Saturday, July 4, 2009

Inside the book

The other day I was out by the pigpen looking at one of my sows. She had refused to eat for the last three days and I was fraught with worry. As it is I only have two sows, and fifty percent of them refusing to eat is enough to cause a budding farmer sleepless nights. Pigs don’t come cheap, you know, and with the prices of meat skyrocketing I was expecting to start a whole breed of pigs and make a bundle of money. This particular sow was gifted to me by one of my farmer neighbours, and that had made her extra special. She had been a happy little piglet, playful and energetic, content with the world around her, and suddenly here she was on a mysterious diet. I checked my calendar, it was the middle of June. Lent was over three months ago, and Ramzan wouldn’t come for another four months. Besides, she had never been religious, so you would understand when I say I was amazed and at the same time worried by this new eating regime. I had already consulted the local vet who duly came over and examined her and pronounced her hale and hearty. That got me thinking, had she been influenced by the thin goats across the farm, or was she trying for the size zero look? If only pigs could talk!

Leaving her to make up her mind, I walked over to the pond and sat down on one of the benches beside it. It was a hot summer day, and I was grateful for the ample shade provided by the palm trees around me. The air was thick and heavy, and was filled with the smell of ripe mangoes. I made a mental note to go to the market and hire a farm hand to harvest the fruits.

Do you hear me, I'm talking to you, across the waters, across the deep blue oceannnnn…”

Oh, the phone. It was Omboy.


“Amby, do you remember that pimp your boys robbed last week?”


“Uncle Enzo just called me, and it seems the pimp was protected by Giancarlo Morillo…”

“The Bull?” I interrupted. Morillo was never famous for his good looks.

“Yeah, Enzo said The Bull just rounded up his men and they are now at his house. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come looking for you at your farm.”

I got up from the bench and walked towards my farm house. The roses near the house wore a dry withered look, but there was no time to water them now.

“Listen Omboy, I’m going to ask for Uncle Enzo’s help. Is he at the casino?”

“I don’t think so, when he phoned me he was over at Papri’s college, you know she got into a fight again and they were about to throw her out of her sorority house.”

Papri was Enzo’s only daughter, fiercely independent and as wild as her father. It seemed her housemates had called her a gangster’s daughter and fights had broken out. I wasn’t surprised; she never was the kind to take insults lightly.

“Okay. At least he’s not racing cars and losing money. I'm going to his house in Yoville and wait for him there. Will you call him and let him know?”

“Sure thing,” said Omboy, “I too will lock up my farm and come to Yoville. I will bring some of my boys, just in case.”

“Okay, see you there.”

I hung up, locked the house, locked the gates, and left my farm.

As I walked on the dusty road it seemed the sun grew hotter and hotter and very soon my shirt was damp with sweat. I realized then the folly of my actions, walking on the main road where I was plainly visible, and it would take at least an hour before I reached Uncle Enzo’s place. I went back a few metres, and took the dirt path that would take me to Epis’s farm. I knew he would be working on his fields, and I could ask him to give me a ride me to town.

I was right, Epis was out on his fields, but he was not working. I found him near his apple grove, standing under a tree and taking photos of his apple flowers, so engrossed that he didn’t notice me approaching.

“I'm sure the photos will come out real nice,” I said.

He wasn’t surprised to hear a voice speaking suddenly; I guessed he must’ve had people sneaking up on him all the time. He turned around and blinked his eyes rapidly.

“Let’s hope so. The sun is a bit too… sunny, not exactly my favourite shooting weather. I have an assignment with the National Geographic and they want me to capture the different stages of an apple flower. I am not going to let an opportunity like this go by.”

“National Geographic? That is great news.”

“Yes, I am very happy to get this assignment. But I will not shoot any more today, I'm not at all happy with this sun.”

“Epis, can I ask you a small favour?”

“What is it?”

“Can you give me a ride into Yoville? I have some urgent work and I cannot possibly go there by foot,” I said, nervously twisting my hands.

He put away his photographing things, and we walked towards his farm house.

“No problem. I was going there anyway. Zualtay’s invited me for lunch.”

Relief washed over me. I looked at the time; it had been an hour since Omboy called me. I could imagine The Bull pacing his living room floor and giving instructions to his henchmen, I could hear in my mind the angry responses, and could see in my head the cold eyes of his thugs.

Epis changed into his town clothes, locked his house, saddled his horse and off we went a-trotting.

The horse was young and fast, and we reached Yoville in ten minutes flat. I saw some other farmers at the town square, some buying provisions, some dressed up in their town clothes and strolling with their family, and some selling their produce of fruits and vegetables.

Zualtay’s house was right in the middle of town, a small neat two storied house where she lived with her cats and dogs. We got down, and a big brown dog came rushing out of the house and barked loudly at us. His mistress came out, a tiny woman who didn’t look like the type to own a big brown dog. She told the dog to shut up, and on seeing us broke into a bright smile.

“Oh hello Amby, hello Epis. How nice of you to visit me. What brings you two to town on such a good working day?”

Epis looked at me and blinked his eyes that I supposed was meant to say “She’d clean forgotten about the lunch.”

“I am going to visit my uncle, and Epis here gave me a ride,” I said.

“Oh I see. And Epis, what about you?”

“You invited me to lunch, if I'm not mistaken,” he said.

“Oh yes I did, but it isn’t until tomorrow, right?”

“I'm sure you said Friday the 19th of June.”

“Oh I did, did I? How silly of me to forget. Come inside, I’ll change into something nice and I’ll take you to that fancy new restaurant.”

“Zualtay, I guess I’ll go along, some people are waiting for me at my uncle’s house,” I said.

“Oh all right, but do drop in on your way back home, you hear?”

“Yes of course, how can I not……

Do you hear me, I'm talking to you, across the waters, across the deep blue oceannnnn…

The phone again. It was an unfamiliar number.


“Madam, this is your cab driver, we are waiting downstairs, please come.”


I hung up, logged out of Facebook, and went to work.


  1. LOL!! that was really neat!

    I was addicted to Mafia wars, but never entered Yoville nor Farm Town. Why not? Coz I know i'll be engrossed once I start, so i'm avoiding them.. for now. hehe

  2. Yeah, once you start playing these games you tend to be engrossed, and it takes up so much of your time, time you could otherwise have spent doing something productive. I'm now trying to keep away as much as I can.

  3. Nice writ/read.. kinda makes me curious about mafia wars and Farmtown.. Didn't wanna start it yet cos' Im kinda scared I might get hooked to it.. hehe.. But wht the hell.. Mafia wars, here I come..

  4. Haha love the way your imagination works. Specially the tongue-in-cheek bits about the pig's new eating regime :D

  5. blackestred - Stay away from Farm Town, it's fun, addictive, time consuming, and totally useless. You will constantly be thinking of your crops and will go online at odd hours of the day because you don't want your crops to go to waste. Mafia Wars is slightly better.

    J - hehe me and my imagination going overboard.

  6. Heard about it, but never played it.

    Is the Epis here, our Epis? :-) Didn't know you guys had something going on... :)

    He's indeed an amazing photographer.

  7. Haha ka nui nasa ltk, a ziaktu hian a ziak thiam bawk a. Ka nau lehkhabu ziak tawp mai teh a

  8. My dear Kim, let's not pole vault to conclusions. Yes it is indeed our Epis. Just thought I'd include my farmer buddies in the story. You see, all the characters in the story are my neighbours in Farm Town. Give it a try, it's really fun.

    vana- nia lehkhabu ziah hi chu ka chak khawp mai, thei em ang chu maw!