It was Easter Sunday. The feast had begun early in the morning, and now, already afternoon, everyone was tired. My uncle was sleeping. My cousin had come from the neighboring house and suggested that all of us go for a ride. “I’m going to sneak into our uncle’s house, take his shotgun and then we will all go hunting together!” he said. “What do you think? Isn’t it a great idea ?!” We were all excited. Yes, it was a great idea. We would all go together to the fields and wander, experiencing the feeling of adventure and hunting. So, all of us children we gathered, and after my cousin took the gun and the cartridges from my uncle’s house in secret, we left. On the road, we were all walking behind him. He was the undisputed leader. We respected him and admired him, since he could do something we could not do. Now and then he would stop, keeping us two to three meters behind him, and then he would aim and fire. He was aiming towards the air and the shots would not hit anything. From our side, we were all excited and we were asking him questions about the gun and how it worked. He would respond with courteousness and friendliness always keeping us safely behind him.
At one point he stood again, took aim and fired, aiming toward the electric wires. We heard the sound of the gunshot. This time he cried out that something happened and that a bird had fallen on the ground. We all ran and got close. The bird was wounded on the wing and could not fly. It was struggling to escape, and it was furious and scared. It was a hawk that lived in the nearby fields, hunting in the surrounding area and it was hurt and very fierce. Its talons and beak were very sharp, and they could easily rip off the fingers of anyone who came near. It was still very strong and had no other wounds except the one on its wing. We all gathered around it, shouting and making gestures without knowing what to do. At that moment, something pushed me to go forward and take the initiative. Perhaps the emotion was childish, to prove that I can do something as skillful and brave as my cousin, but whatever it was, I quickly took over the leadership of the scene. When I left home, I had in my pocket a silver chain, the kind that keep bathtub plugs in place. I took it out and after I passed it around the neck of the bird, I started pulling from the back of its head. I could do this safely, without risking being hurt by its beak. So, slowly I began to press forcefully in order to strangle it.
The Death of the Hawk
I remember that I didn’t feel sorrow or pity for the bird. All that was important was to kill it and quickly. At first, the force I was putting was not enough and its wings were still flapping. But then I started to push really hard. My cousin looked at me with curiosity and at the same time surprised that I was able to do something like this. The bird began breathing its last and before it died, it defecated on itself. I had heard that in their last moments, people would defecate on themselves as a final farewell to the world. Fear would clean their guts, and lighter would embark on their last journey. I was feeling a relentless witness in the last moments of this animal. After we buried it, we returned home and recounted the incident to our uncle who in the meantime had woken up.
Ever since, this story had always haunted me. I was able to kill another creature without any pity and a part of myself that was cold and indifferent had come to the surface. This self was frightening, and I didn’t know how to handle him. He was pitiless and without mercy and would not stop at anything to reach his goal. Maybe that’s why I felt remorse after doing that, especially to an animal that I had always considered to be a friend and companion, a symbol of independence and freedom. Many years passed and still the incident had not healed. A lot later, I was informed and remembered that in similar situations, ancient Greek warriors and medieval knights used similar techniques in order to put quickly to death their companions who were fatally injured in battle. The medieval knights especially used a special short, pointed sword which they called miséricorde. This sword would quickly pierce the hearts of their companions who would find almost instant death and redemption.
A Different View
This information gave me a new push in order to help me get a different view of the scene. I saw another part of myself taking action, a part that didn’t have to think or hesitate, but on an impulse, knew exactly how to act and handle the situation. And without remorse or mercy, it was able to deliver the final coup de grâce to another being, just the moment it was dearly needed. Even now as I write the story, I remember how all of us children we finally agreed that the way things turned out, killing the hawk was the best thing to do. If we had left it in the fields, it would have found a very slow death. Most likely, it would have died of hunger in a few days because of its wounded wing. This story always stands out and remains in my memory. Every time I recollect it, I feel my connection with it. The players and their role were chosen that day, and something bigger pushed me and joined my fate with another creature through an act of life and death. Now I can let the soul of this animal, of this brother, fly free, and its spirit to accompany me forever.