Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Real

What a daze, after a night of little to no sleep, constantly waking and checking on the condition of our confiscated orphan chimp. He’s still so small, and his stomach is so concave, that you must literally hold your hand against his body to confirm that he’s really breathing.

And he’s so weak, and covered in cuts and abrasions and bruises that it would be easy to imagine him just falling asleep and not waking up.

It was probably the latest that Adam and I have stayed up since Cleve was here -- lying in bed and discussing the day’s events in the dark with hushed tones. We’re trying incredibly hard to be positive, but the horror of the things we’ve seen here does not dull with the frequency of the exposure.

Sure, killing chimps in Congo is illegal, by law, but in New York, jay walking is illegal (walking against the light). And the baffling thing to us is one of our employees who seems genuinely miffed that the two hunters went to jail.

Trying to put things into perspective, we thought about how annoyed we might be if a friend got a ticket for jay walking.

But even in our forced change of perspective, I find my sympathy for these two men lacking.

And, though the killing of this chimp’s mother was horrible, there are fervent humanitarians who, I’m sure, believe in people’s rights to do what they must to eat/survive (I am not one of them).

But to keep this infant in a tiny basket, and not give him food or water for five days -- and WORSE -- to have dulled his teeth by sticking a hot knife into his mouth --

There is no ability in my body that I could ever use to see a perspective where this is not horrible, cruel, inhumane, and inexcusable. The parts of me that still cling valiantly to a faith in humanity -- to the goodness in everyone that is just sometimes a bit hidden -- wants to believe that yesterday was a dream.

That, if I wake up, there will not be a being in pain, lying close to death on my floor.

Because honestly, knowing that there are people in the world -- people who have friends, live lives, have children and continue on “normally” -- who could do that to another creature, human or not -- is horrifying.

Adam has been taking point on a lot of the surrogating this go-round. The orphan can’t move independently at all, but we’re hoping through today that he might become more alert.

Me -- I can’t be alert today. Even having slept a little, I feel the weight of a fog around me. Adam feels it too. It’s fear - tangible, palpable fear - and I don’t know when it’s going to go away.

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