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Bovine Intervention

Satya Dash

Congratulations, my father says, the vowels conspicuous

like rose petals in warm water. The news of my promotion

hastens the sky’s blackening. A small town of mustard oiled finger

licking dinners and burpy stomachs beckons behind the wind

shield. To love food is a great way to love yourself. Yet, I’m

tired of my mouth. How all it does is churn

want. Its ceaselessness, congratulatory beyond reform.

My parents too pick me up without fail every time I land

at the Bhubaneswar airport. 17 times in the last 6 years. I count

because cumulation offers resilience that nostalgia

doesn’t. The heat of the minute hand’s madness ends every daynight

couplet in clammy slumber; the silence inside my father’s car

reinforces a ghazal’s beauty. On the way back home, I see

cattle through the window, a herd sailing across the road,

stubborn calf coaxed by the mother to move, making us wait.

In familial silence, it strikes me I had forgotten

exactly how cows look like, their hoofs pecking my eardrum in gentle

clops. Their flesh very much a national bone of contention. The dusk

sky’s amber wrung hard into the saffron of brows, smeared

on manifestos. The government doesn’t understand

Tagore, Rumi or Faiz. Not because it can’t



but because it won’t. On manifestos, the GDP

swells. Obviously, no mention is made of the formula

tweaked to achieve the desired percentage. Very similar

to the way I approached math questions in school,

noting down the answer from the book’s back section,

then working my way upwards. My father abhorred that method.

But today he jokes, if everybody becomes a poet

who will do the actual work? My fists close involuntarily

in the tautness of rush, tempted to power through moving

glass, my hand regurgitating faculties of anger like a cow’s

fascinating stomach. For days, the odder side of my brain mulling—

if men were to bleed monthly, would the world be redder, a more

epilogued organism? Men in the long history of the town I came from,

where this car was headed now, thrashing legs on thick mattressed

beds, news of their mysterious wrath spreading in hushed

whispers. My father, once proud of his, now worn down

by age. My mother says he finds it impossible to weep. Even

when he wants to. It’s funny how contraction bares new

ground. Emergent lime. Sweet swallowing of flame.

For instance, father following up his good night

incredulously with I’m proud of you. While my simmering

brown corpse on the drawing room couch

feigns unbearably the anesthesia of slumber.

Satya DashWaxwing, Wildness, Redivider, Passages North, The Boiler, The Florida Review, Prelude, The Cortland Review and The Journal among others. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043