Barnali Hota

Barnali Hota

A little over two months ago, things looked very different. We could gather in groups. There was traffic on the roads. Travelling in a plane or train wasn’t seen as a health hazard. Since then, life as we know has drastically changed. The coronavirus has affected every corner of the world and every aspect of society, from economy, to the politics, to our lives. The way we live our lives looks a lot different today than it did merely weeks ago. I had a thought provoking  experience last week which I would like to share with you all.

While there are many people who are selflessly feeding and looking after the stray animals right now, I have had the opportunity to meet a few people who don’t care about the animals or people around them at all. Since the lockdown started, I came back to stay with my parents in Bhubaneswar. We live in an apartment and there are a lot of stray dogs who live in the garage. They mostly depend on the food thrown away by people of our block in a dumping area beside the block. Due to lockdown, the gates of each block have been closed and are opened by the watchmen only when someone has to go outside. Now, these dogs have nowhere to go and are entirely dependent on the people here. If someone gives something, they eat or starve. My mamma cooks extra food everyday and we feed them.

Last week, when we went to the garage to feed them, a gentleman from our block came and asked us why were we feeding them in the garage. My mamma said, “the gates are closed and the watchman has gone somewhere and moreover we are feeding them in a corner. Also, I make sure that they eat everything and nothing remains on the floor.” The man was not satisfied and started shouting not to feed the dogs there as the garage gets dirty and also the dogs do potty in and around the garage sometimes. But, what do they do now? Where do they go? Though I didn’t want to, I had to raise my voice and try to explain that the dogs have nowhere to go and we need to show some humanity right now, which this man seemed to lack.

Some days later, I heard one of the dogs cry and when I went downstairs, another man was hitting her. Now and then these people hit the dogs and try to throw them out of the apartment. Though we saved the dog, I realized how cruel humans can be. Not that I didn’t already know but now I was experiencing it. After all this time, even after nature is giving us back the pain we have been inflicting upon her all these years, some men still don’t realize the need to live in harmony with all creatures, big and small and as an advanced species that we consider ourselves, the need to take care of every single being around you. Don’t you need food and water to live? You have the luxury of staying in your homes. You have food to eat, water to drink. What about these voiceless creatures?

Time to think about these hard hitting thoughts. I didn’t usually get the time to sit and think about things going on around me before the lockdown started. But now that I am at home and have the time, I realize how would we feel if we were caged? Now that we are quarantined in our home; anger, depression, irritation are common emotions that hit us. Now imagine the lives of animals who have been kept in cages their entire lives. Man cages animals for his/her own entertainment. Millions of animals all over the world have been isolated their entire lives. In cages, these animals exhibit concerning behaviour including self-harm. Nature activists also say the same thing. Mental health is not uniquely human trait. No living being should live in captivity.

Time has come we change our attitude towards animals and nature around us. In a tough phase that we are going through, there is no greater calling than to serve the voiceless, innocent creatures. Men might betray you, these animals won’t. We have to work together as rational living beings to save other creatures and live in harmony with them, not always want to be the superior species that we consider ourselves and dominate all others. Believe me. A part of your soul will feel awakened by serving the animals. Mine does.