Velu was stunned. He had never felt so helpless before. “Bhagawan!” His misty eyes went up to the sky. “What will I do now?”
The cattle dealer bluntly refused to buy the bull. That was Velu’s problem. Velu earned his livelihood by selling the milk from his cows. Like every herder, Velu too prayed for a female calf whenever a cow became pregnant. Male calves are useless. They are usually sold away as soon as they can be weaned from the mother. Male calves are a burden. But Velu had kept this male calf, fed it well and let it grow into a fleshy bull. Now he had to sell it. He needed the money to get his daughter admitted to college. In fact, he had kept the calf precisely for this: to ensure higher studies for his daughter.
“The laws have changed,” said Raghav, the cattle dealer. “The buyer has to keep the bull for at least six months.” Bulls were meant to be slaughtered, not pampered. There was a time when bulls were pampered. Ambala Kala, Temple Bull, that’s what they were. Those who didn’t want to kill the male calf left it in the temple grounds. It was considered a property of the temple. It could go and graze anywhere. Velu remembered the last Temple Bull that his neighbouring town had. It was an enormous beast which looked as big as a young elephant and as majestic too. It would walk all over the town like a king. If someone stood in its way, it would just butt him off with its muzzle. It knocked down quite many people from their bikes and scooters. It loved to lie down right in the middle of the municipal bus stand which was already crowded with buses and people. Temple Bull loved to show off wherever it was. It loved itself. Like a god.
Eventually Temple Bull became a menace. People were fed up. They complained to all the authorities available. One day Temple Bull disappeared. The rumours were that it was killed by one authority or the other. Whatever that be, people were relieved. An oppressive burden was removed from their life.
“What will I do with this bull now?” Velu lamented.
Raghav was helpless. “I’m wondering what I’ll do for my livelihood now.”
Velu was enlightened suddenly. He led the bull to the temple ground. When he reached the ground, he was rather dismayed to see a few bulls there already.
“Temple bulls,” he muttered to himself. “A country of temple bulls.”