Saturday 27 May 2017 News Updated at 11:05 PM IST
Custom Search
Milking exchanges - Deccan Herald
Milking exchanges
V Thyagarajan,
More... A A
During pre-Aavin days, as a young boy in the winter of 1950s, I was residing with my mother in a small tenement in Triplicane known for its numerous temples, narrow bylanes and squalid dwellings with multiple tenants, bovines and mosquitoes.

On a particular day, I woke up as usual at half past four to the alarm from the west-end timepiece. Lazily, I got up, pushed aside the cotton mosquito-net and began tottering in the dark a tad carefully not to step on my mother sleeping on the floor. After resting the alarm, I picked up the milk container and ambled toward the entrance.

Through a wide barren road, I reached the bright-lit shop on the dung-filled lane; a few men and a lady had already gathered around a wooden bench there. On seeing me from a distance, stocky Govalu (Gopal twisted in local dialect) attired in a colourful lungi, a white shirt with his head sporting a mundasu and lobes donning golden ear studs, stood up. Readying for action, Govalu by sleight of his hand twirled above his head in air, a slim tall brass cylindrical container - a gesture to establish among the regular waiting customers that the container was empty.

To mitigate Lakumi's sorrow caused by the expiry of her male calf a few days ago and a possible reduction in her milk yield, Govalu had been bringing a dummy calf along, and would keep it close to Lakumi while milking her. That day, he had forgotten the dummy. Lifting the hem of his lungi, he folded it above his half-pant and knotted it in the front. He sat awkwardly by the side of the cow holding the top of the brass container obliquely between his knees under her udder.

Distant rays from an incandescent lamp reflected in Lakumi's large eyes that were staring at a loose heap of hay on the floor. The dark long shaky shadow that was being cast on the floor and the dummy calf conspicuous by its absence foreboded a pandemonium. As Govalu gently pulled and pressed her oiled teats between his thumb and index finger of both hands, those at earshot were invariably pleased to hear the jet of milk hit the inner wall of the container. But that was precisely the moment a stationary Lakumi appeared annoyed.

The cow noticed the absence of her calf and in a dither, she ignored the hay in front, moved back and forth and, with the hoof of her hind left leg, gave a sharp kick on the face of Govalu who fell on his back. The container slipped out from between his knees and rolled, spilling out copious amount of water which instantly turned into rivulets on the floor.

Lakumi now seemed a picture of aplomb, seemingly satisfied with the punishment meted out to her master for cheating her with a dummy calf and the customers with adulterated milk. She went about chewing the hay while Govalu's cheek twitched from the pain of limping due to bruises on his solar plexus. The tintinnabulation from a small metal bell tied around Lakumi's neck was, perhaps, salt on the wounds of Govalu.