The husband was back from watching the movie Baahubali 2. Indian cinema had outdone itself, and he was regaling us with the story line and the amazing fight sequences. This enthusiastic performance was greeted differently by the household:
(a) Avid interest in the toddler son, who was wondering whether to raise Baahubali to the echelons of Hanuman, or Spiderman,
(b) An eye-roll from the daughter who was doing something with her slime (coming up soon), and
(c) An almost soporific nod from me wondering when would be a good time to get a cup of tea.
“There is one scene where the bulls are all charging at Baahubali and he catches them by the horns like this and flings them – booyang!” , he said reaching for a water bottle, with a loose lid, to demonstrate. I held the water bottle on the other side, and he looked piqued that his bull showed resistance. Baahubali’s cows did not resist, they flew.
I had smartly declined the movie invitation and enjoyed a quiet afternoon in the park with the children.
The next day, the husband, friend and I were up early for a hike in the rolling hills nearby. The early morning clouds were scuttling about in a desultory fashion, the grass was swaying to the breezes. Only the birds seemed to be bright and energetic. I was plodding along not yet completely awake, and the husband and friend were talking about the Baahubali movie again. The friend had seen a late night show and was bleary eyed after the movie. But mere mention of that great and able Baahubali seemed to infuse him with energy. I watched the pair of them make animated conversation and smiled to myself as I imagined the daughter shaking her head and saying, “Boys! Amma – they can’t help themselves!”
There was a touch of the English countryside about us that morning. There were cows grazing calmly, and an occasional deer or two were visible far away. I was throwing my mind pleasantly to a book I had read recently, A Road To Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. There were lovely passages in the book that seemed to match my surroundings at the time. The rolling hills, the slight chill in the air. In the book, Bill Bryson writes about how he took up a road trip across Great Britain without the use of a car, and mostly on foot.
“What a joy walking is. All the cares of life, all the hopeless, inept *wits that God has strewn along the Bill Bryson Highway of Life, suddenly seem far away and harmless, and the world becomes tranquil and welcoming and good.”
― Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling
As we were ambling along, we noticed several cow-shaped obstructions in our path. Three cows stood in front of us blocking us quite effectively. One of the cows locked eyes with me.
I looked at her, she looked at me.
I looked, she looked.
I blinked, she didn’t.
I looked away, she didn’t.
“I like being in a country where when cows attack, word of it gets around. That’s what I mean when I say Britain is cozy.”
― Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island
The cow showed no inclination of looking away, or moving. I am in for the long haul, she seemed to say.
I can wait, I told her.
Ha! she said. It is you humans who are always in a hurry. I have no problems. I could stand here all day. Want to see? she said and stood there chewing the cud in what I thought was an unnecessarily exaggerated manner. If I had chewing gum, I could have played the game too, but I didn’t have any on me at the moment.
I then actually tried talking to her. “Please – we won’t do anything. We just want to pass you by.” I said.
To this she responded. She stared at me even more intensely, and then donned a positively bored look and looked away. It was like I was giving a teenage kid advice.
The husband and friend were standing nearby in a thoroughly helpless fashion. I looked at the pair of them shuffling their feet and asked them to summon their inner Baahubali and scare the cows away.
The duo guffawed loudly at this, and said the best performance they could come up with was to flex their muscles till it plopped and then fly like Baahubali’s cows in the opposite direction.
I looked back at the cows to appeal to them once again, and started laughing. It reminded me of one of the passages in Road to Little Dribbling where Bill Bryson had gone walking through a field. The field was on a hill, and he huffed and puffed up the hill, only to be confronted by an angry bull or cow(he couldn’t stop to see). One cow-or-bull-snort later, he came charging down the 2 mile hill to the nearest village. He entered a pub sorely in need of restoration to body and spirit. There, in the pub, was an old farmer who listened to his tale of woe, and said calmly, “Oh, That is only Betsy. She won’t do anything!”
The Betsy in our path seemed to derive inspiration from the story, and moved enough to let us pass.
The Baahubalis scampered across, while Betsy got her entertainment fix for the day.