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Once a month, usually the third Saturday afternoon, folks from the Kuala lumpur publishing world are to be seen hanging out at Seksan, an artist/architect’s tiny gallery at an event organised by Sharon Bakar. It is fascinating to watch various writers read out their works in front of various backgrounds. The one you see here had been missing for the longest time, but is now back.

Six Little Pigs at Seksan

Six Little Pigs, Photograph by Leon Wing

Sitting there, looking at the painting, this is what I thought:

Six little pigs hanging in the light like the first line of a nursery rhyme.  The light catches their blushed white coats, the gray sheen of their hooves, their doleful eyes, long eyelashes, and their pink-pouted snouts worthy of Angelina Jolie. What the light does not show is the six-pronged hook on which the piglets hang, their guts missing, their blood drained, their flesh skin and bones ready to melt over a slow-roasting fire.

It reminded me of ourselves, so blithe in our lives, so forgetful on the hooks on which we hang, bloodless, gutless, the lot of us, so distant from memory.

And then one of the poets, Omar Musa came up and recited these lines, :

We forget that

buds of shadow

spring from the simplest of desires,

that slave-ships surged through waves

so nobility could soak their throats in rum


sprinkle sugar in tea.

That blades bite bone in the holiest causes.

That lands are stolen, as are children at night,

and even with the best intentions, these things are not right.

And then his line that stayed with me:

We think because our life is performance and rehearsal at the same time, it is ok to forget.

I felt like a forgetful little piglet and was afraid, when I heard those lines. Curious, how words and images randomly juxtaposed could move the heart into such a sinking, especially when Omar Musa ended his poem with these lines:

This story has no ending.

We are in suspended motion.

We walk like ghosts,

Our feet knocking on the doors of the earth.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Arti says:

    Interesting photo and afterthought. Also like your new blog design and header pic.

  • Mar says:

    This is…DEEP!
    Anyways, just wanted to pop by to say Hi and fyi, Im resurrecting my blogging life after being MIA for awhile now. Hehe. Congrats on the book launch btw! 🙂

  • I guess that is so. But, although I have a strong imagination, it is hard to think of my ‘being’ in those terms. Each time I walk down a local footpath I stop by the hedge to see a group of pigs penned up on the other side, just a few feet away. I love to watch them using their snouts to dig down into the soil and eating anything they find, plus making pools in some of these depressions to wallow in — other pigs coming up to push his (or her) way in. And, in true tradition of ‘waste not, want not’ piggies drinking the wee of other the pigs even as they are urinating this (apparently) delicious liquid. Pigs are far more resourceful than I am. They appear to enjoy their lives. They reproduce and do not appear to bite the hand that feeds them. Some of smaller breeds are really cute and friendly. While on holiday, one followed us down a lane until we left him (her?) to go through a gate. There in a field of sheep with their lambs, my soul singing for joy, we found a dead lamb by the footpath — its eyes having been pecked out by crows. Animals that do no harm to other creatures are vulnerable to the claws of scavengers. So it is in the world of humans. I do not forget history, the suffering endured, and not just with slavery. But we don’t have to go back in history — it is ever present: millions live off the backs of those poorly-paid labourers who produce food and clothing for our throw-away society. They may be ‘free’ but are surely still in slavery with wages barely able to feed and clothe a family.
    I do not see my life as performance and rehearsal. I might have done at one time. I take each day as it comes within the worldwide scheme of things, hoping that one day mankind will reach his true statue as sons of God — or for the non-religious, as brothers. We cannot do this unless we learn the lessons of history.