You probably want to know how Pinky came to be in our lives. We don’t know, exactly. She came to live with us shortly after we’d moved into our renovated three-room apartment in Bukit Batok West, but in the early days we weren’t as versed as we are now in horse-speak, and her explanation sounded more like neighing than the short clipped way in which she really talks, so many things were lost in translation. Then we got used to her presence in our lives, and we never thought to ask again. She had said something about having come from a place that was psychedelic. Maybe her last home was a shop that sold lava lamps, as indeed in those years, lava lamps were a hot thing, and when the owners finally closed their business because lava lamps became unfashionable after a while, they forgot to take Pinky with them. The Big Guy reasoned they had left her behind because she annoyed them too much, the proverbial bull in a china shop, but I told him not to be mean: Pinky isn’t a bull anyway; she’s just a tiny pink horse, to which Big Guy, because he was in a bad mood that evening, retorted that Pinky’s qualities are more likely a figment of my imagination. I decided it was not a battle worth fighting. Whatever it was, Pinky was here to stay.
Everything about Pinky lives up to her name. She has a lovely long – pink – mane, fuller than my hair could – would – ever be, and beautiful deep pink eyes. She did not bring shoes with her when she arrived and we thought we’d fashion something out of an old block of hard wood that we found in our void deck, to protect her lovely fuschia hooves. The Big Guy carved out a pair of horse shoes from the block, then polished them till they gleamed, and applied an anti-rot varnish as a finishing touch. Pinky was really pleased, because, in addition to loving the colour pink, she also loves shiny things. “She could have been a magpie in her previous life,” Big Guy said, under his breath but loud enough for everyone to hear.
I enjoyed Pinky’s colour – I mean, company – very much, because working as a roving editor meant I spent much time alone, and her presence meant I had someone to bounce ideas off, and it saved me from harassing my busy boss with too many emails. She liked to perch on my left shoulder, and we would chatter as I worked. I just had to be careful not to appear to be talking to myself too much, because McDonald’s at SAFRA Toa Payoh was a pleasant place to work from, especially when I was early and could take the soft seat in the corner, and I wanted to seem harmless.
With the Big Guy things were somewhat different. For some reason, he and Pinky rubbed each other the wrong way and were mutually condescending to each other. Perhaps it was the way the Big Guy snored when he slept at night, which disturbed Pinky’s exquisite sensibilities, or perhaps it was because Pinky’s chatter – her “whys” and “I want!” and “how about this!” as well as her constant remarks about the manner in which he went about his daily chores – often disrupted his need to focus on tasks one at a time. He took to rebuffing her, but she always had a ‘smartass’ comeback, and very quickly he gave up and ignored her instead. But Pinky didn’t like being ignored either, and so she would prance around him and step on his toes and run up onto his shoulder and offer more insistent feedback about what she thought about him, so that he had to plead with me, “Can you remove your horse?!” So for some time after Pinky’s arrival, until all of us eventually adjusted to one another, tensions at home tended to run rather high, especially on weekends when all of us had to face one another all day.
Pinky’s favourite time of the day is the morning right after waking, when she will drag herself to the dining table to drink coffee from Big Guy’s mug (because she prefers kopi-o, and I like my coffee with condensed milk), and take a few bites of his bread (because I don’t like to eat bread and try as far as possible to have something else for breakfast). Then she decides who she will be with for the day, and she announces that decision by hopping into the trouser pocket of the favoured person, where she will snooze some more.
Jocelyn Lau is editor, writer and co-founder of Kucinta Books. She has published a collection of haiku in Hello, Baby (Math Paper Press 2013). Two other collections, Hey There, Tot! and Excursion to HortPark, will be published by Kucinta Books in early 2015. She has also written short fiction pieces, and a new picture book series is being planned.