Sunday, Day 16 of the curfew. The Woman pulls out a bottle from the wine fridge and declares to The Man. “Well, Punk, it looks like this is our last one.”
The Woman pops the cork and pours two generous glasses. They head out of the door for their daily ritual of watching the sunset from our rooftop.
When they come back into the flat, The Woman looks around in the freezer and pulls out the mullet roe, also known as the Taiwanese caviar. I’ve heard The Man claim that it tastes a bit like cheese, but meatier and more complex than the dairy variety. While that doesn’t sound very appealing to a peacock like me, it’s The Man’s favorite snack–he had discovered it during his first Chinese New Year in Taiwan. Since then, his mother-in-law packs a few vacuum-sealed pieces into their suitcases after their new year visit. That’s nice of her!
“Let’s have this with our last bottle of wine,” The Woman says holding up the leaf-shaped caviar.
As The Man fries the caviar with Taiwanese rice wine, The Woman watches and sips on her wine. She looks thoughtful. “I think drying out for a few weeks, maybe even a month–it will be good for us,” she says. (I’m not convinced.) While they’ll adapt to a dry lockdown, I hope a semblance of normality returns to our home soon–and that includes a steady, non-rationed flow of wine.
Once the caviar is ready, The Man brings it to the coffee table. They relish it with their last glass of wine while binge-watching Ozark.
Monday, Day 17 of the curfew. The Woman is doing grocery shopping via WhatsApp messages and phone calls. They’ve been receiving shipments of cured meats and cheeses, but fresh produce has been harder to find. I catch snippets of her conversation as The Cat struts off to the balcony.
“Yes, 2 chickens and 20 eggs please.”
“Do you have any garlic? 500 grams please.”
Throughout the day, she goes downstairs and brings bags of groceries into the flat. Finally, the chicken and egg delivery arrives in the evening. She squeals as she tenderly puts down a bag of 20 eggs. “Look, Punk, we finally have eggs! Isn’t it funny that it’s easier to get chorizo these days than eggs?”
The Man unwraps the chicken from its bag. “Wow, that chicken looks weird without skin,” The Woman says, watching The Man cut up the skinless pink carcass with two legs and wings.
“Yeah, I think it’s common for the butcher in this part of the world to do this. It’s easier to skin the chicken than to pluck out all the feathers.” The Man says.
“Well, I guess we are not having roast chicken for a while, huh.”
“I am going to make a stew,” The Man says.
Once the stew is ready, I watch as The Man and The Woman have multiple helpings. It is tomato-based with chicken, British-style sausages, okra, and Italian rice. It’s seasoned with Old Bay and red pepper powder. I’ve learned that Old Bay is a staple in our household. The Man had brought it from his hometown, Madison, IN (in the U.S.) to Wan Chai, Hong Kong. When they moved here, they brought it with them to Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka.
Tuesday, Day 18 of the curfew. The Woman wakes up with a scratchy throat. Her nose is stuffed-up and she’s lethargic. “Hey, Punk,” she says to The Man. “Do you think it’s possible to catch the Coronavirus just from interacting with the people who have been delivering food to us?”
“Probably not, Punk Bunny. But you should wear a mask when you meet them next time.”
The Woman finds some cold medicine and swallows a pill with water. She feels sluggish and sick all day yet she manages to work in front of her laptop and do her exercises too. I wish I could help her feel better. At night, she takes a different pill, a pink one. “Well, I can’t get drunk but at least I can have cold medicine with Codeine…”
The Woman goes to bed, leaving The Man with me in the living room. He watches YouTube clips on cooking and motorcycles. Before midnight, he turns off the lights and joins The Woman in the bedroom.
I feel a little abandoned, especially since The Cat hasn’t been coming around for visits. She has been social distancing with her family since way before this COVID-19 curfew. To my dismay, I have been left alone on my loyal perch. Since she has discovered the great balcony, she’d rather spend time with her new friends, such as the yappy squirrels and the obnoxious crows who live on the mango tree next to our balcony. At night, she hangs out with the fruit bats, who flap around their mighty wings around our home. Such is my life during these hard-ish times. This is Sivan, reporting from Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka.
Inspired and edited by Mohini Khadaria.