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A CHRISTMAS TALE

15-DEC-2019


«Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God »
Jesus Christ.
Luke 18
 
 
- Hi, Pinky! Hi, baby!
A small human friend found a seat next to a baby piglet and stroked his head.
- Look, what I have for you! – the boy held out a piece of apple on his palm and approached it to Pinky’s snout.
The piglet sniffed the apple joyfully, grabbed the apple with his teeth, grunting with appetite, and began to quickly chew the delicious gift.
The boy laughed.
- You are my little glutton!
The piglet climbed into the boy’s arms and buried his nose into his palm, looking for something else to eat. The boy tightly hugged his pink friend, then raised him and looked into pleased Pinky’s eyes. The piglets’s gaze expressed devotion and happiness with having a friend and with being one. For Pinky, the world around him looked bright and calm. He adored this little boy, hugging him and giving him an unforgettable moment of joy.
 
 
***
 
Pinky lived a slow paced life. He grew and became a large, adult piglet. Every day after school, his little friend Giacomo came to his corral, bringing some treats. Then, he opened the corral, and together they went for a stroll around the neighborhood. The piglet followed the boy.
Pinky loved these little journeys. Being very curious, he adored exploring unfamiliar corners, and every time he discovered something new: an unknown lump-shaped small prickly creature, which quickly ran away on its small paws when seeing Pinky; someone’s burrow; a large tree, under which oblong, rounded, tasty things lay, which Giacomo called “acorns”.
Pinky saw a big world around him, full of interesting things. He often played with his friend.
Giacomo felt that Pinky understood every his word, every look, and even thoughts. Between the boy and the piglet arose something bigger, stronger, kindred than just a close friendship – they were like brothers.
 
***
 
November was coming to an end.
- Today, we will prepare meat for traditional Christmas sausages and salamino, - once said Giacomo’s father Signor Peppe to his wife.
The neighbors loved and respected Peppe. “He is nice and kind,” they said.
Every year just before Christmas, Peppe held a festive dinner, inviting all the neighbors from the area and treating them with homemade wine, Christmas sausages, tangerines and traditional “calconetti” sweets made by Peppe’s wife.
Peppe was a very responsive person; he had compassion on poor people and helped them. He could even bring home and feed a hungry stray African immigrant, talk to him heart to heart, give some money, arrange with a local priest and find a shelter for him. He always gave a part of his harvest away to low-income families, bringing them fruit and vegetables in his mini-van. He never refused neighbors if they needed help: to fix a water tap or a barn roof, to give friend a ride to a service station, if his car is broken or to harvest olives for a lonely old neighbor.
Peppe had was calm and good-natured...
That morning, Peppe called a friend to help him to slaughter a piglet. They prepared a rope and a gun for slaughtering cattle.
Peppe took the rope and entered the corral where unsuspecting Pinky piglet lived. The man tried to throw a rope around his neck and Pinky realized that the man was going to do something bad to him. The piglet ran to the side, tried to break free. But the corral was small and Peppe quickly managed to put the rope into the piglet’s mouth and securely tighten his head with a loop.
Pinky got scared. He screamed desperately, calling his friend Giacomo for the help.
Giacomo was sleeping soundly in his bed, unaware of what was being done to his friend. Suddenly in his sleep he heard his Pinky screaming. The boy woke up. Realizing that this cry was heard from the corral, he jumped up and ran out into the street. He saw a terrible picture: his father was pulling his bottoming friend Pinky from the corral. And the father’s friend had a gun at the ready. Pinky was screaming and seemed to crying plaintively, as if calling his friend: “Help me! Help!”
- No! Wait! - begged Giacomo.
But his father had already took the gun and aimed at the piglet’s head.
In Pinky’s eyes, the boy saw tears, fear, despair.
- NO!
A shot rang.
- No! - the boy cried. But no one paid attention to him.
Father grabbed a knife and cut Pinky’s throat. The piglet’s body was agonizing. Pinky was in pain, horrified and didn’t understand what was happening.
“Why? For what?” – his eyes asked.
A piglet, who was faithful to people and saw them as friends - he didn’t understand: why people betrayed him.
Giacomo was crying bitterly, feeling pity, pain and heaviness somewhere deep in his chest. He betrayed his friend! He could not protect him. Everything around seemed unreal, like a terrible dream.
They hung a lifeless body of Pinky, his Pinky, upside down by the hind leg and waited for the blood to drain. When blood flowed out dead Pinky, they put his body in a trough and doused with boiling water....
The boy came to his senses by his father’s touch, when it was all over. Father patted him on the shoulder and said:
- Learn, son, how to slaughter a piglet and cook traditional sausages. On our land, these traditions have existed for many, many years. And our sausages are famous and loved all over the world. We Italians are experts in food!
 
