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A loaf of bread, a glass of bubbly, and thou

By Ashok Ferrey 

So the stage is set, the curtain about to rise. Tomorrow, Sarasavi Bookshop at One Galle Face will be launching my first book in 5 years. I don’t know really know why, but there’s something of a feeding frenzy going on. Old aunties in kaftans and dangling earrings are jostling for pole position, rising from their covid-stricken beds, throwing caution and turmeric to the winds. I have explained to everyone that there’s a pandemic on, and please, they mustn’t feel the need to humour me by turning up.

‘How could we not?’ they say in incredulous tones. ‘We simply HAVE to be there for you!’

And who am I to spurn such loyalty? Though it’s something of a toss-up whether they’re there for me, or because they’re fed up having sat at home socially isolated all year. Or perhaps they’re coming for the bubbly that’s going to be served, in plastic cups. (Never spoil an Auntie, has always been my motto.)

In the middle of all this chaos, Colombo Fashion Week rings up.

‘Is it true you’re launching your book on the last night of fashion week?’ they ask sternly. Obviously I have committed some grave social faux pas, though I do not know quite what. (In the normal way of things, Ashok Ferrey knows as much about fashion as Mother Theresa does about disco dancing.)

‘Yes,’ I reply tremulously. ‘But it’s an early show, 4.30 – 6 pm.’

‘So that’s OK then,’ they reply. ‘Because we’ll be requiring you on stage to recite the opening poem. At 7.30 sharp.’

‘But I’ll be tired,’ I bleat.

front cover of The Unmarriageable Man
The Unmarriageable Man || Ashok Ferrey


You? Tired?’ They curl their upper lip. (Colombo Fashion Week does a very good curled upper lip.)

‘Don’t be late. Wardrobe will be in touch to let you know which designer you’re wearing.’

It seems that I have to recite the alternate lines of a song, with the amazing Julius Mitchell singing, and on keyboards.

I think to myself: It’s a good thing Ashok Ferrey isn’t going to be the one singing. Otherwise it really will be the last night of Colombo Fashion Week. Forever.

Hey, now that’s an idea . . .


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