India !

Johannes Manjrekar

How now brown cow

The slightly bloated cow - now is it or is it not pregnant? - is standing motionless in the narrow space between the parked cars and the fence. "Hello, cow," I say to it companiably. It ignores me completely. "Hello, brown cow," I make another attempt, a little more specific this time. The cow continues to ignore me. "How now, brown cow?" I try for variety. No reaction. "Gai, gai. gai!" I say, switching to Gujarati. The cow responds immediately, turning its head towards me and staring expectantly. When it realises I have nothing to offer, it turns away. "Gai, gai, gai!" I go again after a moment, just to be sure. The cow's head swivels once more to face me. It seems to me that its expression slowly changes from expectant to accusing. Feeling a little sheepish, I manoeuvre past the cow's large curved horns and get on my cycle.

flickering neon light
the cow's tongue wraps around
a crumpled paper


Copyright Johannes Manjrekar, 2005