by Carole Rae
This is a tale of two chinchilla brothers.
|“Mama...why do you look so sad?” I ask Mama, who is curled in the corner away from my brother and me. Like normal, my brother was in his own world chewing on the brown chew sticks, without even noticing that our mama's eyes were filled with such sorrow. I cuddle closer up against her soft ebony fur to try and soothe her. Was she thinking about the past again?
Her black eyes refuse to look at me, “The time to say goodbye is upon us my son.”
Panic seeps into my voice, “What do you mean?”
With a heavy sigh, she replies, “This happens every time when my little ones grow up into little chinchas. Mama Jacy finds them another home. Sadly, it is the way our people now, my son.”
Tears begin to flow and I stammer, “But I don't want to leave you! I love you! What about brother? I do not want to leave him either!” I cuddle closer to her.
“Perhaps you two will go together, son. You may not remember this for you two had just been born, but a couple of humans came here. Mama Jacy had the couple hold you two. They seemed nice. They handled you two with such ease and with such joy. I did not even worry they were going to drop you. Perhaps it is them that will take you two home.” She sounds hopeful, but still sad.
“Does brother know this?” I ask, still sobbing.
“Yes, but you know him. He is always positive and ready for adventure.” We both look at brother. He is still chewing away and bouncing all around the cage with such ease and not a care in the world. Annoying. His fur is like Mama's and Father's, black as night. Which is unlike mine that is speckled with black, gray, and white. Mama Jacy still finds it odd how different I look, but according to Mama, her father looked the same way. Anytime Mama mentioned her old life, the saddest look invades her face and she can not help but let a tear fall. She had been taken away from her mama, father, and brother. She has no idea what became of any of them.
What if I am torn away from everyone I love too? Anger explodes in me, “I will not go! I will not let them take brother and me! I will not leave you! I will fight!”
Mama's sad eyes suddenly turn red with fury. She stands up on all fours and glares down at me, “You WILL go. It is your destiny as a chincha!”
Before I can respond, Mama Jacy walks in slamming the door behind her. I do like her. She has a friendly smile and she smells sweet like apples. She doesn't give us any apples, but I see her eat them and it smells so delicious and I always grow envious. When she opens our cage door, I want to lick and nibble her fingers, but she always wants to pick me up or pet me. It is very irritating! I tell her all the time to leave me be, but she never listens! Even though she has been nothing but kind to us, I am still convinced she will eat me or turn me into a chinchilla coat. The old and wise chinchas that are in the same room as us, tell of stories of human doing things like this to our ancestors in the old country of our people. Some say that humans still do this to us in America as well. I can not help but believe those rumors! Mama tells me not to listen to those old chinchas for humans are kind, but she has been spoiled, because Mama Jacy uses her for making more chinchas.
There are about twenty chinchas in this huge room of ours. Some are old, some are young like us. Some are brown like tree bark with speckled ears, some gray, some white as snow, some black, some with purple hues, and so many others. There are so many that live on the other side of the room that I haven't seen or talk to yet. There are so many it takes Mama Jacy a little while before getting to our cage to refill our food and water. When Mama Jacy nears our door and smiles at us, Brother runs over to the silver door and puts his front paws on it and begs for a treat. I back up to the back of the cage and glare. I pray she doesn't use that black device of hers to flash at us again. It's rather rude and it hurts my eyes. With a soft voice, she says, “Hey cuties. It's time to get your own cage!”
Mama lays back down. I am rather confused. New cage? As Mama Jacy begins to open the cage door, Mama whispers, “Good bye my sons. Do not cry and love your humans with all your hearts.”
I try to reply, but Mama Jacy grabs a hold of Brother and me and carries us a way. Brother says his goodbyes. There is some sadness there, but nothing surpasses my cries and sobs. Mama Jacy tries to comfort us, but I care not for anything she has to say. Each cage we pass the chincha that occupies it gives us a pitying look. It seemed like forever before she stopped at a cage that I assume is for us. It is more spacious then our old one. There are a few more chew toys too. However, I shiver as she puts me down. Even though the yellow bedding is fresh and new, it feels different. It does not have Mama's comforting scent or the fluffy spots she makes for us when we go to sleep.
“Wow. This cage is SO much bigger then the old one and there are so many more toys here!” Brother exclaims.
I hiss, “Shut up, Brother. Have you already forgotten Mama?”
