As I write about this piece I made in 2011, I am reminded of the time I worked as a waitress in an Indian Restaurant in Leeds during 2017- a customer walked in, greeted me, and followed to show me a photo of a cow on a highway in India.
He proceeded to ask me- “Do you know him?” ; “The cow?”, I responded, with confusion in my mind. The fact that he was drunk from his nightly endeavours and his rest stop at the curry house brought to him an Indian woman to whom he felt the need to ask the odd question, regarding my relation to the cow- was more than anything, hilarious to me.
“Well, I personally don’t know him that well, but his friend, Cow number 47 actually lives down the road from my parents!”, I said- He gleams with hearty laugher.
This is, in fact, a recurring incident in India, on my way to school once- probably in 2011, our bus halted in the middle of the road for about 30 minutes. All the students in my route were late for school that day, but we were exempt from getting a late note from school that day- since it was an extenuating circumstance. The circumstance being, a group of cows were blocking the road on our way to school, every time we explained that to someone, we’d snicker. It seems unlikely- but, Indian farmers regularly let their cattle roam freely during the day in the nearby areas.
This freedom and lack of farmland for the cows to roam around in- leads them with their sense of smell and direction, to wander the streets of the city during the day until its time for them to head back to their farm at night.
On this day, they decided the road was their space of rest. A cow is the representation of ‘mother’ according to Indian mythology, hence it was disrespectful to “shoo” them away. So, we waited for them to move, and when they didn’t the bus driver decided it was best if he took the shortcut to get us, relatively on time for school.
This painting is a representation of that scenario- as the police officer runs towards the cows to scare them, and the havoc that ensues behind him as the traffic increases, as the employees late for their 9-5 honk at the cows. The bus full of kids, howl with the excitement of missing that day of school…