It had started off as any routine trek.
We had started our climb before daybreak in order to catch the sunrise from top of the hill. Our host at the farm where we were staying had told us that the sunrise there was so majestic that it would blow us off our feet. But our climb had another objective also, which we could not reveal to our host without revealing my dark secret.
The previous night, just as we were about to call it a day (which does not seem right, since it was night, but as Professor Parimal Tripathi rightly pointed out on more than one occasion, English is a very funny language, so who are we to argue?) we heard a gentle knock on the window. I was surprised, even a little scared, for we were literally in the middle of nowhere, with our host and his family being the only humans (apart from us of course) for a ten-mile radius. And why on earth would our host knock on the window instead of the door? So we did what anyone in a similar position would have done- we closed our eyes and pretended to be asleep.
But the knocking persisted, and it was growing louder and more incessant with every passing second. Finally, I could take it no more, jerked open the window, and said, “Who’s there?” But I almost fainted when I saw that there was nobody there, just a cow grazing peacefully in the pasture outside our room. I immediately shut the window with a bang, and hid under my quilt.
But within a few seconds, there it was again. KNOCK KNOCK…KNOCK KNOCK…KNOCK KNOCK…KNOCK…”WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?” I shouted, opening the window again. And this time I saw who had been knocking. It was the cow, raising her front right hoof to do the deed, which I had interrupted mid-knock.
She looked at me with fluttering eyes, and said, “Sorry to disturb you, but I really needed some help.”
“No problem,” I said instinctively, “Happy to help, and for real, not like those Vodafone bots.”
And it was then that it hit me, twice. No no no no, the cow didn’t hit me silly, the realization did, that:
a) The cow could speak, and
b) I could understand her.
My wife too was shocked out of her wits. She was just looking first at the cow, and then at me, then at the cow again, then at me again…and so on. “Relax you guys,” said the cow. That got my goat. “How dare you, ma’am” I cried out, “call us gais. This is typical projection, a gai calling the kettle black….I mean a gai calling a human gai.”
She banged her head against our cabin’s wall in frustration, and shouted, “SHUT UP!” As the wooden walls of the cabin stopped rattling, and our bed along with them, we both shut up. She then continued, “Let me explain clearly to you Dodos. I said ‘guys’ in English, as in ‘people’ or ‘folks’ and not ‘gais’ in Hindi, as in cows.”
“Hmmmmmm…” I said, nodding my head.
“Ohhhhhhh…” sai my wife, nodding her head.
“Moooooooo…” said the cow.
And then she said, “I don’t know why I had to be stuck with you two idiots of all the people, but since you are the only ones to be able to understand me (strange are the ways of God), I will have to share my troubles with you only, and hope that you turn out to be smarter than you look.”
My wife and I looked at each other, and were just going to protest, when the cow came to her point. “My husband and daughter are stuck on the top of the hill that you have come here to climb. They went up this evening to look at the sunset, but upon reaching there, my husband realized that he has a problem with heights. So now, he’s just stuck there, refusing to look down, which he will have to do if he wishes to come down.”
“I fully sympathize with you,” I told her in my best sympathy-laden voice, “but how do you expect us to help you?”
“Well,” she said as if explaining 2+2=4 to a five-year old simpleton, “you have to get them back of course.”
“How do you expect us to do that?” I cried out, “we can’t quite carry them down, can we? And we are no Bull Whisperers by any stretch of imagination. What if he refuses to move his butt, pardon my French?”
The cow’s face started getting red at that point, and kept getting redder and redder till it was redder than the ripest of tomatoes, and then, she shouted, “NO IFFFFF….NO BUTTTTT….ONLY JATT!”
And jatt…I mean just like that, we had promised her that we would get her husband and daughter back in the morrow, or die trying.
All these memories were fresh as snow in my mind as we started our climb in the morning, maybe because all that had occurred just the night before. It was not a difficult climb, but all I could think of was, how are we going to get back with a fully-grown bull and his daughter.
If you too want to find out whether we managed to complete our perilous mission, and if yes, how, if no, did we live to climb another day, pray to your resident Gau Matas (Cow Mothers) to give me the wisdom and the strength to write the second and last installment of this epic Search & Rescue Mission tomorrow, same place, same time. Till then, cow…I mean ciao!