Food For Thought | Story | Fiction
I had a funny dream last night. The best part of it was the fact that I remember it like I remember every Game of Thrones episode aired till date. In my dream, I was at a Vet’s; with my pet fish, waiting for our turn to get my fish’s routine checkup done.
As I sat there, my eyes traveled to a nearby corner, where a goat and a dog sat happily, chatting. From the look of it, the goat had a fractured arm. As for the dog, he seemed to have a bad cold and was sneezing quite often..
As if animals conversing weren’t weird enough, I noted that their humans didn’t even bother looking at each other. The goat’s human was probably bored from the wait and had started snacking on some potato fries bought off the counter nearby… The dog’s human on the other hand, was gorging on mutton chops and a huge burger from which, bits of chicken, cheese and mayonnaise were falling to the ground (which I found really irresponsible, given that she did have a plate on her lap and we have all heard of gravity. Our fat textbooks from school and an entire American movie dedicated to it saw to that).
But enough of humans now! Let us concentrate on those talking animals. So this is how their conversation goes:
Goat: Boy, I tell you, Sundays is tough. Those omnivorous humans make life tough for us goats… I was just taking a stroll on the pavement near our place when a meat eater human started chasing me all of a sudden… She had a sack, you see… It was a Sunday and I have reason to believe she saw”lunch” written on my face… Thankfully, my human came to my rescue.. The meat eater had caught hold of a leg of mine and was going to put me right inside the sack when my human caught another leg of mine , that led to a tug-of-war…Let me not go into the details about what followed, but it was my human who won the battle. But sadly, I broke a leg.. It has been hours now… I can’t jump… Even pointless bleating at the plants in pots didn’t help with the pain…
Dog: Sorry to hear that buddy… I agree… Humans aren’t fair to you goats.. But once-upon-a-time-street-dogs like me aren’t as lucky as the other breeds too..Thanks to my human, I now have a home…Humans can be really nasty…Before I met my human, other humans would pelt stones at me… kick me…tie firecrackers to my tail… Some even talked about people who ate dogs… Isn’t this cruel?? How can someone eat dogs??? Don’t we feel pain?? Aren’t we man’s friend?? Unbelievable, isn’t it??
Goat: I hope you won’t mind, but I see some irony there… Are goat-lives cheaper than dog-lives?? Do we not bleat lovingly at humans?? We don’t even eat meat… Look at my human… He is a vegetarian… You spoke about feeling pain and all that.. Does your human realize that the chicken and mutton he is eating now came from chickens and goats?? They felt pain too, you know.. My human understands that.. so he is a vegetarian (goat beams with pride)
Dog: Aha! The mother of all ironies is that you are too blinded by lack of commonsense and that you are hypocrite enough to not realize that the plants and veggies you eat are living beings too!! They are born; they feel pain, grow old and die too!! It hurts when you pluck fruits and veggies from plants.. It hurts other insects, birds and rodents when you spray your veggies with pesticides.. It hurts!!
Goat: But your human is not innocent either!!
Dog: I could say the same about yours!! Your human has at least one leather product at home!!!
Goat: They are made from animal skin… But from animals that have died from natural causes!!
Dog: AHAHAHA!!! Are you kidding me?? Once a manufacturer finds his stuff selling, you think they will wait for animals to die of “natural causes” like old age??
Goat: I get it, I get it… But your human uses cosmetics and creams that have been tested on animals too, right??
Dog: Mmm… yes I guess… And your human kills mosquitoes and cockroaches… He kills plants… So he is a predator too, right?? I am not saying my human is a saint… But neither is yours… Nobody is…
Goat: Talk about Dodos… Humans ate them until they were extinct!!
Dog: I guess that humans should not be eating away in greed… I agree with you.. Predators and prey balance each other out usually… But it is the humans that don’t know when to stop… I say, as long as they eat what they cultivate and farm, it is fine… But abusing nature and her resources without thinking of the circumstances that might arise if they ate up everything else… They will have only other humans to eat.. And boy, how these humans multiply… They reproduced like bunnies in the past and even now, they are stupid or rather hypocrite enough to not take birth control seriously… They have made sex education a taboo in many societies, imagine that, bro!!! I am a dog and I have discussed this stuff with my lady-love already!! Then why can’t these humans see that they are walking down a path of self destruction??
Goat: Hell, yes… You are right, Dog.. Humans really are hypocrites.. I accept..Whatever we eat, we hurt them, kill them… Cutting down a rare tree for timber to make Eco friendly furniture is such a joke too!! And exploiting a plant species for medicine is just as bad as eating the last Dodos were… Using too much non renewable energy, causing pollution and disposing off wastes without proper treatment kills animals too.. Not just animals… IT KILLS NATURE. KILLS THE ENTIRE PLANET!
A bell rang and interrupted them. It was my fish’s turn… The vet took him in as the goat and dog looked at me nervously. After the checkup was done, the vet brought him out to me in his pretty fish bowl.. “Here you go, miss” he said..
The vet then turned to all seated there. “Also, I would like to inform you all that the clinic is shifting to a new location. We shall update you of our new address really soon.. We are opening an animal shelter in our new location as well… So I guess its good news” he smiles.
The conversation had made me really hungry. That’s me. Everything from hearing conversations or taking walks to doing absolutely nothing makes me hungry.. I went over to the counter to order something. I saw a woman wearing a Hijaab at the counter, packing food for her customers at the clinic. To my surprise, the menu looked way too diverse: vegan food, tofu, fish, pork, chicken, beef, mutton and prawn snacks.. All this, and one woman, holding out your ordered food to you.. I couldn’t contain my curiosity and ended up asking her if serving pork and everything else everyday at a veterinary clinic was an easy task, and if practicing a certain religion forbade her to associate with certain sorts of food.
“Religion teaches us to love all and be just. Not fight over whose food is better. What I do here is my job, ma’am. I am a vegetarian but not everyone is. And it is okay. This clinic runs on solar power… We cultivate all this meat and vegetables at our farm and bake our own bread.. We just want to help people who have adopted animals as their own… And I totally agree with the Dog waiting over there…We humans are hypocrites. Nobody is all-good and no-bad. And similarly, nobody is all-bad and no-good… Maybe this is all too complex… But what we CAN do is realize our mistakes and rectify them… No one lives forever, you see… So what we can do is be a little better as humans than we were yesterday… So ma’am, what you like to have??
“Mmm… Just some water will do for now”… I replied.
The goat and dog wore a look of confusion. Humans can be confusing.
As I walked home from the Vet’s with my hungry stomach growling from not having had anything since the night before, I wondered what was right and what wasn’t. Should we eat for taste, for hunger or out of greed?? A roadside beggar was scavenging from all the leftovers that people had thrown away in poly-bags early in the morning. Stray dogs, crows and ants were feasting with him too. I saw a mother breastfeeding her child on a footpath, while she begged for alms. I also saw a guy probably my age, finishing brunch at a popular joint. And as I passed by the newspapers stalls, I chanced upon a headline in bold that talked about Gaurakshaks and the nuisance they have become. The next headline read how one particular religion had become synonymous with terrorism. But did anyone care about terrorism at the personal level; to know how each of us is responsible for damage and how it is our duty to at least do less damage if we are not capable enough of repairing anything but the broken displays of expensive phones???
Written by: Bidisha Sarkar, Guwahati