Moving a Mountain November 03 2013

I pushed and heaved and pushed again with all my might. I might as well have been trying to move a mountain, for the large grey expanse in front of me refused to budge even an inch. It was Madhubala our buffalo who had broken free and walked out onto the pathway. It seemed as if hours had passed since I had been startled by the sudden rustling noise while I was giving the 4 dogs their evening meal. The noise sounded very close and I could only make out a large heavy shape in the darkness. The dogs were barking thru the small gate.

 

The small gate which opens onto the pathway leading to the big gate which is on the left

With a thudding heart, I took the torch and went to see who the intruder was. It was a relief to see that it was just Madhubala. But there was no way that I could leave her out of the stable the whole night. So began my struggle to get her back in.

I did not want the dogs to scare and chase her so I put them all inside first. I switched on the porch light, the stable light and the newly installed light near the gate. Now I was prepared to lead her nicely into the stable. But what I was not prepared for was her utter stubbornness! First I tried pulling on the rope which hung from her neck. But when she raised her head and lowered it with her eyes still on me, I chickened out. What if she gives me a little thwack with her huge head? With hubby out of town and no one around, I didn’t want to risk annoying her anymore. So I tried pushing her from behind. I don’t think she even registered the puny push and continued grazing on tufts of grass. Every few minutes, she would seem to move a little so I continued my efforts. But after some time i realised that we weren’t going anywhere. Probably I could tempt her with some feed. So I went into the stable, took a tub of feed and walked thru the side path.


The side path with its uneven steps, leading from the stable(the white tile-roof structure) to the main pathway

Now this side path is a narrow path leading to the main pathway which in turn leads to our big gate. I would have to entice her with the feed down this narrow lane and then into the stable. The narrow path joins the large one in a series of uneven steps and is overgrown with bushes. So when I stepped out of it right in front of her with the tub of feed, she was startled! She took off in a gallop and if wasn’t for the big gate being securely closed, she would have bolted out of sight. She ran upto the gate and seeing it closed , tried to find a way to escape. The wall separating our neighbours compound is uneven and at a couple of places, she looked over seeming to contemplate jumping over the wall. 


The big gate at the end of the pathway, with the low compound wall on the right

Now this was too much for me to handle. So finally I called our farm-hand Manjunath on his son’s cell phone. He had just finished his dinner and said he would come immediately. I stood watch over Madhubala to ensure that she doesn’t escape into the darkness. The dogs having lost interest in the proceedings curled off in their respective places to sleep. Madhubala continued grazing on the little tufts of grass growing along the wall. The night owls hooted back and forth a couple of times and the stars and the fireflies twinkled merrily.  The moon gazed over the dark shadowy landscape.  The calm silence punctuated by distant hoots of the sentinels of the night and the gentle breeze, Madhubala seemed to enjoy this bit of freedom...

The moon throws the tall  jamun tree into an imposing silhouette

Finally Manjunath came. He is a man of few words when he has his betel leaf in his mouth. A sharp clicking sound and a loud hmmm and a gentle prod is all Madhubala needs to follow him meekly back into the stable. He ties her with a spare cord, replacing the earlier frayed one, gives her an extra bunch of hay, which awakens all the others in the cow shed, so he gives them all a little bit and walks back to his home. I switch off all the lights – porch, gate and stable and get back to the kitchen to prepare dinner and catch up on my work. The clock has moved ahead by a whole hour and I have a lot of catching up to do!