In the past few days the black rooster had been lethargic, in appearance dozing off constantly during the day. After some google fu I diagnosed sour crop, an infection that happens after an obstruction in the throat. To treat it, you massage its neck and it will vomit foul smelling undigested food and then you treat the infection.
My sister visited on the weeked, and between the two of us we tried to get the rooster to vomit, massaging its neck for a long time to no avail. But the massage seemed to perk him up a little bit, so I waited two more days to see how it progressed. Its apparent recovery proved illusory, and the next day it was in the same lethargic state.
Yesterday it poured rain, and usually the rooster takes shelter under a tree or in its shelter, but this time it was just standing there, dozing off while getting completely wet. Its majesty reduced to a sad state, I knew it was time to end its misery.
I meditated for a while before doing it. My emotional relationship with this animal I thought was inexistent, but at the prospect of ending its life I felt a hesitant hand, so I worked through it in meditation. I re-entered waking state with a clear mind, knowing in my heart that I was doing this out of compassion and not out of convenience.
This almost feral rooster is combative when you try to get ahold of it, but this time it remained huddled and barely moved when I reached for it. I laid it on the ground and put a broomstick on its neck, stepping on in, and then tugged its feet as hard as I could, as I had seen on a YouTube video.
But I wasn't able to kill it. I possess a non-trivial amount of strength, yet, as I tried prying apart its neck from its body, it continued flapping its wings, the instinct of preservation of life kicking in at the pain, I suppose.
"I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry" I kept repeating, making the greatest effort at decapitating it. Finally I let go and ran for the axe, fearful that the rooster would get up and run, but when I came back it was still where I left it, twitching and breathing but close to death. I put it out of its misery with a blow to the neck.
I went back inside, soaking wet from the pouring thunderstorm, and collapsed on the stairs. I was panting and soon the panting turned into sobbing. The sobbing soon turned into relief. A fragment of a poem of Khalil Gibran came to mind:
When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain;
and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my hand
shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap
that feeds the tree of heaven."