The Infected Cow – Narain Rao, Balijipeta

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THE INFECTED COW
Have you ever seen Vinayam when she is in full red on her beetled lips? Vinayam is pitch-black in complexion as if she was painted in no other hue. She is beautiful as a mountain jasmine budded to life in the lap of nature. But there is another color that adorns Vinayam, a brick red painted on her lips by the chewed essence of betel leaves. The red is odd to look at on Vinayam who is innocent of its effect on her sooty magnificence. You must come and look for yourselves how extraordinarily charming this is.
My mother purchased milk from Vinayam on daily basis. It is thick white milk without a drop of water. Vinayam’s husband, who is a little older than me, died recently. He was a lorry driver. They have two kids. One of the two cows was sold off and my mother who was shocked at this, inquired, “Why did you sell her vinayam? She is a fantastic cow. Besides, she could double your revenue once she delivers.”
“No mother, it had to be ridden now itself, don’t ask me why, you know of what my husband died and he hasn’t spared me. That’s the fortune he left me…” Here, her unwrinkled face quivered as she whimpered.
My mother was silent.
And Vinayam continued, “Now, nobody purchases our milk except you. I don’t compel you to any further. You may withdraw too, I must caution you.”
“No, it’s nothing at all my dear, you will continue to pour us, don’t think otherwise”
“Yes, precisely so, I still have this one cow, she will support my family and yours” she assured patting the cow on her neck.
“Do send me some dung this evening, tomorrow is Friday know, I’ll spray it front of my house”
“Bless you mother”
My mother came back after this brief conversation. I was sitting on the porch doing next to nothing and now and then issuing into air the volleyball that I held. She went inside and shortly afterwards brought me a glass of tea.
She stood opposite me and began, “you see how prejudiced the people of this village are. You know Vinayam who pours us milk right? Her husband died of HIV and she was infected because of him, the poor lady and her doom. Upon learning this, all of her milk purchasers abandoned her. She sold the other cow yesterday because of lack of business. She persuades me to withdraw if the news of her ailment troubled me. But I did not. I insisted that I will continue to buy milk only from her. What harm is there? Am I not boiling it?”

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