Terrorised chicken

Right In The Middle


My work as an interpreter in the UK brings me face-to-face with interesting people and situations. Most of my assignments are in hospitals (you could say that I am an interpreter of maladies). Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I learnt that my services were required by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Intrigued, I made my way to the home of the lady whose address I had been supplied. The interview began after the arrival of a grim-faced RSPCA inspector.
I was absolutely taken aback at what followed. The lady, a mother of five children aged between one and 12, had been charged with failing to prevent her kids from ‘terrorising’ chickens. She faced a hefty fine and a court case for her ‘misdemeanour’. In addition, she was from the Indian subcontinent and spoke no English. She looked absolutely blank when asked if she had contacted her solicitor and did not seem to understand the ‘gravity’ of the situation.

The family had purchased some chickens from a market and brought them home. The birds had been thrown into a small cage, but they had apparently been fed regularly by the lady. Trouble started when a friend of one of the boys came home and started playing with the chickens. He had tossed some of the chickens high up in the air. The squawks of the birds had attracted the neighbours’ attention and one gentleman had photographed the incident on his mobile phone and sent off the clips to the RSPCA. The ‘terrorised’ birds had since been removed from the custody of the accused, but she was told she could get them back if she promised her children would behave well with the birds.

The inspector fired a volley of questions at the lady. Why did she buy the birds, what she had been feeding them, where she kept them at night and whether she had taught her children how to handle the chickens. The entire episode was an eye-opener for me. I’m sure in India thousands of animals are ‘terrorised’ every day, but no action is ever taken against offenders. And, in the UK, somebody had actually spent time and money (they had hired me after all) to defend ‘terrorised’ chickens. What a great country this is!

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