This is the Cow

Posted by sepoy on June 14, 2010 · 2 mins read

From Paul Bowles, Their Heads are Green and their Hands are Blue (New York: Random House, 1963): 57-8

The most satisfying exposition I have seen of the average Hindu's feeling about this exalted beast is a little essay composed by a candidate for a post in one of the public services, entitled simply "The Cow." The fact that it was submitted in order to show the aspirants mastery of the English language, while touching, is of secondary importance.

The Cow

The cow is one wonderful animal, also he is quadruped and because he is female he gives milk - but will do so only when he has got child. He is same like God, sacred to Hindu and useful to man. But has got four legs together. Two are foreward and two are afterwards.

His whole body can be utilized for use. More so the milk. What it cannot do? Various ghee, butter, cream, curds, whey, kova and the condensed milk and so forth. Also, he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally.

His motion is slow only. That is because he is of amplitudinous species, and also his other motion is much useful to trees, plants as well as making fires. This is done by making flat cakes in hand and drying in the sun.

He is the only animal that extricates his feedings after eating. Then afterwards he eats by his teeth which are situated in the inside of his mouth. He is incessantly grazing in the meadows.

His only attacking and defending weapons are his horns, especially when he has got child. This is done by bowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be parallel to ground of earth and instantly proceeds with great velocity forwards.

He has got tail also, but not like other similar animals. It has hairs on the end of the other side. This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his whole body and chastise him unceasingly, whereupon he gives hit with it.

The palms of his feet are so soft unto the touch so that the grasses he eats would not get crushed. At night he reposes by going down on the ground and then he shuts his eyes like his relative the horse which does not do so. This is the cow.


Qalandar | June 14, 2010

Man, I never realized I was so "senti" until I read this. I was truly moved by this.

Abdusalaam al-Hindi | June 14, 2010

Tell us again who wrote this and why?

sepoy | June 14, 2010

AH: I clarified that the whole is an excerpt from Paul Bowles. Ref is above.

biryanilady | June 14, 2010

'His motion is slow only.' and '... the milk. What it cannot do?' two little bits of happy for this morning.

gaddeswarup | June 14, 2010

"His only attacking and defending weapons are his horns, especially when he has got child. This is done by bowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be parallel to ground of earth and instantly proceeds with great velocity forwards." This seems to be tue; I was gored once near the right eye.

Amit Julka | June 14, 2010

reminds me of the one where the kid mugs up an essay on the cow....only to find that his teacher asks him to write one on his mother....what follows is pure substitution....i think you get the point

Vikash | June 14, 2010

There is a line in a poem by Mao Zedong in which he use the cow as the metaphor for India: "The bear flaunts its claws; Riding the back of the cow." John Garver found a Maoist exposition of the poem which said: "[India] is no better than a cow... it is only food or for people to ride and for pulling carts; it has no particular talents. The cow would starve to death if its master did not give it enough to eat.... Even though this cow may have great ambitions, they are futile."

Chumby | June 18, 2010

A. This has been making the rounds of the interwebs via unwanted email forwards for a good six or seven years now. B. Amazed that Manan would put up the work of such an obviously Orientalist author, even in jest. I am not really being a*@| here, but I feel that this "satisfying exposition" (for Manan) is just a blatant display of ignorance. How does he know the author was Hindu, and that Bowles did not invent it? Further, how is it a precise representation of "the average Hindu's feeling about this exalted beast?" What this blog lacks in rigor, it makes up in shameless partisanship.

sepoy | June 18, 2010

Chumby: To clarify, once again: the _ENTIRE_post is from Paul Bowles, including the sentence "The most satisfying". As for whether I share Bowles "orientalism", you will just have to go read the archives of this blog.

lapata | June 18, 2010

I have to agree with Mr. Chumby. I can't believe you would quote Paul Bowles after what he did to his wife, Jane. Chumby Sahib, rest assured, not all at this blog are shameless Paul Bowles Partisans. Personally, I have always been an unabashed Janes Bowles partisan.

maps | June 19, 2010

When I was growing up, there was a joke about a kid who wrote the following as an essay: "गाय हमारी माता है, आगे कुछ नहीं आता है|"

Hakim Hazik | June 22, 2010

I wonder if anyone has the complete poem: Uran kabootar, pigeon fly See dekho, asman sky اڑن کبوتر، پجن فلائی سی دیکھو، آسمان سکائی I think this was written in the colonial times to teach English vocabulary to school kids.

rama | September 03, 2010

Maps - there is the teacher-examiner's response, which comes after: bael hamara baap hai, number dena paap hai