This story is based on true events - engraved into the child's head.
Story adapted by ARA Jelena Zaric
(I) "It started'"
Morning was here- bees and butterflies were dancing around my window, rays of light were hitting my eyes and on the veranda I could hear my grandmother voice, calling some unfamiliar names' I could not wait another hour to get up- so I exchanged my PJ for my shorts and strawberry red t-shirt, and I rushed trough the window into the backyard'
Our backyard we shared with our first door neighbors, our part of backyard was marked with the old cherry tree, where many people were standing under it; everyone had a glass of "Kruskovaca" (traditional pear brandy) and they laughed loudly.
I could not understand who were all those people, what is going on?
My head was spinning around in ignorance, so I jumped over the high hedge and landed into the backyard of my friend and "fearsome enemy" in the same time (as he was a Cowboy and I was always an Indian in our games).
With my arrow I sent a shoot into the center of his window-bell and his blond head was already sticking out, sending me smiles.
I explained what I just observed and send him to get some answers from his grandparents.
Fillip was not getting the answers, he asked all his family members what's going on- but everyone ignored him and told him to go and play somewhere '
After some time, all those from our backyard went into the neighbors' back yard and then trough the gates down to the "White Barn" owned by Divna, she was a lawful heiress after her 1st. husband passed away after the lighting stroked him.
Barn was surrounded by villagers as more people came from the side road; we went to see what's going on down by the creek to which our road led to.
Some villagers were playing some "game"- with money and paper.. They wrote something down, and then they all shouted in the same time, mostly they were talking about numbers.. We could not understand it anyway'
We were desperate, in our ignorance and in the lack of proper information's we started thinking what could this all be-- we were running up and down the property and could not stop trying to get inside the barn, but without luck as every time we tried to pass the barn gates someone pulled us back to where we came from.
I turned to my friend Fillip and showed him the back side of the barn, he followed me..
We wanted to see Cows and their Calves- I felt like something bad is happening to them...
The barn was also full of unfamiliar people, they were taking the measurements and "sightseeing" seven Cows and their Calves. Something inside me- made me listen to what those people are saying, and these were the words I heard
"Brush her back with this rug" , "doesn't her skin shine now?"
"Look at these horns-my friend, she is healthy can't you see her udder.."
"I put my reservation on this one- how do you call her? Shara? OK, then Shara will be mine"
"Shara will be his??" I screamed, "This can't be true!!" Fillip punched the woody barn wall and everyone looked in our direction- we ran away.
The understanding of what's happening -could not reach us, we were thinking of the reasons why so many people came to see the Cows.
Fillip checked the barn again- people who visited the "White barn" were starting to disperse around the property, going back to the big wooden gates, and passing trough them; we run after them to hear what was the topic of their loud discussion..
They were walking one in front of another, mumbling and shouting in the same time, and all we could hear was
"Cow this, cow that--"
Before gates were closed- one voice came trough: "See you tomorrow Landlords, tomorrow is our buying day--"
No one told us a thing that day-- but that night I slept like a soldier- all dressed up for fast start.
(II) "The look in their eyes"
Fillip had his face all over my window, it was early morning and time to go into action and like an every "good Cowboy" he brought his (toy) pistol with him; he waived his pistol in the backyard direction and I went out side. Morning was beautiful and promised a sunny day, tiny pollen seeds chased one another-- everything was so calm, I was wondering what happened to the annoying sound of bumble bees -- Then the scream broken trough a quiet morning...
Fillip fell on the ground covering his ears like the bomb exploded. My eyes started to look for the screamer, but no one was there. Scream came from the "White barn". We rushed in the barn direction.
Cows were assembled along the wall- like never before, all with ropes around their necks and all with their Calves chained to those ropes--all Cows had that sad look in their eyes- I never saw before-- like they were saying to me- "goodbye"...
We stood there quietly, without any movement or sound- just shared what our souls said -trough our eyes.
I noticed in that moment, that someone is missing in this "picture"- in all this fuss we did not realized that Bukoje (the primary Bull) was not here with Cows and Calves.
