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Day of pigs

Fri 2011-Apr-22 @ +08 08:00:19 am

This little piggy went to market…

Three-column photo in the Star for a meet-and-greet, exactly like a campaigning politician doing another of those fake man-of-the-people routines at election time.

…and for a yard-long cuppa

Five-column treatment in the NST, the paper that gave half the front page for a photo of the previous top so-called cop (for lack of an even more insulting term) who threatened to pull his people off the streets because a schoolboy was shot dead.

But this one put mock humility on parade…

Five-column treatment in the Star, sucking up to that one, who said the dead schoolboy was a thug.

* * * *

In other news…

Three piggies basking in the sun

A bright sunny day in town. Two piggies sitting on a flower-bed ledge; White T-Shirt on the left, muttering indistinctly; Black T-Shirt, embellished with lion city slogan, to the right; Sow in summer frock prancing further to the right, in shrill voice, indistinct. White piggies in the tropical sun, but totally black.

* * * *

The patrol car came slowly around the corner, a lean one at the wheel, a plump fleshy porky one at the front seat, pointedly glancing at the used-car dealership by the side then glaring balefully at the angry, elderly man hurrying along by the pavement, stooped with backpacks fore-and-aft. The man spits on the road at the sight and growls an angry expletive. The porky one merely glares. All one to him, it seems.

* * * *

Five minutes later, a patrol car, on the opposite side of the road, heading away slowly; a few more minutes later, a third, coming around from the side of the government building; two minutes later, yet another, the bus station, edging slowly past a bus heading out of town, two impassive faces with faux serious intent. A show of force, but more likely another of those we-men-of-the-people charades put on for visiting so-called dignitaries (for lack of a more insulting term).

* * * *

A young woman in jeans and red t-shirt is standing uncertainly, blocking the aisle ahead, as the man with the backpacks makes his way to his seat at the front. Another woman calls out a phrase in Tamil and Red T-Shirt heads to the corner seat in the front row. “That’s my seat I’m afraid,” the man says, approaching; Red T-Shirt mutters uncertainly then settles into the seat across the aisle wedging herself into the corner.

* * * *

At a tea stall: surprise! a Benggali and friend having tea; they look up pointedly at the approaching man in the baseball cap seeking a pick-me-up cup of char. Peak down, making his way through the crowded caff, he barely notices them, or the figure in the dark blue uniform planted in the passage outside the rice stall. The char wallah is in noisy banter with a shop assistant about limes but speedily fills the man’s order: surprised, he fumbles in his wallet for the couple of bucks, then a flash of cleavage to the right draws his startled sight to a person of indeterminate sex paying for her packet of iced coffee.

* * * *

Later, the man in the baseball cap takes a stroll back towards the tea stall, casually taking in the surroundings. Benggali and friend look at him again as they walk towards the car park. The man in the baseball cap takes a long quizzical look at them, then pulls up short. Parked around the corner is a black van, with DC plates. An expletive, then he casts his eyes slowly around, trying to make out which of those seated were running errands for HMG; he goes across the way for a smoke, looking up and glancing around occasionally. Then he puts out the cigarette and walks off, annoyed and uncertain. A car with lion city plates goes past, then two fire and rescue vehicles. More pigs?

* * * *

Red T-Shirt reaches into her backpack and the Nokia start-up chime comes on as the man in the baseball cap pulls out a book and begins to read. The beeps of arriving text messages ring out occasionally from across the aisle. From a few seats behind is heard one side of a conversation in Malay. The man in the baseball cap looks out the window as a government signboard flashes past and the makings of a clover leaf etched out in the red clay. On the opposite side, the trim dense rows of oil palms stretch away to the horizon. “Ya, seen already” comes from a voice a few rows away, in Chinese, in the coarse tones of a tradesman.

* * * *

Laden under his fore-and-aft packs, the man hesitates at the turnstile, reaching for his ticket; just ahead, at the ticket office, Red T-shirt turns around and flashes a smile. The man ignores her, passes through and trudges wearily on, before letting down his packs on a platform bench. Red T-shirt walks past, trundling an overnight bag wobbling on the rough uneven floor.

* * * *

The mamak shop is unusually busy for the hour; the man has to take a table towards the rear, and goes to place his order. Turning around with plate in hand, he picks up fork and spoon, then from the corner of his eyes an unmistakable dark-blue uniform is seen, hunched over a phone at a table in front, charger plugged into the wall socket, thumbs punching up messages. From a long table rises a welter of business talk, washing over nearby conversations. The name of an ETP project company rises sharply above the hubbub. Moments later, the same voice says “Okay, safe” and then “he’s special branch” and later, “hotel”, each fragment slicing through the nattering. In the meantime, the television has come awake, with football chatter in the usual patronising air and with carefully enunciated phrases. A scraping of chairs, and the sound of hearty farewells. Then the telly switches to wrestling. More of the carefully-pitched phrases and projected words, this time from a midwestern voice.


It’s been Holy Thursday.
It’s also been a day of pigs, mostly of the black variety.


With apologies to the four-legged members of the porcine family who live out their lives with little malice, unlike the two-legged variety of a sub-human species who take pleasure in calculated malevolence for profit.

© 2011 uppercaise. All rights reserved


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