老牛 – The cow – English

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As I was having breakfast, I started thinking about the cow again, because I suddenly remembered a dream about the cow I had a few months ago, and at that moment, I couldn’t help crying out.

It has already been nearly two months since the cow left us; when I learnt the news, I was on the way to lunch with a few colleagues.

When I got a phone call from mother, I was a bit surprised, and so I thought I would call her back around midday, but there were many people around then, and so I forgot. The reason I suddenly decided to call her is because the night before, I had a dream which now will be hard to forget, and in short, I wasn’t feeling very well. Grand-mother’s health was not very good, and so every time I had a bad dream, I worried that something had happened to her. But when my mother called me, she just told me, we sold the cow. I froze for a second, and finally broke down in tears, asking in among my sobs who she sold it to. I had known for a long time that the day would come, when my elder brother would not cease urging them to go to Suzhou and see their grandson. But when I heard the news, it was still hard to control my sorrow. I could only pray that it would be sold to good-hearted people, who would have feelings for it, and treat it as a living creature of flesh and blood. But I didn’t think the day would come so fast. When my mother heard me like that, she also started to cry, and said with remorse that she didn’t want to sell it either, but that they could no longer keep it, that she was always running around with things, that my father’s health was not good, and that they were unable to keep it any longer. She also said: a cow is gone, and look how sad it’s making you, when it’s our turn to go, I don’t know… and I heard more grieving after that.

In the busy restaurant, my colleagues were on one side, telling jokes, and when I went back to my seat, they saw that my face was flowing with tears, they knew I’d just been on the phone, they assumed something happened in my family, and asked if I wanted to take the afternoon off and leave, saying that I could always do that. I said I didn’t need to, nobody died, and they were a bit surprised. I said “it was an animal, you may not understand.” I didn’t want to talk about it, but they insisted, so I said it was the ox at home, and I said, this ox has been with our family for many years, in my eyes, it’s become part of our family, it’s like one of my siblings. They started saying they could understand, that when their dogs died, they were also very affected, but when I saw their expression, I started regretting talking about that with them.

For so many days, I hadn’t set myself to writing a piece about the cow, because everytime I opened the file titled “the cow”, I didn’t know how to go about it, words were floating around, but I didn’t know where to start. Perhaps I didn’t want it enough, in the end, the cow didn’t escape its fate: after it left our home, I learnt from my mother’s phone call that the people who bought the cow had lied to us, that it had not been sold to people in the village, but went to the slaughterhouse, and its little calf, only a few month old, was sold to people we didn’t know.

The reason I can finally write these words is the dream about the cow that I mentioned before. In the dream the old cow was desperately cen(which is dialectical, I don’t know which character)开-ing the rope in the man’s hand,wanting to protect its child, but in the dream the baby cow still gambolled away. But because it had run too far, it was too far for its mother to protect it, and so the cow was very anxious, but unable to do anything. When I had this dream, the cow hadn’t been sold yet, and at the time, I suspected it was before I had eaten some beef tripe the day before, the same meat as her, and so I felt guilty, and had this dream as a punishment, I even suspected that the cow came into my dream to warn me that I shouldn’t eat beef anymore. After that, I hadn’t thought the dream would so quickly become a reality. I can now imagine the scene of the cow’s farewell to her calf as she’s about to be taken to the slaughterhouse, and when I think about this scene, it’s really hard to not feel a deep pain. 屈原说:乐莫乐兮新相知,悲莫悲兮生别离。还有比这样生离死别更让人伤情的事吗?As human beings, in order to satisfy our appetite, interests and desires, we force other animals to exeperience not only the pain of eternal parting, but even a living hell. Everyone says that mankind is at the top of the food chain, and if humans don’t kill animals, this will result in ecological imbalance, but I think this is dubious rhetoric. Actually, I want to say that, even so, humans just slaughtering animals is bad enough, but if before killing them, we use very cruel ways with them, abuse them, torture them, this is too inhumane. Long ago, I heard my father say that some dishonest slaughterhouses, to inject water in the cattle, but fearing that people would discover it, while the cattle were still alive they would pour water forcefully through their nose. The very cruel ways they use to kill the cattle, I don’t know how I could put it in words, but after hearing the description from my father of the way they kill cattle (and, because cows are fairly large creatures, it often takes more than just an instant to kill them),it worried me that one day our old cow would also suffer the same torment. However, if I cannot control even my own destiny, how can I affect that of the cattle?