***
 
This Christmas, as all the previous ones, a festive dinner was held. All the neighbors were having fun, eating sausages made of poor Pinky’s meat and drinking wine. Music was playing in the house, fire was burning in the fireplace and chestnuts were being baked.
Giacomo was sitting alone, hugging his knees, on the ground, in the corral, which used to be home of deceased Pinky and was crying bitterly.
“Sorry, Pinky. Sorry, ” – he repeated in his tears.
 
 
*** 
 
30 years later.
 
- Today we are taking good man Peppe to his last journey, - said the priest at the funeral mass.
The church was full of people. Peppe’s wife was crying on the front bench, next to her, son Giacomo and ten-year-old grandson Angelo were sitting. The people in church were mourning Peppe. They loved the old man. He was always good to them.
...
Peppe’s invisible soul was next to his beloved ones. He was sorry to leae his widow to live out her life alone. He told her: “I am here, I am with you,” but she did not hear him and could not.
- And Jesus will wait you in his paradise! Rest in peace, Peppe! – he heard the priest’s last words.
Peppe saw people who took turns approaching his coffin, saying goodbye to the deceased and then received the Host from the priest. He saw bearer came up and took his coffin to take him to the cemetery. He saw a funeral procession following the coffin.
 
- Peppe – the old man heard a voice behind him, - Come along, it’s time to go! I will accompany you.
Peppe turned round and saw a young man in clothes of light with sad gray eyes. He shed peace and tranquility.
- Who are you? An angel? But why do I feel like I know you? - asked Peppe’s soul.
- Yes, you saw me once upon a time. You knew me as Pinky the piglet – a friend of your little son. - answered Angel.
- But pigs cannot become angels! The Bible says it, pigs have no souls – Peppe was amazed
- Come with me! - The angel took Peppe’s hand and pointed to a shining road and an open door at its very end. A soft pacifying light shed from behind the door.
Together they went to the light.
Then, they felt like flying. Peppe saw stars, planets, landscapes of unfamiliar, bizarre worlds sweeping past them.
When the flight finally ended, they found themselves on a mountain top. A soft light was shimmering around. HE was standing in front of Peppe. Jesus, whose images he saw on church illustrations.
- Oh Jesus, our God! It’s you! - exclaimed the old man.
- Yes, for you Catholics I am Jesus. But I have many faces and many names. And before every soul I appear in the form in which a new coming soul expects to see me.
- But if you meet me, then I have lived the life of a good Catholic, and you will take me with you to your kingdom? - Asked enchanted Peppe.
- I watched your life. You were kind to people. But you are not ready yet to enter the world of light, - answered the God.
- But tell me, have I done harm to anyone? I always tried to live according to your commandments. – Peppe was surprised.
- You saw some clearly, but you remained blind to others. I will help you to see the whole truth. But for this you will have to live another life and see it through the eyes of someone whom you failed to notice and love his soul in your previous life.
And the God disappeared.
The missionary waiting all this time came up to Peppe again and took his hand.
- Let’s go! – He said, pointing at the cliff’s edge. – Don’t be afraid of challenges! Every challenge is a road to new knowledge – the way to the light. To complete this way, you have to go back there.
The missionary pointed down. From the high cliff, the old man saw and recognized familiar places, red tiled roofs of the houses in his native village.
- Just go there, don’t be afraid! – the Angel pointed down again.
Peppe took a step and flew down the cliff. He was watching with fear the earth approaching him at a blistering pace.
“Now I’ll smash,” - Peppe thought, forgetting that he had no body that could smash. A moment passed, it seemed he was going to collide with ground... Darkness.
 
