Granta publishes the winning entry in The Commonwealth Short Story Prize from the Asia (Sri Lanka), Michael Mendis’ ‘The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night’, and an interview with the author.
Wijey was a rich little boy, unlike Krishnan. With a lot of books lined against his bedroom wall, the Dickenses and the Flemings on two opposite sides. His shiny prefect’s badge from middle-school, sitting primly on the dresser, next to the bottle of Old Spice he never wore because he didn’t like the smell. They were all there: little pieces of imported wealth that he had arrayed around himself, in case anyone wanted to know why he was important.
When the lesson ended, Wijey’s mother convinced Krishnan to stay the night, because it was not safe to drive in the storm all the way to Wattala, where he lived. She said it would probably last all night, the storm.
Their dinner was brought up to the bedroom in a large tray. The woman carrying it, Prema, was quiet and brisk, and Wijey called her by name without any hesitation. While they ate, she laid out Wijey’s spare pyjamas for Krishnan, and fresh towels.