My letter to the editor of BBC Wildlife was printed in this month’s issue. I wrote about my impression of an illegal primate trade in the UK featured on a previous issue, which reminded me of human slavery where lives were treated as expendable chattel.
The story of TikTok tells the marmoset baby monkey who was rescued from a miserable life as a pet in a birdcage abandoned alone. It raised awareness of animal abuse in mental and physical forms as pets at the mercy of whims and caprice of the owners, who regard them as nothing more than live, expendable toys. TikTok was first bought for its exotic beauty and rarity in the illegal animal market, but the owner soon lost interest in the new pet, forsaking due care owed to him. When TikTok was finally rescued, he was in a state of fear and shock, so he was put together with another rescued older marmoset who cared for him like his son. Looking at the two photos, I thought of enslaved people who were sold off like commodities seen from Alex Haley’s heartrending saga of American black family “Roots.” In the story, humans are perceived and treated as nothing more than talking stock, and therefore the most basic unit of society in the form of family is unthinkable for slaves. Mothers and children are forcefully separated, let alone husbands and wives are for mating purposes only to multiply the population. Such comparison is not a stretch of the imagination but a sheer fact of association.
We have come a long way to the progress of the mind regarding human rights and animal rights compared to the past, or we like to think it so. Perhaps it is our animal instinct to dominate what is perceived as controllable. That is why a force of civilization in the form of rules and law is essential to reining in our unruly and crude id in implementing reason as a way to prevent cruelty against lives. But such rationalism should always complement humanism lest we should act on the mechanism of the mind. And let us not forget that those who mistreat animals also do the same to their human brethren.
She wished her dreams secretly Sitting on the rock by the shore Lest the spirits tear them anon And keep her a hostage to fortune Until her spirit left her in surrender To the mercenaries of death in the pact.
Luck was a stranger, so was Faith. But Hope always stayed with her On the rock against winds and waves As a Friend like Pellas and Athena giving the light of Hope to Despondence reviving Breath of Reason to wait still.
One day Hope told her to write a letter To Heaven about her Seven Wishes So that the West Wind would carry it On his feathered wings like Pegasus’ To the Palace of King direct and express And He would open and read it at once.
So she wrote her letter to King Of Seven Wishes sealed in secret Stood and flew a lithe kite carrying The wishes in words fluttering in the breeze And waited for the West Wind to come And deliver them upward further higher
Alas! The Wishes sent to the skies Fell from the wings of the wind, As her heart’s whispers were wafted Downward, leeward, seaward Until mermaids caught in their outing And treasured them in the shells.
It was from “A Way with Words” a public radio show about the English language, including the origins of words, the usages, and good books that I came to know this lovely book. It’s a stupendous compendium of letters from the famous and the ordinary from the ancient to the modern with beautiful photo copies of the letters reproduced in the book. The letters span the whole range of human emotions from kindness, passion, love, joy to heartbreak, anger, disappointment, and longing as the contents of the letters reveal the writer’s’ innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions through the vehicles of pen and paper.
Reading each of the letters made me feel deeply touched by the universality of humanity and reflective of the human nature manifested in writing without prejudice on the grounds of appearances and social standings, which influence our perceptions of individuals. Readers can find lots of very interesting letters in this book. Of all the letters in the book, the following three letters resonate in my mind: (1) E. B. White’s letter to his gentleman acquaintance regarding the importance of having hope for humanity; (2) Anaïs Nin’s rebuking letter to a faceless collector of her co-authored “Erotica” for his demand of more prevalent racy contents; and (3) a nameless German woman’s letter to her husband asking him to take her back home from a dreadful mental hospital she was in. It was so heartbreaking to read her brief letter to her husband that I could feel her pain, fear, and sadness alone in the grim place… I commiserated with her….
Mr. Usher in his foreword states that if the readers are inspired to put pen to paper by reading the letters in the book, his intention of compiling the book will be fulfilled and greatly appreciated. That’s a very noble intention and sublime aspiration in this digital age. This book is a lovely work of art which the readers will never tire of.