Sebastian and Lucy.

The Veil of Neighbourly Strife

Denzil Jayasinghe
4 min readNov 24, 2023

Sebastian, the acolyte at our local church, was quite the character. He wore a smirky smile that seemed permanently etched on his face as if he fancied himself the divine envoy to the good people of Mudiyansegewatta. Yet, beneath that self-assured grin lay a heart brimming with disdain for the others. Sebastian had a slender figure and a sour face that showed fake kindness. It was a curious case of a heavenly representative harbouring rather unheavenly sentiments, also shared by his wife, Lucy.

Sebastian wasn’t very tall and liked wearing his fancy Sunday coat. His grey hair made him look harmless, a do-gooder, and his small size made him seem even less threatening. The worst part was that he lived right next door. Lucy was just as crafty to the point of being wicked. She always stood in the front row at church with her white veil, trying to show everyone how holy she was.

Sebastian and Lucy had five daughters and one son. The oldest daughter became a nun, a big deal in our super Catholic neighbourhood. Their only son, Damian, was like the prince of the family. He helped in church ceremonies, proudly holding the flag and assisting with the church altar. Damian even volunteered to distribute the Catholic weekly newspaper to show their dedication to the faith.

On Sundays, Sebastian led the whole church in prayers and chants before the service. He was like a human microphone, booming his voice without fancy equipment, proudly kneeling, and guiding the congregation, imploring his God. Meanwhile, Lucy sat in the front row, wearing a white veil that stood out before the statues. She awaited her son to appear as the main altar boy, taking the spotlight.

But what surprised me was their hatred for their neighbours compared to their love for God. They even tried to take more of our land by moving our fence when no one was looking. When a neighbour’s young daughter got pregnant out of wedlock, both Sebastian and Lucy yelled at her across their fence in broad daylight. This made the poor girl cry, embarrassing her in front of everyone. She had a tough life with her twin babies, and taking care of two kids on her own was not easy.

Lucy would shout mean words from her garden across the fence at my mother that no kid should hear. When I tried to stand up for my mother, she yelled at me, saying, “You be quiet, you fool. This boy is just like his silly mother.”

When I walked home from school, Lucy deliberately ignored me, showing that they didn’t like me. I couldn’t understand how Lucy, who seemed so devoted to their religious practices in the church, could also hold a strong dislike for their neighbours. As Lucy passed by, I noticed she wore a rosary necklace with a huge cross dangling down on her blouse.

Come evening, it was like tuning in to the Christian radio station next door, broadcasting the latest hits in divine intervention. Sebastian and Lucy transformed their homes into spiritual concert halls, belting out prayers and hymns like they were auditioning for heavenly choirs. At precisely 8 pm, the neighbourhood became a religious karaoke party, with their fervent voices reaching the heavens or the nearest neighbours. It was like clockwork: prayers on demand every night.

Things between Lucy and my mother got even more heated when my father was away during the week. They went so far as to falsely complain to the police that my mother had hurt one of their chickens. One day, a police officer came to our place to check it out. My mother remained steadfast despite these futile maneuvers, refusing to be easily intimidated.

Sebastian and Lucy did something weird. They named their dog after my father, and it felt like another way they were trying to intimidate us. It wasn’t just a simple name for their pet; they used it to make us uncomfortable, adding to the strange tension between our families. Naming their dog after my father seemed like a way to show their hatred towards our family.

I wonder why Sebastian and Lucy acted the way they did. We were just a young family doing our own thing. Maybe they didn’t like that we lived in a big property. Or perhaps it was because my mother didn’t want to stoop to their level. Could it be that they were jealous of my father? It was strange because their claim to being faithful and ring leaders in the church didn’t match how they hated their immediate neighbours.

Disclaimer: The above is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The author has made every effort to portray the characters and events in a fictional and entertaining manner.

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Denzil Jayasinghe

Lifelong learner, tech enthusiast, photographer, occasional artist, servant leader, avid reader, storyteller and more recently a budding writer