Tuesday 13 October 2020

A.L. Snijders: 'Eikels'



The time when I kept pigs is long since over. They used to live outdoors in their own territory and sleep in a hut with lots of straw that I got from a friendly neighbour. To start with, I bought their feed from a firm that specialised in animal feeds, but after a tip from someone at a supermarket, I was able after five ‘o clock to get hold of food that could no longer be sold. The pigs thrived on fruit and herbs and vegetables that were brought here in huge aircraft from countries with exotic names and great poverty. Everyone who saw my pigs were struck by their distinctive behaviour. Once someone said that he couldn’t help thinking of animals from the epoch of the Akkadian Empire between the Euphrates and the Tigris, between 2350 and 2025 BC. The mysterious power those pigs then had has never since been observed. I had never heard of this and did not go into it any further. The old understanding remained that pigs like acorns. It would have been nice if I could have gone with them to the wood behind my house and let them graze on acorns beneath the oak trees. But pigs aren’t like that, they don’t listen to commands. I could only keep them on an enclosed plot of land. This they then churned open, and took great pleasure in doing so. In autumn, the woodland paths were full of acorns and I used to collect them in buckets and take them to the pigs. I did so in order to soften their hearts. It took a lot of time that I really needed to keep the house in reasonable shape, but there was voice inside me that urged me not to consider the pigs as ordinary animals. All of this took place in the last century, I have forgotten about the mysterious power of the pigs, I actually don’t think about it anymore. This morning I was driving along the secondary road that runs through this self-same wood. The weather was fine, everyone was doing eighty. When an opposing car blinked its lights at me, I couldn’t see anything wrong, but I soon did when I saw a bike lying in the road that I was only able to avoid by braking sharply and swerving over onto the verge. The bike had fallen off a carrying rack and could have caused a nasty accident. This took place at a spot in the wood where earlier, in the last century, I had often collected acorns for my Mesopotamian pigs. I don’t find I can justifiably relate the one thing with the other, but it costs me the utmost effort.

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