COWS GIVE us gobar. Bulls shit.
We weren’t aware of this gendered faecal fact when we wrote those essays in school. Heck, we didn’t even know a cow wasn’t a ‘he’ that gave us milk. Until we were old enough to find out writing on ‘The cow’ for 10 marks was basically bullshitting.
If you consider half the children on this planet went to school since 1912, the cow is the most written about earthling. This assertion is based on those who opted for ‘Our school’ but ended up writing on the cow that ate grass on the field behind/beside their school and possessed a range of assets from the grass swallower to the gobar ejector.
Before we could master B for bull – oops, ball – and C for cow (cat?), we knew the creature in old McDonald’s farm that moo-mooed everywhere and the one that jumped over the moon because the cat was in the fiddle. We could make no head or tail of those nursery rhymes, but the teachers ensured they were moosic to our ears.
As we grew older, books told us pigs, horses, dogs, cats and donkeys – rats and cockroaches too – were more equal than cows. George Orwell didn’t live long enough in his Bihar birthplace to make the Animal Farm cows ruminate on fictitious chara, but those bechara bovines were traumatised by Napoleon’s milk-pinching pigs. Walter Wangerin’s Dun Cow was more fortunate as a riddle-happy messenger god sent to help a rooster king battle the forces of evil.
Cows presumably began calling the shots after Dana Lyons and Jeff Sinclair gave us Cows with Guns, which a website said was a sure-shot Bullitzer winner. Another site listed the top 10 limericks on cows, the only printable among them being:
- There lived a young cow in MA
- He always had his own say
- On the grass he would chew
- Saying merrily moo-moo
- He often even ate hay
Only a gai – the ‘he’ is a giveaway – could have written this limerick. He presumably hadn’t heard about Mangala’s academic appetite. If you didn’t know, Mangala is the cow that ate some 150 class 10 exam answer sheets in the western Assam town of Goalpara in March 2012.
Mangala probably chewed on Assamese answer papers to cownter decades of sexist exaggeration about her tribe. And on history to find out, in this land of holy cows, if the celestial Nandi and Kamdhenu were her ancestors. But experts couldn’t fathom why she also made a meal of science, if not to learn the art of making synthetic milk or to discover how security is beefed up in a rebel region.
For those bullish on education, Mangala’s was the final cowntdown for a system that has apparently discarded its archaic bovine craft to board the RTE flight. Her progeny will eventually find out if it is powered by gobar gas.
Let’s fasten the cow belt and wait until the cows come home.
(This appeared as a ‘middle’ on the edit page of Hindustan Times on 26 April 2012; RTE is Right To Education)