by Anura Guruge
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This is my birth certificate (hospital mix up, that made me also “The Other Son”, notwithstanding). It was issued on September 15, 1953 — 9 days after the day of birth. Actually, if you want to be pedantic, it is a certified copy made on January 3, 1959 — probably when I was ready to go to school. Wonder what happened to the original.
Note some very interesting things:
1. It was issued at a office in “Slave Island“! (That is at the top.) Yes, that was a fairly well known part of Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
2. It asks for the race — Sinhalese — of each parent.
3. It asks whether the parents were married.
4. It asks for father’s “rank or profession”. Mine says “Assistant Secretary to the Prime Minister“. [This is why the first car I was ever in was a Rolls Royce! The Prime Minister’s car. He lent it to my father, with the official driver, to bring me home from hospital — safety — given that there was some communal disturbance going on in Colombo.
5. The hospital mix up happened at the “Private General Hospital“, Colombo 7 — which is a rather ‘exclusive’ part of town.
6. The ‘tattooed’ “IBM WIN 06” denotes that I must have made this copy while working for IBM (at Hursley, the ‘Win’ indicating Winchester, the nearest city — while the ’06’ was the number of this copying machine. IBM had this ‘id’ engraved on the glass so that it could keep track of copies that were made!).
This is a Birth ‘chit’ — issued by a midwife to certify the birth. The birth certificate would have come later. This is not mine. It is for my new friend, from Sri Lanka, who went to the same school as me, Ananda College, Udeni Wijegunaratne. He is a lawyer. We were talking about my birth certificate and he sent this over (and gave me permission to post it). You can make out his mother’s name.
It is hard to make out at the top because it is ripped but he was born at the “De Soyza Lying in Home“. That is SO British — Victorian era. “Lying in Home” for pregnant women. How brilliant. I remember that term. Weight of the placenta? Wow. I notice it is not filled in.
I guess you have worked out what I am doing. I am preserving these documents for posterity.