A Calf to The Slaughterhouse | A Powerful Narration of a Calf’s Dark Journey
Author : Amal Rahiman
I woke up early one morning and tried reaching around for my mama’s udders. I couldn’t see her but heard her silent cries get fainter andfainter until the large metal
gate slammed shut and I couldn’t hear anything anymore.
I crawled to the gate and leaned my head over a crank. I felt the warm sun and the
calming breeze swish across my face and instantly thought to myself “Ah! My mama
has gone to a safer place”. I leaned back and slowly dozed off.
When I woke up, I found myself being pushed into a truck with several of my own –
“They must be taking us to our mamas”, I thought.
I bore the fatigue of the journey that seemed to never end because I thought I was
going to a safer place. My companions were boarded off at various stations and I
was so excited for my turn to arrive.
I was so sure I was going to see my mother soon. But instead, I reached a place that
was very vast, green, and endless. It was lush with vegetation and my fatigue was
forgotten. I wanted to be let free. “My new playground” I thought! Imagine running
with my friends, the sunlight on our faces, the crisp green grass under our hooves.
I waited restlessly for my turn to step out. But instead of letting me feel the freedom
and the sunlight, I felt the cold hard bars of an iron cage. I was locked. A field the
size of many acres, and I had just a few feet of land.
As weeks slowly passed by, I painfully realised that I was never being let out of my
prison. I saw some friends being set free, but funnily enough, I never did see them
again. I wondered where they went off to. I envied them.
A few months passed; I was finally let out! I was ready to run to the horizon, to feel
the wind caress my face. But I soon realized that I was wrong. My human was with
me, bellowing at me to move fast. I couldn’t understand. He pushed me hard. He
even hit me! I moved quickly. He wanted me to get into a room that was dark, dingy,
and stuffy. I didn’t like it. It felt wrong, like there was evil lurking in the stains and
shadows of the room. It had the smell of pain, of horror. I did not want to enter, but I
was slowly learning that I had no choice in anything. Anxiously, I entered.
I was slightly relieved when I saw some of my old friends there, but that relief was
We were put into small sheds that were locked with iron bars. These sheds had a
long dirty tube. It was attached to something that I could not see, nor understand.
I foolishly thought it was our food. The food I have been having till now was fine, just,
that it wasn’t like mama’s milk.
The human was going into each shed. I could hear bellows and wails from my
friends. I was slowly coming to understand that this was not food, but something else
He came into my shed. What was he doing? He went behind me. I cried and turned
towards him. He smacked me hard on my behind and made me turn towards the
What was happening? Something felt very wrong.
He put the tube inside me, from my behind. His hand went in as well. I was writhing
in pain! I could not understand. I felt something shooting inside me. I felt sick,
I got pregnant.
At this point, I did not care about freedom, my mama, food, or my friends. I just
wanted fresh, sweet, peaceful air.
But I was kept in a small, hot, rotting room. I was not even given the basic dignity of
being pregnant. I had to endure constant unwelcomed human visits, painful needles,
and disgusting medications. They never treated me with care.
I was uncomfortable, unloved, and lonely.
But I was resilient. This could not be my only purpose in life. I am sure things would
turn out for the better. I knew I could one day smell the grass with freedom.
Months later, I gave birth. It was a horrific experience. I thought my humans would
help me. But I should have known better.
However, my baby was beautiful! I waited for them to give her to me.
I kept waiting.
They then took me to another rotting room. They attached so many painful tubes to
my fat, swollen udders. I yelped, and I screamed. They laughed and they hit me.
They were stealing my milk!
How could they?! I trusted them! What would my baby drink?
Little did I know that I never had to worry about my baby drinking my milk. This milk
was never meant for her. I only realised that fact later than I would have liked.
This then became my life for the next 4 years. They make me pregnant. They snatch
my babies away. They steal my milk.
I never did find out what happened to my babies. Perhaps, they too will lead a life of
Finally, the day came when my body could not give birth anymore. My bones were
broken, my muscles weak. I have been deemed useless. They shoved me into
another dirty truck. These journeys never seem to end. I couldn’t stand up. They
threw me out when we reached. I didn’t care. This pain was my life now.
But another living hell was waiting for me. I finally understood what happened to my
male friends – the ones who can’t have babies, the ones I never saw. The ones I had
I stood in line watching my friends get bolted and shot in the forehead. Their bodies
collapsed to the ground, while I moved closer to the same fate, one cow at a time.
While my fellow cows wept and wailed, I chose not to – because now I knew I never
had a voice. I couldn’t wait for my turn, I wanted to get all of this over with. Not
because I wanted better for myself, but because I felt ashamed of how naive I was –
naive to have had so much hope, naive to have trusted the people around me to do
me any good, and most of all, naive to have believed that my mama left me to go to
a safer place.