Cow and Crow
The visitors come in the morning. A woman in a blue saree that sparkles with sequins arrives in an auto rickshaw. She bows towards Cow as she empties a plastic bag full of banana leaves stained with dal and rice. The auto driver waits while she shakes the last bits of leaves and juices onto the ground. Cow gratefully accepts. The woman folds up her canvas bag and climbs back in the auto, they putter away. A couple on a motorcycle zooms down the road. They stop at Cow’s corner. A woman in a green and magenta salwar kameeze hops off the back of the bike carrying a woven basket over to Cow. She tips it upside down and cabbage leaves fall at Cow’s feet. The woman straightens her dupatta, flips her long black braid over her shoulder, and gets back on the bike. Cow starts nibbling, tail swishing.
Crow loves Cow. Crow meets Cow each day after the visitors have made their offerings. As Cow ambles from banana leaf to cabbage leaf, Crow flies down and lands on her shoulder, singing the morning news in her ear. He flits to the ground and pecks at the small grains that Cow’s rough tongue cannot gather. Crow, strutting back and forth on Cow’s corner, enjoys a fine meal.
Cow loves Crow. When Crow comes, he shoos the bugs that plague Cow’s eyes and ears. His broomstick feet sweep away flies along her spine. His pointy claws soothe the itchy patches on her soft brown hide. Tied to a pole with a rough hemp rope, Cow cannot wander the streets. Crow is Cow’s eyes beyond the corner. Crow reports on the Buddhist monks in saffron robes walking on the cricket pitch just over the wall, tells Cow stories of fields where grasses grow long and lush, announces the approach of an old man in a short dhoti walking towards them with bundles of wilted greens.
When he reaches them, the old man smooths his knobbly hands on Cow’s forehead, rubs her muzzle, drapes a garland of jasmine around her neck. The greens are sweet and taste of rain. Crow hops, inspects, pecks. Flies from right to left. Caws his delight. The old man cackles a blue laugh back to Crow. After they finish, he loosens the tether from the pole and tugs Cow along. Down the road the trio goes, bringing blessings to other corners of the city.
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