Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Inauspicious Portrait

This afternoon, a former colleague sent an article about 9 Facebook “Selfies” that can really harm you written by Hanni Lim to a group WhatsApp. In that article, Hanni listed 9 types of photos that is considered of bad feng shui and taboo, accompanied by real life experience and should be avoided at all cost. On another private chat box, another former colleague asked if I still remember “the inauspicious portrait”.

The portrait that is deemed inauspicious. 
Certainly I have not forgotten about that hand painted portrait of mine. It was commissioned by my colleagues as a gift on the occasion of my promotion which was announced in December 2007. The portrait was given to me on the first week of 2008 during a celebration party. I then asked the office maintenance staff to hang it on a prominent spot in my new room that comes with the promotion.  Soon, some colleagues began to comment that the portrait looked strange. Some complained that the artist had my face slanted. Some said it doesn’t look like me at all except the teeth. Some wanted me to remove the portrait as they think it will bring bad luck.

However, I stood my ground. I am happy to have the portrait there. I am grateful to my colleagues who took the trouble to commission it and there is no better place to display it than the office. Besides, I’ve often said that no promotions and success at the work place can ever the achieved without the support of all my colleagues and the bosses. The portrait served as a reminder to me of the hard work and cooperation of everyone, from the tea lady all the way up the pecking order.

A few months passed without any incident. The comments, negative comments about that portrait dried up and forgotten until one fine Monday morning when I turn up at work with my face droop and all sensations on the left side of the head lost. It turn out that I had Bell’s palsy which was caused by stress and viral infection. Barely after I settled down behind the desk, a colleague took down that portrait.

“See, I’ve been telling you that this portrait is inauspicious. Now, look at what happened!” complained one. 

“We will replace it,” said another colleague.

“Okay, you guys are probably right, but no more portraits,” I conceded and replaced it with a Chinese painting. 

Since then, the portrait has not seen the light again; wrapped up and occupying a tiny space in my store room. However, despite me being a highly superstitious person, I still do not think the portrait is the cause of my Bell’s palsy. But, neither will I risk another unfortunate incident by hanging up the portrait again. Close friends and colleagues still remember and pointing vividly to that portrait as the inauspicious portrait. Since then too, the practice of commissioning a portrait of a newly promoted colleague has stopped altogether in my office for fear of getting another wrong one. 

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