I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old and my brother came back from the town market where my mom used to send him to get groceries. He came back with some groceries but he also came back with six little chicks that he had bought with the change my mom would allow him to keep after buying what was needed. My mom didn’t allow us to keep them all, but we convinced her to keep one. At first my brothers and sisters helped me take care of it, but after a couple of days they did not care for the little duckling anymore.
I was surprised to learn that it had not been chicks that my brother had brought back but they were ducklings. I ended up taking care of Doris on my own and would always clean up after her, would bathe her and feed her. Just made sure she was always taken care of so that my mom would not complain about her. At first I would feed her quinoa, but as she got older I started to buy chopped dried corn with my weekly allowance, which was really cheap at the time, and I would feed her that. I remember we had a patio sink outside in the patio and I built her a house underneath the sink with the help of my brother. She loved her little house; she always used to go in there when it was time for bed. I always made sure to switch out the newspapers that I would put there for her and always kept it clean, so that my mom wouldn’t regret letting me keep her.
I was really in love with Doris, she was my pet and I loved her. She was beautiful; white feathered and loved to take baths. She was also quite the funny one, I remember my siblings always wanting to be present to see her take a bath, because I would tell them that she would splash water on herself and she did this whole big show. But the thing is that she never wanted anyone in the bathroom with her except for me or she wouldn’t even get in the bathtub. So I would tell them, “Sorry, Doris needs her privacy”. It was almost like she felt that connection with only me. So we were so attached to each other, everywhere I went, she was always right behind me.
Until one day, for some reason this is still so hard to talk about. One afternoon, my mom invited our neighbor over for dinner and she offered to cook for us. My mom had it all planned out and decided it was time for Doris to be used as part of the stew. I remember being devastated; I could not believe what was going on. I became hysterical, begging my mom to not go through with it, that she was my pet, my friend, and my child. I loved her so much…that night I didn’t touch that stew. And my brothers and sisters did the same. They felt so bad for me and out of respect for me they did not touch the stew. I don’t think I ever overcame that day, until now it brings tears to my eyes. It was the hardest thing for a 10-year-old girl to go through. I never forgave my mom for that and we never spoke about it. I love my mom, but she hurt me that day and I just never got over it. I’ll always love you Doris.
Montclair State | New Jersey