The Bond15 mins 263 15 mins 263
The tender legs of 9-year-old Akash sprang up as he heard a commotion outside his house which was unusual on Sunday. He had yet to take his bath and have his breakfast which would be late than usual since he needn’t rush for school. Gathering pace he dashed out of his house without any sense of the threshold crashing with his toe nails. Nevertheless, his excitement grew as his slight fast steps turned into strides and raced towards the corner of the street where people had gathered and more continued to do so.
Akash soon reached the spot which overlooked a main road with houses on either side of it. Young and middle aged men had gathered by the corner of the left cross of the street by the gutter and Akash searched for a space to sneak past them to know as to why they had gathered around. He tried for the first time and couldn't go past them. Undeterred, he tried again but with no success and as more people got added to the crowd it became more difficult for him while his curiosity grew with the crowd.
He tried a few other different spots from where he could go past the men and see for himself what was happening. Meanwhile, he heard rumors, whispers and comments as to what had happened. One of the passerby said that someone had fallen after being drunk last night, the blacksmith who came hurriedly with a long stick was murmuring 'it will break off' and the old farmer cried with his squeaking voice regarding the narrow space that wasn’t giving them the chance to carry out the work. All this commotion made no sense to Akash as to what was going on. Confused he moved towards the concrete sign board by the other side of the street. There he was approached by his friends Shivu and Veeru while a couple of men from the adjoining houses rushed by with thick ropes and wooden logs. As his friends came nearby his questions came like arrows
'What has happened Veeru? Why are there so many people around? Have they found something or are they searching something? What's going on?’
Akash let out a flurry of questions to his friends who were recovering their breath after rushing towards the scene. Veeru started stuttering the answers
'You know that cattle from the farmers house, the one which is managed by Chandruji. That has-'
and as he was about to finish it, his father intervened and asked him to go to the nearby street and ask his Uncle to send for Swami quickly. He insisted that he go now and thus he raced signaling that he would tell after coming back. Akash was again left to wonder.
'Do you know what has happened?' asked Shivu.
'No I don't. That's what I’m trying to find out, but, I've been unable to do so. What’s there and why are the men gathering with sticks and ropes why did Veeru's father send for Swami. He is the one who operated the JCB. Isn't he?' asked Akash looking at the houses in the street and the men who gathered.
It was a typical scene of a semi-urban locality with the street with joint houses on either side of it, some of them with tile roofs and others with terraces or single storied ones. There was a house of a farmer family who had quite a reputation in the surrounding places and next to it was the house of Siddesh who was an experienced mason with several labourers working under him and beside his house was that of Raju who worked as a bus driver and who also operated tractors in the farms during the farming season. In front of his house on the either side of their lane was the house of Nazeer the plumber and beside him lived the brothers Mahesh and Sahadev who were farmers too. Akash could notice all of them in the crowd that had collected and some other people who were unfamiliar to him.
'Listen here' Shivu came near his ear as if he was revealing some secret. Akash bent towards as if his chum was doing some revelation.
'One of the two bullocks that belonged to the farmers’ house has fallen into the gutter.'
He took aback himself as if he hadn't said anything. 'Oh. Are you talking of the two white coloured bullock which have long horns, big humps on their back and which are tied to that blue coloured cart?' enquired Akash with a gleam of curiosity in his eyes.
'Yes. Yes. You got it.' Confirmed Shivu
'But, how did it happen? How can they fall in the gutter?’
'They were being to the farm and one of it kept its front limb on a loose stone and since it was untied it lost its footing and fell into it with its hind legs struck between the pipe and gutter's floor.'
'Ayyo.!' exclaimed Akash.
One of the men cried others to scatter away and leave some space so that air could pass by and as this created some space both flung towards the gutter.
‘Be careful. You little fools' cried out Sahadev.
'ok mama, we will be. Sa-Sorry.' mumbled Akash.
What they saw was indeed pathetic. The sturdy cattle had fallen right into the belly of the gutter. It's back half was as if stuck in it and it's two hind legs were painfully between the concrete pipe which ran horizontally between the gutter walls and the floor of the gutter. On the right side of the gutter a long platform stood by preventing any movement and on the left side it was the open road. The cattle had got conveniently stuck in it as it moaned in pain and threw its head helplessly on the side wall trying to get out.
'Tie the rope around its belly. We can pull and lift it up'
Suggested Mallu, the tiller who worked for the farmer's family. His rough hands swirled the thick rope around its belly and made a knot. Other men came by and held the rope and tried to pull it out of the gutter. They yelled, cried to each other and put their most effort. The animal seemed to move but it's lower half remained unmoved and as the men got tired of pulling and let the rope go, the cattle's limbs scratched the concrete wall and got bruised. Even the joints of its lower limbs were bruised and blood ebbed out of them. The animal moaned and continued in its helpless position.
