The Cry of A Specimen

Joseph Mokouba-Sony
As I write, I know I am living the last few minutes of my life. Not because I am about to hang myself or because I’m facing a giant cobra, rather because I am about to be put to use. Yes. Just like my brothers, sisters, nephews, cousins, Mom, Dad, and other relatives, I am about to lay down my life for Homo sapiens to live better. Of course it is not our own will to die for them, rather helplessness: living in a world where the stronger creature rules the weaker ones.
For so long, our hearts have known nothing but pain and sorrow, that it has become a part of living to us. I have wondered how worthless we are that the only way we can be meaningful is to die. First was Grandpa, then Grandma, nephew, Dad, cousin, Mom, and my siblings. Alone in this cage I will definitely be next. Once they take you, you never return. Oh! How frightening is the selection method. All you see is a big palm stretching into the cage towards the unlucky one. We run to the edges of the cage, seeking refuge, but are never saved from the hand of death.
The cage is the home I know. Everything in it is all I know. Creatures with traits similar to mine, roaming the little space of the cage. They were mice. We are all mice. Size-wise, I was the smallest, so I gave the others respect, and in return, they gave me love. I learned from them how to climb the rusted iron that obliquely crosses the cage, grasping the iron with digits of both limbs and pulling the abdomen closer to it to reduce the opposing gravitational pull. When I became a perfect climber, we played the chasing game every night.

Untitled by Isaac Reyes

Nights when we felt too bored to play, mostly following days when one of us was taken, Grandpa or Dad would tell us stories of what the outside is like, where they have been, and what they have seen. Grandpa said he use to live in the forest with some other species. Though it wasn’t danger-free, it was still fun and free. All you bothered about was what to eat. There is a variety of diets in the forest, you just have to search for them. And even when you didn’t have a lot to eat, the brightness of the sun refreshed you and the cool forest air soothed your furry skin. You also enjoyed the sweet melodies of the birds and the amazement of watching another species move around the atmosphere by just flapping its wings. “Living was interesting and enthusiastic,” Grandpa summarized. No wonder he never hesitated when the hand reached out for him. I miss him.
From time to time, I have wondered what life would be like, living in that environment in Grandpa’s stories where equality exists. A place where nothing matters more than the other and the inhabitants share the same attributes, be it honorable or shameful. This lonely thought of mine always ends with the assumption that such a place no longer exists.
To deny myself pity and shame, I see our kind of death as a sacrificial one to save another “special” species. But most times, I get knocked back into that box of self-pity when I see how the same humans we give our lives to cherish other animals that do not benefit them as much as we do. On the TV and radio broadcasts there are ads that encourage humans to adopt dogs, cats, and even lousy dolphins. How about us who spend all our lives in cages, awaiting the scorching pain of their scalpel as it bisects our furry abdomens in their labs? We who have been the death object right from the time of Aristotle till this present generation? They claim we share similar anatomical and physiological features with them, but they treat us as the most divergent species from them. We never even get to eat the good meals that their so-called pets are nourished with.
I am not pleading that experiments with us be stopped, rather, to make our lives worth more than the mist that the air consumes. Dying will be much better if accompanied with the thought and respect that you are not a meaningless object, rather, a sacrifice to save humanity.
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