My senses told me that Cows are in danger, I still don't know how, but I believe that Cows send me a message.
I felt noxious, something grabbed my stomach from inside.. Something struck my heart and it started skipping the beat-- my face went pale-- Divna, the barn owner took my chin up- start looking deep in my eyes and proposed to remove me from barn- as I appeared "ill" to her.
Divna's second husband, the new landlord, took my hand and lead me out of the barn, saying- "It's almost 2PM- go to have a lunch at your home, your granny is worried for you".. Cows will be here -- You can visit them later..
My legs could not move, Fillip took my hand and pulled me to the shades of the cherry tree.
We set there quietly, only our eyes were talking. Scenes were flying in my mind, what was that scream that we heard and why are those Cows and Calves all chained?
"I'm not taking this, no more! I am going to see what's going on." Fillip followed me yelling after me- "I'm right behind you!" .
Granny could not understand me, or at least she did not want to; she was cool like a winter in high mountains. I beg her to tell me why those Cows were chained and why there were measured yesterday, but granny played "deaf" like she always did-- all our methods were useless, no one cared that we got so upset. We started to think deeper; we knew that we needed to find different approach. And what kids use when nothing else works? Yes, TEARS. So we reached for our secret arsenal and went searching for our week targets.
Fillip was a kid with beautiful deep blue eyes- his tears could make grownups do things they never imagined they would do for a child.. So he stepped in front, he was about to use his weapon when his grandmother came around the corner. After several minutes of his "grand performance" (it was for a good cause- so this boy was not a "cry baby" without a good reason) Fillip made his granny Rada talk.
And the lighting of fear and sadness stroked at us. Our horrid facial expressions left Fillip's granny worried, and she said she knew --that this "information" could make us very sad-- so that's why everyone kept it secret. My throat was trembling, I could not take a breath.. I collapsed on the dry grass.
Water from a cold, wet blanket dripped down my forehead; my swollen eyes were trying to escape the bright moon shine. Then it hit me like a torpedo, "I must go" - my mind said and my legs just followed.
Fillip was nowhere around, I searched and called trough our secret night calls-- left messages around our "battle field" where we played our Cowboy and Indian games; But there were no messages reaching back to me.
"I am alone"- my mind started talking, "Cows are waiting for me, Cows are waiting for me--" - my mind repeated several times.
(III) ~A Clue ~
The Owl was studying the branches, her head went up and down.. She was staying put but her wings followed her head movements-- I was wondering what she spotted--
My bow and arrow saluted to me and reported to duty, I prepared them for action. I engraved the message on the chestnut leaf (tree familiar signs), rolled my message leaf onto my lucky arrow-- she was off-- and got right into target- right trough a hole by the Fillips window frame.
The lights went on. He was all in black- apparently he picked one of my previous messages and he knew for my plan. Already in starting position; he pulled the rope that was sliding down the back side of his house, right by the chimney. He was so fast- that I did not see him coming down--( I was watching my friend Owl sliding down the air, trough the branches). Fillip was worried because of the full moon; he was a horror movie freak and believed that night and full moon are reserved for the creatures of the night. I laughed and then whispered
"Tonight my Friend, creatures we need to be scared off are those people we know".
The Owl was watching us, her eyes were glowing; I winked to her and she winked back to me-
"This is a good sign Fillip" I said,
"This Owl will tell us if some unknown creature lurks in the dark, so let's go"- and we set our legs into motion.
The Barn gate was locked with simple lock; the key was above the horse shoe that hanged on the right side of the gate, Fillip reached for it--
We were in side, it was too dark to see but we felt the Cows around us. Fillip reached for a lamp, used his "Cowboy gear" from his little black bag-- and light came trough the lamp.
The sight was horrific, Cows looked so sad and Calves were crying. They stayed all day in barn chained. My heart was pounding like crazy- but my mind told me to go on.
We took the ropes off the cows, and then we cranked the big central chain onto which all Calve chains were gathered in one big lock.
