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.
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’.
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.