When I was small we were given a calf as a gift by one generous woman.
That calf grew in our house and eventually gave birth to calves. We used to get few liters of milk every day. It helped us a lot as we had very limited resources because my father did not have a good income due to his poor eyesight; it was not possible for him to read any standard sized printed matter.
From the cow we used to get enough milk for our entire family.
Milkmen in India were and still are very dishonest. They add so much of water to the milk before selling it to their customers that it would be appropriate to say that they sell ‘water contaminated with milk’.
The cow that we had looked really pretty, she had a white circular patch at the center of her forehead.
Whenever I used to rub her neck with my hands she used to turn her neck closer to me and rub me with her neck by moving her neck up and down. Probably that was her way of saying ‘thank you’.
I always felt that animals, especially pets, can understand our feelings.
I was about five years old at that time. It was a regular weekday morning. I was bothering my mother in her kitchen while she was busy preparing meal for my father and my brothers who were getting ready to go to office and schools respectively. She tried to scare me by saying that if I disturbed her like that then she would go to God leaving me alone. So I asked her what would happen if she went to God. She told me that she could not be found anywhere ever again. Then she asked me to go outside and play.
I played outside for a long time. When I returned, I saw that there was nobody in the house, every single door and window was open, which was very common in our village because nobody had ever heard of anything being stolen from any house during the day. Only few houses in the village were burgled at late night. I knew that my father had gone to office and my brothers, who were all elder to me, had gone to schools. But my mother not at home was very unusual. I entered into our kitchen but could not find her there. We, like everybody else in the village had coal oven, which was used for cooking food. The biggest drawback of a coal oven is that its fire could not be stopped once lighted, however its heat output could be controlled by reducing the inflow of air by plugging its air inlet, located at the base, with a thick piece of cloth having the shape of a lump. I saw a lump shaped piece of cloth pressed against the inlet of the oven. First thing that occurred into my mind was that she had gone to God as she had told me and I thought that I would never see her again. There was nobody else in the house. I felt very sad and sat down not knowing to whom I should go. We had a cat, which was about five to six years old. As soon as the cat saw that I was sitting alone and looking very sad it started making ‘meow’ sounds and started circling around me, rubbing her against me and brushing my face and head with her tail. Probably that was a cat’s way of telling “Don’t worry everything will be alright.” I felt little better but not much better until I saw my mother returned and she started laughing seeing my sad face. She told me that she went to visit our neighbor who had been ill for some time.
Sometimes I try to imagine what would happen if these animals were able talk. But I am not sure, we might kill them. We had a next branch neighbor of the evolutionary tree; the name of the species was Neanderthal, who could even utter words like us, but probably had a smaller vocabulary. Archaeological evidences strongly suggest that we not only killed them but we ate their flesh as well in spite of plenty of other foods available around us at that time. We cannot live together in equal terms, respecting each other. We have to dominate others, keep them totally under our control else we do not feel secured enough. Our species ‘love to hate’ more than ‘love to love’, we prefer to subjugate than to live together as friends.
We can only think others as equal if they are just like us in every aspect including the way we think.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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