Back in January of 2006, I promised myself that It would be my last. In December 2006, I kept my word. Ditto for December of '07. December of last year comes and I stay true to my word. I am awesome and oh so very very principled.
Welcome to November 2009 and I am here. And they are out there: millions and millions of sheep and cows awaiting the butcher's knife and millions and millions of Muslims are standing by, kebab skewers in hand. It's not like this has come as any surprise: for weeks now, grocery stores have been sending out flyers to finance your sacrificial (soon to be killed) animal (in 12 easy instalments); for your viewing
a) unhappy-looking cows,
b) the cramped conditions of (soon to be killed) unhappy-looking cows,
c) a (soon to be killed) unhappy-looking cow being led into a rotating box while a vigilant vet (man in a white lab coat & holding a clipboard) watches nearby,
d) Unhappy-looking This Cat's Abroad and Mr. This Cat walking away to avoid splattering the floor with partially digested bits of their granola bars.
A Brief Digression: Muslim - like Jewish - regulations for slaughtering animals typically run along religious lines. Many so-called religious slaughterhouses have been reproached
Muslim slaughtering practices were recently defended - if not extoled - by an acquaintance of ours who said that (soon to be killed) animals are individually hugged by their butchers (killers) just before they are killed. Let me very plain about this:
a) no, there was no hugging during the promotional video
b) yes, this acquaintance of ours isn't 7-years old but believes what he says.
End of Brief Digression
To resume ... in 13 days, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha - what is known in Turkey as Kurban Bayramı - the Festival of the Sacrifice. Coming 70 days after Ramadan, it is a time of joy and celebration (unless you are a cow or a sheep) and for me, a time of mourning.
The ritual slaughter (it's not killing, my students continually correct me, it's sacrificing - small consolation to the sheep and the cows) is drawn from that pluckiest of feel-good books, the Old Testament, where Abraham's gobsmacking willingness (what OT fans call "faith") to sacrifice (see, I didn't say kill) his son Ismael to Yahweh was rewarded by a ram being sent in to pinch hit at the last minute.
Unfortunately, there was no last minute reprieve for the ram.
So now, in just less than 2 weeks, the country will be awash in the blood of sacrificial (i.e. freshly killed) quadrupeds. In January 2006, after watching my Moroccan neighbours kill their sheep (plural) in the parking lot below my bedroom window, and hang their (i.e., the sheep's) carcasses (plural) on nearby palm trees, I did in fact swear that I would never be present for another Eid.
I will never be present for another Eid, I said.
In Morocco's capital city, it was common to hear the sheep destined for the hibachi bleating from the city's balconies, underground car parks and roof tops during the days (and nights) running up to the Eid. Then, of course, it would be deathly silent by 10:30 that morning. O the horror!
And so far I've managed to keep my word. But I can't get out of
And here? I ask. Will I hear bleating? Pitiful pitiful bleating? Pitiful pitiful bleating followed by the Silence of the Lambs?
We do not kill lambs, my students admonish me. Sheep must be at least 1-year old.
Fuck you. It was a literary allusion.
And usually we sacrifice (kill) cows - not sheep, my students tell me. It takes 7 or so men to restrain and sacrifice (kill) a cow.
(translation = real men don't kill sheep. Sheep are for wussies.)
How manly you all are! I gush (inside my head).
And the actual killing? I ask out loud, abjuring the s-word.
It's illegal to sacrifice (kill) your animal at home, they assure me. It must be done at a certified abattoir (killing place), by a certified butcher (killer).
But ... they concede. It depends on the municipality. And if you have a garden ...
There's a huge parking lot below our bedroom window. I swear to God that I'm going to have the biggest breakfast known to humankind (I have a much coveted and slightly dented tube of Pillsbury Crescent rolls bought in Athens, just waiting for the right occasion) and if any animal dies below that window, I'm going to hurl a whole lot of lovin' from the oven onto my neighbours' heads.
Either way you slice it, it's not going to be pretty.