Cows followed us quietly, Calves were fussing around --but that's what Calves usually do-- they are babies-- While we were on our way out of the White Barn- the Owl gave the warning sign- her eyes were looking right into the moon-- We did not bother to look for signs she gave us, as we were running like the ghosts were chasing us--
The creek was singing his night opera; the passage to the pastures was open- that's what we thought--We never got to the information that passage yard was the location for the final "buyers bidding night".. But the voices could be heard as we got near the end of the creek bank.
"The passage is unreachable!" Fillip whispered.
We got panicked, how to pass and not to be seen we wondered. Fillip pointed his finger on the road which lead to the narrow passage to our backyards.. and we started heading that way.
It was the wrong way -- we did not know it then, but soon we understood why the Owl was giving a warning sound while looking at the moonlight --
Everything is quiet from the side of our backyard, it sounded like everyone is indoors/sleeping.. We set our legs into a motion again, ahead we went.
Cows were walking slowly, steering their Calves around-they all stayed in the group-- we didn't lost anyone-- we went trough the left side of the backyards-- Then the long hedges along our plots were blocking our way, Fillip and I could jump right over the hedge- but Cows and calves could not as they could be heard. We thought it would be a grate idea to go right over my veranda and then to head trough the small backyard gate-- and we are off down to the small hill-right to the main road--. That's what we thought and planed.
We were right about the one thing thou, our family members were indoors, but we did not know that many did not fell asleep yet.
Rada, Filip's granny was a "night owl" she usually stayed up late as she used to cook at night- so she can rest in shade on the hot sunny days.. As the kitchen light was off- we thought we had a safe escape-- but that was only what we thought..
We safely passed by the kitchen windows-and while we were passing by the bathroom window we saw Rada! She was applying her "good night cream" on her hands and just about to put some of that cream under her eyes- she leaned her body closer to the mirror --and then the white flashing objects appeared in front of her eyes. Fillip and I ducked down - but the Cows and Calves stayed visible--
"Holly Cow!", Rada screamed in fear! "I saw a GOST!!! Not one ghost- I saw many!!
She screamed and screamed- Cows started to run; Calves started running behind them--
We stood on the porch and could not believe our eyes-- Cows were glowing all around our backyard!!! They literary were glowing as they were all snow white Cows (some sort of special breed) and the moon was so bright that the rays of moonlight were pouring all over their white skin and reflecting back in form of the white glow.
Granny sounded like an alarm bell, everyone got out of their bedrooms. Rada couldn't stop yelling around- "Ghosts, Ghosts" ..
We got caught. The fate of our Friends was in the hands of those who stopped us in our plan to save them. The future was black for our white Friends.
(IV) ~ 1881.~
Summer days went by us, we did not bother to look what they brought.. We dreamed about the world where Humans did not needed Cows and therefore Cows were not exploited--
July of 1881. engraved some kind of deep sadness in us, and we stopped looking on the world with same perceptive.
Our partners in sun-bathing and coaches in field exploring are dead. They were Friends who understood our game of Cowboy and Indian wars, Friends who never questioned our age or intelligence- They were all killed and eaten.. Horrific-
Cows did not had to die, we thought- but the killing of those Cows and Calves apparently explained that sometimes the needs and cravings of our families are exceeding the amount of love and compassion which we all carry in our hearts.
That summer, I stopped eating Animals- exactly the same night I got caught in the "family-web" I could not touch the cold flesh and also I get very upset when I see one.
Summer after that I created my first planed liberation action- I even tried to set the farm on fire- but luckily, I got caught before I did it. Animals were saved in the summer of 1882. only because my Family realized that my heart is too week for such a big sadness and they worked it out with our neighbors not to send cows on slaughter (at least in time of summer brake). Years after I realized that Cows got slaughtered and eaten anyway, but we did not know it then.
In years after my first Animal liberation actions, population in that village went down- elderly ones died and new generation had neither time nor enough family members to keep working with farm Animals and they transferred to the vegetables.
Were my childhood friend and I just daydreaming- about the free of exploitation Planet, or our childhood daydreaming might become reality? I am not sure..
But one thing I'm sure of is that my heart will keep on beating for that kind of World.