Mangalika’s favourite sound is the voice of the peacock who visits her garden early in the morning and at dusk. It seems impossible that he can fly, but Mangalika assures us that he can, his magnificent, iridescent tail streaming behind him.
I dreamed this image, an impossibly huge fish being embraced by the fisherman who caught it. The following week I went to the early morning fish market and saw two vast swordfish being carried in from the boats, suspended on poles, plus an enormous manta ray. Nobody was hugging them though, too spiny.
Champa’s shop is a feast of colour, inside and out. Piles of saris teeter against the walls, garments in a wild range of fabrics and styles hang from the rails. She can make anything out of textile – a copy of a much-loved-and-worn dress, a carry-case for a ravanahatha (Sri Lankan musical instrument, played by Pippa), an emergency white skirt for a funeral, a tailored top from a scratchy sketch. Her life has had its challenges of bereavement and chronic illness, she lost her original shop and sewing machines in the Tsunami, but her energy and enthusiasm for her craft is undiminished.
Pushpa loves her pets, they are wonderful company. We meet many Sri Lankans who have animals as part of their families. This is Dilka, beloved member of Susila’s family. We have a dog at Sura Medura – Kadi is the monkey dog (that’s his job, not his ancestry, to keep the monkeys away from the house).
On our first night in Hikkaduwa we saw tiny turtles hatching from the beach and crawling to the sea. The Turtle Hatchery in Peraliya rescues eggs that would otherwise be sold to eat. The going rate for a turtle’s egg is 4 or 5 rupees, but the Hatchery pays 20 rupees per head. The family that set up this conservation project paid a heavy price during the Tsunami; mother, sisters and children dying in the flood. They are remembered at the entrance to the Turtle Hatchery, which is now run by the two surviving brothers.