Dear Mother Cow,
Even as I write this open letter to you—I am feeling a bit like my mythological namesake, the protagonist of our epic, Ramayana, the Ideal Man and King, Lord Rama. While I am addressing this open letter to you—Gau Maa, original mother—like Kaushalya mata, I am terribly conscious of the other two matas—Kaikeyi and Sumitra—in my case—Mother Earth and Mother India.
I am writing about a spate of things, a posse of issues bothering me; some directly concerning you, like the Hon'ble Supreme Court striking down a government proposal to restrict trade of cattle for slaughter, attempts to demonise and ban eating beef and a nation-wide law to end cow slaughter, or even censor Noble Laureates from mentioning your name in documentaries; and some others, indirectly, like TV debates on the terrorist attack on Amarnath Yatra in Kashmir, a protest named #NotInMyName against lynchings et al.
News Consuming Cow
You must, of course, be quite aware of current affairs from all the newspapers you chew down for breakfast, along with the polythene bags and beer bottle caps. Gau Maa, don't worry, when we settle down with other pressing matters, we will get to environmental issues and maybe discuss and pass a nation-wide ban on plastic bags. Maybe, I said. Don't hold it against me later on.
You may have inferred from my name that I was born in a Hindu family—meaning, your children, not to be confused with the Muslims, who eat beef. Now, unlike the other mother I was referring to—Mother India or Bharat Mata—you cannot claim to be mother of both Hindus and Muslims; only the former.
Beef Eaters & Cow Worshippers
It used to be pretty simple, this genealogy, for a long while—both Hindus (who were also your children), and Muslims (not your children)—were children of Mother India. Now we are being told that it is not simple anymore, and the confusion arises because of beef, Kashmir and terrorism.
Let me explain simply. Beef first, in case you did not know, is your meat. Like when you are killed, cooked for food, and eaten etc. Now, lest you think it was too simple—some of the Hindus, your children, also eat beef; including the lesser children like the Dalits and Adivasis.
Now, I can empathize with those who tell me I must protect you as your son against your murderer; but alas, he is also my brother (or sister) from my other mother. You can understand my confusion, like Lord Rama—one mother wanted to see him as king, but another loving mother wanted him banished to the forest (where those Adivasis live). I am quite divided between love and duty to the two mothers.
Now, if you can think about this other mother—India, Hindustan, Bharat—she has many different kinds of children, these diverse brethren, including some who eat you. But as their brother, I owe it to them to love them, live with them, and allow differences to be settled peacefully.
Anyway, let me not dwell too much on bloodshed between brothers, it would become Mahabharata, not Ramayana, you see.
The Kashmir Conundrum
Now, these brothers who live in Kashmir—they claim they are not the children of this mother. There are not too many cows out there, I suspect, because it is pretty cold out there, am not sure.
You see, I have never been there, except for watching a few picturesque scenes in Bollywood movies of long time ago; now they shoot their songs in Swizterland and all places global.
Now, some of my other Hindu brothers are lynching, yes, beating ruthlessly, these Muslims, who make beef out of you and eat you, akin to some Dalits and Adivasis, in your name. Yes, they have a photo of yours with a saffron tilak on your forehead, these brothers fall at your feet in worship and threaten to kill anyone who eats you. The word is lynching; at least that is what the media-wallahs call it.
Now, my other brothers, the Bharat-Mata-wallahs, who are not your children, and several others who feel we must allow those who want to eat you to eat you for the sake of the other mother, have stood out in protest—saying, not in my name.
Maybe if you are not busy you can join in too. Do carry a poster, put a # symbol before writing all the words together like in a magic realism novel—NotInMyName without spaces—like these wannabe writers attempting to be Joyce or Garcia Marquez. It helps take your message to more people on Twitter, a tool we all use to abuse each other. It was invented by someone who is not my brother from the first two mothers, India or Cow, but maybe the third one, Earth.
But she comes later, Gau Maa—this mother earth, Dharti Maa.
Anyway, while we fight, Hindus and Muslims over cow and beef—brothers of Bharat Mata—we are also fighting, Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir, some of whom say they are not children of Bharat Mata. In anger, they throw stones. We fire pellets. They lynch a police officer.
Anyway, these brothers-of-no-one and sons-of-no-one; neither Hindus nor Muslims, not Indians, not Kashmiris, not humans—the terrorists—gunned down pilgrims going up to Amarnath as part of a pilgrimage.
All people have put a # while calling these terrorists cowards. You may be wondering even if this calls for you putting #NotInMyName—this COW-ard.
Wars of, on, by the Hashtagged Media
On media we fight hard whether those who put a # in front of NotInMyName for the Muslims lynched over beef also put a # when a police officer was killed by the stone-pelters. Even before we could resolve that one, the terrorists—now, these guys are no one's brother, or sons—killed pilgrims.
Now we are attacking each other not over the words they say anymore but over the words they did not say. Why were you silent when ... ? We feel the # of the other is fake?
The truth is, mother, everyone who uses # is bit of a fake. No one has spoken equally passionately on every issue, and each one of us is guilty of silence, omission and abetment at some time, and lip service and political correctness of a protest at others. But so what?
Sadly, no one noticed in the frenzy to produce more #s that each one's # is red with blood and these things are becoming sharper, penetrating hearts and souls, of people around us.
Meanwhile, Your Lifeline is Short
Meanwhile, the Hon'ble Supreme Court put a hold for 90 days on the government's move to restrict cattle trade—and now the family of Bharat Mata is divided about this government—whether it loves all its children equally or does it make policies based on whether the children worship or eat you.
A great learned man told me that if people stopped eating beef it would be good for Mother Earth, for the environment, as they call her in science, but it would not be right for government to put a ban on beef like the way we have banned poaching of tigers, deer, stags etc. Therefore, while protecting you from being killed might also be good for Mother Earth, it would still upset Bharat mata.
Which Mother is Greater? What should I do?
Should we allow our anger against these sons-of-no-one terrorists to kill and lynch our other brothers from Bharat, including those who eat beef? Should we kill your killers, mother? After all, they are brothers too.
So I am like my namesake split within—duties to Mother Cow or Mother India—like duties to Mother Kaushalya versus Mother Kaikeyi. Like Lord Ram, who only thought of his father in walking on the path of righteousness, I too think the answer lies in ignoring the mothers and thinking of the father.
The Mahatma! He wanted to protect you, Gau Maa, but not by bleeding the Bharat Maa. So I must too break your heart for India. Not that I don't love you, gentle creature of a mother, cow you, who gave us milk and all, and that famous funny essay and all, but I love India more. Not that seeing blood of a cow does not hurt, but blood on India is a bigger crime. Not that you are a lesser mother but because she is the greater one—a bit like Nirupa Roy being a more important mother than Reema Lagoo.
So, as a bad son of yours, Gau Maa, allow me to watch you die at the hands of those who will kill you and eat you, so that Bharat Maa might be safe. I am not sacrificing you, Maa, for another, merely, asking you to forgive your blood on my hands—and still be his good brother.
After all, mothers are forgiving. A blood-soaked you is lesser horror than a blood-soaked Mother India, much less so, Mother Earth.
Your Horrible Son Who Betrayed You For The Other One.
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