I peeked around the corner to see my uncle holding out the sharpened knife as he stood over her. His sleeves were rolled up despite the frigid weather and his lips moved beneath the thick stash; meanwhile, his countenance held reverence for what was to follow.
He felt with his other hand for her jugular, where he would cut into her throat according to the tradition. She was laid on the ground bounded while the color black flowed around her.
She kicked incessantly pry from fetters of rope on her front and hind sturdy legs but only managed to move a little. The shaggy tail could only swat at the grown men who pressed down upon her rear; it seemed to be the only outlet of freedom of the female Yak’s control over her body.
Her head was wound tight around a tree trunk and the white mark over her black wide head slightly visible with the long dark horns now set at an angle to the tree. She fumed with low grunts and her breath mixed with the steam rising from where her fur revealed the cold barren land beneath,
“Hold tight the ropes and put all your weight on it and remember don’t let go, “ my uncle instructed as he placed the knife on her neck.
The knife was seasoned, indifferent, and sharp just like its holder. The jugular could have been breached in an instant but that would be against the religious tradition. The blood sprayed and her body thrashed causing the strongest of them to lose their footing, even if for an instant.
After what was a lifetime of a struggle between the men and the yak, the knife gnawed into her neck once again and this time the grunts took the form of a wail! This was something new; it surprised the men as much as me.
The cacophony of motion reached a high when the last of the arteries were severed and the red-hot blood sprayed out; it gave a morbid intensity to the shake of her wide head, the bulge of her eyes, the twitch of her little ears and the kicks of her rounded cloven hooves.
The knife was at work again a third time and only then the slaughter concluded.
“It’s been more than two minutes and it is still kicking!” the man who pushed down upon her hind legs said surprised.
“These are mighty beasts, not your ordinary cattle,” and with a smile of content he continued, “it’s for the better, the longer it takes for an animal to bleed out, the richer the meat gets.”
From the sound of their conversation seeped through a voice I will never forget: a figure in the background held back by a fence on the terraced field above lamented the half-understood tragedy with low grunts—it was her offspring!