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Not long ago, I found myself, staring with disgust at a chicken being manhandled by an evil hand, whilst its compadres watched the gradual beginning of its end, helplessly. The terror in their eyes was agonizing. So were the screams that emanated from the fowl. Knowing that you could be next anytime, knowing that death breathes down your neck every second, and the worst of all, knowing that you are gonna die, would kill you days before you actually perish. Standing there at the devil’s door, throwing up inside my mouth, I had reassured a silent promise to myself, “I wouldn’t go chicken ever!”

I would often contemplate at the kind of life these poor impotent creatures are impelled to endeavor. What kind of life is that? Living just for dying! They must feel terrible! Terrible about being born here. Terrible about being so powerless. Terrible for being branded as an eternal prey.

So why do we do it? Oh! It’s the taste alright.

About a month later, to my surprise, I found myself munching down a delicious chicken leg at KFC. Somehow, I decided to give it a shot, and it made me, deliberately, forget the promise I had made to myself. I realized what I was missing on. A taste vegans would never be able to savor. Firecrackers burst in my palate, as I nibbled a grab just like it happened to Remy in Ratatouille. All those pathetic cries and weary eyes simply vanished. I wasn’t empathizing anymore. Just munching on some finest delicacies of life.

Becoming an ardent chicken lover was easy after that. I had chicken so many times that I forgot how veggies tasted like. It was only recently that I ended up in a poultry shop once again. The shop had wee business so the keeper was dozing off. Our order shook him up and he scrambled towards the chicken cage. My heart stopped once again. All this time I had forgotten where it came from. Those chickens in there knew their time was nigh. I could read hatred in their eyes, even more fear. There was a commotion the moment they realized their unforgiving reaper had come, and lo! He grabbed one by its legs, whilst it cried at the top of its voice as others inched further inside the cage. The wailing continued as I could hear the beast skinning the poor creature inside.

I couldn’t shake off the thought that it was my doing. I made that happen! Had I not decided to eat chicken, that poor bird might have lived to see another jaded day. Just like Coleridge’s mariner, the guilt of killing the bird hung around my neck like a loose necktie.

Then again, as the guy gradually chopped the cadaver, which was once breathing, I ceased to feel sorry for it. The dead no longer made sense. It looked like something my friends and family cooked. I shut myself off once again. My head persuaded me, “In few hours something scrumptious would come out of it Scotty and you wouldn’t know again!”

To devour the weak, does that make man feel powerful? Or is it just a statement we intend to make. What did chicken ever do to us? Why not eat snakes or something more deadly if it is about evincing power? Oh! Wait! Bear Grylls is already on it.

The weird thing about life is that it doesn’t come with a living-manual. We aren’t born with a “What-to-do or What-not-to-do” list. This makes anything we do in this life acceptable. Also, death takes care of population explosion for every species. Be it be a natural cause or advertent killing. Nature manages the living-death ratio quite subtly.

Eating non-veg food with empathy doesn’t put me anywhere near the demarcation that vegans and non-vegans have created. It is hard for me to shut it off. I will still continue to feel for the weak. Yet I am not sure if their agony and screams will ever stop me from causing their heads to roll. Nothing beats hunger and palate. Besides don’t we all work Darwin?

Okay! I gotta work on my excuses.

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