My Days with Goats

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Memoir, Philosophy, Vagrant
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Part I
What I loved most about Benyamin’s “Aadujeevitham”(translated as “Goatdays”) is not that it had a remarkable craft but it spoke of an experience which was very realistic but so distanced from our ordinary lives. Barring its cultural overtones in relation to contemporary Kerala and its amazingly large Diaspora what I could find easy in it to assimilate is the theme of condemnation to utter dejection from which there is a passover. It is the story of a man who could reconcile with the most traumatic phase of his life by following the path of meekness and resignation and at the same time reading signals of ever-throbbing life where it is most elusive. It tells us of a pace of life which is bound to land oneself in a gutter, according to popular reckoning; but in that pace one starts to count every whiff of one’s own breath and vehemently hug every moment of life with a glimmer of hope, even when the promise is nowhere. I had my goatdays too. I was under no compulsion in the exact sense to look after the goats, but it would not have been even remotely my call to care for even a living non-human, had I chosen some other ways which I chose to forfeit for the greater good. Ruminating, as a goat would do, I feel it so strongly that these goats were so close to my heart that their memories are stamped deeply in my heart and I always have a story or two about them to share with my confreres.
Well, I looked after them for not less than a month. At that time they were almost thirty three, and that was the highest number our goatherd had ever been. The herd had been a motley one. It had the very no descript run-of-the-mill goats one find in every homestead to the exotic breeds of Indian goats, that wouldn’t fit into an ordinary pocket for their sheer size, running cost and low returns. I wonder whether they are any better than trophies. Fast forward four years and you would find me perched on the terrace of this friary eyeing the tents of the circus in town, which happens to be our next door (they took that door away when they shifted and now it serves as a figure of speech). In the opening march-past they bring in an African breed of goat, which moves very disinterestedly and grudgingly that it has nothing else to do but make itself a show-piece. I have noticed that we are more moved to awe by the sight of exotic breeds of dogs and goats and cows or any other familiar animal for that sake, whose lowlier breeds we are accustomed to. Such a sight of superbreeds puts our ordinariness to shame, it seems. Rolling back, these supergoats can stand upto great heights to reach for a luscious branch if they crane their necks, standing on the hind legs, while the ordinary goats would tend to graze on the lowly grass. A goat is a real herbivore in the true sense of the word, no wonder why mutton makes a very healthy diet, by its phytochemical excellence.

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