Kenilworth Estate, Ginigathena can be reached from the Nawa;apitiya - Hatton road, or travelling from Colombo, on the Yatiyantota - Hatton road. On any of these roads, it is the first estate before Carolina Group. In the late thirties, the Superintendent was Mr.Roberts.
Over a period of time after some careful scrutiny of the books, Mr.Roberts found that the chief clerk had misappropriated funds from the office to the tune of Rs.2000/=. He summoned the man to his office who when confronted with the evidence, made a full confession. In normal circumstances this would have warranted an instant dismissal, but Mr.Roberts decided to give his chief clerk another chance to wipe the slate clean. He set a deadline, giving him a period of one month to return the money by a certain day, If the money was not returned, the police would be informed. It was a magnanimous gesture, one to which the culprit readily agreed. Came the designated day and Mr.Roberts entered his office, summoning the chief clerk expecting the money to be returned. Unknown to him, this man had hidden the estate gun, fully loaded behind the office door. No sooner had Mr.Roberts entered and taken his seat at his desk, the clerk in a flash took the gun from behind the door and shot Mr.Roberts dead. The clerk then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. The Managers bungalow was close to the factory and Mrs.Roberts hearing the gunshots, thought that a pig was being shot at the estate farm which happened to be in the vicinity. That was the tragic end of a kindly Superintendent who paid the price for his act of kindness in giving another human being a chance to redeem himself.
Finally, there was the murder of the chief clerk, and the teamaker, both on the same night on Galboda Group, Galboda in 1954.( You may remember Galboda Group Chris, when you spent a holiday at Uncle Cyril's on Mt.Jean Division, Carolina in 1963.) Galboda was just past Mt.Jean. A young lad who had just left Ananda College having passed his exams, boarded the train from Colombo Fort, and after the arduous journey alighted at Galboda station and made his way to the office . Somasiri had secured the position of junior clerk and was to commence work the next day. He settled in well and for a time showed much promise. But soon the chief clerk began to play some practical jokes on him and before long the situation got right out of hand and most of the office staff had a laugh at his expense. On occasion the teamaker joined him. The lad bore this all in silent resignation, not wishing to retaliate in any manner lest he risked losing his job. One night the teamaker had a dinner party at his house and invited the chief clerk, and some office staff, including young Somasiri. Their aim was to ply him with liquor and amuse themselves. Somasiri being one of the staff could not refuse the invitation, and accepted. Unknown to anyone, he had gone to the estate blacksmith a few days before, and requested him to make a knife which he said he needed for his kitchen. This transpired in the inquest which followed, and it was remarked how strange it was that the blacksmith did not have the least suspicion or doubts about Somasiri's unusual request. On that fateful night, liquor flowed freely and before long the fun began with young Somasiri the whipping boy. He bided his time until his patience ran out. The chief clerk was the first victim. Pulling out the knife concealed inside his jersey (or Jumper) he stabbed the chief clerk through the chest with such force that it went right through the mans chest, and through the rear of the cane chair on which he was seated, according to eyewitness evidence at the trial. The tea maker was next. Retrieving the knife from the chief clerks mangled chest, he plunged it with full force into the teamakers stomach. You are talking of a youth of 21 years against men in their forties. In the prime of his youth, fed by flames of rage, these liquor sodden men did not stand a chance. Most of those present fled in fear, and Somasisri stood beside the bodies and would not let anyone near. Nobody could approach him as he kept brandishing the blood soaked knife threatening anybody who tried with a similar fate. Meanwhile, Mr.David Murray, the Superintendent of Galboda was notified. He made his way to the scene and on seeing his boss, Somarisi calmed down. Mr.Murray gently and tactfully spoke to him, and convinced him to lay down the knife, and before long, thanks to David Murray the situation was brought under control. The police then arrived, and when the case went to trial the accused was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Many witnesses testified in his favour highlighting the treatment he had received at the hands of the deceased. This evidence was what saved him from the gallows, and the Defence had a strong case. It was remarked during the trial that such behaviour by grown up mature men such as the deceased, towards a novice starting out on lifes road was inconceivable. I was ten years old at the time and can still remember recoiling in horror when this case was discussed by Dad & Mum with some visitors. News of this murder spread through the plantations, and must have been the topic of conversation in front of many a blazing fire in the halls of a far away estate bungalow, on a cold misty night.
Many years ago I found myself in the Ratnapura cemetery. As is my wont, I proceeded to read the epitaphs on the tombstones until I came across one I have never forgotten. It read " Sacred to the memory of H.G.Ross, shot and fatally wounded on Galbodde Group, Ratnapura, 17th April 1937". All my efforts at finding out the details of this murder were unsuccessful.
Who knows if in the dead of night on an estate somewhere, one still hears the plaintive voices of these victims mingled with the howling wind as they appear in a ghostly re-enactment of these tragic events of long ago.......