Today, the 25th day of Nov’ 2012, is ‘International Meatless Day‘. This re-post is dedicated to all the birds and animals who are exploited & killed by the billions each day for human consumption, experimentation, clothing and entertainment. May God bless all his creations with peace, love, life & compassion & may the spirit of this day live forever!
I woke up when I heard my other friends crowing. Ah, it was morning, another new day. I got up from my place and unruffled my feathers. I spent a long time preening & polishing my feathers clean. You can call me Narcissistic but, I could not help it. I simply could not bear to see my white feathers with even a small speck of dirt over them. I would spend several hours admiring my snow white, fluffy feathers.
After I was done with my cleaning, I looked around for food. I was hungry & starved. The others around me were equally hungry too. The sun rose higher up into the sky and we are directly in the way of his scorching heat. Since our enclosure was made of iron, the metal got heated up due to the sun’s direct unfailing rays. All of us huddled together hoping to avoid some direct angry rays. But sadly, the ones in the front of the row, had little or no escape from it.
Though I despised the idea of being so close to another one of my kind, the reason being my squeaky clean feathers would get soiled with too much proximity with other, i had no choice. If I didn’t, the sun would scorched me alive. The very thought of it scared me. I quickly found a place next to my brother and settled with him. I always felt so secure with him. Our hunger only added more weight to our discomfort. Tired, hungry and with throats parched we all prayed for some wet clouds to wrap the angry sun. Our prayers were unanswered. Maybe, we dint pray hard enough, I’d prefer to believe.
It was not until late afternoon, did our caretaker finally showed us some food. Hungry as we all were, it was a stampede to the food tray. I did not want to fight the crowd, cos my feathers were too precious for me. I did not mind missing a day’s food if that was what it took to keep my feathers snowy white. I patiently watched as everyone of them ate & for the feeding frenzy to calm down. When I felt it had, I decided to make my way to the tray. How I wish each one of us had separate feeding bowls! I agreed that it was too much to ask for as there were more than five hundreds of us. Providing each one with a tray would be an expensive affair for my caretaker. I was very fond of my caretaker, whom I heard others call him as Maanja. He was the one who provided food to us everyday. I was only three months old into this planet and i was quite happy with the way my life was going. Eating, feeding & preening topped my list of activities in a given day.
One morning, I was rudely jerked out of my sleep. It was too early, I could say, because the sun was only barely rising up the horizon and my brother & friends had not crowed. We fowls have an instinctive way of knowing when it’s morning. The lights in our enclosure was suddenly turned on. It hurt our eyes as we tried to see & figure out what was going on. There was a truck that was standing next to our enclosure. My caretaker Maanja was there talking to its driver. I was always so happy on seeing him. Maanja meant food. Maanja meant, our starvation was gone. We’d always wait eagerly for him to arrive and replenish our empty food tray. We always wished him good for the food that he gave us.
And then suddenly, Maanja opened the door of our enclosure and began picking each one of us and started flinging them into the waiting truck. The truck driver caught the ones he flung and stuffed them into number of smaller cages. I was taken aback. How can my Maanja, yes, the same Maanja who fed us everyday, handle us so callously? He picked each one by their wings and threw them into the truck as if we were vegetables, maybe cabbages. He threw us as if we had no life, as if no bones cracked inside us, when landed with a thud into the truck; as if we had no feathers that would painfully come off , when he caught us by our wings and hurled us into the dirty truck, as if the skin that would peel off our fragile legs when went reeling on the truck floor dint hurt us & take our breaths away with its pain. I could not believe that it was my Maanja who caused pain to friends. I snuggled to my brother in the far corner of my enclosure so that Maanja’s hands would not be able to reach to us. I was wrong. I was wishfully thinking. As I put up a fight to avoid getting caught by Maanja, it was my brother who got caught first, since, he was the more gentle one of the two of us. I was horrified as Maanja caught my brother by his wings and threw into the truck. My brother landed on one of those rusty cages that were in the truck and broke his wing & a leg. It began bleeding. I could not bring myself to believe what I just saw. I saw my brother, withering in pain. He could not stand up on his feet due to the pain that was caused by a fractured wing bone & a broken leg. As I continued watching dumbfounded, the truck driver, picked my brother by his wings and put him in a cage where there was barely any space for five of us. In this cage, there were already nine of them and he pushed my brother into that cage. I could see my brother in pain, he was choking in pain. His broken wing was badly folded and the tight cage door over him, gave him no chance to make himself comfortable and to rearrange his wing. His eyes clearly showed the pain he felt. He was having difficulty in breathing too. My heart ached. It was as if a poisoned dagger was being repeatedly pierced through it, each time I saw my brother that way.
Maanja now reached for me. This time I did not fight. I did not feel like fighting, like escaping. I had no reason to be fighting for. I surrendered to his painful clasp around me. His tight hold around me made me feel as if my heart would burst out of my chest and fall down on the sandy ground below. I wonder, why dint hold me by my wings too. He then flung me to the truck driver who thankfully caught me, but caught me by my wings. That hurt so bad, I wanted to scream, i wanted to claw out that man’s eyes from the sockets that held them.
