It is most wonderful to look at them, them pigs. They are not the bred-for-slaughter type; friendly, obliging, round, and blissful on feet. These are the wild ones. Folks call them wild boars. What you call them doesn’t matter really; pigs, hogs, swine, wild boars, bacons or pork. The ones that are not bred and them still not trapped walk about in the night. Their time is two in the morning, which is mine too. A time to connect with the world out there; dark, insecure, lonesome, vague, and very real. They come in the look out for food. I am in the look out for connections? Roots? Meaning? Not sure what.

But then when we stare into each other, I fancy that they run over me. They don’t. They come with small ones too. They use our lane. The little ones go in the middle flanked by mom and aunts; all in a line; one after the other; not rushing; though aware of the peril of exposure; defenceless exposure. They go noiseless, except for the cracklings of slightly moist leaves under them feet. Or hooves? They blend into the greyish brown night even on a full moon day. I flash a torch at them or put on the lights for the excitement of seeing them, them wild pigs. They step up their pace, still not hurrying; heads down, breaths heavy, chest heaving, labouring rhythm at the knees, and gentle fear at the heels.

At times one or the other olive green bold one takes on the challenge of barking dogs; stays put; never mind the lights; never mind me; says something in pig dialect. I want to touch it. Caress it. And, say in pig dialect that I want to be his. He could do whatever he wants with me. I have had enough of living, life, this life. I mean human life. I want to be in the world of mono syllable dialect. And, thus in a world free of misapprehension. I am tired of language, civilized language, and its camouflages.

It must be that bold one, or his sibling that he pranced about in the care-free world of youths under the watchful eyes of his mother, or a spirited relative of his, that smelled death the other day by the meeting point of three fences. Apparently, he was shot. Shot by a policeman, for his meat, it seems. He did not die at the policeman. He managed to run over the railway lines, across the paddy, across the road, and along our lane towards the safety of his leaves-lined day nest. But he did not make it. He had died, despite his almost bullet-impenetrable 2-inch thick shield, on his way, by the lane, as I said, at a point where three fences met.

When the smell of death stuck me the other night, I took a head count of my many pets. Then I contentedly ignored the stench, despite its strength. A day and another night passed. Then I heard the house helper of one of my neighbours stirring about a dead pig. Her masters, despite the dead pig at their fence, had to drive away somewhere, apparently, on a vital over-night stay-cum-visit. She was talking of the necessity of burying the dead pig without delay owing to the health menace it posed to the entire neighbourhood. She was talking to those who lived down by the abandoned paddy field. She was enticing the man of that family to do the job.

He had taken a look at the nearly 200 kilo stinking pig, it appears, and had said that he could not do it alone despite his manhood. He was however willing to do the service if another would assist him in digging the burial hole in the ground. The problem was the other wanted at least a Rs 1500/= to assist with the burial considering the size and weight of the long dead pig. So the stirring came to an end with the dead pig being left alone at the point where three fences met yet another day and a night.

The master of that house, the oldest occupant of our area, on his return next morning took the matters in his hand. He first of all talked to his neighbour who shared the dead pig’s site with him. He had asked the neighbour to accompany him on his visit to the Director of the Training College, who was the owner of the third fence that the pig had chosen to mark with his death. As a matter of fact, it was the Training College premises that house the comfy, leaves-lined, day rests of the pigs, rather wild boars. And, therefore, the dead pig was more of the Director’s responsibility than otherwise. However, the neighbour being a Christian and that day being a Sunday had refused to come along to see the Director because of the necessity of him not missing out on his weekly church visit.

At this point, I saw my Buddhist neighbour really getting worked up. He left his home with long strides that were characteristics of his agitated, not-wanting-to-loose-control, state of mind that I had often witnessed. Sometimes after that I met his wife. As she was passing my gate, she briefed me about what was going on, and about the high cost of burial. I, on the moment of neighbourly affection, told her that I could chip in, if necessary, despite the fact the dead pig touched me only by its stench, that was, of course, if I excluded me beseeching him in the mid of the night to take me away from the poly-syllable world of mine.

After a long while I saw my Buddhist neighbour walking towards my Christian neighbour’s house, still with his characteristic agitated, not-wanting-to-loose-control, long strides. Then I got to know from those living by the abandoned paddy field that the Director had agreed to arrange for the burial, which could take place only on Monday when his staff would be back at work. At that point, I left the garden and came inside to attend to the house chores.

Sometimes during the late afternoon the same day, I heard my Buddhist’s neighbour’s wife calling me by my name. When I came out and met her, she told me that the minor staff promised by the Director had already come to bury the pig, which indeed was the good news. The catch however was, he had brought another person along to help him with the burial which had got very complicated with the unbearable stench emanating from the maggot-soften body of the dead pig. That other person, not being a staff of the Training College, needed to be paid. The good news, however, was that he had asked only for a Rs. 1000/=, and not a Rs. 1500/= as was the case before. She said that I could share in the burial expenditures, as I wanted to, with a Rs. 300/=. I obliged myself despite my longing to turn wild, as wild as the dead wild boar.

The story did not end there as you might have expected. Late in the evening, I got a call from my Christian neighbour who had only recently hosted his delightfully beautiful daughter’s wedding at a 5-star hotel to a handsome son of aristocratic upcountry dwellers all of whom reside in New Zealand. We had been invited, perhaps owing to our social and financial positions coupled with our generous hearts. The highlight of the wedding menu was uncooked sausages and processed meat of all kind, expensive and exhilarating.

Let me get to the point, now. He started out saying that he was calling me because I worked at the University and therefore he believed that I could enlighten him on certain aspects of overtime and petty cash procedures in the government sector. I got severely quiet on the phone. I sensed like an animal what was coming. He continued, “It is not the matter of money. It is a matter of principle. Could not the Director of the Training College have paid the Rs 1000/= from the petty cash?” I said that I would not know exactly what you could do with the petty cash and what you could not. A novel situation such as the pig’s burial on a Sunday called for interpretation of the overtime and petty cash procedures.

Moreover, I told, that he need not concern himself too much on the procedural finesse of this matter since I had already chipped in a Rs. 300/=. He had an uncomfortable chuckle. It was followed by him saying that both him and his Buddhist neighbour had contributed Rs. 350/= each for the burial. But then his point was that this procedure was condemnable since at Browns and Co., the private sector company in which he worked as an electrical engineer, he would have settled the Rs. 1000/= from the petty cash. I told him that in the government sector, we keep a blind eye on such matters since it involved some poor person making a Rs 1000/= in addition to the overtime payment that the minor staff of the Training College might get over the burial.

At which point, he chuckled. It was a conquering type of chuckle, or a running down type. I could not care what. I slammed the phone down and hissed, “Pigs”.

- July 2009



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