I feel for Clarise M Starling.
As I have never before since the Silence Of The Lambs was first released.
The first time I first saw the movie, it was Lecter who caught my attention.
His cold unhurried demeanour, the subtle regality of his words and actions, his appreciation of classical music and of course his cannibalistic tastes, all intrigued me.
If anyone could have made cannibalism fashionable, it had to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Agent Starling, on the other hand, struck me as a rather strange young woman.
Mostly because it was a little too hard for me to empathise with the scatty girl who carried into her adulthood, the childhood trauma of the bleating of the lambs during slaughter.
But this past week transformed my long buried disdain for Clarice Starling into empathy.
Last Wednesday, I came home to be greeted by a herd of frisky goats.
The goats, seven in all, were caged in a make-shift pen by the side of my apartment.
The windows opening into my bedroom and living room were festooned with boughs of succulent green leaves. And the goats who were tied to the window grills, eagerly flocked together to partake of their leafy feast.
Every once in a way, a rebellious little goat would stamp his feet and toss his head to the bleating cheers of his bovine mates, in a desperate effort to shake off his noose. But, in a matter of minutes, the lone rebel would realise the futility of his battle and turn his attention back to the lush foliage.
I was rather surprised, and, to be honest, a little annoyed by the new denizens of the building.
Discrete enquiries, made around the vicinity, revealed that the Muslim festival of Bakrid was right around the corner and the chomping goats in front of me were to be sacrificed at the celebrations the following week.
'Madam, Bakri ka eid hain Bakrid*' the watchman explained to me helpfully "Your landlord and his family have bought these goats for their sacrifice. I don't know why they have bought them a week in advance though....Most people buy the goats on the eve of the Eid"
The Koran, it seems, stipulates that the sacrificial animal be a part of the family for a whole year at the very least. And I supposed by some convoluted mathematical calculation that was bound to fly over my head at the speed of light, my landlord and his family had managed to compress a long year into a paltry 7 days.
I was livid and agitated.
And, with just cause.
While I would not presume to judge the rites and rituals prescribed by any religion, I do take exception to people forcing religion or barbaric rituals down my unwilling throat.
Late as the hour was, I was all set to go knocking at the landlord's doors with my objections.
But, a quick call to a wise friend stayed my tongue and feet.
" Do NOT do anything right now when you are annoyed" she said "This is a sensitive matter. Sacrifice of goats is a part of the Muslim tradition at Bakrid. You need to communicate your displeasure about the goats tied to your window and their slaughter on the building premises. But, you cannot in any way imply that they should not slaughter. So, wait till morning so we can talk to the broker who fixed up the house and then let us decide how to proceed"
I passed an agonising night of sleepless vigil, broken every now and then by the orgasmic grunting of the goats as they tore into the foliage.
But, the morning only brought with it news as bleak and cold as its grey sombre skies.
" Adjust...It is just a matter of a few days"
The response only stoked the embers of righteous indignation that were blazing within me.
And the glowing embers flamed into a mighty conflagration by evening, when I returned home to the news that one of the goats had strangled itself on the restraining rope.
Throwing caution to the winds, I determinedly marched up to my landlord's apartment on the floor above.
As I lumbered up the stairs, I mentally ticked off my grouses to make my case...the stinky goat stench that permeated every nook and corner of the house, the noisy bleats and orgasmic grunts that punctuated my sleep at night, and, the possibility of bearing witness to more suicides.
But, what the girl proposed, Allah was swift to dispose of.
For I was met at the doorstep by his formidable mountainous wife, who tersely informed me that her husband was out and slated to return late at night.
"Too late to come calling on a SINGLE girl" she snapped at me, disapproval and suspicion dripping from each syllable that escaped her carmine lips.
Not that I was fazed.
"Try, try and try again...till the goats are all taken away" chanted the voices in my head, just as the spider intoned to the legendary Bruce centuries ago.
So I went calling the next day, and the day after.
And every day of the week, until it was painfully apparent that the landlord had got wind of my intentions and was in hiding.
My phone calls remained unanswered, as were my text messages.
Even the watchman who was recruited to track down the elusive landlord, threw up his hands in defeat and dejection in the face of my aggressive rants.
Despite the best of my efforts, the week continued to progress with the goats remaining firmly ensconced in their pen, steadily chomping their way to tender plumpness. Despite the stench and the noise, I could not help but respond to the furry faces that turned to me with warmth and friendliness every time I opened a window or emerged from my house.
As the festive fervour grew around me, I could not help but resent the people who blithely chuckled and chortled as they compared their goats and eagerly smacked their lips in anticipation of the blood that would flow and the juicy flesh that would grace their tables.
Even Ging, it seemed had discovered her blood lust and turned traitor to my cause, for she took to stalking me relentlessly until she managed to sink her tiny fangs into any jiggling body parts that chanced to sway her way.
And caught in this vortex, all I could do was to rant maniacally to my friends, while adroitly sidestepping the treacherous teeth and claws that swiped at me from under the couch.
The morning of the 17th dawned cold and grim.
The torrential rains that pelted the earth in impotent fury echoed the frustrated pain in my soul, as I tried to shut my ears to the distressed calls of the cattle and the rhythmic sounds of the butchers' blades that rent the air around me.
It was with a heavy heart and a sense of anger that I lit my candles and lamps that morning.
For once, I had nothing to ask of God.
And so, for the first time in my life, I prayed not for myself or my loved ones, but for the innocents around me whose blood was being wantonly shed.
As I stood there praying, I could not help but wonder.....
How can the meek inherit the earth, when the road to heaven is paved with their blood?