Since being in China a lot of things have been otherworldly, different and sometimes shocking. Usually it is the constant spitting, the complete disregard for health and safety, the food and 100 other differences. One day on my way back to school after lunch, on a very busy street, I came across the most disturbing scene of my adventure so far.
Initially I stopped to take a photo of a lady sitting beside a caged rat, obviously caught recently in a baited trap. This in itself was an unusual sight for me but it was what came next which was a bit more shocking.
As I was taking some photographs I noticed some paper sticking out of the side of the cage. What was it for? Why did it look a little charred? With half an hour until lessons I decided to wait around to find out. The lady was reluctant to be in any of my pictures so I removed myself to a nearby tree and pretended to take pictures of shops on the street but watching out of the corner of my eye. As soon as my target thought she wasn’t being watched she continued stuffing the tissue paper into the cage – meanwhile the rat scrambled frantically, trying to get as far from the paper as possible.
The ‘lady’ (although I feel like that is too honourable a title) pulled a lighter out of her pocket and started to burn the paper. To my shock and disgust she proceeded to tip the cage trying to shake the squeaking rat down onto the flames. All the while she (and a few passers-by) seemed to find the rats distress mildly entertaining.
As someone who loves animals, this senseless torture of a defenceless rat seemed beyond forgiveness. I can forgive or at least tolerate most cultural idiosyncrasies, as who am I to judge. But this was just cruel, even if rats carry diseases and are a health risk finding joy in their suffering is not ok.
At this point I stopped taking pictures and moved back before returning to school. I was a little shaken by the whole experience and the fact that it took place in the middle of a busy street just round the corner from a primary school made makes you wonder at the levels of unrecorded cruelty. I dread to think.
Note: I am not so naive to believe that similar acts of depravity don’t happen in my own country. It was more the brazen nature in which this animal cruelty took place that lead me to believe in the high possibility that more disturbing activities must take place behind closed doors.