Darling we aren't too old, though we pass the Jubilee
Nilame finds his Kumarihamy
Alick and Jinawathie Aluwihare Pic: Vipula Amarasinghe
Falling in love with one of the tallest men in Sri Lanka could make
history. Jinawathie Kumarihamy never dreamt she would get married to a
man with a height of 6' 7" who was a legend in the Lankan Parliament
with his unshaken personality. But it happened. And today she is
celebrating the 50th year of marriage with him.
Wanigasekara Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Alick Aluwihare and Wijesundara
Wickremasinghe Panditharatne Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Jinawathie
Gopallawa were both in green, the party colour, welcoming us warmly to
their home at Pita Kotte. "Ours was a proposal. You see, those days the
only interest I had was politics.
It was my hobby," grins Alick, the 80-year-old politician. "I have
been married for 50 years and been in politics for 45 years. I am
supposed to be the most senior 'politicca' in the Parliament today. The
oldest not-out wicket," he boasts. "Only once was I defeated. That was
in 1970. I lost the Matale District by 650 votes. Other than that I have
always won," he claims.
Alick Aluwihare, Member of Parliament in Matale was born on December
20 in 1926 to W.M.R.William Aluwihare, Government officer at Matale
Kachcheri cum landed proprietor and Seelawathie Hulangamuwa Aluwihare
Alick was the 11th of the dozen siblings in the family.
He had his education at Wijaya College, Matale for 8 years and then
at St. Thomas College, Matale. His parents, his country and Matale
District seem to have been the three priorities in his life. "Bernard
Aluwihare, my father's younger brother was the MP in Matale (Prof.
Arjuna Aluwihare's father) from 1936 to 1961.
I was quite impressed by his political career, and immediately after
sitting for the Senior School Certificate exam in 1948, I joined him to
organise the Matale electorate," he recalls.
"My parents were not in favour. But I didn't give up. I strived to
help the poor. There weren't barricades in my politics. Cast, creed,
community and religion were immaterial. I used to stay on the road in
front of my house in a sarong with a bare body talking casually with
common people. Though I was born in a Walawwa my heart has been with the
common man," he grins.
Alick was very fond of his parents. Mudlier William Aluwihare and
Kumarihamy treated their son, the one before the last as a reward
received from heaven. Sporty Alick, when playing volleyball in the plot
of land owned by his mother, always thought he would build his mansion
there. And did it. "I was a young chap though I had this feeling.
I always thought I should build a house before getting married. And
also wanted to get my parents down there and treat them as best as I
could, before marriage. Generally old Kandians do not like to part with
But I however could convince them swearing I would not get married if
they did not move in. So they had to. But, Pappa used to get up early in
the morning and visit his old Walawwa immediately after his breakfast.
The old place was half a mile away from mine.
My brother was staying there, and my father did this as a routine,"
Alick was a boxing champion. His team won the all island Stubb Shield
many a time when at school. Other than that the Gulliver in Lilliput
attended to every sport available in the college. "If I got a shot from
somebody in my life, that was from my Vice Principal, Mr. Jayasinghe for
hitting another boy at school. I still remember the three shots with the
cane, on my palm.
I was about 8 or 9 years then, and after that I have never let things
go the wrong way. It was the first and last shot I had," he laughs.
Alick's parents were anxious over his stubborn involvements in
politics. "Putha, you should get married before we die," his mother
grumbled. By that time Alick had already gone to see 50-60 brides. None
was according to his taste. Now his parents were also getting agitated.
Finally they forced him to accept the proposal that came from the
Gopallawa Korale Walawwa, Kurunegala.
At first he didn't notice much difference in the 18-year-old girl who
looked as if she was a fish out of the water beside him. That was the
usual behaviour of Kandian girls, he knew, as he had seen many. His mind
was running to the electorate. The next committee meeting should be
organised. He counted the members he had informed. There were many more
to be informed. Lot of things to be done in the list. His mother nudged
"Now do you like to marry her," her voice was firm. "Hmm," he okayed
it as he knew there was no way to escape.
W.W.P.W.M.R. Karunaratne Bandara Gopallawa Korale Mahattaya of
Gopallawa village in Kurunegala and Anulawathie Kumarihamy Katupitiya
were the parents of Jinawathie who was born on May 19 in 1938 as the
eldest of 6 children. She had her education at Hillwood College, Kandy.
