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Saturday July 21, 2012
BY DAMODAR MAUZO; TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL KONKANI BY AUGUSTO PINTO
nas, after rounding up the cattle, tethered them for the night in the cowshed and entered the house by the back door. Coisanv, stooped at the fireplace was trying to work up a fire by blowing on the embers. On hearing Inas enter, she was surprised. ‘Inas, haven’t you tied the cattle up yet?’ ‘I’ve just tied them,’ he mumbled as he went to sit on the wooden chest by the wall. He put into his mouth the butt of the bidi that had been stuck above his ear and struck a match ‘Really! Then why aren’t they mooing?’ asked Coisanv in surprise. Normally the moment the cattle were tied, they would begin lowing. Today, Inas was already in the house and they were still silent. ‘They don’t have the face to do that, that’s why!’ ‘What happened?’ Coisanv felt apprehensive. ‘Did they enter someone’s fields or …?’ ‘Not field - Paolo Bhatkar’s coconut plantations! They ate some saplings, it seems. I pleaded with him to release them but he refused unless I paid him fifteen rupees. Finally he relented when I promised to work in his property for half a day.’ Coisanv didn’t say anything. She warmed the black tea she had made that morning and placed a glass of it before Inas. The cattle were still silent. ‘Bitter … so bitter!’ grimaced Inas after a sip of the stale black tea that smelt of smoke. But Coisanv’s mind was elsewhere. The cattle were not mooing! Weren’t they hungry today? ‘Did they eat many saplings?’ ‘Many saplings? Not even one! I doubt they got their mouths anywhere near them.’ ‘What!’ It suddenly dawned on Coisanv. ‘So you took your anger on the Bhatkar out on the cattle?’ Coisanv left whatever she was doing and rushed to the cowshed where the cow and the bull stood mutely. They would normally have stuck their rough rubbery tongues out to lick Coisanv, but today they were quiet. Coisanv felt they were trying to avoid her gaze. Are they angry, she wondered? Coisanv put her hands on their backs. That was enough to make both of them shiver. The cow began to low first and the bull followed. Coisanv tickled the cow’s neck while her other hand patted the bull’s head. The cow began licking Coisanv’s hand. She looked closely. There were no tell-tale weals on their backs but Coisanv’s knowing hands could tell exactly where each stroke of the stick had fallen. The cows were lowing together ceaselessly. They were hungry! Their stomachs were on fire! Patting their backs, Coisanv said, ‘Quiet now! Quiet.’ Then she went inside. Inas was chopping firewood. ‘Inas the oilcake is over.’ Inas didn’t reply. What could he say or do anyway? Three children ... a hand to mouth existence ... When the cow was giving milk they could afford the oilcake. The previous year they had a plough team of two bulls. The black one died around Christmas time. Otherwise they would have earned something ploughing. Now how could he afford oilcake for a cow which had gone dry and a bull which was useless? ‘There’s some bran in the house, Inas. I’ll go and find some dhonn.’ By the time she had collected the dhonn, the waste rice-water slop, which four Hindu neighbours kept aside for her, it was almost time for Angelus. Hardly had she returned with the slop, the cattle began to bellow again. Coisanv lowered the pot and brought out the bran which she had kept aside in a cloth bag. She divided the bran equally into two earthen vessels and emptied the slop into them. She stirred the mixture with her
One cow and two bulls. How she had loved them! For their sake, what had she, and even Inas, not sacrificed? Often they would go hungry so that the cattle could eat. And after all this one of the bulls died of snakebite just before Christmas. After Carnival, the cow stopped yielding milk and now…
After uneasily swallowing the canji down, she put out the embers in the fireplace and went out. The children were fast asleep. Inas, leaning against the wall, smoked a bidi. ‘Inas, the day after is the Purument fair.’ Inas pulled at the bidi, then exhaled some smoke, but didn’t reply. The same thought was troubling his mind. ‘You’re taking the cattle, aren’t you?’ Inas was stunned. Was Coisanv just joking or taunting him, or testing him…He emphatically shook his head. ‘What - ‘no’! Don’t be stupid.’ She was speaking to Inas but in reality it was herself she was trying to convince. ‘What else can we do if we don’t sell the cattle? Do you want to cultivate those fields or not? We need the money. Or else, where are the fertilizer and the seeds going to come from? Your father?’ Inas was astonished. For so long he had been ruminating along the same lines. The very things he had been afraid to put into words for fear that they would hurt her, she was now speaking aloud. ‘You are joking!’ said Inas in a choked voice. ‘Is this the time to joke? Let tomorrow past, leave at dawn with the cattle. Should I come?’ ‘There’s no need,’ replied Inas. He felt relieved. He had hesitated to bring up this topic because she might not have agreed. Now Coisanv herself advised him to sell. Inas fell sound asleep and, blowing out the lamp, Coisanv also went to bed. Inas didn’t hear her sobs that night. (to be continued)
hand until the bran was thoroughly soaked. The cattle were still lowing when Inas came to the stable. He flung away the butt of his bidi, and quickly cleared the area in front of the cattle. After Coisanv had finished stirring the dhonn he lifted the vessels and placed them before the cattle. They began to devour the feed greedily. Coisanv went to the well for a pot of water. Meanwhile the cattle had licked the vessels dry. Coisanv poured the water into the vessels and went inside. The children could be heard squealing outside. On the fire, the canji was bubbling. Inas must have put it there when she had gone for the water. Inwardly thanking him for this, she went back to her chores. She roasted some salt-fish over the coals. After laying them out, she poured the last drop of oil lingering in the bottle over them. They immediately emitted a powerful aroma. ‘O, Inaso!’ Someone called from outside. ‘Coming’, replied Inas. It was Pedru. He sat down in the balcao. Getting a whiff of the salt-fish, he joked: ‘O Coisanv! I’m coming for dinner.’ ‘Welcome! We’ve got some special fish today!’ retorted Coisanv. ‘The smell says it all!’ laughed Pedru as he lit his bidi. By then, Inas had come out. ‘Where are the cattle, Inas?’ Pedru’s question sent a shiver down Coisanv’s spine. They hadn’t gone into someone else’s property, had they? No. Pedru’s next remark
allayed that fear. ‘The day after is the Purument fair in Margao where people buy their provisions for the rains. I’ll be selling my buffalo there. I came to find out if you’ll be going too.’ Despite all his worries he nonchalantly replied, ‘No baba, no.’ Yet inside something was urging him to sell the cattle. A lone bull was no use for ploughing and a barren cow was difficult to maintain. But something else warned him that he dared not do anything of the sort because of Coisanv. She loved the cattle like her own children. ‘Inas you better be sensible. The bull is not getting any younger. Tomorrow if it dies, what’ll you do?’ Pedru remarked as he blew out the smoke. Inas remained silent. Inside, Coisanv was straining to hear Pedru. ‘I have to sell the male buffalo. If the harvest is good this year, maybe I’ll buy a she-buffalo in due course. But you decide what you must do. One thing's for sure, you won’t get the price you’ll get at this fair, later on. In my opinion you’d be smart to sell both the cow and the bull. Later on, you could buy some again.’ Pedru left. But Inas didn’t enter the house. He knew very well that Coisanv had heard every word Pedru had said. But he didn't feel he had it in him to bring up the matter with her. Coisanv called the children for supper. She served them canji-water and bits of
