Bovine bashes

Bovine bashes

Representative image. (AFP photo)

A video of a cow eating a student’s book at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, which had gone viral recently. This did not amaze me in the least. I had seen these cows achieve more aggressive feats.

There was this bull who was engaged in a show of strength with another bull. Seeing a hapless student walking past, the bull turned to him. The student was butted before security
guards shooed away the bull.

It is common knowledge that the cows ignore the plentiful lush green grass in the campus to jostle each other for the remains of the frequent festive dinners. When I asked the campus gardener why they prefer human food to grass, he had shrugged and said, “Un ko bhi jelebi jamun ka chaska lag gaya hai (They are also becoming addicted to sweets)”. He added that after the change in diet, the cow dung smelled so bad that he hated using it to make compost.

There was a time, long ago when cows ate grass or hay. Cowherds used to take them to the nearby meadow where they ate their fill and brought them back home to their cowsheds at sundown. The time of the returning cows was known as the ‘Go-dhooli’ (cow-dust time). It was considered so auspicious that many weddings took place at this time. On returning to the cow-shed, the cattle would be fed bucketfuls of kalagachu—a concoction made of mixing rice bran, oilcake and maize with water, which they seemed to enjoy.

As a girl, I used to love placing kalagachu buckets in front of the cows in my father’s cowshed. The cow would be milked after the calf had its fill. Probably the cows on campus now have too much sugar which has morphed them from calm cattle into aggressive animals.

The cows of the campus were not always so aggressive. After all, they were the descendants of the timid bovines kept by a sage in his ashram in Powai sixty years ago. The Baba went to the Himalayas when the Institute was started in his ashram site, but his cows remained and multiplied.

The herds which earlier ran helter-skelter at the approach of a leopard from the adjoining National Park were now a force to be reckoned with, by leopards as well as humans.

At night they rest in a circle with their calves in the centre, ready to attack any carnivore. Woe betide the stranger who strays too close to them! According to the latest news from the Institute, security has been beefed up all over the campus. No, not against terrorists, but to ward off the bovine marauders.

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