the ritual morning

they arrive one by one, sometimes in pairs also. and a few weeks ago, one of them brought her newborn along. as if for an introduction, an initiation to the ways of her world.
it’s almost a daily process now. every morning, they amble up to the black iron grill front door we keep locked for fear of intruders. standing there, with silent eyes calling for my mother. meek yet assertive, they know the call will be answered.
we’ve named them on their colours. if one is ‘bhuri’ – the brown one, the other is ‘chitkabri’ – for her spots. one black, two white ones with huge horns and a few irregular visitors – this procession starts early morning and continues till the time i leave for office. maybe even after that.
almost all of them get something to munch on. a banana, a chapati, some jaggery, discarded vegetable skins or water when its hot outside, anything works. a couple of them are quite stubborn, they don’t budge even after having their rightful share, just keep standing there blocking the way. that’s when Ma has to shoo them away, which she doesn’t like much.

its rare that they have to go without anything to eat. somedays there’s just nothing that we can provide, so we’ve to request them to go away. “aaj kuch nahi hai khane ko” (there’s nothing for you to eat, today), says Ma. and reluctantly, very slowly, they move away to the next stoppage in their quest.
in this ritual of an ordinary middle class morning, these are the cows that visit us everyday.

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