The pungent smells of cinnamon, and other spices either infused in meats or soaked in sorrel paired with the fond feeling of industriousness of family members contributed to the Christmassy atmosphere that year. It was early in the morning and things were just getting started; the crisp breeze in the Lucian countryside carried the squeals of pigs being slaughtered one-by-one,
each going to be served to excited children later in the day for a luxurious Christmas lunch.
Oink, the name given to Richard family’s pork supply while it was still alive, had been enjoying all year long the company of the five children who would sneak near his pen daily to offer something edible. Oink’s favourite was mangoes and he longed for the following Spring to arrive so he could revel in some mango long and mango tifi, if he was lucky the youngest child would bring him some of the juiciest mango Julie or graham. He was one of the roundest, pinkest of the livestock along the street and had his own department at the end of the Richard’s pigpen. Life was good for Oink – even his former caretaker, which he didn’t like, had been traded for a more sympathetic Dwet, a young man still green in the animal farming business.
Oink preferred Dwet because he was patient on Oink’s more excited days and let him run around the Richard’s land longer than anyone else. But on that glorious Christmas day, although the sun made Dwet’s locks glow with a happy hue, he didn’t seem too happy. He seemed distant to Oink and didn’t give the usual scratch, then he absentmindedly closed the gate and didn’t deliver his usual farewell.
Oink noticed the Richard’s children didn’t participate in the usual school holiday ritual, spending most of the morning running around the yard.
The butcher made his way to the end of the street with his helpers finally entering the Richard’s large estate. Over the years he noticed how the family’s children fared the killing and slaughtering of the Christmas meat, and always learned the names they gave to the animals by year-end, but was comforted knowing they would get over it by lunchtime. He walked to the usual gate where the Richard’s Christmas pig was usually kept but quickly noticed the gate had fallen off and Oink was not in its designated spot.
Christmas preparations were put on a lengthy hiatus as now not just the Richard’s but the entire community now had to find Oink. Every trail, and corner were searched, and as far into the bush as possible, pigs could travel far if they wanted to. But alas, lunchtime came and went and the Richard’s were instead offered a few pounds of meat from every other family because Oink was nowhere to be found. The children cried more than usual that Christmas because for once they didn’t see his fate before their eyes.
Ma and Pa Richard headed to their bedroom still wallowing in disappointment, not only did they lose a few hundreds of dollars worth of meat in the form of Oink, but the year’s supply of pork would have to be sourced another way. But as Mrs. Richard set the rollers in her hair for the night’s rest, the disturbing smell aggravating her nostrils forced her to ask, “Ki sa ki ka santi coh conchon coh sa?”