Sunday, August 29, 2010

Guest Blogger : Manjiri Prabhu

I am a writer of mystery novels and a filmmaker from Pune, India. But today, I'd like to talk about a subject very close to my heart. Caring for street animals. In India, (and perhaps all over the world) street dogs are at constant risk from humans in one form or another, whether it is starving to death or being considered a menace or a parasitic nuisance in society. Either way, they are condemned to a life of misery and pain. I have worked for street dogs in my own small way for several years and I have come to one solution : 'The Dogtrine of Peace', which perhaps I shall explain at some other point in time. For now I would like to recount an experience, which completely changed me.

One fine morning, during the monsoons, I was walking down the street. The rain had lifted momentarily and the weather was hot. Just then a heartrending squeal rung through the air. Startled, I hastened round the corner. A huge vehicle with a long grilled low cage was parked in the street. There were several dogs peering from within the cage. But what I saw made my blood go cold and my heart beat as loudly as a cracker. A man had swung a noose round a bitch and with all his strength was throwing her inside the van. She was thin and weak with a bloated stomach. She was pregnant! The rope cut into her delicate neck, choking her as she was hurled against the truck. If that was not all, another man was prodding a stick into the bulging belly, so as to direct her to enter the narrow grilled door. She screamed and whined, every time they missed their mark and fear and anger wrung my heart. Anger burst on me like a blob of water sizzling on a hot pan. The expressions on the faces of the men were cold, their actions mechanical, as if they had done this several times before and their attitude was indifferent. They looked like two men, dead in every possible way. As dead as the dogs would be in some time. So that the streets would remain clean and some humans would feel safe to tread the paths that they had forcefully declared as theirs. So that some humans could enjoy, with their forked sense of morality, the rights of living. Those rights of freedom and existence that they had snatched from the street dogs. These humans were nothing but thieves, I thought.

But worse than the dog-pickers, were the people who had gathered to see the fun, idle in mind and thought, careless of the fate of the dogs. Who, with their threadbare sense of ethics, saw nothing objectionable in the inhuman treatment meted out to a dumb creature. And if they did, who could not be roused from their mental lethargy to protest against the cruelty enacted before their eyes.

A child of around seven, was watching the scene with a gleeful expression on his face. His smile widened with every squeal and for a moment my attention was riveted towards him. He wore a checked shirt and long trousers and his oiled hair was neatly parted and combed. His gaze was fixed on the enactment before him. There was something positively hideous in his totally absorbed stance. Here was a human, a miniature of a man but with the same look as an adult. A strange thought entered my mind. I saw humans as not growing from small to big in size and thought, but in the reverse, as big to small. Reducing in height, over the years, to be dwarfed like a child. Their intelligence, feelings, emotions and sensitivity, narrowing in intensity, their growth not only arrested but getting retarded into an obtuse lumpish form of flesh. And this was how they would look - like this boy. Small, a clean shining face with ironed clothes on a stunted body. But who would gaze at the savagery of humans with a delightful expression on his face. He could only have a stone for a heart. And then he could only be a lump of flesh! With a start, I wondered - had the reversal process already begun?

Before anyone accuses me of it, let me explain that I am not a human basher or hater. On the contrary, my ranting is for the betterment of human beings. I also do not mean to say that all humans are like the ones described above. There are some whose compassion and hard work for animals makes you want to salute them!

This following poem is dedicated to all the animals, apologizing for all the meaningless harassment and torture as well as selfish killing of animals, all around the world.

I Apologize

I apologize….

For the hand that throws the stone

And waits not to hear your groan.

I apologize,

For the hand that piles you in a place,

Where a sigh can find no space!

I apologize,

For the hand that hangs you upside down,

where the pedals hit your pounding crown!

I apologize,

For the hand that holds the knife

And separates you mercilessly from life.

I apologize,

For the hand that enjoys the touch of blood

And drags you through the mud.

I apologize,

For the hand that drowns you in boiling water

And celebrates this horrendous slaughter!

I apologize,

For, the hand that knows no feeling

and believes in killing instead of healing.

I apologize……

But hopeone day, the hand will change its course

And awaken its life-giving force!

I hope…..

That the hand will lift, support and give,

Save, caress, live and let live!

Manjiri Prabhu manjiriprabhu(at)gmail(dot)com

1 comment:

  1. Oh Manjiri, Thank you for your entry and poem. When I worked in a mental health ward with youth abuse of animals was always seen as a indication of much larger problems with the youth's mental health, by the staff also the DSM re-inforces this.... I found it strange coming from staff eating meat in the meeting and wearing leather coats, boots, shoes with leather handbags. Animals are indespensible in North America I wish I could say we have a system to deal with these stray animals with compassion but recently the Toronto SPCA was closed and arrests were made for animal cruelity...