Brother sighs and the sorrow returns for just a moment in his voice, “No, silly. I have not, but what can we do? Mama told me this was going to happen sooner or later. We get taken away and put in our own cage to get ready for the humans that will take us to their cage. It is the way of our people. Only a select few get to stay with Mama Jacy and her mate.”
I turn away from him and face the other side of the cage. This was stupid and silly. Why can't I just stay with Mama? How long will we have with each other? Will the humans take both of us like Mama predicts? Or will we be separated like Mama and her brother? I can not imagine a world without Brother by my side! I will not allow this to happen! I will fight these humans if they try to separate us!
Days fluttered by with no real change to our situations. Mama Jacy does let us play with the other young chincha boys once in a while. She calls that cage the “Chinchilla Male Cage”, which doesn't make sense to me, but humans have an odd tendency to name things. It is fun to play with them though, but I missed Mama. However, I had made a vow to myself never to cry again, because it is a weakness and Brother needs me to stay strong and watch out for the both of us. Whenever a human would come, I would hide in the back of the cage and call for Brother to join me, but he would ignore me, of course. Lucky for him they have no interest in us. They come and take some other poor chincha away forever.
“You guys are going to your new home today!” Mama Jacy exclaims as she refills our pellets. Home? That word must mean death or something equally as horrible. Brother, without thought to what Mama Jacy has just said, dives into the fresh pellets. After a couple pets to each of us, she leaves us to our isolation.
I crawl up to the pellets and join Brother, “Today is the the day. We must unite against these invaders.”
“Brother,” He sighs, “They are not going to turn us into chinchilla coats or whatever it is you go on about. They are taking us to their cage.”
“Mama Jacy did not say 'cage', she said 'home'. Do you even know what that means?”
Brother thinks about this for a moment, “I don't know...it may be a human word for cage. It sounds pleasant though.”
I snort, “It does not. It sounds terrible. It's probably human for food dish. However, I doubt they will get much from you for you are tiny as a mouse.”
“Ha! They will get two feasts out of you.” He laughs.
“How dare you!” I then chase him around the cage, the whole time he laughs and jumps athletically on the side of the cage. He jumps down on top of me, which makes him laugh harder, because he knows I hate when he jumps on my back. It soon turns into such great fun I forget myself and our dangerous situation. Brother always knows how to cheer me up!
I am not sure how much time passes when the door slams open. Unfamiliar voices and scents stop me in my tracks. I gasp, “They are here!” I run to the back of the cage and watch. When the humans come into view, I size them up. The boy human is tall with brown fur on his head and even brown fur on his face. He seems to be very serious and has a dominate aurora surrounding him; he is defiantly the alpha. His mate, the girl human, is far shorter with long dark fur. It is not as dark as Brother's, but close to it. She doesn't have fur on her face though. It is weird, for not all humans have fur on their faces. She does though, have brown speckles all over her face, which is a new trait to my eyes.
The girl human comes up to our cage and smiles at us, “They have gotten so big from the last time we seen them!” Was this the couple Mama told us about all those moons ago?
Mama Jacy concurs. The humans talk for a few moments and then Mama Jacy brings out a huge green carrier. She opens the cage door and Brother runs over to her hands. Idiot! Mama Jacy picks up and shows him off to the humans. In turn they each give him a couple pets and then Mama Jacy puts him in the carrier. No! I spring across the cage, but before I can kill the humans, Mama Jacy swoops in and picks me up. The same thing happens, the humans pet me, which I recoil much to the dismay of the human girl and then I am put down in the carrier besides Brother. The boy human compliments on how fast I am. It makes me smile for a moment.
Mama Jacy replies, “The ebony one is a little more loving as you see. Make sure to give the other one more time to adjust. If he hisses at you, just keep petting him. He thinks he's the alpha male.”
The couple agree and take the carrier away from Mama Jacy. After a few more words, Mama Jacy says goodbye to us as the couple carries us out the door. I am frightened and full of sadness to be leaving all we know behind, but Brother begins to nibble at the hay blocks left in here. I ask him bitterly, “How can you eat when doom is at hand?”
He shrugs, “Because the humans seem nice and I am excited to see our new cage. Lighten up Brother...a whole new adventure is at our feet.”
I grumble. After a while, my tummy starts rumbling, so I begin nibbling at the hay block too. What can I do? These humans have captured us and are taking us to their “home”. I still do not understand what that word means, but I hope Brother is right and it's a good thing. They don't smell threatening, so I hope I am wrong. Of course, I will be watching them like a hawk...just in case.