My misery will be beatitude Smiling at grief, grim and gray Till I see two little birds afar, fly Tweeting in fugue of melodies unknown And sit on the back of my weak palm Frolicking with the beads of Rosary Wreathed by pearls of wishes porcelain, Bringing the message from the Queen Above to her votary sentenced in sadness Patience in Blue and Fortitude in Green.
Whether it is my animal zodiac sign of Tiger that is believed to be highly incompatible with anyone with that of monkey, let me just clarify that monkeys are my least favorite animals. However, that doesn’t mean that I should not feel strongly about the article from a recent issue of BBC Wildlife about the U.K.’s primate trade accompanied by the title photo of the baby marmoset named TikTok. Call it milk of human kindness. I cannot just leave the pages closed and forget about it as a piece of memory. The images and words still haunt me, which prompts an enduring reckoning, resulting in writing this essay.
The primate trade in the U.K. and here in the States evokes the human history of slavery. Under slavery, human lives were counted as chattel, and the families were continuously disintegrated because of volatile trade-offs. On the same token, keeping primates as pets seems no less different from colonialists or slave owners whose eyes were set upon the exotic physical attributes of the people they subordinated.
The article has also taken me to my brief research into the U.S. primate trade with the following facts: in 2012, 19 states, including California, where I live, had outright bans on private monkey ownership. The primates are considered a threat to wildlife and public safety and health because their habitats and nature are not agreeable to our environment despite our conventional knowledge of primates as the closest to our species lost in the evolution tree. Come to think of it, the idea of “Planet of Apes” has a point in reversing the directions of gaze from humans to apes, and vice versa, showing us why the two species could not cohabitate by confining them in the opposite environments.
We should not think of animals as live toys or ornaments that will satisfy our whimsical, capricious tastes. From pets to wildlife, animals are not our property but companions. I know it for sure when I feel a little heart of my cat Toro sleeping at my feet.
“So you have now the earth, the water, and the sky in your room! Awesome!” That was my brother when I told him over the phone about my recent adoption of a parakeet from a Petco. The paroxysm of excitement catapulted me into the awareness of a reality that I did bring a bird—those small but sharp beaks and those wrinkled tarsi feet manifesting the atavistic characteristics of dinosaurs, particularly the T-Rex. The truth that I now have to cohabitate with the least-likely coveted descendent of T-Rex still swivels my head in wonderment as if the ghost of Alice in Wonderland possessed me. So why the bird then?
While there might be the remotest chance of using my parakeet as a divine medium to consult my future, I have recently brought Sera home with great expectation of making a friend with the lonely Toro. Toro is now one year and four months old, and his growing curiosity calls attention for a playmate to share his enthusiasm and vociferous nocturnal stamina. Of course, the kinship of feline presence is the best option to fulfill the requirement. Still, the existential circumstances of present life eliminate it. Hence the lot fell into a blue parakeet I named Sera after the talking bird Serah, a travel companion of Sinbad the Sailor, from my favorite childhood cartoon. As you can guess, Sera is a girl who spends most of her time in front of the mirror and then trills in high soprano like a pretty and prim starlet prima donna.
My endless attempts to tame Sera to sit on my finger and her constant ignorance of my presence are both disheartening and ireful. Toro is a susceptible and timid cat who denied looking at dead fish by turning away his head from the sight. Even though Toro wishes no harm on his new friend Sera, who fastidiously avoids him with all her feathers and beaks, she defends herself from him with all her might. Toro looks at me with his large sad eyes full of liquid heartaches whenever the conflict occurs, and I comfort him in my arms. Sera then flaps her tiny pretty wings, returns to her castle, and ensconces herself on a twiggy perch with a loud and snappy chirping as a sign of victory over the feline Goliath.
I still don’t know if my decision to extra-species friendship is counterproductive amid Sera’s callous attitude toward Toro and me despite our apologies and continuous endeavor to reconcile with her. Perhaps I should not have taken Sera yet from the cage while she might have been still not familiarized with her new home. Still, there’s hope in my Pandora’s Box weaved in a rope of sparkling diamonds that promises a dazzling delight of trust and love filling the loneliness of the little hearts in our room. Who knows, one day Sera suddenly talks both Korean and English and tells me my todays and tomorrows? You never know.
Freya rides in her new celestial chariot driven by two Norwegian Forest cats named Bygul and Trjegu. The Norwegian forest cats came from a single-fathered family when their father felt unsure how to raise them after their mother left the family. So the father asked Thor for godly help. Thus Thor gave the kittens to Freya, thinking that they might be helpful to her as companions or messengers.
But the intelligent and beautiful Freya has a better idea: they could drive her divine chariot to travel across the skies and seas, not to mention land given proper training and times of experience. So rather than smothering their natural agility, unfailing alertness, and admirable persistence, all of which are excellent traits for hunting prey, Freya finds the most brilliant way of a beautiful kind to let her cats drive the chariot. There’s no need to goading or hollering to spur Bygul and Trjegu because such application is unnecessary for performance when the cats love their roles with all their hearts, souls, and minds. When in doubt, read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and you will soon believe me. If you have cats, see for yourself, for they do when they like, not what you want them to.
Toro, aka the Curious Tabby, is contemplating joining the team, imbued with high hope of running Freya’s chariot from sunrise and sunset, flying from one end of the horizon to the other, over the ruffling waves of the deep cobalt seas. As one year and three months old, Toro thinks he can apply for Freya’s training school, where Bygul and Trjegu are instructors. At the thought of it, euphoria envelopes his body in a vista of the magnificent chariot, and his spirit now soars up in the garden of ether, intoxicated with the weightless levity. No more boring days, no more need to call the attention of Judy, his human sister, to let him out to the living room, which is always and ever tiresome.
It’s not that Judy lacks care and affection. Hardly so. It’s because of her cantankerous elderly mother, who doesn’t like him to roam around the living room where she usually stays, watching the repeats of talk shows on YouTube. Toro understands Judy’s dilemma between her willingness to let him out and her submission to her mother’s scolding because otherwise, she knows that the mother will discipline Toro with her walking stick. Toro loves Judy, but his curiosity doubles up with aspirations, whetting his desire for driving Freya’s chariot at least just for once. But then it would mean leaving poor Judy alone behind with the horrible old woman. Hence Toro is thinking hard again.