We have an imaginary horse at home we call Pinky. That’s because she’s pink and loves everything pink, including any of the pink shirts or trousers that we own. She is lazy but smart, and talkative, and the Big Guy all but tolerates what he calls her ‘nonsense’; and when she tries to talk back, he calls her a ‘smart ass’, which she really hates, because she knows for a fact that she’s a horse and that horses are superior to donkeys, so she retaliates by running up his arm to his shoulder and pinching him on the side of the neck with her two front hooves, shouting all that time, “I’m not an ass. I’m a horse!” until he surrenders and stops the teasing.
At night she loves sleeping in between both our pillows or snuggling into our hair and pretending that it’s a nice nest. We have never really discovered why she likes burrowing into a nest if she’s a horse and not a bird. Maybe hair feels, instinctively, like hay to her. She also prefers that the air-conditioning is on, but sometimes, to save on electrical expenses, we use the fan, and she complains plaintively, but eventually she makes do by climbing onto my tummy and falling asleep there instead, but not before digging her hooves into my shirt, crumpling the cloth near where my belly button is, so she doesn’t fall off during the night.
During the day, she travels with either of us, but usually with the Big Guy because he gets to meet more people, especially young people, who talk funny and wear nice clothes and have interesting belongings, unlike real adults like ourselves, who are usually frumpy and grumpy; and during his classes, she is able to romp around the classroom, poking at things and people, and when she gets tired, resting in students’ pencil cases. She loves it that her invisibility to people outside of our home allows her to get away with all her pranks.
Sometimes she likes brown too, though it’s probably because she’s currently in love with a dark brown pony, called Brownie, at Horsecity*, which is a sprawling place near the old Turf Club, off Eng Neo Avenue, where the Big Guy goes for his piano lessons at Staccato! every Sunday. She’s smart, as I’ve said, so on Saturdays Pinky always gets really friendly and cosy with the Big Guy, and you wouldn’t guess that normally they don’t actually get along that well together, so that come Sunday afternoon he will not forget to give her a ride to Horsecity. She would have a much easier time if I were always along too but the baby’s nap hours being always difficult to predict means that I’m less reliable in this aspect.
Brownie is actually an old pony who now spends his days giving rides to little children at a paddock in Horsecity, just outside where the famous pizza restaurant, Picotin, is located. For ten dollars, he walks slowly around the old tree three times, and Pinky will sit on his head, in between his ears, and whisper into his ears. Sometimes the child on Brownie’s back is also the talkative sort, and wants Brownie’s attention too, and Pinky will stoically endure the chatting and patting and stroking until it is over. Sometimes business is slower, and Brownie is tethered to the tree where he can stand in the shade. During those moments Pinky likes to rest on his neck and rub her face in his mane and tell him stories about living among humans. She loves rainy days the most, because that means the paddock is closed and Brownie does not need to work, so the two of them are able to spend time with just each other in his stable while his handler smokes his cigarettes lazily and chats with the jockeys. She hopes every weekend that I take the baby to Horsecity, because that means our family may stay on in the area after the Big Guy’s lesson and feed the rabbits and have dinner, so she and Brownie may have extended time with each other and also eat their dinner together. Even if we go to Guthrie House off Sixth Avenue to have spaghetti and gelato, because it is cheaper than having pizza at Picotin, it is easy for Pinky to catch up with us after dinnertime. Other than hay, which sometimes gets too soggy for their liking, they share a love for apples, carrots and sugar lumps; the latter are so hard to come by these days, Brownie saves any that he gets or finds during his work week in the far lefthand corner of his stable, which his trainer usually does not remember to clean, to give as a welcome treat to Pinky when she visits. He loves her that way.
We are touched by the horses’ affection for each other, which is why we are thinking about how we can help their relationship continue. You see, this evening, Pinky overheard a dinner conversation between the Big Guy and me about the news that the music school may move to another location – Bukit Timah Plaza. That means that in a few months’ time, Pinky may not be able to visit Horsecity any more. That likelihood saddens her so much that she jumps to her hooves and starts galloping around the kitchen in distress. At the moment we are not sure what will become of Pinky’s relationship with Brownie, and whether she will be forced to make a decision between him and us. We’ll work something out, I’m sure. Theirs is such a sweet, simple relationship, we share in their desire to spend all their available time with each other.
*Horsecity is located at 100 Turf Club Road, Singapore 287992. (http://www.horsecity.com.sg)
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.