Ox-Slaughtering by Wang Meng ~ 王蒙 《宰牛》 with English Translations


王蒙 《宰牛》










Wang Meng

“The cow is expecting itself to be knifed soon,” said my landlord.

Nasser took out a knife and shouted, “In the name of Allah!” Thereupon he plunged the knife right into the neck of the animal. He did it agilely without showing nastiness. The animal uttered a muffled moo as blood started gushing out of the cut. Its eyes, ablaze with acute pain, suddenly dilated and then turned dim and static, like two black glass balls.

As it was strictly banned among Moslems to eat animal blood, Nasser had the cow’s blood buried underground. It took him only a short time to finish the butchering. He then had the slaughtered cow hung upside down under the eaves and began selling the beef at one yuan per kilo.

The air was full of the rank smell of the slaughtered animal and its blood. Although the blood had been buried, flocks of crows nevertheless appeared on the scene by following up the scent. O ill-omened birds!

That evening, Hailiqi prepared a potful of chopped beef tripe stew. It was too smelly for me, so I managed to eat only half a bowl. That very much perplexed my landlord and his wife. Early the next morning, I suffered from a severe stomach-ache and diarrhea. I blamed myself for being so fragile.

Later, I witnessed ox-slaughtering again, this time at my Team, but I was not longer impressed. By order of our Team leaders, we had a temporary kitchen set up at the edge of the field, probably in anticipation of busy season of wheat harvest. Ox-slaughtering was commonplace. But something most unforgettable happened one afternoon when a herd of cattle were returning to the village from the grazing ground in the setting sun. At the village entrance, the animals slowed down and then stopped moving ahead, meanwhile bellowing loudly and mournfully and thumping the ground again and again with their hooves. The villagers told us that the cattle had found their way to the spot by scenting out the blood of the slaughtered cow, and then lamented loudly, to our astonishment, over the death of an animal of their kind.

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