Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Cow (Paul Bowles)

The most satisfying exposition I have seen of the average Hindu’s feeling about this exalted beast is a little essay composed by a candidate for a post in one of the public services, entitled simply “The Cow.”  The fact that it was submitted in order to show the aspirant’s mastery of the English language, while touching, is of secondary importance.


        The cow is one wonderful animal, also he is quadruped and because he is female he gives milk – but he will do so only when he has got child.  He is same like God, sacred to Hindu and useful to man.  But he has got four legs together.  Two are foreward and two are afterward.

       His whole body can be utilized for use.  More so the milk.  What it cannot do?  Various ghee, butter, cream, curds, whey, cova  and the condensed milk and so forth.  Also, he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally.

        His motion is slow only.  That is because he is of amplitudinous species, and also his other motion is much useful to trees, plants as well as making fires.  This is done by making flat cakes in hand and drying in the sun.

        He is the only animal that extricates his feedings after eating.  Then afterwards he eats by his teeth which are situated in the inside of his mouth.  He is incessantly grazing in the meadows.

        His only attacking and defending weapons are his horns, especially when he has got child.  This is done by bowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be parallel to the ground of earth and instantly proceeds with great velocity forwards.

       He has got tail also, but not like other similar animals.  It has hairs on the end of the other side.  This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his whole body and chastises him unceasingly, whereupon he gives hit with it.

         The palms of his feet are so soft unto the touch so that the grasses he eats would not get crushed.  At night he reposes by going down on the ground and then he shuts his eyes like his relative the horse which he does not do so.  This is the cow.  

Excerpt from "Notes Mailed At Nagercoil" in Their Heads Are Green And Their Hands Are Blue.  New York, Random House, 1963. 

Paul Gauguin Paintings --  Top:  The Red Cow (1889); Center:  Seated Breton Girl (1889); Lower:  Horse and Cow in Field (1885)    

See also:  Here for Parrots
                Here for Cobras 

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