One of the men noticed that the concrete pipe was the one that clutched its limbs. He shared it with others and they called in the plumber Nazeer to get a saw and get it chopped off so that its limbs could be freed. Nazeer got the saw in a while and he and another adjusted themselves on their knees and tried to cut off the pipe. However, it was too narrow for the saw to zig-zag and the pipe was too strong to even get scratched. Nazeer went in to search another saw which could be big and strong to be operated. Chandru, the eldest among the farmer's family,felt that there was no way but to hit it with a hammer or something and break it out. Soon, Siddesh was able to get a mid-sized hammer and kneeling into the gutter he gave a couple of blows to the pipe which made sound enough to attract the attention of an electrician nearby and who cautioned them that it was a pipe put by the Municipal authorities to protect the electrical lines and breaking could attract fines and moreover it would be difficult to put back the pipe without digging the road again. Thus the Mason withdrew from his effort. Chandru Gowda, his two brothers and their young sons now waited for the JCB to get on with next efforts. Chandru took out the cell phone from his pocket and hurriedly dialled and spoke roughly - 'what's taking you so long? Where are you?' As he placed the cell phone back in his pocket, the yellow-black painted JCB emerged from a curve behind and hurtled towards the scene. There were all kinds of reactions as it came to a halt. Veeru joined Akash and Shivu as they all awed at seeing it from such close quarters.
'Luckily Swami kaka is on a holiday today' said Veeru as he settled his breath.
People from nearby houses gathered outside and stared and talked at what was happening. There also came some odd suggestions from a few passing by folks. Acting on one of them Siddesh broke down one of the stone pieces at the edge of the raised platform so that some space to adjust their legs could be created. The sounds of the hammer head hitting the platform prompted the resident of the house, Dheeraj, the priest to come out and who told him stop else the whole platform would collapse. He gave it up and put aside his hammer. However, it gave a bit of space for one person to adjust and stand. This gave them a chance to try from both sides of the gutter.
The sun was now getting hotter as the day matured and this made people move towards more desperate measures such as placing the thick long wooden sticks behind it back and using them as levers to try and get it up. But, this simply made it more difficult for the animal as its limbs tightened more due to the unintended push from the sticks. One of them broke and got stuck under the bullock causing more pain to it.
While it was all leading to mayhem, one of the boys tied the thick rope to the crane of the JCB and told others to tie it around the stomach and that the strength of the machine would be able to pull out the cattle from the ditch. A couple of them hastily gathered the rope and swung it around its belly and tightened it.
'Ok Swami. Pull.’ Cried out Shambu, Chandru’s brother. Swami slowly operated the livers of the machine and tried to get the crane upwards. The rope was stiffening the stomach of the cattle and it moaned in pain. It continued to do so. There seemed to be some movement and so they stood put thinking it'd get out soon. Suddenly, the rope slipped from the back and the knot tightened and the length shrunk and got tied around its upper limbs. The men rushed around and loosened the rope and took it out without causing any further harm. But, the animal continued to be in the same state and now with a few more bruises. The folks realised they had to do something to prevent the rope from slipping. They had to do it soon since the residents of the place had begun their daily activities and the gutter would be full of dirty water and wastes which would make it more difficult. Also they had to clear the path for vehicles and people or else they would unnecessarily choke out the roads, suggested one of the elders.
Another rope was tied to the crane and its other end was tied below the upper limbs of the cattle and the other one a bit lower than the belly with the hope of getting more grip. They indulged the cattle by feeding it with hay and serving water through a small bucket. A junk seller who passed by had old newspapers and one of the boys noticed that they could be used to put around the rope to reduce the pain caused by friction of the rope. They got a bundle of newspaper for a pittance and they were folded and adjusted in between the rope and the cattle's skin.
Swami opined that he would also need some human help and asked them if they could help holding the rope in a proper position. A half a dozen of them came forward and held both the ropes while Swami put his skills to work. Two of the men managed the knots and made sure they didn't slip.
'Heave it up, careful' ordered one of them.