Even while she was at the school hostel, her Appachchi's one and only
headache was to find the best Nilame in Kandy for his 'Punchi Kumarihamy'.
Alick started to taste the roasted and salted Kaju nuts which was
served by his bashful maiden Kumarihamy who would be his bride within a
few days time. For the first time in his life he was falling in love (as
he claims). 'A man should have a female partner in life'... finally he
was beginning to agree with his mother.
On May 9 in 1957, Alick and Jinawathie entered wedded life under the
shower of blessings of both families.. The teenage bride celebrated her
19th birthday after 10 days of her wedding (on May 19) at her Nilame's
mansion. Alick was relieved to see his Kumarihamy who was in tears
throughout the wedding day, finally smiling a bit after receiving the
valuable gift he gave to her, a Singer sewing machine.
All these days she was home sick and badly missing her family. It was
hard to get adjusted to a new place all of a sudden. She had only a
month to get to know him. She had to obey her parents. It was the
Kandyan custom. The parents' word was the last verdict.
Alick's horoscope forecast that he would one day be the greatest man
in the family. 'He would shine in life after 1961,' was the prediction.
His MP uncle who believed this thoroughly never let go of his grip on
Eventually succeeding Bernard Aluwihare, his uncle, Alick contested
the Matale By-election on the UNP ticket which co-incidentally fell in
1961. So he won! - proving the astrological prediction....
And since then a United National Party seat has been reserved in
Parliament for Alick Aluwihare MP except from 1970 to 1977. Alick held
the titles of Deputy Minister Plantation Industries, and then the
Minister of Rehabilitation and Construction; Post and Telecommunication;
Ports and Shipping: Public Administration; Home Affairs and Provincial
Council from time to time.
"In 1961, my starting allowance as MP was Rs. 600. Additionally we
were entitled for Rs. 100 for petrol and Rs. 75 for the clerk. A room at
Shrawasthi was Rs. 35. And those days I used to travel by train from
Matale to Fort.
I get off there and then crossed the road carrying my suitcase to
lodge myself in a room for Rs. 7.50 in the Maliban Hotel which was just
in front of the station. I spent 50 cents to go to the House of
Representatives (Parliament) which was in Galle Face (today it is the
Presidential Secretariat office)," he recollects.
"My parents were the biggest gift I have ever got. They blessed me
saying that 'Puthe, umbata hathara maha nidane pahala wenna ona' (Son,
may you be blessed with the world's best treasures in life)... My father
had a long life. But my mother died after three months of my wedding by
meeting with an accident. I still worship their picture every time
before I set off from home and before I go to bed as a prayer," he
sighs. The giant parliamentarian wiped off a tear, and was silent for a
His only daughter came home just then with her little son bringing
him home from the montessori. "Hey, Chooti Putha, come. Come here,"
Alick tried to fetch his little grandson. "Now we are proud grandparents
of 9. The eldest grandson who is 16 years is taller than me, and the
youngest is just one year," he smiles.
Alick's and Jinawathie's three eldest sons are already in politics on
UNP tickets. Ranjith Jinatissa Aluwihare is the MP of Matale District.
Duljith Nandalal is the Opposition Leader in the Matale Municipal
Council, Wasantha Lakshminath who was the Chief Minister of the Central
Province, now the Opposition Leader of the CP.
Their daughter Manoranjani and the youngest son Sahan Rachindra, a
planter at Maskeliya are the two who haven't got into politics yet.
"I have helped many in many ways personally, officially and
politically. I'm really proud of myself as I have never bee involved in
any sort of corruption. I'm quite content.
Also I did many renovations at Aluwihare Aaloka Viharaya with the
assistance of my relatives and friends. We completed the steps to the
entrance, Makara Thorana and Eth Pavura. Now I have laid the foundation
for a Chaithya of 41' in height and 30' in breadth, for the cost of 10
million. That would be my next extreme target in life," he hopes.
Jinawathie listens to everything with a charming smile. "She is a
good wife," he grins. "Hardly had a problem in life," she utters. Among
their children and grandchildren the Aluwihare couple spend their golden
years - full of contentment.