My name is Sivan. Some of you may know me already–I belong to The Man, The Woman, and The Cat, pictured below. This portrait was our family’s New Year’s greeting, and as you can see, The Cat hadn’t quite warmed up to me, yet.
I came from a Hindu temple in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka. When the temple was renovating several years ago, they sold me to a dealer. I ended up in an antique store in Galle, which is a fort that was built by the Portuguese in 1588 and later expanded and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. Nowadays, it’s recognized as one of the remarkable cultural and architectural wonders of Sri Lanka. It is a tourist hotspot that attracts a constant flow of people from all over the world.
The Man and The Woman had moved to Sri Lanka in December. They treated themselves to a trip to Galle right after Christmas as a quick getaway from the city. They stepped into the antique store close to their hotel before they returned to Colombo. It was The Woman who found me first. Even though The Man was interested in a different peacock, he gave in to his wife’s choice (smart man). While I might be seemingly invaluable, The Man made a deal with the shopkeeper and paid the rupees to take me home with them.
Since then, The Man placed me on top of a tall blue bookcase, which is the highest point in the flat. Perfect for a royal peacock like me. The Woman spent the whole afternoon looking up “popular Sri Lankan boy names” to come up with one that suited me best. During the first week, The Cat sulked from the corner and gave me weird looks. But eventually, she succumbed to my charms and visited me often.
Since I perch facing the front door, no one can enter or leave the flat without my detection. In a way, I am a guard peacock to ensure that no unsavory characters come into my home. I don’t approve of some of the delivery people who bring The Man and The Woman furniture for our home–they sometimes walk into the flat with their shoes on. Very. Uncool. The Cat also seems to detest all delivery people–she would run and hide as soon as she heard or smelled them.
Besides the delivery people, The Man and The Woman keep a fascinating company. They’ve made some wonderful local friends. There are Saeeda and Eranda, a couple of young, local creatives in Colombo.
Saeeda runs two jewelry brands. Sour Metal repurposes vintage jewelry and Sri Lankan heirlooms. Samsara specializes in silver and rough stone jewelry. If that wasn’t enticing enough, both companies practice sustainability all the while embracing Sri Lankan roots and natural resources. I feel like I’d make for a perfect ambassador for Saeeda’s two brands.
Eranda works in management/HR but has other pursuits such as selling beard oil and helping his wife expand her businesses. The Man had fixed them beef tacos. They were delicious. Throughout the night, they drank cocktails and talked about jewelry, culture, and the future of design in Sri Lanka. I quietly observed from the top of the bookcase.
Fabienne Francotte, a Belgium-born artist and her husband, Tung Lai, the former EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, also visited our home. The Man fixed our guests dinner, starting with cured meats, cheese, and bread, followed by a thick pumpkin soup. For the entrée, The Man served his world-famous Bolognese, made with the recipe he got from his Italian-American uncle. Throughout the night, they laughed and discussed everything from their travels to literature to art. The two women spoke about collaborating on a project. I also couldn’t help but notice that between the four of them, they drank five bottles of wine. This is something they can’t do anymore during the COVID-19 curfew, but that’s a story for a different time.
Up until recently, The Man and The Woman went out during the day–leaving me and The Cat to our own devices. However, for the last couple of weeks, they’ve been at home all day watching the news. I have been hearing about this COVID-19 business, which sounds terrible and is bringing the world to a halt. Now it seems that they will be home all day, all night, for the foreseeable future. I suppose it is up to me, their guard peacock, Sivan, to document all that’s happening in the flat during this difficult time.
Inspired and edited by Mohini Khadaria.