Empathy forbidden (1)

Anna had never been present at a birth, although she was raised on a dairy farm. This meant that the cows had to constantly give birth to calves to keep the milk flow going, while the babies involved were seen more as collateral damage. If they were girls, they at least had a chance to follow in their mothers‘ footsteps, but boys were good for nothing. Not only did they not give milk, but they also took an awfully long time to put on meat. That is why they were brought onto the market as quickly as possible. The yield was moderate, but every day they left the farm earlier was one day less that they had to be fed. But no matter what gender the little ones were, they were taken away from their mother shortly after birth and placed in solitary confinement in so-called calf igloos. Anna couldn’t take it, even if she couldn’t manage it. Finally, the mothers cried for their babies, often for days. But no one seemed to care – except her. That’s why she wanted to leave as soon as possible. „Only a few more months, then I’ll graduate from high school, and I’ll leave here forever,“ thought Anna. But then she met Mathilde.

Mathilde was a young cow about to give birth to her first baby. „I should have put them away right away,“ grumbled the father at lunch, „It was actually clear that nothing would come of it.“ Anna pricked up her ears. „What’s easy with her?“ she asked. „She’s so tender and I’m sure she’s having a hard time giving birth and I don’t know if the yield justifies it,“ said the father succinctly. The mother didn’t mean anything. But she never meant anything, just did what she had to do. But automatically Anna felt connected to the cow. This creature seemed just as much of an outsider as she herself. Freckled with wild, bright red curls, the contrast to the rest of her family could hardly have been greater. Both father, mother and the two brothers had dark hair and brown eyes. It was rumored that Anna had been a slip by her mother with a Scottish summer guest. It was never openly addressed, even though it was very likely. It was hushed up, as was the farmer’s abuse of the maids. In any case, Anna was sure that she had nothing in common with this family, like the poor little young cow that was waiting to be born. As soon as the meal was over, Anna jumped up and ran to the stable. Mathilde recognized her at first sight. She stood in a corner, shy and scared. Anna went to her, stroked her gently and talked to her soothingly. Apparently not much good had happened to her in her life, at least not from the human side, because it took a long time before she was persuaded to go with Anna. She brought the pregnant cow to a former horse box, where she could give birth to her child in peace, far away from the hustle and bustle of the others. A few hours later it was time. Despite the prophecies of doom, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy with ease. „He has to go as soon as possible,“ explained the father, shaking his head, „that’s no good. And the mother with it. Just look at the udder, it doesn’t pay anything.” “Sell it to me,” Anna protested against this plan. „And then? Who pays for the accommodation and the food?” the father continued relentlessly. „I’ll do that,“ Anna explained just as persistently. „Well. You know that’s sentimental nonsense, but I’m fine with that. But you have to take care of them,“ the father demanded. „It’s fine,“ Anna agreed. So now she was the proud owner of a cow and a calf. „Even if I can’t save everyone else, yes, I can’t even help them, at least the two of them,“ thought Anna when she went to bed that evening, her thoughts on the calf, which she had christened Moritz, on his gentle, brown eyes and the joy of being with his mother. Yes, Anna was sure she had done the right thing, no matter what the people around her thought, these two also had a right to live and be together. And so the months passed. Moritz had grown up and was as impetuous as teenagers are. On the day Anna finished school, she immediately stormed into the stable, but both Mathilde and Moritz had disappeared. Instead, she found a stranger’s horse in the box.

Go to part 2 here.

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