Ironically Impressed!
Ever since I became aware of the nature's play, I was drawn by the sheer entertainment it provided. There seemed nothing more exciting that quietly watch the nature unfold itself moment by moment. Obviously, it turned me into a docile doer and vigilant observer. The sheer irony of events often left me spell-bound.

What happened today on 13th June 2009 was something could quietly easily be ignored as insignificant by any sane soul, however for me this was another interesting episode of nature that I didn't want to miss.

It was my birthday! My brother asked me to go with my cousin to get some chicken from market. It was our way of celebrating. Being a family of passionate non-vegetarians, thinking about chicken didn't seem odd. It was obvious. But something struck me the moment I heard the request.

Many years ago, I went through a similar incident. My family have always been a non-vegetarian. I was however, inclined towards being vegetarian. My father always used to joke about this saying I don't belong to the family - that I am the black sheep.

On my 10th birthday, my father took me to the slaughter house. It was the same thing. They wanted to celebrate and having "non-veg" meal seemed to be the unanimous choice. He was probably not aware of what was about to happen in the slaughter house, nor was I for that matter. So we went.

At the slaughter house, Dad ordered for a full piece of Goat! He bargained on the price and told how many pounds of weight the goat should weight, since the weight decided the price.

The slaughterer looked around for the right piece. Just that moment, lot of goats entered the house. There was new dispatch, a truck full of goats. They were being ushered in by the transporter. The slaughterer looked amongst them and grabbed hold of one by its neck. As soon as the goat was being pulled out, another goat followed. Instinctively, I felt the goat following was the mother. Then it dawned upon me that the slaughterer had picked up the youngest one amongst the lot because we had placed a small order.

I wondered, how fate decided that the young one should die that day. When others around him had already tasted life for a longer time, shouldn't the younger one too be allowed to experience the beauty of life for a little longer? Somehow I couldn't shake my thoughts off. I was stuck at the sheer brutality of the fate. But then a slam shook me and I was brought back from my thoughts to witness another act of brutality. The young goat was lying on the floor. It's body shuddering while the slaughterer still had its neck in his grip. He had simply slammed the goat on the floor and the impact was fatal. The goat breathed out a moan and then lay motionless.

I looked around. The slam of death had got everyone's attention - the fellow slaughterers, other buyers and the spared goats.

I excused myself and walked out. A while later, Dad came out carrying a black polythene bag with a chunk of meat. Black I thought was the right color that was used by the slaughterers to give away the meat. It was dark dead. Black justifies it.
That day, I announced to my family that I am becoming a vegetarian. I used to be a vegetarian but occasionally I used to have non-veg. That day, I decided to completely quit having "non-veg".

My family was not surprised, but they enquired and I narrated the story. None could see it the way I witnessed it. Since then till few years ago, I was a vegetarian by choice. Recently, however, for the sake of sheer convenience I started having "non-veg" occasionally. My main intention was to avoid giving my reasons to people around me for being "veggie". My being veggies always made me an odd-man out and I became the topic of conversation in every get-together and party. It was difficult to explain to people something knowing that they will not relate to it. Also, what bothered me was that, my choice put a tap on their choices. Me being around, they had to plan out differently.

To make things easier, I simply started having "non-veg" one day. Also, after so many years, the impressions of that old incident had faded.

Today, when I was out with my cousin I was recollecting the event again. We went to a stall, which looked abandoned from a distance. When we reached closer, we saw a small kid there. My cousin placed the order, assuming the kid would do the job. But for me he was too small to be in that place.

The kid took the ordered and got on to work. I watched him patiently. He took out one chicken after another, curled their wings and placed them on the weigh machine. He did this till he found the one that suited the bill.

Then he placed the chicken on the table, picked up a knife, rubbed the knife against the body of the chicken to wipe it clean and in an instant, slit its throat. Then he threw it into a drum. The chicken dashed insanely against the walls of the drums. I watched the face of the kid. He had gone on to another task, meeting another customer's demand. His eyes didn't flinch, His hand didn't shake and his face showed no sign of any emotion. He was doing it just like any other job. No thoughts whatsoever crossed his mind at that moment. He was busy with the task at hand.

A while later, the struggle of the helpless chicken was over. He peeped into the drum to confirm if the chicken is dead completely. He picked it up looked at my cousin and asked if we would like big pieces or small.

He ripped the feathered skin of the chicken's body, chopped the chicken at several places, threw away the unwanted stuff and cleaned the remaining part. His hands worked like it had been trained well. He didn't even have to look at what they were doing.

In a matter of moments, I witnessed life being reduced to piece of flesh, a part of which was going to merge with mine a litter latter. I wanted to experience the same emotion I went through few years back when I was in the similar situation, but unfortunately, this time, I caught myself smiling as I witnessed the whole incident.

After these many years, if I have learnt one thing about nature, it is that the whole play is meant to happen and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. In that moment I felt connected with that chicken that was dead, the kid who slew it and my own self that would consume it. Various entities coming together to form a play just because nature intended it to be so.

I asked my cousin what would be the kid's age. My cousin said, probably 12 -13. The thirteen hit me again.

I turned to the kid who had just portrayed the darkest act of mercilessness and asked him for his name. He said it was - "Rahim". Ironically, "Rahim" means "The Merciful".

I smiled yet again. Nature was at its damndest best in this game of Life. What a game it is. I started off as a "non-veggie", went on to become a "veggie" and have recently returned to be a "non-veggie". Feels like life had come a full circle. Which also means it's probably my time to return "Home". :)

~Shunyatha

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