AASHA MEHREEN AMIN
It's not easy being a cow these days. Too many things are happening in the human world affecting, sometimes irrevocably, the fate of these gentle, giving, creatures. Now with the inevitable cow-slaughtering day it would be normal for these bovine animals to feel a little confused.
They call it cautious optimism when you feel really hopeful, euphoric even, inside your stomach because things are going your way but because you have no faith in good luck whatsoever, you are wary of this joy not believing in it totally even though you desperately want to. This is what many cows have felt in Bangladesh when the anthrax scare was in full swing. A possible interchange between a group of cows could go like this:
Laly a buxom white cow laughing her head off: Can you believe it, they (humans) have actually come up with a disease that scares them so much that they have actually stopped eating us. If that's not the biggest irony, I don't know what is.
Rani the curvy reddish brown cow: True, it was sheer luck that the disease came when it did sparing most of us for at least a few months. I don't understand why humans love our meat so much? Have we not given them enough -- milk to feed their young ones, our strength to help them grow crops, even our dung is beneficial for them. And still they want our flesh and hide.
Ranvir, the hefty black cow from the other side of the border: I know it's ridiculous. They are even bringing us from a country that actually worships us, for the slaughter. I mean, you'd think you were safe growing up in a place where humans actually looked upon you as some kind of deity. Then, out of the blue, you are hauled up and sent through rough, unfriendly terrain to another country where our flesh is the main attraction of their religious obligation of sacrifice, not to mention any occasion to celebrate or mourn or just eat. It's pathetic. Now I am just waiting for my fate as some rich man's biryani, mejbani beef or Hunter beef.
Rani: But people are still wary about eating us. That anthrax thing really scared them off. It might make them leave us alone this season.
Laly: Are you kidding? Bangladeshis, as Ranvir pointed out, just adore beef. You think they can survive without eating us for more than a few months?
Ranvir: But don't you find it weird that all carnivorous animals (such as humans) eat vegetarians? What's the logic in that?
Laly: Maybe that's how they get their vegetables.
Rani: Oh please, humans are basically hypocrites. They call it sacrifice slaughtering us and other animals and then the rich give the choicest meat to their shoshur bari (in-laws) or to the government official who will move their file. The poor get some but even they sell off the meat to the bazaar because they don't have six foot freezers to store meat for the whole year so they can relish having 'qurbani gosh' any time they want. I honestly don't see the sacrifice part. They don't know us. They have never loved us. All they love is our meat. If they want to sacrifice so much, why don't they just part with their money, give it to poor people who can start a small trade, even raise a few cows… Do you know hardly any child in Bangladesh gets a chance to drink fresh milk?
Laly: Oh Rani, you are such an idealist. People have to show they are doing the sacrifice. They have to boast to their neighbours that they are sacrificing ten cows and a dozen goats to demonstrate how high up in the social ladder they are. They make their children watch the slaughtering to brutalise them so they can do the same when they grow up.
Ranvir: I'm telling you there just ain't no justice for us cows. I would ask you lovely ladies to run away with me across the border but what's the use? They will only bring us back. Let's just hope some other cow --scare comes up before Eid.
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