Sunday, 5 February 2012
Yes I am a serial killer. I didn’t know it till I was told. I never had any remorse for my actions or felt that I was doing anything wrong. I liked what I did and looked forward to it.
Yes, I suppose most people wouldn’t agree with me and I write this confession addressing all those people. Especially the ones who made me realise what I was.
“You have to come”, said my host “to my housewarming party. Everyone will be there. They all want to meet you. It’s been so long. Many of us haven’t met you since you moved to the UK”.
I’m not really into big parties and dinners but I’ve known all these people since I was a kid and thought it would be a nice idea to catch up.
The host Mr. O was a doctor who had really made his mark and was one of the most successful doctors in town. He was moving into a new mansion and the guest list read like Who’s who of the intellectual world. Doctors, Engineers, Architects, Dentists, software designers, lawyers, CEO’s and senior managers of companies were there.
The mansion was more like a luxury hotel. Big driveway, porch, double reception, a duplex with a grand staircase, all en-suite rooms with walk-in wardrobes. All rooms with intercom managed by a receprionist, servants on-call. The reception room itself was adorned by objects d’art, silk curtains, large oil paintings, marble floor, and beautiful wood work.
“I had an interior designer decorate my humble abode”, said my host, showing his guests around. “The paintings are from the best art galleries in Delhi, the marble from Italy and the wood from Africa”.
“Africa?” I asked. “Wouldn’t teak from Burma go better with your mansion”?
“You see”, explained my host “Burmese and even Indian teak is heavily regulated due to the ‘Junta’ and the decimation of the forests; and for the same reason, very expensive. African wood is really exotic and is not regulated and costs a fraction. One can order any kind of timber in any quantity and our contact there sends it to us.”
“Who is this contact? How does he have access to such variety and quantity of timber at such low price? Surely you realise he might be involved in illegal logging which is resulting in the rapidly disappearing rainforest”
“That’s his problem. Everyone uses African wood now days. All good houses have wooden window and door frames and staircases. Plus, we are exempt from African law here”, he explained with a wink. Everyone laughed, amused that I wasn’t aware of this.
“I can’t believe you all are taking it so lightly. These actions result in deforestation and climate change; not to mention a loss of habitat for the animals.”
“Funny you should be the one talking about animals”, said Mr. T “considering you are a shooter and kill animals.”
“Actually I hunt legally, usually for food. The money spent in hunting licenses, leases, club memberships etc. help preserve the habitat”.
“But that still doesn’t change the fact that you are a killer. Imagine killing those poor animals for food. It’s horrible” said Mrs. V tucking into a succulent chicken leg. “This chicken is delicious Mr. O. I can’t wait to try the lamb, quail and the pork”.
“But can’t you see”, I asked. “You are killing them for food too. Look at what you are eating. Steroid laden, antibiotic laced, genetically modified meat. These animals have been kept cooped up in cages, unable to move. They are raised in horrid conditions. Surely as a consumer you share some responsibility for their death.”
“Don’t be ridiculous” said Mrs. G. “It's the butcher that kills the animals, not us. It’s obvious even to a child. In fact I don’t even cook meat, just order it at a restaurant".
“I agree with you Mrs. G”, said Mrs. V. “And that’s a nice ‘shahtoosh’ you’re wearing. Is it new?”
“Yes. Bought it last month a steal at £4000” beamed Mrs. G, over the moon that her new ‘shahtoosh’ shawl had been noticed. “It's my second”.
“What!!” I exclaimed. “’Shahtoosh’ is made from the hair of 'chiru' antelope, one of the most endangered antelopes in the world. The ‘shahtoosh’ trade is banned by every government in the world. On an average 4 chiru are killed to make one shawl. How can you be proud of buying it”?
“Oh come on shooter.” Said Mr. Y. “Don’t pretend you care for them. After all you are a killer of animals. Chiru antelopes will become extinct soon. Even if my wife doesn’t buy a shahtoosh shawl, the poachers won’t stop killing them. So might as well buy them before it’s too late. Everyone who is anybody has a shahtoosh shawl”.
The gathered crowd agreed.
