teacher who fashioned the well known Sinhala Poet Wimalaratne Kumaragama. Anyway, Rukmani was known as a voracious reader as a young girl and later joined Girls’ High school after 5th standard. We met her later at the University where she did English Special. Subsequently, she joined Hillwood College where she taught English. Coincidentally, she too married a teacher from Dharmaraja, Dr. H.S.S. Naissance who is now 82 years old. He taught Sinhala and literature at Dharmaraja and was the teacher who fashioned the later greats like film maker Dharmasena Pathiraja, Prof. Sam Samarasinghe of Washington University, late K.D.K. Dharmawardane, the prolific song writer for the lilting songs of Milton Mallawarchhci and W.D. Amaradeva. His "Kumariyaka paa salamba seluwaa" for the great Master is unforgettable.
Then we had Padma Amarasena in our class, Std. IV. She had elder brothers in the Upper School. So we were a little wary of her! But she was quite good natured though she did not join us in the fun and get punished. She probably joined Kandy Convent later. We also had the spectacled Premalatha, I forget her other name. She was the brother of the studious Reginald. We called him ‘Rejja’. Premalatha was also fondly called ‘Rejjage Nangi’. They lived down Trincomalee Street in the House above which a big clock was installed. This was next to the old K.V.G, de Silva’s and almost in front of the Pushpadana Building. Premalatha too left after the 5th Standard. ‘Rejja’ after leaving school joined the Technical College, later ended up as an electrical engineer.
In the Upper School at the Lake View, we had three other girls but then they were not quite Rajans. Nevertheless they were Rajans to us. They were the three daughters of Principal S. A.Wijethilake -Savithri, Sakunthala and Gayathri. Every morning, they walked down the hill to go to Mahamaya while we were climbing up the hill, the other way round after school. We were scared to talk to them because they were the Principal’s daughters. But having met later in life we realized that they were very much Rajans in their hearts. They left Dharmaraja when Mr. Wijethilake was transferred as Ananda Principal to succeed Mr. Metthananda.
As we entered the middle school we encountered two unforgettable lady teachers, Mrs. Kurien and Mrs. Doris Seibel who taught English pronunciation with "ei" "ou" and "i". Getting us to lean to pronounce ‘racket’ as "rackit" "buckit" and "packit" while reading prose and poetry. All this was comic to us the Game Kollas ! Later in life we learnt that it was part of what is now called elocution! These two nice ladies were followed by Miss. Sally and later by other Misses, fresh from the University, Vitharana from Mahamaya, Indrani Seneviratne, from Girls High School and Miss Sudasinghe from Dharmapala and still later the beautiful Miss Hearth from Mahamaya. The good thing was that none of them physically punished them like their male counterparts many of who gave us bell full!
Rajans always had a special relationship with Mahamaya. There was a saying among a certain social strata in Kandy then : "Father Kachcheri, son Dharmaraja, daughter Mahamaya"! We could watch them at play form the top of the hill though it was too far to be identified. But during the ‘Fifties, Mahamaya hostellers were conducted to Dharmaraja on some evenings to watch our inter-school cricket matches. They looked beautiful in their sparkling coloured Lama Sariyas. But they were so near and so far!
The annual debates with Mahamaya, Girls High School and Hillwood were much looked forward to events well attended always. Those days, the Mahamaya Annual Sports Meet held on the Lake View grounds. The venue was virtually prohibited to Rajans, but the more daring stole a visit on the sly. Long years after, when I eventually came as DIG Central Range, perhaps the youngest DIG at that time, was invited as Chief Guest for the Sports Meets of Mahamaya, Hillwood and St. Anthony’s Convent, last of which was close to my parental house. Some of my contemporaries at the University and Mahamaya, who by then were senior teachers, read out my credentials which they well knew, in their introduction. Girls High School however did not invite me. Instead they invited my school contemporary, Malwila Tennakoon who was GA Kandy. He was married to an Old Girl from High School, Sujatha Amunugama, Dr. Sarath Amungama’s sister. This was despite the fact that I, too, was married to an Old High School girl!
The day scholars during our time, especially those who walked to School from Ampitiya had their transactions (exchange of love letters etc!) with Mahamaya girls from Buwelikada when they crossed each other walking to school and back, along Green Path! Some had even composed songs on the more attractive ones. Of course we had our own Bailas on ‘Maya Kello’. Years later, we met several Mahamaya girls at our Colombo OBU dinners. They had married Rajans! Some had become relations with other Rajans too. It so happened that the now famous, Annual ‘Kandy Bash’ in Colombo, now going great guns, was the brainchild of these OBU Dinner interactions between Chandana Ekanayake, the current Colombo OBU president and his cousin Dilini Nugegoda, who is an Old Girl of Girls High School.