He then crushed me into those over crowded cages. I could not even turn my head around. My neck hurt badly as it was positioned in a very uncomfortable way. I wanted to move but I could not. I felt sorry for my friends over whom I was, because I knew, too surely that, they were suffocated. I wondered how long I had to endure this discomfort. I moved my eyeballs around to find my brother’s cage. I saw him, his eyes were half closed, his head hung out from one of the railings of the cage. I dint know what happened to him. I tried cooing to him, but my coos were lost in all those strange sounds around me. Everybody were giving out distressed calls. My call was not special in any way, so that it could stand out from the rest of the voices and sounds. My brother could not hear me…
The truck began moving and I dint know where we began our journey to. I looked at my Maanja for one last time in my life, confused and with a hundred questions in my eyes, none of which he seemed to understand.
I hoped our destination would release us from all this pain and discomfort, that me and my brother would be together again. I kept looking at my brother’s face. I wanted to go to him, snuggle up to him, make him feel comfortable and do what I could to ease his pain. But, I could not, all I could do was watch over him… I watched him as if my gaze had a power to heal. I could never look away from him. I yearned, I longed to be by him…
And then, there a sudden jerk to the truck. And that jerk was so powerful that it shoved several cages aside. When I gathered myself to lock eyes on my brother again, his cage was gone. I could not see where it went. I tried moving my eyeballs to all corners (as i could not move my head) to see if he was there. When my rolled my eyes downwards, I saw something that made me want to die that very instant! I saw that my brother’s cage that was kept on top of another cage had crashed down to the floor of the truck due to the sudden jerk and it had turned turtle. I instantly knew what that meant. My brother’s head that had hung out of the cage was crushed. The weight of other birds around him would have snapped many bones in his neck! That was the last night my brother lived before his life was cut short in the most painful way.
I was wrong about this and how?, I was about to realize it soon. Realize, that there were more painful stuffs that could happen . I did not want to live another day after what I saw. Memories of our times together haunted me. The warmth that I felt under his wings, that was now broken, were some of the best times of my life. When the truck finally stopped, the driver began moving all the cages to the ground. He was no gentle this time either. He began throwing the rusty cages that held us captive, on to the ground, which acted little as a shock absorber. One by one he began flinging the cages on top of another. I did not want to see my brother’s cage. When I knew the driver was now holding my brother’s cage, I cooed, hoping against my hope to hear my brother’s response. If he did not respond to me, it could only mean one thing. That he was dead.And he didn’t.
My grief felt like it would suffocate me. Nothing around me made me feel better. In fact it was like a scene straight of hell. All our cages were now rearranged by a stranger who had a small, strange, filthy shop with a wooden stump in it. I wondered what he sold there. My cage was now on the third floor, meaning, there were 2 more cages stuffed with my friends below me. My neck was was now paining so badly that I lost all sense of its existence. My eyes watered as the sun rays were directly on me. I could not run for cover nor shift my head to avoid the sun’s rays.
That was when I saw a lady with a basket in her hands and a young daughter by her side arrive at this small shop where we were all housed. The daughter looked so innocent. She was so happy to see us. She reached out with her tiny fingers to pet my friend but her mother quickly frisked her aside as if it were a taboo to pet us. I wished the little one all happiness in her life. She reminded me of my brother whom i adored so much. I was lost in thoughts when I felt the cage door open.
Freedom atlast! I tried to unruffle my feathers and shake all the dust off me, but a firm grip around me kept me from doing it. This man carried me inside the dim and dingy shop and laid me on that wooden stump. What was he doing? Why was he putting me on this stump? I was starved and I hadn’t eaten a grain of food since two days nor had a thirst quenching drink of cool water.
I was too exhausted, too heart broken to put up a fight with this stranger. I suddenly felt something sharp slice my throat open! I bled and bled profusely. My snow white feathers which I was so proud of, now had thick red blood all over it. An irony, the color of peace-white, was now getting covered by the color of violence-vermilion. The pain was excruciating, I wanted to scream but I could not. I felt I could take a hundred more of such truck journeys if I could avoid this pain. It was so unbearable that I did not even know whether I was alive or dead. My heart beats became more reduced, I gasped for breath. He then lifted me up by my legs and immersed me boiling water that scalded me alive. The pain that I now felt was like nothing that I had never experienced before. I would not wish even to my enemies, a pain like this. As I hung on to my dear life, half dead, I could feel the stranger pull my feathers off me. It hurt like a small match stick burn in an inferno. I pleaded with my creator for death to come quickly. A slit throat, a drown- that too a drowning in vermilion colored boiling water (colored from my own blood) which burnt my eyes and other parts out, was too much to kill any living being with. I felt God was being too unfair to me. So many pains at one go? ‘One suffering at a time please’, I wanted to tell my creator. Which excruciating pain am I supposed to suffer at one time? My entire life passed in front of me, before I my heart took its one last painful beat & before getting boiled to a pulp.
Though it took a long time, my much deserved peace was here, finally…
My soul saw the lady with the basket purchase pieces of my flesh from the man who slit my throat. He wrapped chunks of my flesh and put it in a dark black colored plastic bag ( which was also the color of his soul). Maybe he subconsciously chose that color because he knew he had done something he had to be ashamed of, some deed that he had to conceal. I heard the lady coo to her young daughter- ‘Today, I’m gonna prepare chicken gravy for dinner, honey’.
November 17, 2012
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