It is known to us that essay writing normally begins with the cow but along the flow of time the cow has gained changed features. When asked to write an essay on the cow children may throw counter questions – which cow? Local or foreign? Jersey or Angus? Male of female? Young or old? Black or white? Red or mixed? Skeleton cows of rural Bengal or glazing cows of a farm? Mahesh of Sharatchandra or the cows of Iswar Gupta’s famous hymn –“You mother Kalpataru, we are all pet cows /We have not learnt to bend the horns / We will only eat hay and grass.”
The cow has two horns but questions arise – long or short? Sharp or blunt? Straight or curve? Bankimchandra wrote – “Strength of ox lies within its horns ….” A giant cow of Texas has set a Guinness world record having the longest horns measuring whopping 10 feet 7 inches.
So, the matter is not so simple. Schoolboys also know that the cow lives on grass but which one? Grass that grows everywhere or Napier brand? Dry or gruel? Perennial ryegrass or megathysmaximus? Compact or cut into pieces? Grass of Jeevananda or Rabindranath? No problem with it because the cow lives on grass and human beings also eat grass (vegetables belong to grass species). It is difficult to understand Jeevananda who wrote – “I want to drink the smell of this grass like yellow wine in glasses." So, things are gradually growing complex.
Going some years back we see that the cow was used for ploughing field and pulling carts. In both cases men were drivers staying behind cows but those days are gone. A report of the Anandabazar of 06-3-2021 informs that “… leaving field cows in tales climbed the tree but now the country is bowing before it. In …cratic country the cow is driving men.” One of our politicians said, “The dog does not move the tail but the tail moves the dog.” When blindfolded the cow walks along the paved road. Similarly, a group of blindfolded people are also doing that same thing. So, going behind the cow is not humiliating now.
Let us remember Podipisi (aunt Padi) of Leela Mamjunder. The short widow had a rudraksha garland around neck and crooked thinking in mind. She was as strong (?) as a lion. Losing Burmese box she wanted to search it raising the tail of a cow. (Recently some Indian politicians tried to find out gold in cow's milk.) Just then the cow kicked on her knees but it did not dwarf her greatness. She was also an excellent cook. Once she cooked grass pie. Tasting it governor general commented, “Eating this is the reason of such state of your country.” Which state, the writer has kept it secret. Once this Podipisi was going to her uncle Nimai's house. On the way a group of robbers attacked her and beat her bearers severely. Getting down from the palanquin Podipisi groaned, “My men are almost half dead. What about my cows? Now you carry me on your shoulders to the house of Nimai.” Hearing this, the robbers fell at her feet (because this Nimai was their boss) and requested, “Please, don’t say anything to Nimai Sardar.” Shrewd Podipisi understood that secret had been leaked and filled her Burmese box with rubies, emeralds and diamonds from Nimai's robbery store but what is the situation now? If anybody knows a state secret his way is straight to custody. That famous story of Churchill may be repeated here. It is said that during World War II a man was arrested for calling Churchill a fool. Opponents shouted in parliament –“Is it a police-state?” Churchill replied that the man was arrested not for calling him a fool but for divulging state secrets during war.
We don’t know what happened to the fate of cows of Podipisi’s but look at the horse. The horse is dominant in racecourse, war and films. Think of that chariot race in Oscar winner film Ben Hur. Two world famous actors Charlton Hestonand Stephen Boyd were chariot fighters with white (Charlton Heston) and black (Stephen Boyd) horses. Charlton Heston uttered those unforgettable words - “Today is the day.” Horse riding was essential in police department, army and administration in British India. Images of horse rider policemen (male and female) are place in front of many police establishments. Equestrian is a very enjoyable and aristocratic game in and outside the Olympics. Can anybody forget that wooden horse of Troy? Netaji on horse is a symbol of pride of the Bengalees. For showing valour the horse is unique but recently poor horse has committed a mistake. Looking at the horse riding scene of Kangana in Queen of Jhansi spectators shouted but someone disclosed that it was a mechanical horse. So, the horse (not cat) came out of the bag. Statues of the horse are found in many places of the world but it could not attain godhood like Indian cows. Though a symbol of heroism and strength the horse is not fortunate enough to be carrier of any Indian god whereas the cow (rat, cat, owl also) has attained that credit. An ox is the carrier of Lord Shiv. Sri Krishna, holding flute in hand and leaning against a cow, is a familiar picture.
From 1971 to 1977 election symbol of Indian National Congress led by Indira Gandhi was a cow and a calf. During coronavirus pandemic some Indian leaders organised worship of cow dung and party of drinking cow urine to combat coronavirus in different places of India. They compelled many people drink cow urine. Domestic cow was promoted to the level of medicinal, political and mother cow. Not science but ignorance became more dominant. On 3rdApril 2021 a bull intruded into a procession of Mamata Banerjee in Howrah and revelled for five minutes. Police and people got perspired to control it but political identity of that bull remained unknown. Can schoolboys to accumulate all these matters properly? Anybody believes or not it doesn’t matter to the cow but we must admit that writing an essay on cow is not so easy now.
The writer is a former Commissioner of Taxes.