“It's about guilt”, said an affluent jeweller’s wife to me. “A serial murderer of animals trying to sooth his conscience by saying no to shahtoosh. A shahtoosh is a must have and it’s not like I have killed the chiru, or any animal for that matter. In fact I am a strict vegetarian”, she chuckled clutching her Prada python skin bag.
“That’s right” said a property developer. “A lot of us are animal lovers. In fact I just bought a dog. Champion parents, good pedigree. Paid £1000 for it. You’ve seen it. You know the one which is brown and black and big”.
I remembered. It was a German shepherd; of champion parents all right. Bought when the owner made his first million in a property deal. A dog bought because that’s what ones supposed to do when one is rich. It was kept in a cage right outside the front entrance so that the expensive dog is always on display to the guests and doesn’t dirty the expensive house or clothes by coming in. A dog had to be of champion genes and a dog-show winner. It didn’t matter if it was “big-brown-black” or “black with no tail which the police use”.
“Forget all this animal killing talk”, said my host trying to diffuse the situation. “This is my builder developer friend and he has just won a big contract to make 1000 apartments on the river front in a Himalayan mountain town. I suggest you put down a deposit and get a discounted pre-booked flat. We all have done the same”.
“But why do I want an apartment in a faraway town”.
“For investment”, informed the property developer. Property value has increased at least 50000 to 100000 times in 65 years. I have more than a 100 houses and Mr. O, your host is on number 48 already. Real estate is the best investment my boy. Our developer lobby has managed to persuade the government not to have green zones around cities and thus the growth of any city is limitless. Every small town and village, every country resort whether it is by riverside or forests or hills can now have shopping malls, tall apartment buildings and McDonalds.”
I was stunned.
“Are you all crazy? Why would anyone need forty houses? In a country of a billion and shrinking forests how can we have enough land for all these houses? Don’t you realise the only way to raise all these buildings is by reclaiming land from forests, countryside and farmland? Why would you build a shopping mall in a nice tranquil riverside town in the Himalayan foothills?”
“You have started talking like a foreigner. You people have shopping malls in London but can’t stand it when we make bigger malls and open McDonalds everywhere”, said somebody.
“Well I have nothing against progress but don’t you realise what impact this shrinking habitat will have on our critically endangered species like the tiger, the Indian red deer, the bear etc”, I asked.
“There he goes again. A serial hunter worried about animals” laughed a senior architect. “Of course we worry about these things. In fact we have taken steps towards saving the tiger. We have clicked the ‘like’ button on the “save the tiger” page on facebook. Whereas you shooter have killed one animal after another more like a serial killer. What have you done?”
I wanted to explain how the hunting licenses generate revenue for preservation of forests, how the money given as shooting lease to farmer ensures he plants cover crops to provide habitat for wildlife, how wildfowling clubs use membership fees to buy land which is used as habitat for waterfowl, protected forever from being built upon. However I realised in this crowd of intellectual animal lovers, such feeble excuses would never stand up. I mean who was I kidding?
I had never clicked the ‘like’ button on the facebook page ‘save the tiger’. Nor did I have a ‘bid-black-and-brown-dog’ (or even a small white dog with curly hair, for that matter) in a cage in my front yard. I didn’t have 40 houses and a lot of my furniture was made from cheap pale knotted pine wood from some silly sustainable woods in Scandinavia. I bought licences etc for shooting/hunting and tried to stay away from mass produced meat. I had begun to realise how inadequate my efforts were and for the first time saw myself for what I was....... a serial killer.
Since then, I have learned to appreciate and compliment people when I see them wearing shahtoosh or new tiger claw brooches. I can distinguish between various exotic African woods. I’m even thinking of buying a second house. I eat a bit of commercial battery produced meat. I still shoot and hunt but clever enough not to tell people about it. I’m in the process of buying a ‘medium-sized-black-short-haired-dog’. The owners said it was a 'matador' or something like that. It really doesn’t matter. Its mother won some show and it costs £1400. I’ll lock it up in my small London flat while I continue to work long days, weekends, and night on-calls. I do hope all this will help atone for my shooting that I still do. I hope it does as I’m not sure what else I can do because I’ve still not been able to bring myself to click on the ‘like’ button on the ‘save the tiger’ facebook page.