If That's How Winning Feels, I'd Rather Lose

Israa Abdelfatah

© Copyright 2022 by Israa  Abdelfatah

Photo by Iva Rajović on Unsplash
Photo by Iva Rajović on Unsplash

He was so lonely. That was what the pig always thought of and how he always felt. Utter loneliness and unavoidable solitude. It was not his fault though, he thought to himself. It was not anybody’s fault. It was what it was. He was born as ugly as a sin; his face was deformed, and his hair was all dishevelled. He was unpleasant to look at, so no one had ever looked at him for more than two seconds. When people at his village started expressing their dissatisfaction with him being around, and his own family asked him to leave because he was nothing but a social and aesthetic burden on their shoulders, he started his hiding journey. It was not their fault, he thought. They did not deserve to see something as ugly as his face, and they would not have to anymore. Dedicated to hide, out of consideration for their feelings, he would wander around in the jungles till the day he dies. He would never allow himself to be trapped in self-pity nor self-loathing, but he always craved having a friend. He always listened from a distance to others talking and sharing and crying together. He wanted that for himself, and he always thought that he deserved it.

One day, as he was walking around, he heard a crying sound. He kept looking for the source till he found a bird created with a bright array of colours and a pretty face. His face was so graceful and his sadness felt so holy. He carefully approached the little bird, and slowly got out of his hiding. He was firm and determined to help the little beautiful thing, but he did not know if he would dare to show his face. He did not have any other choice, he thought. Calmly, in spite of how frightened he was, he asked the bird if everything was okay. To his surprise, the bird did not seem flustered or scared to see him as he weepingly answered: “NO OBVIOUSLY NOTHING IS FINE”. Our little pig was happy and relieved to have been able to talk to anyone at all. But, he was so sad for the weeping bird. “What seems to be the problem, little guy?”, he attentively asked the bird. “Everything is wrong. I have never had any luck with anything at all. God has created me so I am in pain as He watches and rejoices. You see, I was created so gracefully and was designed to be a piece of art, but I was never able to see my own reflection. He has given me eyes so beautiful but ones that cannot see and a neck so ravishing and fair with which I cannot sing”, the bird angrily whined and went on crying. The pig felt helpless as he watched the little bird crying and moaning. He suddenly felt the urge to say something, but he was never in a position to participate in a normal conversation with anyone, and he was afraid he would mess it up. “I can see how in pain you are. You can look at it from another angle though. You are gifted with such a beautiful face, and people surely would like to see you all the time. They would associate your face with blessings and good luck. They would certainly love you even if you cannot see and even if you cannot sing”, he quietly assured the bird. The bird’s beautiful face turned red with fury, and he yelled at him to shut up as how he could possibly understand. “Your words are crass, and you would never understand the pain I daily go through. I do not deserve any of these troubles to be bestowed upon me, and I surely will not accept them and will never forgive. Listen to my voice; it is hoarse and squawky. I am talking to you, but I cannot even see your face”, the bird angrily said. “You would not want to. I promise”, the pig sarcastically said. “Why is that?”, the bird indifferently asked. “I am a homely and unattractive pig”, the pig said. “It is a good thing I cannot see you then”, the bird declared. The pig did not answer for a while, and the bird proceeded with his episode of self-pity and dissatisfaction.

The pig tried to think of something to cheer the little angelic bird up, and he kept thinking and thinking and thinking. “I have an idea”, the pig screamed with joy after a while. “I can sing for you”, he explained. “I have never been able to have someone to sing to before, so I have lots of unsung tunes in my head”, the pig said. “I do not like picturing an ugly pig singing, so thank you, but no”, the bird arrogantly declined. “We can travel together, so as to keep each other company”, the pig tried. With a dissatisfied but a yielding look on the bird’s face, the pig picked him up and made of his back a carriage for him. During their journey, the pig strived to keep the bird comfortable and happy. He put it on himself to amuse him with different stories and entertain him with jokes and delightful banter.

