ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, Octomber 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

He was always the typical villager from the Rajarata

T.B. Wijeratne Karalliyadde

By S.B. Karalliyadde

The third month of the death of T.B. Wijeratne Karalliyadde, the well-known social worker and environmentalist of Raja Rata Anuradhapura was marked recently.

The two cousins Ranbanda and Tikiri Banda set off to Rajarata from the Dumbara Valley as Ranbanda was offered a post of monitor by J. Howard, the then Director of Public Instructions in Ceylon. Tikiri Banda accompanied his cousin on this arduous journey through the jungles where more than half the journey was in a horse carriage. Having arrived at Medawachiya they both lodged in a room in the school building.

In the days of yore, the school staff was the Loku Mahattaya, Deveni Mahattaya and the Monitor Mahattaya. They settled down to start a new life. Ranbanda started his teaching career while Tikiri Banda spent his time in the wilds enjoying the fauna and flora which was so dear to his heart. As time passed, Ranbanda retuned home for the school vacation while Tikiri Banda opted to remain in his new abode. The turning point in his career was when the horse carriage to Anuradhapura toppled during the school vacation and Ranbanda, my father decided not to return to Medawachiya to pursue his teaching career.

As time passed, Tikiri Banda, son of a Korale Mahattaya was offered a post of “Forest Agent” by the then Colonial Government and posted to Kebithigollewa as Tikiri Banda Wijeratne Karalliyadde to be in charge of the range. This new appointment was the turning point in the career of the man who was close to nature, fauna and flora. He travelled all over the jungle as a part of his duty, thus earning the pet name of “Kele Mahattaya” from all and sundry. His duties included official visits to Horowapatana, Padaviya, Mullaitivu, Nuwaragam Palatha, Mihintale etc.

His ties to the Rajarata were further strengthened when he married the sister of late Maithripala Senanayake who was the doyen of Rajarata SLEP politics. This matrimonial alliance was to the mutual benefit of the invincible politician of Rajarata. “Kele Mahattaya’s” fame and acceptance in Wanni was such that in the 1970 General Elections a total stranger from Weudawillihathpathtu, T.B. Herath, his son-in-law was able to defeat the UNP stalwart E.L.B. Hurulle in Horowpathana. Karalliyadde had no ambition for political power or perks. If he wanted to enter the legislature he could have easily done it from any electorate in Rajarata. He was the Chairman of the Kunchutti Korale Village Committee for some time. Though he rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty he never forgot the downtrodden poor villager.

Once on one of my official visits to Weli-Oya. I visited his abode at Kivulekede. It was about 4 p.m. and a girl in the house said in typical Vanni accent that “Attappa ledek Balanta Rusneka Wewa giya”.

When I went along Horowpatana Road I met him travelling on a push bicycle with a bunch of king coconuts tied to the cycle bar. On seeing me he came back and took me to Kivulekede where I was shown the Wewa behind the house full of water crystal clear, a vast stretch of paddy fields fed by the tank and a land where a Japanese company has grown sugar cane at the time.

When he worked in the CTB where his brother-in-law was the Minister in charge he never used official transport to travel to Narahenpita from the Jawatta residence of the Minister. Such were his simple and unassuming qualities. When I heard that he entered Kandy Hospital for an eye operation, I visited the paying ward to be told by the sister-in-charge that no patient by that name entered the paying wards. She directed me to the ordinary wards. When I made inquiries the ward sister told me that a patient by such a name was in the ward and was discharged. He did not tell the hospital staff that his son was the Deputy Minister of Health and Minister of Indigenous Medicine. This was the way with the typical villager from Rajarata.

Top to the page

Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.