“Look at those lions!” Exclaimed my mother. A short, stout, red faced woman of almost 60, she was right in her comfort zone.
“Bloody hell!” She cried. We sat on the edge of our seats as another piece of red meat, marbled with sinew and fat, was tossed into the lion enclosure. As the beasts jostled and fought for the slab of flesh – now covered in dry grass and old earth – my father took a drag on his cigarette. Slowly, he pulled the smoke from the tightly wrapped paper, all the while his eyes fixated on the ensuing battle.
In our family, going to see the lions fight was a regular occurrence, as it was for many others around here. Consequently, I often found it difficult to stay focused in my seat, the same seat in which I had sat for the last 5 years. At least. After pondering thoughts about girls and food (as any other boy my age would), I eventually began to question the brutality of man, and his capacity for evil. These lion fights serve as a perfect example. These beasts; natural creatures of unquestionable, ineffable beauty, strong in frame and golden in colour, were kept behind the facade of ‘open fields’ in small cages. Starved during the week so that by the time Saturday afternoon comes around they are all ravenous; so hungry for food that they will kill each other simply to survive.
It is in this that I observe the most evil characteristic of a human being. It is indeed true that we often as a species murder each other. We do horrific things to each other. Unspeakable things. However all of these serve as inconsequential when compared with caging up something so raw and powerful, something that (if it ever came down to it, of course) would rip you or I to pieces. Would tear my mothers reddened, excited face from her body and would spatter my fathers tobacco with blood. These lions, I kept telling myself, were predators, and yet here we are, caging them up, and using them to provide entertainment for the masses.
With every second of thought I felt more and more disgusted at myself for even being here.
“Why do you enjoy this dad?” I asked, with forced and resounding innocence.
“Just watch them go, son. Look at those teeth!” my father remarked, without even so much as a glance toward me. I stared at him for a while, His dark red skin, filled with open pores and toned from years in the sun as a labourer, reflected little to no sunlight. A black baseball cap sat on his head, and he wore sunglasses indoors. Something which I had always hated. At this point, one lion had its paws clasped over the back of the other. It had sunk its teeth into the beast’s muscular neck. The crowd erupted into a cheer, jumping up and down ecstatically in their seats, anticipating the final moment, where the golden lion would be slain by the other.
The sickness that had built itself up into my stomach over the ensuing fight began crawling slowly, like a thick sludge, up my throat. Just as my mouth was filling with vomit, I leaped from my chair. Ran down the isle, past the guards and through the chain link door.
Out in the city, I forgot the brutality of the game – just for a second.