The child and the slaughtered ram- short story by Rachid Khouya
Morocco, 7.5 million sheep to meet the demand of Eid al-Adha
Smara, Morocco- Two days before the Eid of sacrifice. The father bought a big ram and brought it home. The whole family was happy, including his little six year old son. Every morning and evening the parents gave the ram food and water; they also seized the opportunity to take pictures with it.
They put the boy wearing his new clothes on the back of the ram, asked him to laugh, to hold the horns and take beautiful pictures. They were so happy with this poor creature that has no idea about its destiny.
Two days later, the feast arrived. The father brought his knife and slaughtered the ram in front of the whole family who looked on with pride at the brave father slaughtering the ram. Watching that tragic scene, the boy rushed to his room and closed the door. He refused to come out when they called him. He stayed alone for a while. The father went to see what happened.
As he was calling him to come out, the child cried and told his father: “you are not good, father. You are not a good person. Why did you kill the ram? Why did you slaughter it.” The father tried to convince his child that this is what all people do and that this is the day we all sacrifice a ram.
Surprised with his son’s answer: “Why did you buy it ? Why did you take pictures with it? Why did you buy grass for it? This is what you do for me too. You buy clothes and shoes and food for me, you take pictures with me and maybe one day you will slaughter me as you did for the ram. It is only a question of days, weeks or years before you kill me too.”
The father pretended to laugh while he was looking for arguments to convince the boy to come out of his room. He squeezed his mind to find right ideas and right words, but in vain. Then he cleared his throat and said: “look son, I am your father. I will never kill you and I will never permit anyone else to kill you. This is nature. We must slaughter rams and sheep instead of slaughtering our sons, daughters and brethrens. This is the story of our father Abraham as I told you last night.”
The son opened the door, took some time to look in his father’s eyes and replied: “I think, humans have forgotten the lesson dad. They are slaughtering each other today everywhere. Look at the television channels. All what they show are pictures of humans killing each other, slaughtering each other and eating each others’ hearts. There is no difference Dad. Same stories of killing, only weapons name that change.”
The father was so shocked. He could not believe what his ears were hearing. He could not believe that it was his six-year-old son who was talking. He thought that it was an adult philosopher who was talking from within the child. He had never thought about the topic of sacrifice that way. For him, it was a sacred religious tradition like prayers, fasting and pilgrimage. This was the first time he heard what he heard.
The child looked at his father and continued his speech:”We are all like a herd of sheep, Dad. Our countries are like stables where governments feed us, water us, fatten us and prepare us for the day of sacrifice when they will kill us in public spaces with the arms they buy with the money of the people. Look at the different countries and the wars declared by the armies of the people against their people ‘.
‘Son, you are not allowed to talk that way about governments. You are a little kid and you have not yet understood things as they are. Soon, you will grow up and you will understand everything. You will be a father too and you will buy a ram and slaughter it in front of your kids as I do. You will take pictures as we do as well. This is human nature, dear. This is life, simply,” the father who was feeling a little bit angry said hesitantly..
“No, my father. I do not want to become a man. I do not want to kill the rams and I do not want to be killed with the butchers who control our daily lives. I do not want to be born into a world where parents prepare their kids to kill the kids of others who are not like them. I do not want to grow up to kill others as you kill rams. I want to be a child or to die….I want to be a child or to die….I want to die a child and I do not want to be ram like you are….’
The father held the child from his neck and put his hand on his mouth to prevent him from going on saying what he had never heard and what he does not want to hear. Inside his mind, a voice echoed:”What a generation is this? Dear God.”
The child, remembering the story of Abraham trying to slaughter his son and the angels bringing a ram, succeeded to free himself from the powerful hands of the father who was still filled with the smell of the ram’s blood.
As the father let him free, the boy look edat his father and told him: “Here I am Dad, kill me as you killed the ram…kill me dad before the killers of rams kill us. It is only a matter of days, weeks or years….The shepherds and the rams will be killed.”