Reducing the distance between us and 'what makes us'

Since I now have an 8 months old son, I am all the more convinced that a ‘birth’ at home can bring about unmatchable joy in our lives.
Like all other human babies, my son too looked too helpless when he was born. In the initial days into this world, he used to suck a finger offered to him quite strongly but not his mum! This caused some initial tension amongst us as my wife went on depositing milk to an unbearable extent and continuous attempts to feed this little 3 kgs of mass yielded little. She even went to a feeding-orientation course to learn subtle techniques of feeding. The main subtlety that they taught was ‘just continue your efforts and don’t yield to him’! And it finally worked. Since then he has been showing remarkable progress every month and continues to amaze us.

My son as a toddler

Luckily, a birth is never a once-in-30-years phenomenon for me. Wherever I go, I bring cuttings or plucked plants which attract me(irrespective of their ornamental/monetary/edible value) and nursery them. In a matter of weeks, most of them respond and start giving out new leaves from their buds which were erstwhile dormant. This too is a new birth and gives a small dose of happiness to the mediator, which is me.
Apart from these handful births with human intervention, the moment rainy season sets in, millions of grasses, lakhs of shrub/tree saplings of hundreds of varieties take birth in our land. It is so wonderful to watch them waiting through the very hard dry seasons for the first rain and then plunge into this belt of life – a celebration of nature. Among these new expressions of life, all the yearly plants go away in the next 8-10 months, depositing enormous number of seeds back to soil’s seed bank and also other organic matter to foster the next generation and all of us. Among the perennials (= shrubs, trees with longer life) which germinated, only a few thousands or even lesser remain in the natural selection and grow to eternity.
Smilax Zeylanica - a wild flower
[Smilax zeylanica - a medicinal endemic plant of this region, preparing to welcome new life in our forest]

Today we had a birth at home. 3 years back, after I was engaged (to my wife ofcourse!), one of our cows gave birth to 2 identical twin calves – both females. We perceived it as a good omen to my married life, since twin calves are very rare, both being females and still surviving is rarest (as told by veteran Veterinarian Dr. Manohara Upadhya). Both of them are carrying now and one has given birth today. It is surprising how the process of birth is so less strenuous to species other than humans!. The mother guides itself, just before delivery it gets up so that the calf pulls itself down due to its own weight. The (first time) mother cow appears to handle all these so dexterously without any external/human help, most often. The mother cow’s licking is the first energiser to the calf. Within an hour, the calf gets up and drives itself to mother for feeding. After being fed, smart calves immediately start roaming around the entire cow shed, while still trying to get balance over the act of walking.
The first feeding of the calf
Helping the calf yet to stand up, to reach the udder

But the new calf today wasn’t as smart.She didn’t attempt to suck milk even when I dragged it down the mother and lifted her closer to the udder. The first-time-mother got perplexed and started cicking both me and the calf. We stopped our attempt. I milked the cow into a vessel (again saving myself from repeated kicking attempts narrowly; in fact I got a couple of them) and my mom started feeding the calf using a bottle. A newborn calf is so heavier, stronger and well grown when compared to human baby!. A newborn calf’s kick is good enough to hurt an adult human. By evening both mom & baby got a little better and calf started sucking milk from her mother fairly well, with my help. I had to pull her head upto mother’s udder though.

After a while of this exercise, my back and hands started losing out and I had to stop. Later, I milked the mother cow completely so that remnant milk doesn’t cause complication to the her. By tomorrow, I think the calf and mother will pick up fully and get to normal routine.
For 98% of the people now (purely an approximate figure), milk is just another ‘stuff’ available in shops, supermarkets and hypermarkets. Consumer is far too away from cowshed. This separation has dangerous consequences. The most important is the separation from the ‘lessons of life’ which diary process can teach us. There is an unsung folk tune that we can listen to in the cowshed which is of love, affection, care, sacrifice, human opportunism and interdependency between us and cattle. It is a relationship beyond mere 5 litres of milk everyday.

But sadly the milk available in the polythene bag reduces it to just that. The system of money and its exchange brings this separation between stuff and its consumer; to that extent the consumer goes away from ‘life’. It is ridiculous that natural products like milk (, honey, water) etc are being branded and owned by companies and corporates in today’s skewed world. On any day, milk is cow’s and it can never be a company’s. I respect those old style milk vendors much more who bring either the cow directly in front of your house or at least brings them in bicycles carrying milk in un-named/unbranded cans. They are at least not claiming someone else’s work as theirs by showing its real source to the buyer!.

It is this system of economy & living that is taking those 98% people away from an aspect of ‘life’ without their knowledge(life – its birth, living and death). One of my city friends asked me for some pure ghee and when I said we are still awaiting a birth in the cowshed, he asked ‘Does it need a calf to get ghee?!’ – I don’t need to speak more about disconnection here.

Milk is just a metaphor here and I can make this argument about living our life with our surrounding ‘lives’ using any other food, vegetable, medicine  or even water. And not to miss the point, I too am part of that 98% figure in a lot of other aspects, excepting a few.

But in reality, there is a lot to learn from the flora and fauna around us. The more we live with them, the more we know why we should live with them and lesser we do the kind of nonsense the world is currently doing. It’s truly an enlightening experience to walk in this quest.


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