Literary Shelf

Gaura


(Image source: Google images)

This is a translation of the Hindi story 'Gaura' by Mahadevi Verma 

The beautiful expressive eyes of the cow resemble the intimacy and trustworthiness as compared to the amazing curious eyes of a deer. She, sometimes, suffers at the hands of the humans, but…neither astonishment nor tears replace the trust shone in her eyes.

Born at my sister’s house, Gaura was a beautiful calf. She held a special position and stood apart from the other cows in the vicinity. “You take care of so many animals and birds, why don’t you have a cow also, which will be of some use to you as well?” My sister urged one day. Indeed my sister, Shyama, is much more intelligent and practical in the worldly affairs than I am. Since childhood, her hardworking nature and finesse have earned her respect and admiration. Undoubtedly, her lecture influenced me to such an extent that the advice had to be put into practice with immediate effect.

I had never been in favour of domesticating animals for personal benefits. But…the moment I looked at Gaura…strong, flexible legs, glossy attractive body, long gorgeous neck, small tiny horns, lotus- petalled pink ears…captivating the onlookers…moulded into an absolute alluring beauty!

She was given a grand welcome at my bungalow. A rose garland, an orange- red Tika, Aarti and sweets! What a welcome it was! And then followed the Naming Ceremony- ‘Gaurangini’ or ‘Gaura’. Her black lovely eyes reminded me of Mahatma Gandhi’s words when he compared the cow to a compassionate and tender poetry!

Within a few days, she mingled with the other beings of the bungalow. Even the tiniest of the animals became oblivious of the size difference. The birds, sitting on her back and forehead, tickled her ears and eyes. Standing still, closing her eyes, she seemed to enjoy. She recognized each one of us not only by our voices but also by our footsteps. She was very particular about time. Sensing my home coming even before my car entered the gate; any delay in meals meant an invitation to a storm in the house. She enjoyed my nearness the most. Resting her head on my shoulder, stretching her neck, she would coax me to pat her and as I fondled her, she would close her eyes, relaxed and confident.

One year passed, and Gaura gave birth to a healthy calf. His reddish skin fetched him the name ‘Lalmani’ or ‘Lalu’ resembling a red umber statue. He was a darling of the house. White snow-like Gaura and red flame-like Lalu! Then began the milk festival in the house. Gaura’s milk was not only sufficient for Lalu, but also for the other animals and even the children in the neighbourhood. My dogs and cats presented a unique scenario at the milching time, standing in a queue, they waited patiently for their turn. Mahadev poured fixed quantity of milk in each one’s bowl. Thanking Gaura in their respective tones, they played merrily around her. Gaura, in turn, enjoyed the show. If, for some reason, the animals were late for their meals, she would invite them herself. Milk, an essentiality, now became a problem due to its excessiveness. The milkman, who used to provide milk to us earlier, offered help and we were overjoyed. Only to regret later!

Three months later…Gaura’s diet reduced and she became weaker day by day. The veterinary doctors, even after examining her closely and minutely, could not reach a convincing conclusion. One of the doctors suggested…”She has swallowed a needle. “

“A needle! How could it be?” shocked at the doctor’s words, I couldn’t believe my ears. “But we ourselves give the feed to her. Is it possible that it dropped in her feed somehow?”

“No, if it were in the feed, it would have pierced the inside of the mouth but there’s no sign of it,” the doctor explained. “It was probably given in a small ball of jaggery. It has reached her blood stream and when it reaches the heart, it will pierce it and then…” the doctor could speak no more.

It was beyond my imagination! How painful it must be for Gaura! The bitter truth, when revealed, crushed my heart to pieces. Some milkmen cannot tolerate the presence of a cow because that affects their own business. They feed the needle to the cows and eliminate them. Our milkman vanished from the scene once the actual cause of Gaura’s deteriorating health was revealed. Lack of evidence to convict him of the crime, left us helpless.

And then began Gaura’s struggle with the impending death, the memories of which still shudder my conscience. “Give her apple juice. The calcium of the juice might deposit on the needle, thus reducing the pain,” suggested one doctor. She was fed through a pipe, accompanying several injections for energy…a long, painful process! Guara bravely and quietly endured the pain, internal as well as external. Sometimes, when the pain was intolerable, tears from her charming yet sad eyes fell down wetting her ears. She could no more stand; my presence gave her a boost of energy. With great effort, she would place her head on my shoulder and lick my neck.

Soon she’ll be leaving her little baby alone in this world! Ah! The thoughts of the day when she’d leave us all…uncontrollable tears rolled down our eyes as we waited helplessly.

I left no stone unturned; even the best doctors from Lucknow and Kanpur offered no solution. Waiting for a dear one’s death, with no probable cure!

The day her gleamy eyes closed, the end was near...I sadly admitted. All I wished was to be with her in her final moments. One day, at four in the morning, she kept her face on my shoulder, and…

Perhaps the needle had reached her heart!

Offering her to the Holy Ganga, my heart went out to the innocent Lalmani who, oblivious of the loss, still played around.

If Gaura’s pain could be heard, it would echo forever….

“Ah! My cow-loving nation!”

01-Jun-2024

More by :  Dr. Giti Tyagi

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