If a cow could speak…..

Dear human citizens of India,

I have been anxiously following the ongoing debate that has taken the entire country by fire. Everyone has expressed their opinions and suggestions. Everyone, but me. I am the one who is at the center of this whole debate, I am the one whose life is at stake here, but not many have bothered to spare a thought for me.

To explain my plight, let me brief you with the story of my life. Since the time I came into this world, I have been treated as a mere commodity. As soon as I was born, I was taken away from my mother. She kept moaning while the caretaker separated me from her. No mother wants to give her baby away. I too cried my heart out to be with her. I was hungry and needed her milk. Later I came to know that humans needed my mother’s milk for palatal pleasure, so I had to sacrifice most of my share. I was also told that I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones, for I was a girl!

My male brothers were deemed useless by our handlers, as they cannot give any milk. Many didn’t get a drop of milk or any other food. Some were sold to slaughter houses. Some of them were starved on a special diet so that their flesh is tender. Humans call it veal I think. I also shuddered when I learnt that some of them were also going to be skinned alive! Their skin remains soft that way, you know? Humans make fancy bags and belts from their skin.

Coming back to my life, I still remember, very vividly, the time when I reached my puberty. The handler brought some man who inserted his bare hand into my vagina to inject me with sperm. They call it artificial insemination. It hurt a lot, but my cries fell on indifferent ears. I think rape is the term used for humans to describe what I went through. But I am a non-human animal, so it doesn’t apply to me I guess.

A few months down the line, I gave birth to my baby. I wasn’t allowed to spend much time with my own baby! They would squeeze out every drop of my milk, not only by hand but sometimes with machines too, even when my udders pained. Initially I protested, but I gave up eventually, because I knew I would get beaten if I didn’t comply. I sometimes wish I could speak the human language and tell them that I have the same feelings for my baby that a human mother has for hers!

Humans are a strange species. They are the only species to drink the milk of another. What I also find baffling is that they drink milk even after infancy! When a human mother gives birth to a baby, I wonder if she can think of giving some of her milk off for a cup of coffee! They worry about calcium and protein, but don’t they wonder where an elephant gets his calcium & protein from? He needs nothing more than plants for all his strength.

I had to keep producing milk, else the business wouldn’t continue. So they would make me pregnant almost every year. Being pregnant all the time took a heavy toll on my body. I am just 7 years old now, but I am no longer ‘economically viable’. They are now going to send me to a slaughter house.

I have heard harrowing stories of the death marches to the slaughterhouse. We are made to walk without food and water for days. Our handlers often twist our neck & tails, even insert chilly & tobacco in our eyes to keep us moving. Our bones sometimes break when they hurl us into trucks near the borders. And if it’s not enough, the death too is excruciatingly cruel. Did you know in some places they even hammer our heads so that our meat is tender?

Our meat is called beef. Of course, you know beef! That’s what the debate is all about, isn’t it? Oh by the bye, don’t listen to those who call me ‘holy mother’. I think they call me mother because then they can justify drinking my milk without feeling guilty. Would they even dream of putting their own mother through such misery? They say I ‘give’ them milk, but I don’t remember having ever been asked for my consent!? Every single organ of my body and everything that comes out of it – has been evaluated in terms of economic gains. Be it milk, bones, flesh, horns, skin and oh, even my poop and pee! So much for being a holy mother. Besides they also don’t care about my fellow species like chickens and pigs who are also enslaved and subjected to similar atrocities.

I have learnt that there are Dalits who undergo a lot of suffering. And, there are some good guys who fight for their cause. But they think that breeding, enslaving and killing us is a way to stand up to the exploitation that Dalits go through. (Not-so-good guys for me, eh?). Can you ever right one wrong by committing another?

Some of my human friends talk about how animal farming is the biggest cause of world hunger. UN reports says that raising us and our other animal friends takes up tremendous amounts of grains, land & water. And if you are wondering whether plants feel pain, don’t forget all the plants you feed me (most of which end up in my poop!), only to eat a piece of me in the end.

Dear humans, why are you so apathetic towards what I and my other non-human friends go through?

You say I don’t have much intelligence in your comparison, but the last I knew, you don’t approve of killing mentally challenged humans or people with low intelligence, do you? Then why me? Is it because I am from different species? But, how does that matter?

Do I not feel pain and suffering, just like you?

Do I not desire to live?

Do I not love my babies?

Would your opinions change if I were a dog or a cat?

I am on this earth for my own reasons. I am not your commodity to enslave and exploit, just to satisfy your taste buds and wear fashionable bags.

I know several hundred years ago, black humans were treated almost the same way. But now they have equal rights. Human females too are getting their rights. I have seen human civilization always improving for the better. So, here’s hoping that my and all other animals’ turn will come soon! In fact, there are already millions of humans across the world who have started recognizing the rights of all species including me. They call themselves vegan. I wish this concept of veganism spreads rapidly. It will also benefit human health and improve their environment!

Note: The idea for the theme of this article emerged after seeing the Play performed by The Roots Commune and Sujatha Ramani at La Makaan, Hyderabad.

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