***
 
 
Peppe opened his eyes. There was something big and warm next to him. Peppe felt the need to cuddle to It. He crawled to a warm, soft wall and instinctively caught and squeezed a small ball in his mouth, from which a warm sweet liquid poured into his mouth.
- You are my nice little one - he heard a woman’s voice from somewhere above. – What a small, nice baby!
Another newborn piglet crawled to a breeding sow’s large side.
- Angelo! Come here! Look, our Scrofa had babies - said the woman.
Peppe was lying on the straw and felt horrified to realize that he was drinking milk from a nipple of a large pig, but could not stop, obeying the power of instinct. The face of his grandson Angelo hung over him.
- Mom, can I have this piglet? Can I? I’ll call him Pinky! - exclaimed the boy.
Peppe finally managed to tear himself away from the pig’s nipple and he cried out:
- Angelo, it’s me – your grandfather Peppe!
But instead of words he only uttered quiet sounds, reminiscent of grunts.
- Mom, look – said the enthusiastic grandson, - he also wants to be my friend!
 
 
***
 
Time passed. Every day, his son Giacomo came to the corral. Seeing his son, Peppe rushed to him, grunting joyfully, but his son didn’t notice the little piglet. He cleaned the corral from droppings, changed straw from time to time, brought water and food for pigs.
Peppe was worried, he felt pain somewhere in his chest. Probably, in a place where his soul was. He cried. He hoped that someday his son would notice him. But his hopes were in vain.
However, his grandson Angelo played with his new friend, brought him sweets, took him in his arms, stroked on his head. At these moments, Peppe was happy that there was a human next to him, to whom he was indifferent, who loved him.
When Angelo was at school or cycled to play with his peers, Peppe was left alone, lying on a straw in his corral.
“People live with their own worries, their own lives,” - Peppe thought, - “and pigs for them are just livestock, which...” Peppe was horrified to realize: “Which, people grow and kill to eat. And him! O Jesus, he also will one day be killed and eaten!”
Peppe recalled how he, when he was a human, killed pigs. And goosebumps were running through his little body.
It was a painful expectation – the expectation of death. He knew that one day they would come to him to brutally slaughter him. “What will he feel? What pain will he feel? But can’t his son Giacomo see that the piglet he feeds has a soul loving him? His father’s soul.” 
 
 
***
 
The end of November came. The nights were getting cold. In the mornings, clammy fog lay on the ground. Sometimes Peppe woke up in his corral, and was shaking lying on the straw. Either from cold or from an unpleasant, sticky feeling of hopelessness and fear.
That morning, Giacomo entered his corral. He had a rope in his hand.
Peppe cried out:
- No, my son. I’m your father. Don’t do it! If you do this, you will also have to live a pig’s life! You will suffer the same fate!
But Giacomo heard only the sounds of loud grunts and shrieks. He threw a rope over the piglet, as his father Peppe taught.
Indeed, soon it will be time to make traditional sausages for Christmas. And they will be especially tasty if made of meat of a fat young piglet.
- Son, no! – Peppe was crying.
He rushed around the corral and tried to escape. But Giacomo was pulling the piglet out of the corral with cold stubbornness.
Giacomo’s eyes were unfeeling. His father taught him not to feel any pity for animals anymore.
Giacomo pulled the piglet onto open grounds in front of the corral. His assistant got the rope and fixed Peppe’s head.
Peppe was shaking.
Giacomo raised his gun.
- No! NOOOOO! - A boy’s voice sounded loudly. - No, dad! Don’t do it! Pinky!
Giacomo looked up. His eyes met the frightened and desperate eyes of his son Angelo.
Giacomo shivered. This boy’s feelings... He remembered them. Long time ago he tried to save, but couldn’t protect his friend... His Pinky.
Giacomo looked into frightened and pleading eyes of the piglet. Something glimpsed in the animal’s gaze – something familiar, dear.
Giacomo lowered his gun and threw it to the ground.
 
THE END.
 
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus Christ.
Matthew 18
 
 
 
By Evgenia M.
December, 2019
 




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