Monday, November 30, 2009

Mother at Seventeen

It was a moonless night. The time was about 8 p.m. The baby was due anytime. It was raining outside. The pains were coming intermittently. The long labour was proving difficult. Then one push and the baby was out. But the mother was spent. She had breathing problems.The vet was called in, the drip started. He did not have much hope. The calf lay beside the mama cow which was licking her clean. But she was weak and soon she put her head down on the shed floor, her muzzle near the calf. We kept vigil till 11 pm.

First thing in the morning, we were at the shed, and could see the cow breathing labouriously. The vet was there and shouting at the assistant that he should not have administered the drip so fast the night before. And soon, she breathed her last. The calf was orphaned.

We tried to suckle her at other cows in the farm. But she wasn’t accepted. One of the cows even kicked her. Poor calf, she was on her own. Since everyone else in the family had something more important to do, I was given the job of taking care of the calf.

Rummaging through the old bottles, I found one the right size for the calf, tried to fit a nipple from one of young nephew’s bottle. I sterilized the bottle and filled it up with 70% milk and 30 % water, added a spoon of sugar and walked to the barn where she was kept. I knelt beside her. Her legs were not completely steady yet. And I tried to push the bottle into her mouth. She licked once and looked away. I coaxed her to drink and again the same. I tried many times through the day but with little success. She seemed distracted and insecure. That evening I put a sack around her before I crept into the bed and hoped that here won’t be any snakes in the barn. Through the night, I tossed and turned thinking of ways to feed my baby.
I was a mother at seventeen.

By morning I had an idea. I filled up the sterilized bottle and went to the barn and brought her out in the open. Then I astrode her and pushed the bottle against her mouth. She opened and drank a little. It took some time for her to learn to suckle. She would tug at the bottle and I was afraid that the nipple will come off. I think the comfort of legs was soothing to her inborn instinct.

From that day onwards, she thought I was her mom. She would rush to me whenever I ventured. She looked scrawny still with a pot belly as the nutrition wasn’t really right for her. I slowly lessened the amount of water and even gave some mango juice. She was growing and so was my pride.

But it is kind of difficult to play mother to a calf. The moment I stepped out of the houses for anything, the calf came running to me baawing happily. Once when I was putting the clothes out to dry, she came out of nowhere and hit me from the back once, twice and thrice. I lost my balance and fell down. I mouthed some foul words at her and went in limping. The next morning, I went to pluck a papaya and again got rammed in the butt. The calf was doing it by instinct, run to mama and hit at the udders between the legs expecting milk will flow.

I asked my aunt to keep the calf on a tether and she declined to do it, saying that it’s the only period of their life when they can run around. Let it play.

The situation put me in a spot. The milk I gave her in a bottle was not sufficient. She wanted more and she thought she can get it if she rammed me. I could not step out of the house. Seeing my plight, aunt took over. She slowly weaned her off the milk only diet.

And about three weeks later, I ventured out. I saw her coming towards and I retraced my steps. But aunt stood in the doorway. The calf just came and stood beside me expecting me to cuddle her, which I did.

To me, till this date, that calf is the one who taught me what being a mother was.


  1. This is really so beautiful.
    Selfless love is what these animals have for us and they dont expect much in return.

    Do you folks have this cow now?

  2. Mother at seventeen indeed! What a cute story that were a doting mother then and are one even now :)

  3. Iyo paavam calf..and it was really nice of you to take care of it..

  4. i was so touched after reading this post..amazing thing to do indeed...:))))

  5. Very touchy indeed. Loved it to the core.
    I'd heard such stories about dogs, but never about cows and calves. Nonetheless, pet animals are pet animals. It must be a great feeling for you.

  6. very emotional....animal have their own way of showing love.

  7. Hey KK, you have such a beautiful memory and thanks for sharing it with us :)Its amazing how life teaches us so many things, we learn every day!
    Have a great week ahead!

  8. Insignia
    True, their love is pure. And we don't have any cows now. Aunt became too old to tend to them.

    Destiny's child
    Hmm. How should i take that? You know me too well:)

    Novice Writer
    Exactly what i felt. paavam pashukutti

    It was fun.

    I felt proud when my baby ran and played in the yard

    Their trust and love is really touching.

    A New beginning
    We don so many roles in a lifetime, sometimes it amazes me.

  9. A very very sweet three year old son loooves cow,we make frequent tips to our village so that he can spend some time with them(HEMBA..he calls all the cow by this name).Right after commenting here i am going to read this post to him(a translation ofourse with little masala added fom my side.yaknow adding some funny sounds when she sucked the bottle or where you got rammed ...he would love that plucking Papaya thing because it is his fav. thing to do now a days..we keep the lowest ones on the tree for him (needs help even though he is carried by his 6.3 ft tall dad.LOVELY POST HL.

  10. This reminds me of the calf being delivered in our home town which I had the privilege to witness when I was in school

  11. woow, what a story. how old is the little one now?

  12. mama mia holy lama. Imagine that...the calf calling you actually meaning it! That was a very sweet gesture from your side. And u shud feel real proud of yourself for seeing it through its early days, though it was a tad bit difficult to keep out of its path:)

  13. Kavita
    Thank You for promoting me with the next generation.:)

    Wasn't it interesting to watch?

    No.No. Rush. I will not reveal my age with that trap.:)

  14. That was a beautiful post and gesture. Love can bring all together... Beautiful!!

  15. Hi mommy...sad to read that the mum passed away, but glad to know the calf has got an adopted mom. Beautiful story. You are doing a good job. Thank you for sharing.

    p.s. Never utter foul language at the calf. You don't want it to repeat that to everyone around, do you?:)

  16. That was such an emotional story. Women are born nurturers. Really loved reading about it.

  17. Hi Lama, the depth in ur posts always make me wonder and make me think, which i love the most..

    thank you for this..and u have done a good job too..keep it up..

  18. Swatantra
    It's same One who lives in all of us - man and animal

    Welcome here. And advise to be followed- no more foul words to animals:)

    I felt sad when she was sold.

    Being Promoda
    Thank You for that lovely comment.

  19. very touching tale... just loved how you have narrated it and how the calf taught a very imporatant lesson...

  20. You did a good job, when we talk about orphaned children, we have to think about these animals too..
    And now I understand that the person who writes under the pen name 'Holy Lama' is a female.
    Till now, I had been believing that it was a male.
    Good job,in terms of this post
    and in terms of your love for animals

  21. Rajlakshmi
    Welcome here. Yes. We learn some lessons of life from animals.

    Happy to be introduced to the discoverer. :)