When the cell door shut behind Emilio, he knew that there was no turning back. He collapsed on the metallic bed, feeling like the Fulani bull he encountered as a ten-year-old boy, when visiting his maternal grandfather’s village.
The day before its slaughter, the beast was allowed to graze and roam without restraint. On the day, however, four strong men captured the animal, spreading it on the ground like a grey rag, adjusting thick folds of skin around its neck… By the time Emilio reached the scene, its hoofs had been tied and long fearsome horns subdued. The strong, majestic beast was laying there calmly, no longer fighting. Maybe it had never fought. Maybe, it trusted the perpetrators, until the very end – complying peacefully while listening to their soothing voices as they tied a rope around its neck and fastened it to a graceful Acacia tree.
But suddenly, its poignant death roar joined the sound of children playing in the background. One of the men had pressed a machete into the animal’s neck and then began moving the blade across skillfully, rhythmically, in an uninterrupted motion… The others were leaning against, pressing the weight of their fit, muscular bodies into the jerking bull – keeping it still. The men’s individual forces could never match that of their victim’s, but theirs were the organised efforts, superior understanding, animal instincts and the strength of the pack. The law of the jungle failed the bull just like this law failed Emilio and many others like him. The system kept capturing them unawares – cutting throats methodically – waiting for their roars to become weaker and weaker until they ceased completely.
Without a flinch, the men watched the animal’s red life escaping, white flesh spreading apart, separating… Time crawled like an infant, as its blood kept pouring out – into a temporary ditch that had been dug for the very purpose of covering up the bloodshed with sand. Joyful sounds of kids playing continued even when the bull’s poignant roar ceased. Emilio, however, paralysed by a strange desire to remain aware, couldn’t stop staring, his young mind shocked that the sun didn’t stop shining and the earth didn’t swallow the men and the place, along with its life-giving banana, lime, and coco trees.
Monika Ribeiro © 2021