Down in jungleland: A cow and bull story, or how not to attain bovine glory if you’re a rebel animal

Haryana plan: No place at home, send cow to hostel.

Written by Ranjit Lal | Published: August 20, 2017 12:00 am
cow, bull, wildlife, animals, animal story, jungles, forest, forest story, inspiring stories, nature, indian express, indian express news (Illustration: Mithun Chakraborty)

Recently, my rustic, very organic cousin invited me over to his farm to spend the weekend. When I reached there, I heard his exasperated voice from the large cowshed. I walked up to it and, since the best stories are those that you overhear, began to eavesdrop. And this is what I overheard. My cousin was talking to his cow, Moti, while milking her.

“I don’t care what you think. It’s a done deal. Monday morning and I’m admitting you to the hostel. I’ve already made the down payment on rent and have examined the stalls. They are very comfortable: with air-conditioning, free wi-fi, HDTV, non-alcoholic mini-bar, etc. You will have 24-hour stall service, dung and pee collection (which will be donated to medical labs), and every morning, a member of the staff will come to milk you. We will visit you once a week on the weekends. You’ll be very happy.”

“I don’t want to go to a hostel!” Moti replied mutinously. “You have no idea what the wardens do to inmates in hostels. And everyone knows what hostel food is like!”

“Well, you should have thought about that earlier. You and your friends spend the whole day gallivanting about in the streets, eating rubbish and plastic bags and causing traffic jams.”

“No, we do not! We just lie down in the middle of a highway to do yoga, that’s all. And, for your information, the mere sight of us cows doing the cud-chewing asana, calms the traffic down. Drivers slow down as they try to navigate around us. Sometimes, we bring the traffic to a complete halt for two hours to induce them into a deep coma! We are a beatific influence.”

“That may be, but what about these complaints I’ve received about you being seen in the Glitizzy Mall in the company of a bafellow at night? Not only that, you went into a women’s lingerie store and…” Here my cousin sputtered to an outraged halt. “Have you no sense at all? What were you thinking? What will people say?” he went on.

“They can say and think what they like,” Moti replied, giggling. “You should have seen Bhaisa darling’s face when I came out of the trial room. The dude got so excited that he totaled the Food Court. It was pandemonium!”

“That’s another thing. To be seen going around with a bafellow in the first place.”

“Oh chill, this is the 21st century and we are bovisexuals. Bhaisa’s very sweet, even if a bit thick between the horns. Besides, I have the right to go out with whom I choose.”

“It’s a wonder you were not arrested by the anti-Romeo squads.”

“They wouldn’t dare. You know, we have our own SPG to protect us at all times,” Moti snorted. “You just want to take away our freedom as you have been trying to do with human girls. No going out, no mobiles, no boys within 20 km of the hostel. You can’t wear this, you can’t eat that, you can’t say this, you can’t write that, you can’t see this, you can’t hear that, you can’t have boyfriends, be back by this hour or else. Sorry, but we are not going to be your goongi gudiyas.”

“It’s for you own good!”

“Pah! Besides, we get so much more protection than human girls. If any girl had come out of that trial room looking like I had, even though she had every right to… We can wander the streets all day and night, and no one says or does anything to us, except, maybe, garland us. We can help ourselves to fruits, vegetables and snacks from roadside stalls without asking or paying, and no one dares protest.”

“I don’t want to hear anything more about that lingerie store incident,” my poor cousin said. “I don’t know how I’m going to live it down. Why can’t you be like your lovely step-sister Malti here? She has no problem going to a hostel.’

“Jee papaji,” Malti said in a sweet, low voice, making me wince. “I’m so looking forward to it, but I’ll miss you all so much. But, imagine, to be in a stall all day just ruminating. Can you think of anything more tranquil?”

“Hah! I know what you’ll be ruminating about: those fabulous Jallikattu bulls or some of those jet-black Spanish studs,” said Moti.

“Papaji, tell her. She’s being so mean!”

Then came the sound of a pail being kicked over and a shout from my cousin.

“Moti, you kicked the milk bucket over deliberately. You are impossible!”

“I just don’t think adult human beings should be drinking milk: It’s stolen baby food. No adult animal drinks milk. Really, you people are infantile! Grow up!”

“That’s it! It’s the hostel for you, like it or not!” my cousin snapped. “I hope they’ll teach you to be more respectful towards those who look after you.”

“Bah. Just let them try!” Moti snorted.

“She’s a real feisty one, isn’t she?” I commiserated with my cousin some time later. He nodded.

“Always been a rebel. I just hope she will simmer down in the hostel,” my cousin said.

Later, I checked to find out how the hostel admission process had gone off.

“Oh,” my cousin said lugubriously, “They didn’t admit her. They said her mother probably did some hanky-panky. Basically, that Moti’s cross-bred and has Jersey blood in her, and they’re only admitting wholesome, indigenously-bred khadi cows.” He cheered up. “But they took sweet Malti!”

Ranjit Lal is an author, environmentalist and bird watcher.

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