Kashi Aaji – The Nimble Vet

This is the story of a benevolent couple named Hari and Anandi. They had three children Vani, Tara and Keshav. All of them aged between 5 and 13, Vani being the eldest and Tara being the youngest. They lived in a small village on the beautiful coastal stretch of western India – Konkan. This coastal plain of India lies between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. It is blessed with breath-taking scenic beauty and the world famous Alphonso mango is produced here . The Konkan region has many big and small villages and small cities. Since it is located on the Arabian coast, the sea makes each place in this region very beautiful. People here are very cordial but very bound to their traditions. Hari and Anandi had a huge ancestral property. They had a stretch of Mango trees, coconut and betel nut trees stood tall in the backyard, variety of fruit trees of guava, plums, and many more plants of fruits and flowers. A small patch of vegetable farm added to the farm fresh produce of the family. Adjacent to their house was a cowshed. There were two bulls, two cows and three calves. The bulls were used to draw the bullock cart for carrying the farm produce to the weekly market and were used for farming on vegetable farm. The cattle were treated with utmost love and affection, just like the kids of the family.

Hari’s family was one of the richest and the most generous family in the village. Malati and Sadashiv were the ancestral servants who would help Hari and Anandi in their household and farm chores. Every day, people would come to work on the vegetable farms and fruit orchard. Sadashiv would monitor the workers. The kids had an unusual attachment with the cattle. They would spent most of the day in the cowshed. They would play with the calves, take them to graze and bathe them too. Vasu was the white and grey patched graceful cow. She was born in the cowshed. Hari’s grandmother had witnessed her birth. Anandi too, would get up very early in the morning and open the cow shed. She would carry water for the cattle to drink, cuddle them, talk to them, and feed them. But special care was taken of Vasu as she was soon going to give birth to a calf. Anandi had never experienced a cattle birth and she missed an expert hand on this. She was getting anxious on how will she handle the birth a calf. Just then Malati suggested that there is an old grand mom – Kashi Aaji (grand mom in Marathi language), staying on the corner of the crossroad who is an expert in cattle birth. Anandi was relieved, She immediately asked Sadashiv to go and ask Kashi Aaji if she could come during Vasu’s delivery. Sadashiv hoped on his cycle and went to meet her. Kashi Aaji readily agreed to come and help.

It was raining heavily and it felt as if the entire village was cut-off from the outer world. All the three kids were tucked in their bed. It was the first hour of the dawn but looked very gloomy as the sky was crowded with thick dark clouds. Suddenly the kids heard Vasu mooing loudly in the shed. The rain was battering the roof of the house. Hari was busy with Sadashiv trying to control the gush of rain water in the garden. The flower shrubs were getting damaged in the heavy rain. Anandi was fully drenched in the rain. Anandi somehow was getting anxious with Vasu, she had a gut feel that her delivery may happen during the day. Umpteen questions crowded her mind- Would  Kashi Aaji be able to come in this heavy downpour? What if she refuses to come?  Restless Anandi told Sadashiv to rush to Kashi Aaji with an autorickshaw and request her to come. Sadashiv was apprehensive as the weather was getting really bad. He immediately called the auto driver whose house was bang opposite to theirs and rushed to Aaji’s house. On reaching, he saw the door of her house shut and the garden too was flooded with knee length water. Sadashiv waded through the water and tried to see if he could see Aaji anywhere. Ah! she was right there in the window sipping hot tea. Sadashiv rushed to the window and asked her to hurry up to Hari’s house as Vasu would be ready for delivery anytime soon. She thought for a moment but immediately got ready. She with her brisk steps grabbed some oils from the cupboard and put them in her cloth bag and decided to hop in the rickshaw.

The auto rickshaw pulled in right outside the cowshed. Malati and Anandi were standing near Vasu. Kashi Aaji washed her hands with warm water and then cuddled Vasu. She caressed her and removed an oil bottle from her bag and rubbed it under her tail. By now Vasu was moved away from the herd in a separate area in the cow shed. Anandi had laid out a bed of soft grasses to make the to-be-mother comfortable. Vasu was sitting on the soft bed and the kids were all going to witness the birth of a calf. Kashi Aaji was trying to ease Vasu. The moans had stopped and looked like she was already ready to deliver. Slowly the head of the calf was seen coming out. Kashi Aaji was in action . She kept a big flat tray made of straw and covered with grass and a soft cloth just ready to hold the calf after it was out. The kids were amazed to see the birth process and at the same time they were getting goosebumps while seeing this new thing. Anandi cuddled Vasu and could guess that the poor cow was restless. The front legs slowly popped out and slowly the entire calf was out. This took some time but the anxious kids watched it patiently.   Kashi Aaji placed the calf on the straw tray . After some time she made him stand .It was a bull calf. She cleaned Vasu and then made the calf drink its mother’s milk. The children hugged Vasu and thanked Kashi Aaji for relieving their darling cow safely. They named the calf as Raghu . Keshav rushed to inform their father and Sadashiv. It was a big celebration amidst the loud thundering and lightening.

The weather seemed to be getting worst. Kashi Aaji stayed alone. Her husband had died few years back and her young son had just joined Army. So, Anandi thought that she would ask Kashi Aaji to stayover. The kids forced the nimble grandmom to stay back. She thought for a moment but agreed to stay back. Anandi gave her a warm saree to change. She served her hot lunch and made rice kheer (pudding) to offer God as a gesture to thank him for the new addition to the family. The day went in Kashi Aaji narrating all interesting stories about cow birth to the kids. By late night the rain had receded and the weather was very cold. The next day, the Sun was shining bright. It was a cold morning. Hari was busy cleaning up the garden and the mess that the heavy rain had caused. Kashi Aaji was up very early and she was ready to leave. Anandi then as a sign of respect gifted her with a saree and a coconut (coconut is considered as a sacred fruit and given or offered to God on auspicious occasions). She also packed some juicy guavas, some homemade ladoos for Aaji. The old lady was very happy with the gratitude shown by the family. Sadashiv escorted Aaji in the rickshaw to her house.

Vani, Tara and Keshav would never forget this beautiful experience of witnessing a calf birth. They wondered how much pain a mother has to endure to give birth to her child. They took over the responsibility of taking care of the new calf and were happy that they had a new born brother now. This was all thanks to the ” Nimble footed Vet- Kashi Aaji”. In spite of the odd weather and conditions she decided to keep her word and showed that ” Duty first “.  It is rightly said, age is just a number – what matters is the attitude. Kashi Aaji became their superhero or rather supervet!!

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