I know that all I can do now is from now on to no longer eat beef, and no longer eat any meat. Although I’ve thought of becoming vegetarian for a while, 但是很多时候,没有对味的蔬菜的时候,我还是会吃肉,but today, when I think about this dream again, 体会老牛那种生离死别以及被屠杀时的痛苦,I feel that I need to wake up.至少,我应该为过去的助纣为虐赎罪。Once again, I want to tell people around me that, if you really must eat meat, if you really must kill animals, then you should limit their pain before dying as much as you can. When I talked about this with my mother, she said the cost of an anaesthetic is too high, and most people don’t even think about this. She said, if you put some alcohool in the pig’s food, the pig gets drunk very easily. And so when they’re taken away and killed, they don’t feel as much fear and pain. I told my mother that if she wanted to kill a pig in the future, before she killed it, she should give it alcool to drink, and she agreed to it.

I remember a time when I was young and on my way to school, I saw some pig farmers using and iron hook to hook 钩着活生生的猪的下额往车上装,and not using a rope to lead them,the pigs screaming in pain, with blood dripping on the road,I thought this spectacle was really far too cruel and I wasn’t clear in my mind why they would torment the pigs so。However, my same feelings towards small animals were not at all inherent. In my youthful ignorance, I had not realised that in the destruction of life were other types of animals’ cruelty. When I was six or seven years old, in summer I would often go with my elder brother and other adults to the local pond and watch them catch frogs, and after they had caught them, use lotus leaves to wrap them up and take them back home to cook over the fire and feed to the cat. When I remember it now, it was really too too cruel. But at that time, I had completely no idea。 I also don’t remember when I acquired this fearful compassion, but later when I again saw my neighbour’s younger brothers catching and playing with frogs I felt very sorry for the frogs and asked them to set the frogs free. They laughingly said they were only playing, but they used a very fine ppiece of thread他们拴在青蛙细嫩的的腿上,and I knew that before long those little frogs would surely be played to death。高中的时候写过一篇关于青蛙的周记,因为那时父亲在犁地的时候发现一只冬眠的青蛙 ,竟然用刀伤了它的眼睛,而后捉回来给我看。我那时觉得非常残忍,给它的眼睛涂了些药。我现在已经不记得那只青蛙后来怎么样了,只记得把它放到了桔林里。但每次想起来,总要在心里责怪父亲当时的残忍。











There are moment when I was really convinced that cows are more intelligent than many people, 这从我家的小牛身上就可以看出来。很多人,总是想着一味的索取,从来不愿意自己去付出点什么。中国有句老话叫作:将欲取之,必先予之。小牛虽然不懂人类文字,也没有人教它这些内容,但却比人类更明白这个道理。人类表达自己对别人的善意和友好有很多种方式,但牛类的却很少。和小狗一样,它们会觉得帮别人咬虱子或者挠痒痒就是最善意的方式,就是给人家最好的礼物,它们也最希望别人能够这样对自己。但是,它们明白,要想别人这样对自己,那就先对别人这样。所以当老牛在安稳地啃着草,而我安静地坐在那里看书的时候,小牛总会走到我跟前,讨好似地舔着我的衣角。我当然明白它的意思,等我拿起木棍开始帮它挠痒痒,它就停下来,静静地享受着这样的幸福。但是它们调皮的时候,也会把我吓一跳,它们有时候像小孩子撒娇一样猛地从你身边蹭过,有时候差点把我撞个趔趄,这时候,我就会训它们一顿,告戒它们得小点心。