Swami gently adjusted his levers and began pulling the crane up. There was again a slight movement in the position of the cattle as they held tight the rope while others watched in severe anticipation. Raju who had clutched one of the knots did something that would spur up the others when he gave the cry 'Har Har, Mahadev". This ignited much needed spirit among the others and they all chanted "Har Har Mahadev". Swami too brought in all his expertise and pulled the liver upward while those on the ground held the rope, the two men who managed the cattle quickly bent down and towards the hind legs to steady its moment. They held it by its muscular thighs which was too draining but they didn't let it go. The crane was applied more effort and it was able to dismantle the cattle from its position while the rope was held still and its limb kept from being damaged and taking a strong breath they cried out again 'Har Har Mahadev' as they pulled out the beast of its stifle and was put back on the ground gently. All had a sigh of relief and as if they had won an intimidating battle. Those with ropes had their palms brushed and bruised as they sat down by the cattle, now relaxed. Akash and his posse of friends cried out 'Hurrah' as if they had had their share of sunday fun. The others were relieved, some went home and by their work and others stayed by. They were finally successful to get it out. Indeed they were.
The bullock however didn’t move a muscle as it sat down on the road and this was a bit concerning.
A few children gathered around it with fresh enthusiasm but scattered away as it lay down stretching its limbs whlie its belly squatted the ground. There was confusion and caution on the face of people around since they couldn't understand as to what was wrong with it. One of them went forward and checked with its hind limbs. He doubted if there was some kind of a mild dislocation or a minor fracture due to it getting stuck in the gutter. Another one attended to it's bruises and applied turmeric on them which his wife had brought. The women of the farmer family now came to look at cattle as they had the most concern towards it. They treated them as the members of their family and the eldest of the women, the mother of the three sons was specially attached to them. So, she had tears in her eyes when she saw it struggling in that gutter. But, as it was out she asked one of her daughter-in-laws to get a bucket of water to gently clean it up. However, it still was on the ground. Chandru's brother called a veterinarian who was close to them and insisted that he come and take a look at it. It was a day off and he was taking time to get to them. They had to send one of their boys on a motorbike so they could get him in time.
Meanwhile, it adjusted itself from the laying position and sat up with the help of its front limbs. This brought some hope to the people but were still a bit worried. The old woman who had gone home as the bullock was cleaned came back with a copper plate in her palm which they used for religious purposes. It had a small copper cup filled with water, a vibhuti cake and two small miniature bowls which contained Vermillion and turmeric. She took some water from the copper cup with the tip of her fingers and sprinkled on its around its face and then rubbed the fingers on the vibhuti and smeared it on its two horns in diagonal lines parallel to one another and applied Vermillion and turmeric between its eyes and on the horns while her lips chanted prayers and shlokas uninterrupted.
She then looked at the sun which had risen considerably and folded her hands in veneration. At this point, the veterinarian arrived on the bike and hurriedly got down. He looked stale, his clothes weren't fresh and carried a few of his things in a metal box that he had in his hand. The boy on the way had explained to him the situation and so he got down to work quickly. He caressed the back, and slowly examined its hind limbs and slowly tried to bend them by its joints. It did bend a little but the animal gave a painful moan and thus he let it go. After looking at it carefully he declared 'Its limbs are alright.They aren't broken or fractured. But, it's in pain. it needs a few minutes to recover.' Those present took a long sigh of relief and thanked God. The lanky man, Balu, who managed their farm stable tried to put it back on its legs. He made voices, patted it'
s back and tried to lift it up but was in vain as it continued in the same position.
As he and others stood thinking His father, Mahadev arrived at the scene. He was the one who had managed and raised them but was now staying at the farm and had quite an understanding of the cattle. He went by it and bent near is head and mildly caressed its back. The bullock seemed to identify him as it brushed its head on to his arms. Mahadev stood up and smiled and asked 'where is its partner? ' . They pointed towards the tree nearby to which it was tied. He went towards the bullock which looked similar to the one and affectionately carassed it, patted its back and the animal too reciprocated with genuine affection. Caressing its head with one hand he untied the rope and took it with him. Others shifted their attention to him and didn’t get what he was doing but looked on. He took the bollock near the injured bullock and stood with it by its side for a while and slowly dragged its noose towards the home.
As Mahadev and the bullock covered a few steps, the people surprisingly witnessed the injured bullock trying to get on to its limbs. It didn’t get up at once and when a few men tried to go to its aid they were stopped by the older folks.
'It is alright now. Stand back' they said.
It slowly bent its knees, the hind limbs were still in pain but it surpassed it and got on its knees, and first the front and then the hind limbs got straight as it got back in the standing position. Like the children, the men and women cried out with joy and satisfaction. It walked a couple of steps but stumbled. However, it didn't stop and took a few steps again and got back to its normal steady walk. They all now looked at it with genuine smiles as it went beside its cart partner in front of the huge water tank as it always used to do.