After days of this arrangement, the bird got bored and sad again. He wanted more than what life has given him. “Useless holes for eyes and an ugly pig for a companion. Why is my life so miserable?”, the bird cried in disappointment. The pig did not know what to say, but he felt the pain his friend was feeling. He felt sad for him, and angry at himself for failing to be enough. He started chanting tunes full of love, sadness, anger and hope. Feelings the pig has always had and known. The bird stopped his crying as he listened to the pig singing. His voice was angelic and divine, and his feelings were quite real and precious. He dried his tears away and kept listening to him. His songs would bring him solace and comfort. The pig kept singing and the bird kept listening. Days went by like this till the bird suddenly had an urgent request to ask of the pig. “I want to have a voice like yours, but I cannot. If we are friends and companions as you claim, you have to share your voice with me”, the bird firmly told the pig. The pig went quiet for a little while. “I do not understand”, the pig said after a couple of minutes. “I can be seen singing, and you would hide somewhere nearby. You would sing, and the animals would love me”, the bird explained. The pig was eager to make his friend happy, and he was not reluctant to accept whatever would help him to give his bird the comfort he needed.

This arrangement continued for months, they would travel together; the bird would be celebrated for the pig’s angelic voice. The bird became famous for the singing and the songs the pig chanted. They were both happy. The bird was swamped with feelings of pride and pleasure, and the pig was happy he didn’t only have a friend but he was also a little bit responsible for making him untroubled and happy. This arrangement worked just fine till a lady bird fell in love with the bird for his gracious presence and his beautifully warm voice. He fell madly in love with her fragrant scent and sweet touch. She always wanted him to sing to her privately. He would always have his pig sing to her from a distance. Until one day, he was tired of it. The pig was alarmed by the bird weeping loudly. He hastily hushed his crying and dried his tears away, while wandering what got into him. “My life is miserable. I am living a fake life. She does not love me for me; she loves me for your voice”, the bird furiously yelled with his shakingly cracked voice. “I wish you never existed, I deserve to have your voice. It is not fair for an ugly pig to have this voice instead of me”, the bird violently fired all that at the pig.

The pig cried for the first time for himself. He loved his friend so much, but he knew he did not deserve to be treated like that. He was ugly, but he was a good friend. “I am always good to you and I always think highly of you. Why do you keep hating me? I am a really good friend”, the pig reluctantly said. “If you are such a good friend as you claim to be, give me your voice”, the bird demanded. “What do you mean?”, the pig strivingly asked. “Simply, I can take your voice box. That is what friends do for each other”, the bird replied with a sense of entitlement. “But then, I would be able to breathe”, the pig panicked. “You can either continue to breathe or continue being a good friend. You cannot have both, buddy”, the bird said in a broken voice. The pig stayed still for a while, and he weighed the pros and cons. He remembered how he always wished for a friend, and how ungrateful he would be if he ruined this friendship. His friend did not give him much, but he talked to him, and he laughed with him. He was happy when he sang to him, and he loved his stories very much. He appreciated having a friend, and he knew how meaningless his life felt like before having someone to share it with. He decided that he would do this last thing for his friend. They both deserved to have a meaningful life. The pig believed he had to give his life away in order for it to mean anything. He decided to give the bird, his only friend, his voice. As he gasped for air in his last moments, he told the bird: “I... love you, my friend. I am very... grateful... to have had... you”. The bird was moved, but he was relieved. He would now live the real fascinating life he always deserved. It did not last though. For days, he tried to sing the parts of the songs he could recall. People got tired of him. His voice was void of sensations, they thought. He tried to create his own tunes and sing his own stories, but he could not. He did not find any. He did not have any real stories of his own. He got really grumpy and cried over his misfortune. His lady got tired of him and left. He was left all alone. He missed his friend.

I am Israa Abdelfatah, from Egypt. I graduated three years ago. I work in translation and localization. I have studied English literature, and I was always obsessed with short stories.  
I am not a published writer, and this is a short story I wrote on my own. I would love to participate in the competition.  I am very excited for this opportunity. Thank you for your consideration in advance.

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