In Shakespeare’s “Henry the Sixth”, the Duke of Somerset reports that Warwick’s brother Montague has “breathed his last”.
I am compelled to quote from Shakespeare when writing about my dearly beloved grandfather, Senaratne Bandara Wellawa, also known as Wellawa Aththa, who was very fond of quoting from Shakespeare.
Wellawa Aththa lived a life that was full, and he breathed his last at the Colombo Hospital’s Merchant Ward, in the early hours of February 17, 2010.
Aththa hailed from an aristocratic Kandyan family. He entered Trinity College, Kandy, in 1929, and completed his schooling there in 1941, and then completed the London Matriculation Examination. He learnt about heat, light and electricity in the General Elementary Science class, all practical subjects. In his way, Aththa was an outstanding example of a “practical” man.
His wife was the graceful, charismatic Enid Anula Wattegedera. They had three children – son Kamal-Kithsiri, the eldest, and daughters Nilanganie and Udayanthi.
Sadly for the Wellawa family, the three children were not destined to grow up in the tender loving care of their beloved mother, who departed from this world at a very young age. Aththa married again, and his second wife, Anula Nillegoda, bore him a son, Chulanga.
Wellawa Aththa joined the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS), and worked for both the Central Government and the provincial councils.
He then joined the Cooperative Department. His duties as a Headquarters Inspector resulted in his working with the late D. B. Wijetunge, who was three years his senior, and who later served as the fourth Executive President of Sri Lanka.
Aththa was a pioneer in the country’s cooperative development movement. In the ’70s, he retired from the Department of Motor Traffic as Assistant Commissioner of Motor Traffic.
Wellawa Aththa was a die-hard cricket fan all his life. His favourite local cricketer was Sanath Jayasuriya.
Wellawa Aththa, who passed away six months short of his 91st birthday, was proof that simplicity is one of the great virtues. We loved him dearly, and always will.
The family members greatly miss Wellawa Aththa’s cheerful presence and lively conversations.
The last time I saw him was when I visited him in late 2004, when I was on a long visit to Sri Lanka. I took my family to his home in Malagamuwa. We chatted for hours on that occasion.
Wellawa Aththa spent his last years, with his family in Bandaragama.
May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana !