I Had One!When I was small, my maternal grandparents, with whom I lived, had a pet cow. I had named her ‘Googly’. She was a beautiful Holstein-Friesian with a soft black coat, large long-lashed black eyes, and a white star on her forehead.
Every morning, my grandmother would cook Googly a large vat of porridge made from broken wheat and sweetened with home-made sugarcane juice. She believed that a happy cow gave more nutritious milk. My grandfather fed and milked our cow (he used his fingers!). Every morning, Googly was fed warm, sweet porridge and milked. In the evenings, she was fed a mixture of hay and nutritional supplements, milked again, and her shed was cleaned. Once a month, she was bathed and kept muzzled while parasite-repellent medicines were applied to her coat. Her tongue too was scrubbed with a piece of alum! My grandfather did all this alone. You see, keeping a healthy, happy pet cow is quite a job.
Once, our cow had a baby. I clearly remember the day he was born. When Googly went into labour, she lay still on the floor of her shed and I could see from her eyes that she was in pain. My grandfather asked me to stand guard outside the shed and shoo away the crows that tried to disturb the soon-to-be mother. With the help of the vet, a beautiful male calf was born on a bed of straw that was kept ready to welcome him. He floundered about on his long, unsteady legs while his mother licked him clean. Then, he started groping about for his mother’s udders! He suckled hopefully at the loose skin on mommy’s neck – no milk there. Next, he tried her fleshy knees – no luck again. Now, Googly nudged him to the right spot and Eureka! Our little explorer had made an important discovery! As he was a male calf, we could not keep our beautiful little baby boy for more than a few months. My grandfather sold him to a person who kept bulls.
My Googly gave two large buckets of creamy milk every day, all round the year. She was the gentlest and most beautiful animal in the whole wide world.
Sadly, soon my grandparents were getting too old to maintain our treasure. I was eight years old at that time… I came home from school one day and ran to the cowshed, only to find it empty. I ran crying to my mother, for I had guessed that Googly had been sold. A garage was built in place of her shed. Only her feeding vat still remains in its old spot (we use it as a planter now) to remind me of my childhood.
Would I like to keep a pet cow when I have a home of my own, someday? I don’t think so. Firstly, we wouldn’t have any use for that much milk. It makes sense to have a cow when you have five children of your own (my grandparents did), plus a continuous supply of visiting relatives. Now, with our heart-attack-prone, lactose-intolerant nuclear families, I wouldn’t know what to do with two pails of full-cream milk every day. Moreover, keeping a cow is a big commitment. My grandparents were exceptional people – My grandmother woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning every day to cook porridge for Googly – My grandfather had to ensure that he was home in the morning and evening daily in time for milking – try as I might, I cannot picture myself doing the same.