Finding a name for my demon

Dreaming up a Sanskrit name for my otherworldly protagonist is just as challenging as visualising his physique.

I’m thinking of a name for my protagonist, The Constant Companion. It has to be in Sanskrit. Ideally, Sanskritised Thai or Javanese name. It’s a pickle. Zarina Holmes, the Creative Director, contributes significantly to the way he looks.

The idea of the Constant Companion came from two ancient Perakian statues I saw at the Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2021. One was of a shirtless Brahmin guy with a man-bun. The bronze statue was carved in the style of Srivijaya (9th to 11th Century CE) and was discovered in 1936 in Jalong, Perak.

The Brahmin man of Perak. Image: ©Salina Christmas / Muzium Negara

Another was of the impressive Avalokitashvara deity, found in Bidor, Perak, in 1936, also in the style of Srivijaya (8th to 9th Century CE). I came from the state of Perak and these shirtless guys are part of my heritage. I saw them behind the glass and I thought: ‘I’m gonna write a story about you’.

The Avalokitashvara statue unearthed at Bidor, Perak. Image: ©Salina Christmas / Muzium Negara

It wasn’t until I saw the shirtless Boya in The Yin-Yang Master that I nailed the vision in my head. I looked again at pictures of statues of Majapahit, Khmer Champa and Siamese Dvaravati periods (6th to 12th Century CE), sketched badly a bit, and then I settled for a look. I asked Holmes to visualise the Constant Companion and she came up with a rather buff version of him. Much better than my sketches, definitely.

My Constant Companion is a handsome devil, but not a very nice being. You wouldn’t want him to be your companion. That’s how he is written. It’s my decision.

Now I have to think of a name.

Photo credits: Mai Sovanaphumi, Khmer costume (via Pinterest); Yuttapong Chaimoncol, Thai Lanna style (via Pinterest); The Yin-Yang Master (via online and Netflix). Image credit: The Constant Companion, Story Of Books.

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