Although it was an off from school today, I woke up early in the morning to take our buffaloes to the nearby stream. As I reached the stable and untied our ten buffaloes one by one, father came to me and told me to leave Lilly behind as she was not feeling well. I knew he was lying.
Today, my father looked very happy in the morning. I love my father. But I don’t like when he is happy early in the morning. Mostly we lose a friend from our farm whenever he is this excited. I don’t know how father can give Lilly to that tall fat man. I hate that man.
As I lead all other buffaloes to the stream, Martha, the youngest puppy on our farm, accompanied us. She loves to come to the stream with us.
Cola, Martha, and I get along well. While all the other buffaloes from our ranch walk ahead, Cola waits for me to hop on. Today, I picked up Martha while hopping on her back. Martha is visibly frightened while Cola and I are thrilled as usual.
Lilly is Cola’s mother. I feel sad for Cola. Today, when we go back, she would not be there.
I don’t know much about my mother. Grandma told me she died giving birth to me. My father loved my mother a lot that’s why he did not marry again, says grandma.
I asked her what my mother looked like. She said she was the most beautiful woman in the village. She gave me a bright red scarf with mirrors and beads on it and said, “Your mother wore it when she got married to your father, you can keep it as her memory.” She told me my father used to bring fragrant roses for her every day. In her memory, he had planted lots of roses in our backyard.
While on our way back, I pray to God that Lilly is still there. I can’t argue with father. He says, “What will we eat if we don’t make money from our cattle.” I don’t understand how much more he wants to eat. Our hens already share their eggs with us. We get milk from our buffaloes. I don’t understand my father. He doesn’t even eat that much.
When we reached home, to our surprise, Lilly was still there. But what is this tall man doing here?
I ran toward my father. He was standing with him near Cola. The man wanted two Buffaloes. Tears filled my eyes, I shouted, “No you can’t take Cola away from me.”
They both started laughing at me. My father brushed me aside. I looked at Cola and then back at them. The man said that he likes Cola. I told my father, “If Cola goes, I will go with her!”
They both laughed at me, again. They think I am just a little kid. They think.
My father invited that man to stay for the night. That whole night, I sat by Cola’s side, talking to her. I asked her, “Who would you choose, your mother or me?”
“Do you also want to go with Lilly?”
Cola sat there, quiet and sad. I rested my head on her stomach waiting to fall asleep. I started to think about grandma’s midnight story she had narrated yesterday. Then I thought of my mother, maybe she could have convinced father if she was alive today.
The next morning, my father came looking for me in the stable. To his surprise, the usually smelly stable was filled with the fragrance of roses. He called out for me. I stepped out. My father asked me, “What is going on?”
I held his hand and walked him to Cola. Seeing Cola, my father shouted in rage. “What is this?”
I got scared, but I held on to Cola and told him that she was my mother. He again shouted, “Tying your deceased mother’s scarf around her head does not make her your mother! What is wrong with you?”
Mustering all my courage, I replied, “Grandma had narrated to me a story about how a person died and came back as a crow to check on their loved ones. Why can’t my mother come back?
Cola takes care of me. She loves me. She gives us milk. We bathe together, play together. She also carries me on her back. Why is no other buffalo from our stable like her? I have brought all the rose plants from the backyard for her and if she goes, I and the roses go with her!”
My father’s voice now softened. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He picked me up and hugged me. He said I can keep Cola if I love her that much.
Father sent back that tall man. Later, at the dinner table that night, my father told my grandma about the incident.
My grandma held his hand and said, “You did the right thing son.” She asked my father to fetch some water from the kitchen. As my father walked away, my grandma pulled my ear and said, “You ruthless young man, don’t you dare to make any more false stories in my name!” and started laughing.
I smirked and replied, “Grandma, the things I do for love”.