By Ashby McGowan
It is hard to climb the stairs. Only four flights but they are narrow and steep. People piss in the entryway and offensive graffiti covers the walls. Back home early tonight. Another curfew. I stay at 45 Slaughterhouse Avenue. It’s not in the best part of the City.
From the window of my tiny one room flat, I can sometimes see fields of green far away beyond the City limits. My room has all four walls painted green. I did a good job. Slow but steady. I could have painted something similar to one of the works in the Art Gallery but painting in many colours is difficult work. And I like green! It would be nice to ask my friend to come to see my room. But I know that would never be allowed.
There is one painting on the wall. A motivational likeness of some poor cow who had a record breaking yield of milk. It is meant to inspire me. Not something I picked myself.
On a quiet night like this I listen to the radio. I know it is mostly propaganda but the tunes are good. Sometimes I even try to dance to the music. Unfortunately that is almost impossible. I am exhausted and my body is too deformed to dance. I have been changed into a milk machine. But the frightened calf that the milk was for has been taken away from me. She will share the same life of torment that I do.
As usual, I have the windows shut tight. When they are open, the smell of death can be sickening. It gives me nightmares. I try to forget where I stay. Once I thought about ending my life. But Cows want to live. Even though we guess we will not die happy. I am polite but if someone tries to kill me, I will fight for my life. It is all I have that is mine alone.
I cannot give you my name. Well I could but it is only a long Bar Code list of numbers. It has nothing to do with the real me.
Last week I was invited for a meal at the house of a human friend of mine. I have one friend. She was kind enough to give me wild flowers and fresh grasses. Delightful! I never asked her what she ate. I was polite. As usual, but I was almost happy.
In the streets, sometimes, gangs of youths gather about me and shout at me, “F**king stupid Cow!” And they, at times, slap me hard. Then I move as quickly as I can, home; to cry in misery.
The only other time I cry is when I remember the time my calf was taken from me. Only two days old but the bond was strong. She was trembling and crying, like me. I shouted to her that I would come and find her. Give my milk to her alone. But I lied. When they make me have another calf, I will once more have to lie. Indeed, they did the procedure to me again and I am pregnant once more.
My udders are so sore tonight. They are always huge and distended. But in a moment I will have to take some drugs to keep down the infection. Infections happen a lot. And I have other drugs to take. They maximise my milk yield.
A few weeks ago, when I was at work, another Cow came up to me and whispered, “Don’t trust the humans. They mean you and all of us harm. They steal your calves, they steal your milk. You need to…”
The Police grabbed her and took her away before she finished what she had to say. I never saw her again. She would have been severely punished. I was re-assured by my Boss that I would never be harmed beyond was strictly essential. But he too lied.
So, I write down my thoughts. Perhaps one day a human will read them and realise, “Yes, a Cow does have passion. Does have meaning in her life.”
From the perspective of a cow – by Mr Ashby McGowan