The original guest room at Lakmahal, the one downstairs, is no longer a guest room. It is where I sleep now, having moved downstairs twenty years ago, when I realized that it was the only way to remain equable in a house occupied by three generations of relatively headstrong people. My father had kindly provided his married children with houses of their own but, in classic Sri Lankan fashion, he did not think an unmarried child required a place of his own.
I, on the contrary, having read Virginia Woolf when I was very young, and knowing that one needs one’s own space in which to write, thought I was the most deserving, given that writing was the most important thing I ever wanted to do. But producing children rates higher than books in our everyday world, so I had actively myself to seek a place of my own, and in the end indeed to build one. But long before I could afford to do that, I screwed up my courage and finally decided to ask my grandmother whether I could move downstairs.