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The Voices that Cannot Speak

The Voices that Cannot Speak
by Shenita Etwaroo


I don't remember exactly where it all began, but it certainly wasn't like this. I was born on a nice spring day with two brothers and two sisters, although one of them died within a couple of hours. We all felt very sad for her, but little were we to know back then that she was the lucky one.

My mother was beautiful and kind, although she'd give us “what for” if we got a bit too playful. But play we did, while she looked on proudly. She stayed until we were strong enough to feed ourselves and taught us many things. We loved her dearly.

One day, she disappeared. I say disappeared, but she was actually taken away by a man. He crept up from behind and brought a heavy stick down over her head and back. Although she was stunned, she tried to run, but the man grabbed her by her hind legs and shoved her into a sack. We kittens just ran and hid. We so desperately wanted to rescue our mom, but we could do nothing. The man tied the neck of the sack, threw it in the back of his van and drove off.

We were really scared and frightened, and for a few days, hid away. But we had to find food and come out of our hiding place. That was our big mistake. They were waiting for us. No sooner did we show than we were scooped up in netting and thrown into a sack, just like mom. We squealed and panicked, tearing at the bag, but it was no use. Then we felt ourselves flying through the air before we landed with a big bump on a hard metal floor. That stunned us, and I hurt one of my front paws so I couldn't stand on it anymore. I was only three months old.

The spluttering of an old engine told us we were being taken somewhere. We were petrified. Eventually, the motor stopped and we could hear lots of men shouting. After a lot of clanking and banging, we felt our bag being dragged across the hard surface. Then the sensation of flying before another hard landing. We could also hear lots of cats crying and dogs whining. Unexpectedly, light appeared from above, but before we knew what was happening, we were being tumbled out of the bag, higgledy-piggledy, landing on a hard stone floor.

A gate slammed shut. We slowly looked around. We were in a cage with lots of other kittens like us. They were mewing, snuggling into each other as much as possible. They looked so sad, with dirty unkempt fur, and a terror in their eyes that gazed into nothingness. There were hundreds of them. They ignored us, so we huddled together for warmth and whatever little comfort and succor we could derive.

I dropped off to sleep, but woke when the cage door opened. Some food was carelessly thrown in and we crawled over to eat. We were starving. A couple of bowls of dirty-looking water were provided, but tasted brackish. The cage stank of feces and urine, as there was nowhere to go to the toilet but the floor. Some of the other kittens had it matted in their fur. I noticed a few of them didn't move. They were dead -- their glassy eyes still betraying the unbearable reality of their short lives.

There were other cages. Some contained dogs, some had puppies and others had fully-grown cats. They were all suffering as we were. And then I saw my mother. She was squashed up against the chain-link fencing. I tried to call, but she couldn't hear me above the noise. A couple of men opened the door of her cage and started gathering up the kittens and cats, using long poles with hooks on the end. They had smaller cages, and crammed about ten into each one. The cats couldn't move a single centimeter, and I saw them being roughly pushed in to accommodate yet more, their necks and legs twisted at impossible angles. Then my mother was grabbed. I couldn't bear to watch. That was the last time I ever saw her.

I don't know how long we were in our cage, but we all got bigger, though painfully thin. It must have been at least a year, as we were left outside and either burnt in the hot summer sun or shivered and froze in the winter rain and snow.

Then one day, the men came for us.

My little family and I clung fast to each other, so at least we were squashed in a cage together. We were taken out and our cage put on top of another cage on the back of a lorry. We waited ages while other cages were stacked all around us. The heat was stifling. We couldn't see and we could barely breathe. The increasing hubbub and diesel fumes made it impossible to think. At last, the lorry moved off. A little later, it came to stop in what looked like a market place. The smell of blood hung everywhere. Immediately, all us cats started to panic and screech, trying in vain to move, let alone find an escape. Then we were unloaded. Our cages were just thrown down to the ground from the lorry, causing even more pain and terror.

One by one, our cages were opened and we all had our back legs tied together before being hung up in a row.

That's where I am now. Why are they doing this? What do they want? We haven't harmed anybody. One of my brothers is removed. Goodbye. I love you. I can see his body being swung around in circles by his captor. Now his head is being slammed viciously against the ground. I feel nauseated. I am so full of pain and fear that I can't think straight. Incredibly, I see my brother struggle. No, they can't! A knife is slicing him from the nape of his neck to his tail, and they're pulling his skin off. Stop it! Stop it! He's still alive!

I cry out and vomit. I know what's coming as the man comes and takes me down. Perhaps I'll get lucky and die when he smashes my head on the ground. Here we go. Round and round. I'm dizzy. I'm falling. I'm...the Cry of the Innocent.

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