当老牛被卖之后,我所有关于它们记忆,就只能在脑海和照片里寻找了。The last time I saw the cow was this year in May. When I went back home in May, 我见到牛栏里很湿,就去拿了粪叉去打算把那些东西挖起来,换些干些的草。母亲觉得这些不是我能干的活,一来是又脏又臭,二来是要很花力气,那些粪草因为长期被老牛踩在脚下,已经很坚实,很难挖起来,而我手无缚鸡之力。然而,事实证明,我是可以干的,而且是可以干好的。因为去年年冬在家的时候就做过,前面提到过。这样的事,换作以前,不要说我,就是母亲都不会做的,但是自从父亲病了之后,很多事情是不得不做的了。但是现在母亲一个人忙里忙外,对这些已不能顾不得那么勤了。所以那时当我把牛圈弄干净的时候,母亲关实惊讶了一回。只是那时确实流了很多汗,大冬天,最后热得我只穿一件秋衣。遗憾的是,五月那次在清理牛栏的时候,清到半道上,母亲要我去接奶奶来我家,虽然早说过了,但是我想的是把牛栏清完再去,但是母亲一再催促,说再去晚了,奶奶可能都吃过午饭了,她的吃饭规律和我们不一样。我只好放下手中的粪叉,拿了件外套,去接奶奶了。 关于这些,我在前面的《老屋》http://my1510.cn/article.php?id=77127里提到过一些了。接奶奶的半路上,就已经开始下雨了。奶奶接来之后,因为陪她,所以也没有时间再去清理牛圈了。所以有些遗憾,虽然等到天晴,母亲也是会把那些处理完的。好在下雨天,老牛有另一间干燥的房子住。

本来,那时,我是不必要回家的,因为来回转车很多次,在路上就要花很多时间,回家也没有特别的事要办。但是想到很多,想到体弱多病的奶奶,想到已经年迈而又积劳成病的父母,还有,我以前从来没有同人讲过的:那不知道什么时候就有可能被卖的老牛。我想去趁还有机会的时候多陪陪他们。看亲人是大家容易理解的,但是如果我说,除了亲人,我有时候甚至更牵挂着老牛,我想一定会被人笑话。是的,也许,这是没有人能理解的。可是,为什么会如此呢,怎么会对牛的关注更甚于自己的亲人呢?曾经一度陷于父母不要再种地和父母不再种地之后老牛如何处置的矛盾与纠结之中,但始终都没有一个肯定的答案。难道是我关心牛比自己的亲人还甚吗?当然不是如此,而是我一直觉得,亲人和牛比起来,他们更有能力主宰自己的命运,而老牛,没有任何一丝丝的可以主宰自己命运的机会和能力。与其说是更关心老牛,不如说是更同情老牛。在家接下来的两天,也是下着雨的,母亲说她要去放牛,但是我坚持要去,一是母亲的风湿病见不得雨水(我虽然只是在家几天,但是能帮 她分担一点是一点),二则是,我担心以后能够看到老牛,去放老牛的机会不多了。不知道什么时候就有可能被卖了。但我的担心后来竟成了现实,那确实我最后一次放老牛了。

只是,no matter how,老牛已经走完了它的宿命,无论其间经历了多少苦痛挣扎。祝愿她下次投胎的时候,千万不要再投胎成为牛,或者最好不要是动物,因为只要是动物,总归就有各式的烦恼与苦痛。然而这只是祝愿罢了。据说,凡物投胎都是由它的业力牵引而来的,并不是完全由着自己来的。那么也许这一世,她生而为牛,也是为了却她前世所造的业缘吧。

And finally I would like to recommend a very moving film: ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

秋风无迹 2012.07.22

Source: 1510, July 23 2012 – http://my1510.cn/article.php?id=81513

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About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org