25 May, Kohuwela, Sri Lanka

By Shalini Jayasinghe

Tomorrow curfew will be lifted on the paradise island.

A cat is snarling and hissing at the main door. A water monitor is chasing it, flicking its tail to and fro. The clock strikes four. The wild cat begins scratching fiercely, not knowing that he is at the wrong door.

We call our neighbour to ask if it is their cat. She said it was not, but to chase it away with a broom or a bat. We may be more terrified of the cat, than the cat is scared by the water monitor. I think the water monitor doesn’t like to share, if the cat is caught he will be eaten up whole. After all, there is no easy food delivery for the water monitor these days.

The cat eventually goes away – no trace outside.

There is a mosquito troubling me now. I worry about dengue. Inside, clean drains, clean gutters, but outside on the street, there is only a dirty drain where the water monitor lives. His tail like a blade, said to be able to cut through you.

A bird flies into our house through the window. He is caught inside with us – a red-vented bulbul. We are scared it will peck us. It sits on the electric wire, then flies onto Sumudhu’s graduation photograph, and sits there some more. I sit here too, waiting for it to fly far away out of the window.

I am looking forward to a long outing tomorrow. These days I walk down the lane with my granddaughter. Little Amisha wears her shoes joyfully, for a short walk to see rain water flowing from Praveen’s neighbouring drain. Amisha gets excited and shouts “water, water”, as if she has seen a waterfall. I say to her “water, water, everywhere, not a drop to drink”. When we come back into the house Amisha says “water, water” and her Dada gives her some iced water to drink. She gulps it, as if she has walked through a long desert, and is now back on a paradise island.

We have had nature come into our house during the past two months, instead of us going outside to see it. We have loved nature coming to us, we’re still a little bit scared though.