Aet at a village water pump, a “water-cooler discussion.”
By Rishi Dev
I was just driving through a village. It was hot as ever and I saw a cow trying to drink water from a hand pump on the village road. First I thought she was trying to lick away water which was dropping from the pump. So I stopped to see what was going on.
To my amazement, she was operating the pump with her horns and then drinking water at the same time. She was using her head to push down the lever and when water flowed through the spout, she drank that water and kept repeating the exercise.
I walked over to her. She stopped drinking, and for a second the people watching thought she would attack me. But she looked straight into my eyes, as if telling me not to stand there like a fool but to operate the pump so she could drink. That one moment between us was unspoken and as if she had an unwarranted right over me, that I was bound by some universal love to help her. It was so obvious for her that there was no doubt that she had any other intention. She hadn’t asked me, but was, rather, telling me to operate that pump – and now!
So I took over the pump handle, and she must have drunk at least 50-100 liters of water as I stood there for 20 minutes operating the pump while she was drinking the water non-stop. When she was done she looked at me, satisfied and content, as if asking me to stop. First, she closed her eyes for 15 seconds catching her breath. Then she looked at me straight and flipped her delicate ears with an expression as if showering her divine motherly love upon me. I really felt I was standing next to a mother and not an animal. She had so much love in her eyes that I felt I had actually drunk all that water on this hot afternoon, and not her.
We each went our way, without any farewells, but only sharing some short but real moments of love.
While I was amazed by her intelligence, she was not at all surprised by my involvement, as if reminding me yet again that it was nothing else but “obvious” that all beings had equal right to water, food and shelter and it was our obvious duty to help each other with the same. Nothing special!
Rishi Dev is the founder of Citizens for Animals, an Indian animal protection group.