Air! Air! I gasped as it dawned on me that the hands on my neck were not meant to pet but to throttle me. The flaccid digits tightened to form a band around my neck. Once taut, they would stifle the breath out of me.
My birth was unheralded. The stars shone diffusedly without ever auspiciously settling directly over the stable which was to become my home. The guest list wasn’t all that impressive. In fact, there existed none which in turn implied that you could count out the gifts for me. Without the angelic hosts and the adoring herdsmen, without the lone hovering star and the sages congregating for no apparent reason, how less routine could the throes in that nondescript stable be? No, stars don’t speculate the mundane. We, born of a ‘lower’ kind, have to live with our lot accepting the ways of those who deem it be so. The best part is that even as we live out our lot, we don’t complain and yet find life meaningful...well, until someone else’s whims and fancies step on our toes. See how I have digressed? Let me get back to my story.
The description of the night of my birth may sound bleak but my mother was constantly beside me cleaning me up with a dab here and a sweep there ever so lovingly. She was visibly weak from the stress I had put her through and yet she did not flag in her care for me. My legs, being weak, were of no practical use but I reveled in cuddling up to my mother. She was all that mattered and, in turn, defined all that mattered for my still secure world.
As days turned to weeks, I became aware of my mother pushing me away and over time, I realized she didn’t mean to reject me but meant to wean me away. Just the contrast in her attitude made me realize that the world out there would not be as safe and caring as the world she had made for me. I was scared because of the untold perils in wait for me while ironically excited at being able to step out on my own feet. The world was there for me to latch on to. Even though the reception at my birth a few months earlier had been merely incidental, the world outside would now have to acknowledge that I was around. Deep down, my mother’s weaning nudges could not have teased out a more timid set of limbs to the world I was claiming as my own.
My world was within the confines of a large estate. My master, I reckoned, was a wealthy man. I really never figured out what was it that he did but his opulent lifestyle made his wealth palpable. It even overflowed onto his sons. The gold rings on their well-manicured hands were a dead giveaway. The absence of calluses on their hands told me that the only hard work they had done was anything but manual labour. The older of the sons was good to me. He often came and spoke to me and would proffer a treat if I reciprocated. His ubiquitous benevolence was what enriched my world. In an unpleasant contrast, the younger of the sons was not someone you could easily get close to or even begin to like. He was downright rude. He was someone you’d never look forward to see and he, seemingly intuitive of me, complied by making himself rare. His occasional appearances, though brief, seemed painfully long. In retrospect, I wonder where the younger brother would bide his time while the older brother was always around the estate and it really did not hit me when I didn’t see the younger brother for a long time.
The younger brother’s absence seemed to have cast a pall on the entire estate. Activity had settled to a painful crawl. The only occasional noise was my own and my mother immediately reprimanded me. Being the wiser one amongst us, she chose to be lost in contemplation and pace up and down the open grounds without uttering even a whisper. I’d run up to her just to get shoved aside. This ritual became the only activity for me. As no one else would acknowledge my presence and my mother did, even the chiding nudges became a game for me. The deathly silence that had settled in got me worried and my mother’s uneasy poise just made matters worse. The only silence I had gotten to know was the minutes after my birth when it was just my mother and me with no one around to celebrate my entry into the world. Was there to be another birth?
The change in seasons was as abrupt as the pall that had set in. On that fateful day, there was a jarring commotion within the compound. Life had returned to the estate. I coaxed my mother to run along with me to the front so that we could see what was behind this revival. The younger son had renounced his prodigal ways and decided to come back. I nudged my way through the crowd that had gathered at the front-yard and arched my neck to get a glimpse of the celebrations. Come to think of it, even though his disappearance did not mean much to me, I was glad he was back. His father was visibly relieved and could not stop hugging the once lost but now found. Caught up in the euphoria of the moment, I was tempted to go and greet the son myself when, it happened. The noise fell silent as suddenly as it had erupted. The crowd parted as if the sea at Moses’s command. All eyes fell on me as if to plunk me into the spotlight. The father’s hand moved away from his son’s shoulders and shifted in my direction. Beneath the sleeves of his cloak, an intimidating finger materialized out of nowhere and pointed right between my eyes.
The next few minutes were so rapid that I barely had time to make sense of what was happening. It was only when I realized a whole lot hands on me that I had this desperate need to breathe. I was being forcefully taken where I had no intention to go. I called out to my mother to help me. All she did was to gently push me aside like the first time she did to wean me away. Was this what she had been preparing me for? I protested. It is fine that the lost son is back. Though I never did like him much, I was happy that he was back. “I endorse your celebration but why pick on me to add to it? Honest, I liked your son and mother can tell you how excited I was to see him back. Mother, please say something! Please my master, why do you have to pick on me? I have never chewed on the flowers you so carefully tend. Neither have I been obtrusive. Your elder son is my friend...sir, I just want some more air.” I looked back to my mother. I noticed a tear roll down her cheek. She remorsefully chided me to stop ranting in Bovinese. It is ironic. The moment I finally made sense of the world, I gave in. After all, what more can you do if you are just another fatted calf?
Thursday, June 28, 2007
As averse as I was to starting this blog, my being technologically-challenged and e-handicapped not helping much either, I decided otherwise to air out some of the synaptic fluxes that have accumulated over the past few years primarily because i needed to free space to churn out, hopefully, fresher cud! I'm guessing you'd chew along and to digress with that metaphor, my first offering is a take on your PATIENCE to ruminate with me. Look forward to your raves and rants but more so, the opportunity to be in conversation and learn with you.