salt-fish. ‘Coisanv, I’ll be back in a minute...’ Coisanv knew exactly where Inas was headed. She sat by the fire pondering over what Pedru had said. One cow and two bulls. How she had loved them! For their sake, what had she, and even Inas, not sacrificed? Often they would go hungry so that the cattle could eat. And after all this one of the bulls died of snakebite just before Christmas. After Carnival, the cow stopped yielding milk and now… When it took all their wits to provide for the three children and themselves, where was the time left to think about the animals? The prices kept going up and now it was nearly the end of May and they had still made absolutely no provisions for sowing the fields. Most people had already bought seeds. Some had even sown their fields in anticipation of early rains. But Coisanv’s fields were lying fallow. The neighbours kept asking, ‘When are you sowing? When...?’ But seeds, fertilisers, labourers, all this required money. Where was it going to come from? Still, at whatever cost, those fields had to be cultivated. Precisely because those fields had been cultivated last year, there was at least canji water to see the kids BOLLYWOOD QUIZ through the last few months, otherwise…These fields must be Identify the movie from this picture. cultivated...The monsoons will start any time now...The day Last Week’s Answer after was the Purument fair…. Bol Bachchan Inas returned after a tot at the tavern. As Coisanv served him canji, he glanced at the rice WINNER pot. When she lifted the ladle, Justin D’Souza, to dole him some more, he said, Parra. ‘No, I’m full.’ Coisanv knew that he refused more canji because then there would be hardly any left PANAJI: for her. But she had lost her Shop No. 12-147/1, Kamat Nagar Bldg., appetite. She said: ‘I’ve eaten, Gr. Flr., Off. 18th June Rd., Opp. Mathias Plaza, Inas. You finish this. Don’t you Panaji - Goa. 403 001. Tel. 2231568 want to work tomorrow?’ MARGAO: Shop No. 4, Opp. Gaylin Restaurant, ‘Don’t lie to me. Eat that.’ Behind Collector’s Office, Margao. Inas got up.
NAVHIND CROSSWORD / 4541
A mind game and puzzle that you solve with reasoning and logic. Fill the grid with digits such that every row, column and 3x3 box accomodates the digits 1 to 9 without repetions.
Across 1 South Indian snack eaten with chatni or sambhar (4) 4 Be against or in opposition to (6) 8 High army rank, in short (3) 10 Be of sound mind (4) 13 Collaboration (8) 14 Commonly used expression for one’s own mother or wife ? (3,4) 15 Hand from one to another ? (4,2) 17 Doing this while sun is shining is being most opportune ? (6,3) 21 ___ light : signal to stop ? (3) 22 Son of Lord Rama and Sita (3) 23 __ Lanka : our southerly neighbour ? (3) 26 Autocade (9) 27 A school; agricultural implement (6) 28 Travelling along a heavenly course (2,5) 32 Kolkata previously (8) 34 Narrow path or way through mountains (4) 35 Mythical sea monster (3) 36 Found a solution (6) 37 Small casks or barrels (4) Down 1 __ __ many words (2,2)
2 Come down to the country ? (4) 3 “Retired” in short ? (4) 5 Mumbai for the old-timer ? (6) 6 Prefix meaning “nature” (3) 7 ___ a chance : daring ? (6) 9 Famous French marshal (3) 11 City in Rajasthan (5) 12 Spanish warrior hero (5) 15 Peacock constellation (4) 16 Chapter of the Koran (4) 18 “An Affair to Remember” actress (4) 19 Having a warm, ruddy color (4) 20 A poor man’s humble dwelling (3) 23 Escarpment (5) 24 King of Libya from 1950 to 1969 (5) 25 Chains or bridles (6) 26 A series of standardized components (6) 28 Income Tax Officer, in short ? (3) 29 Not (4) 30 Commanded (4) 31 Sounds of disapproval (4) 33 Girl’s name (3)
SOLUTION TO NAVHIND CROSSWORD 4540
Across: 1 Juliet, 7 Rhodesia, 8 Osha, 10 Bolted, 11 Masada, 14 Aes, 16 Timon, 17 RSVP, 19 Paten, 21 Gores, 22 Hated, 23 Yoyo, 26 Arjun, 28 Leh, 29 Craggy, 30 Hissed, 31 On to, 32 Onehorse, 33 Direst. Down: 1 Jabber, 2 Instep, 3 Trad, 4 Ideates, 5 Assam, 6 Balan, 8 Olav, 9 Hes, 12 Sin, 13 Doggy, 15 Bared, 18 Starr, 19 Pot, 20 Ted, 21 Gangtok, 22 Hug, 23 Yester, 24 Ohso, 25 Oldhat, 26 Achoo, 27 Jaded, 28 Lin, 30 Hoed.
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