Sidharth Vardhan

In support of cannibalism

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(A Short Fiction)


“I think the story starts when, as a kid, I was a neighbor of this family of slaughterers for a short while and, though they did their work within walls of their house, still sitting inside our home, we could hear the cries of goats, full of pain, as they were being slaughtered. These cries would go on for several minutes. It was unbearable for my family to hear those cries day after day. Personally, I found their reactions more annoying.

I have never liked these kind-hearted people. Animals have always been slaughtered, and most of them never show concern except when it happens right in front of them, which is when their hypersensitive imagination starts working and they suddenly grow compassionate. Their compassion creates an inconvenience when things happen in their backyard, an inconvenience which they will have removed. They can’t care less for animals. They won’t mind if it happens at some distance, away from their physical presence.

And this is true generally, even when we are talking about the suffering of humans too. There is a reason Europeans do not want immigrants from middle-East. There is also a reason why it needed an hours-long disgusting scene on the roads of their capital city, for Indians to start remembering how terrible the position of their women is. A kid falls from his/her bicycle and a good number of these compassionate idiots will gather around him/her, their faces full of concern. Over 6 million children dead due to famine in Somalia, and millions still starving – and I could like to know how many of these kind-hearted spirits get a single hour of sleepless night upon knowing it –  you are likely to have more tears to shed for a imaginary character in the next book you read. Out of sight, out of mind. And if this doesn’t flood the newspapers with the news and pictures, there is a reason for it.  Mere knowledge of things is not enough, compassion needs sensory evidence to exist and persist, we know it – we use this knowledge to avoid this inconvenience by denying ourselves sensory evidence.  I tell you, nothing makes humans as the hypocrite as compassion does.

… I’m getting to it, I know you want me to get to the point about cannibalism. Have patience.

And these people try their best to kill this compassion – so, since they can’t imagine themselves killing and eating a cow, they call it a beef. Takes the picture out of mind. And since the last thing you want to imagine when you sit down to eat is the meat of a pig slaughtered just for you, it is conveniently renamed as pork.

Don’t assume for a single moment that I am some sort of animal lover. The last thing I will like to be compared to is one of these PETA folks. I can’t care less for them – especially dogs. Man’s best friends, you say? The stupid creature can’t even catch its own tail. And if any animal deserved a kicking, it is those cats. They need to be shown their places.

Plus, people eat the animals they love. Don’t you love turkey or chicken?

Wait, wait.. let me say what I have to say, it is all related…

And don’t even get me started on pet lovers. Whatever they might say, theirs is the most selfish kind of love. Imagine yourself being kidnapped away from your family at a young age by aliens, who can’t speak your language, and forced to live with them – seeing other humans only rarely, and allowed sex only at fixed times and that too without any dating. They might love you, smother you with their hugs, care for you, train you to do things you can’t see the meaning of, provide you great food, the dress you in a beautiful way which is uncomfortable for you – but will you ever overcome the loneliness? Why then do such a thing to a creature you claim you love? I think many people can say that they need pets, but no one can say they deserve one.

Anyways, nothing could be done about our neighbors – they were simply doing their job, the only thing they were skilled in. And they were pretty nice folks too – I remember how they were there for us when my mom died.

Also, it didn’t stop me or my family from eating our share of chicken’s fetus; and I don’t grudge people all the cows and pigs they want to eat. Let us face it – they provide all those proteins and nutrients, and they are delicious. But let us also call things by their real names, shall we? A cow is a cow is a cow. A pig by any other name is pig still. And an egg is a bird’s fetus. Period.

And  before you assume I’m being satirical for promoting vegetarianism or something, I will tell you I never liked those vegetarians – they are only slightly less cruel to animals than pet lovers, think of all those hens that are being nourished and cared for because there is demand for their children’s fetus. Who will care for them if people stop just consuming their product? I, for one, am going do my part to see that they don’t get unemployed. Why do you think animals, whose cooked corpses we consume, never go extinct? Because we provide food and shelter to them before we kill them. Only animals that serve humanity some purpose are above the danger of extinction. It is only by eating goats, we make sure that they don’t go extinct.

But I deviate yet again. To turn back to the story of my neighbors, the thing was made much worse because they killed the animals according to Halal method (the method permitted by Islam) – not merely killing at once with a single blow (animals about to become food aren’t shot before being killed anywhere in India as far as I know and you can forget stunning); but were rather killed in a slow and painful method of blood loss while a prayer is read over them. Don’t jump to conclusions again. They were compassionate people – animals were well fed before they were killed, they won’t let an animal see the blade being sharpened or another animal slaughtered before it. See, they felt for the animal.

Compassionate killers have always been there. Some ancient Hindu kings who hunted animals for fun often considered dishonorable to kill animals engaged in sex or pubs or breastfeeding mothers.

Wait a little more… I’m just about to get to cannibalism.

Personally, I think that to relief an animal of useless pain could be better but only slightly – as for whether or not they are stunned, animals will lose their lives anyway. But I’m sure there will be some compassionate souls who will advocate for less painful methods of killing them.

Also, it is this Halal practice that made one of my favorite Sufi poets, Bulleh Shah comment “Hallal nalo murdar bhala” (dead is better than Hallal food) – arguing that he could rather eat the dead than Hallal food.

Now a lot of people think he was probably about dead animals, not humans, but that is only yet again the superiority complex which makes humans think that they aren’t one of the animals anymore. I, for one, was shocked when I learned that cannibalism is considered a barbarous practice.

At first, I could not understand what was so barbarous about cannibalism? it hardly harms anyone. I mean the dead they eat are … you know, dead and their bodies would be wasted otherwise. If anything, it is a better utilization of resources. Think of all the proteins, minerals and stuff. And I bet human eyes must be delicious too – all you can say about other dead animals is true for dead humans too, and it is much better than animals killed specifically for consumption. Moreover, you will either bury or burn your dead. The first consumes a lot of land which could house homeless humans (or hens left unemployed because of those mean, mean vegetarians) and second causes pollution; besides the already stated wastage of resources – in a time when children are dying of hunger! And it saves money too, think of it, the dead could finance the food served in their own funeral! And before you give reasons of their family, I agree, the dead are someone’s parents who have, for years, fed their children. Do you think they will grudge them a last nutritious meal? In case they are someone’s significant other, remember, lovers bite each-other all the time. And you can spare the bones for your beloved dog.

Also, if you eat some other dead animal, you are called non-vegetarian; but if you eat a dead human, you become a cannibal. Why make the distinction at all? Because of that superiority complex again? Because it will make non-vegetarians comfortable? There you go, the whole beef and pork thing all over again. Let us use one word for all such humans – either cannibals or non-vegetarian. I prefer cannibal. It sounds sexier. And while we are at it, let us include vegetarians too – it is only human ignorance which makes us presume that just because plants can’t scream, they don’t feel the pain. Lack of sensory evidence, friend. There is no difference between plants or animals – so vegetarians need not be high-brow either. We all kill, cause pain, to eat. We are all cannibals.

I think, if you have followed my chain of reasoning,  we can safely say that we are all already cannibals, so why waste dead humans? If you were stuck on an island with the corpse of a friend who just died and a living animal, won’t it be more humane to eat the corpse instead of killing the beast for food? Why kill living animals, when we can have dead humans?”

Those were the thoughts that I discussed with a friend, who had listened impatiently and then after some reflection told me something which showed me the obvious fault in this scheme, which I, being slow to understand such things, hadn’t noticed that far.

“You don’t understand anything. Being civilized,” he told me,  “means that we show more compassion to dead humans than living animals.”

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