I stand on the balcony with my morning cup of coffee – strong, South Indian filter coffee brewed to perfection. What better way to begin the day!
It’s the weekend, and the world outside is slowly waking up. The usual morning rush of traffic is missing; just a few early morning joggers – moving neon spots on grey pavements.
I sip my coffee and sigh in contentment. It is then that I hear them – gentle tinkling bells. Maybe the neighbour’s chimes?
Where I grew up, cows and horses were common visitors to our neighbourhood, as there were lots of green meadows around the area where we lived.
While the horses were wild, the cows usually belonged to local shepherds. Most of these cows had bells tied around their necks. Beautiful little bells that tinkled when the cows grazed and mooed to each other.
The cows could be seen on and off on the hillside all through the day, as we went about our daily lives. And when the sun would finally head west, the shepherd would appear out of nowhere and drive the cows home.
In those days, there was a lady who came to our home each day to help my mom with household chores. She would arrive by eleven a.m. and leave late in the afternoon.
This lady’s husband owned a few cows, and on some afternoons, when the lady was in the backyard, her cows would pass by our home.
One of the cows – whom the lady lovingly called Lakshmi – would always come close to the fence as if to talk to her. The lady would talk in ‘cow-language’, love dripping in her every sentence. Lakshmi, the cow, would stand and listen, hanging on to her every word.
It was such a special bond, a pure outpouring of love. And as Lakshmi walked away, the bell around her neck would tinkle. The lady would then settle down to her post lunch betelnut ritual, her eyes following Lakshmi with love, till the sounds of the bell would finally merge with the breeze.
I come back to the present. These bells that I hear now are reminiscent of those perfect, lovely afternoons and the bonds of a very special love!