While I was growing up, I had little sense of Esmond, my mother’s eldest brother, being part of Lakmahal. The house emphatically belonged to the Wickremesinghes, with my grandmother presiding over it and her husband’s legacy with a commitment I took long to understand; whenever Esmond was present, he sat at the head of the table where his father had sat before him; but whereas Tissa, who died at Lakmahal in 1961, and Lakshman, who used it as his Colombo base, were emphatically part of the household, Esmond always seemed a visitor.
He had his own very comfortable home in 5th Lane nearby, given to Nalini by her father when they married, and they were kind enough to keep my sister and me during the last days of Tissa’s illness when it was thought his agony would be too much for young children. 5th Lane, as we called that household, always came to lunch on Sundays, though on an increasingly staggered basis as the years passed and its members developed different interests. Esmond himself was generally the first, and sometimes he had eaten and gone by the time the rest of his family, which was used to rising late, arrived. He himself often, if not always, also marked his presence in church on Sunday mornings, coming late and leaving early, after having checked that his mother had registered his arrival.