Saturday, 14 January 2017

How He Stopped Eating Beef.

He came to my house and he, still, does not take beef. It used to be one of his favourite source of protein, actually he does not know about protein, carbohydrates and all, but he liked the taste of the beef. It enhanced the taste of the curry when beef was added. Radish or potatoes or any other vegetables tasted better with a little bit of beef added. And on special occasions, the curry constituted more of beef and less of other stuff. It can be cooked and eaten fresh or dried.

It is more than twenty years passed and he kept his promise. The promise he made to a dying animal.

He rushed to the meet shop in Samdrup Jongkhar. There were so many people rushing to get a kilo or more of meat. The carcass of the cow finished within a few minute. It took a little time to get another one to be chopped, cut, weighed and sold. He imagined seeing the muscle fibre of the meat still moving. He went behind the meet shop to see where the meat was coming from. There were two 'toka' (Bulls), one was lying on the ground with its throat slit and blood oozing out of the slit throat. Even when it was not completely dead, the skinning process had started, to promptly satisfy the the buyers shouting and waiting like famished scavengers.

He shifted his gaze to the toka, next in line. He saw tears in its eyes. Which moistened his own eyes too. There was helplessness and a desire to live expressed through those mute eyes. It was perfectly understood by him. He was sure that he would not be spared to live even for a day, as there were many waiting to buy the meat. It as Losar (festival/new year) the next day (Losar of of humans were dooms day for the animals).

He went near the toka and touched its head. The toka was so timid, lacking: all the vigour, potency, vitality and zing that is expected out of a young bull. As he touched the animal, couple of drops of tears fell on the ground. He hugged the animal and promised that day, that, he will never eat any animal of its kind. The bystander might have thought that he was the owner of the toka. From that day onwards and for around 25 years now, and he kept the promise. The animal on the line of the death had affected him so much.

Without the processing unit, the animals were slaughtered in unhygienic as well as torturous conditions. We like phagsha paa, norsha paa, beef burgers and magroos. It is hard to find a vegetarian - a pure vegetarian food joint, in Bhutanese cities. The menus are all about meat. But then Bhutanese are very religious, pious and non violent. We pray for all the sentient beings. Taking life is not good. Seeing the life being taken for food would cause anguish to many of us.

That anguish can be best avoided, if the processing units were established. Where the animal protein would be properly reared and fattened, properly processed, properly packed, transported and distributed. Let hypocrisy not cloud the judgements. It was always queer to see a rosary in hand and around the neck of the very people who are fond of having the ceilings and fridges filled with meat. We don't kill. We don't have processing unit. Where are the meat coming from? The pungent smell from the beef curry is not normal. It is the aromatic, or rather stinky, sign of a spoilt meat. But we are used to it and consider it as normal. Older generations avoided eating fresh meat; any meat fresher than three days was avoided.

He never discouraged other beef eater. He never told this story to others. He just kept his promise and it would be kept until the last breath. One man would not have made much difference but his integrity, honesty and keeping his word to the animal long dead was appreciated. And in appreciation I took the liberty to share this story..