Rabbits, my brother and I

Yanbing Wu
2nd February 2023


I used to have two rabbits in that house, they both died because of me.

    When I was in primary school, there were stalls outside the building, selling small animals in cages: rabbits, chicks, ducklings, mice, turtles. I had been saving money and finally one day I bought a rabbit with white hair and red eyes.
    On the way back I carried the blue cage with the rabbit in it as if I had all the joys I could imagine. When I arrived home I took the rabbit out and looked at its dirty front paws. The rabbit needs to be clean. I carried the rabbit to the bathroom and grabbed it by the ears to give it a shower. Later, I used a hairdryer to dry its fur, as it was winter. I was touching the rabbit’s soft, fresh fur. The rabbit stood on the sink and then fell down. I shook it hard but it didn’t move. The rabbit died. I didn’t know that for a long time, until someone told me that rabbits are not supposed to touch the water.
    The second rabbit I begged my mother to buy for me after I lost the first one, that feeling my hand touched a creature still left. The second rabbit looked the same as the first one, with white fur and red eyes. I kept it in my room. I learned not to wash the second rabbit. It was an energetic animal, running around and eating a lot, pooping everywhere, so no matter how much I cleaned it up there was always a bad smell in the room. I decided not to feed it anymore. Of course, I didn’t know the consequences of this decision. I just hoped that it would stop pooping. Within a few days, the second rabbit died. I starved it to death. I still can’t forget the sound of a slowly dying rabbit, lying in a corner with its stomach sunken in.
    After that, I lost all interest in rabbits and the guilt for causing death of two animals – that shame grew into fear. Later, when my brother, who was nine years younger than me, turned the same age at which I had my first rabbit, he got two white rabbits in our front courtyard with a neighbor’s girl of the same age. I didn’t want to look at them, they reminded me of my rabbits and I had a feeling they would die soon. Things didn’t go as I had worried. The neighbor’s grandmother and my mother were taking good care of the rabbits, so they were getting bigger and bigger, like two giant white rabbit candies, or two clouds moving through the grass. I watched them from a distance, but I didn’t want to focus on them because they could disappear so easily, same as a candy that melted in the summer, or clouds blown away by the wind leaving no trace.
    The neighbor’s grandmother and my mother were hoping to have more rabbits, but the rabbits never showed any signs of pregnancy, so we guessed they were the same gender. It was difficult to identify it from the outside. One day, the neighbor’s grandmother came to my mother and suggested that we should eat the rabbits instead of keeping them, as she knew of a place where they could slaughter the animals and take them to a restaurant to cook the meat. My mother, agreed without speaking to my brother and I was there when they had the conversation. I asked her, “Don’t you want to ask my brother first?” “He doesn’t even take care of his rabbit, so maybe he’s forgotten about them.” “But it’s not a good idea to cook his rabbit, is it?” “Just don’t tell your brother.”

    The next day we received a bowl of meat from the grandmother next door, no longer distinguishable, all cut up and cooked to a shine of oily meat. I sat with my brother at dinner and I leaned over to his ear and whispered to him, “This plate of meat is your rabbit.” My brother stood up immediately, he suddenly realized that there were no rabbit in the yard, he angrily questioned my mother, and then he left the table. I had forgotten what they had said, I was absorbed in my evil pleasure of destroying something. I could not accept that I had caused the death of the rabbit and that my brother’s rabbit grew up. The neighbor’s grandmother and my mother became my accomplices in taking revenge on my brother without knowing. After that, no one in our family discussed rabbits anymore, and my brother came to the point that every time some unidentifiable meat appeared on the table, he would ask what it was.

    I think everyone has that day when they suddenly grow up and you wake up as usual, it’s not going to be the most frustrating day for you. That day there will be a seemingly small loss, definitely not as powerful as the frustration you felt before. But it’s that small loss, like when someone takes a block away, the childhood as a protective umbrella disappears, the pieces of “glass” fall off with it, entrapped in the past that you don’t even have time to process. It’s a gentle push that childhood stays behind you; it’s not even a sad or mournful thing to call it, it’s the weight of a definite loss,  that you know means nothing to others. 

    The day when we finally grew up, it was such an ordinary day.