CRUISE AROUND MY HILLMAN HUNTER

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A million waves landed on the beach and retreated into the ocean, a million stars appeared and disappeared in the night sky, a million raindrops fell on the parched earth … and a million rays of sunlight have dried them out again … since she sang her first song in 1938.

Even though the flowers bloomed and wilted and fell, even though the green leaves turned yellow, even though the moon waned and faded … it is heartwarming to know that the voice of Vivienne de Silva Boralessa who celebrates his 85th birthday today, remains unchanged.

When I look for her on a rainy day at the beginning of the month, I find her in the house of her youngest son, Kapila Boralessa in Thalahena, sitting in front of the television listening to a speech on the Dhamma. Behind her chair is an array of awards and plaques she has received over the years. She gives me her legendary sweet and loving smile, when I ask her what she would do today, if she was twenty-one? Taking a few moments to let the question arise, she said with a wistful look, “It would be wonderful to be twenty-one again. My next question to him is all too obvious. Why? She laughs. “To be twenty-one would mean saying goodbye to my ailing body and embracing the whole world again with new vigor and new life.”

The whole world would be before her, waiting to be conquered, kissed, hypnotized, if she had the energy and good health of a twenty-one year old again. You don’t have to be a genius to know what would be the first item on her to-do list if she regained her youth today. “If I can be twenty-one again, I will sing more new songs,” she says and adds, “I will do my best to contribute to society in a positive way, through my songs.”

Walking into the past, she remembers that the first time she sang in front of an audience it was to sing the welcome songs from her father’s two plays; “The appalling state of Lanka” and “Election Echo”. The only daughter of GF de Silva and DL Sahabandu, she says both parents encouraged and supported her as she embarked on her singing career. His father, a surveyor of the Chamber of Commerce, general manager of De Zoysa company and general manager of the famous Safety Tours Bus Company was not only an art connoisseur, but also a playwright and a producer.

Still reeling in the past, she remembers how her parents accompanied her whenever she had to go for a recording on Radio Ceylan. If her father couldn’t come because of another date, the program was canceled and postponed to another day.

She recalls that life was more limited in her youth than it is today and says that she was offered many opportunities to go abroad, but her parents did not let her go. If she was still twenty-one and her parents were alive, she is sure they would have different views on girls traveling the world and let her go to where she loved to perform as a singer. . “They (my parents) could come with me if they were here, but that would be even better,” she smiles.

Besides traveling the world as a singer, there are also some places she would like to visit if she gets the chance. One is a visit to Buddagaya. The other is to see Santiniketan.

“I’ve heard a lot about Santiniketan from my uncle GR Edward,” she explains. “He was the one who heard me sing at home and got permission from my parents to sing a duet with him on Radio Ceylan. He was just coming back from studying at Santiniketan at the time, and when I listened to him talk about his life in this art institute, I thought that one day I too would like to go. If she celebrated her 21st birthday today, instead of her 85th, who knows, she might be in Santiniketan right now.

She laughs at the proposal and happily admits that she was brave and adventurous when she was young and loved to ride around in the Hillman Hunter her father gave her as a wedding present. “I used to drive from Colombo to Galle to Akuressa, in my car. Oh, how I would love to sit behind the wheel again. Maybe detecting the horror expression on my face, she assures me that after all these years she still remembers how to change gears and all the nuts and bolts inside the engine. of his good old Hillman.

Going back to her singing career, she tells me that if she is to be twenty-one again, she hopes that the others she had known in her youth, too, would be with her again. Among them, she hopes to be able to meet Gabrielle Gunaratne again because it was he who first asked her father’s permission to record his songs on HMV tapes. Some time later, Sunil Santha would go to her house to ask her father if he could sing a duet with her. The song they sang was Ralla Naginne with the chorus comprising Maestro Amaradeva, CT Fernando, Kanthi Wakwalla and Percy Wijewardena.

Old but new. Strange but familiar. As I listen to a CD of Dura Pena Thanithala, Nangi Nangi Rupika, Nawathinna Tissa … even as I write this article, I wonder how those songs played in the 1950s could still have such appeal. The answer may be simple. It’s because Vivienne Boralessa sings them like that.

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