Being a kid who once stared at goats

15 11 2010

Eid ul Adha is just a day away. Neighborhoods are flocked with a variety of cows, goats, lambs and camels. Grown ups and young ones both are excited about the animals they have bought for the sacrifice. After all, they should be excited because buying cattle in these times is considered ‘status symbol’. But my today’s post is not about the economic aspect of owning the kettle but rather the behavioral aspect of the most excited bunch – the kids.

Well, although I am old enough that kids of the block call me uncle, I had been a kid once and had gone through the same cycle as any other kid are going though, and this is what that used to happen inside my little brain:

We as kids always forced our parents to buy the cattle for us. We would never be so obedient ever in any other part of the year but the weeks before the eid. Getting an animal meant more than meat during the holidays. It meant ‘supremacy’ over other kids of the neighborhood. I grew up in a working class neighborhood. In those days, buying a goat means that parents of that neighborhood had to save the rest of the year to put aside enough money so that they could afford an animal of acceptable size and health. So, it was not every year that each family had an animal tied up in front of their house. So, whoever lucky family managed to buy a cattle, their kids would boast around and exaggerate the price of their cattle in front of whole neighborhood (well, we still do it even today) thus resulting in lots of disgruntled kids and a intra-family quarrels.

So, once the dad has agreed to buy the cattle for Eid, the next big question was what to buy? Cows are good, big walking icebergs of beef but far out of reach… and too powerful for kids to handle. Lambs are nice, cute but too girly.. and they would only ruin my efforts to look like a macho-man, so the remaining choice was to get a goat. oh goat! they were manageable, good looking, aggressive… and horny! just the perfect animal one would like to keep.

Soon, daddy has been convinced how a goat is the next best thing after the president of the united states and how it can solve this family’s current and future problems. and on one evening, we would hear the sound of ghungroo (a jingling bangle worn on ankles) in front of our house… and lo and behold! its a goat. all covered in mehndi, ghungroo and jewelry on head… just like a bride, but not really a bride – its a goat for god’s sake.

With this, would begin the era when the animal you bought will be your gladiator, the source of your pride (or humiliation).
What would happen if a bunch of men are stranded without anything (not even their clothes) in some remote island? who would be crowned king? who would be the manliest among them all? No, i doubt if they would ever choose the brainy one (certainly not at first), but the guy who is the most powerful (and well hung) will be unanimously crowned the king of the tribe. The same case applied to us and our animals. Each evening, neighborhood kids would gather around with their animals and would take their respective animals out on a walk which was more than just a walk. it was an ultimate test for the fitness of animals they would be judged for their beauty, their health, their agility etc. . we would not judge them for the amount of meat that they might produce, but for things that dont really matter. seriously, what kind of a question is ‘my goat is more beautiful than yours?’ but in our world, beauty mattered and we would do anything to make sure that our goat looked better than others. 
Sometimes we would just let our animals fight each other off… and sometimes the owners of the animals would join the fight for glory. and the rest of the neighborhood would cheer. It would also happen that proximity of goats with each other would raise emotional feelings among each other and they would break their bonds and would involve in goat-to-goat intimate sessions, this was the ultimate moment of pride and humiliation. scores of kids would gather and cheer the goats as they struggled to take the role of dominating partners. the goat (and its owner) who lost this struggle was perhaps the most ashamed person of the day. On a similar note, goats performing auto-fellatio and drinking their own piss would again be a source of awe for the most of the neighborhood kids.

Soon, this whole party scene was over and Eid day would arrive and with them would come the butchers. And a few hours later, the walking talking beauty pageant of a goat was nothing but a delicious bowl of cooked meat ready to be devoured.

Now, almost 20 years later, things haven’t changed at all. Kids still prefer goats while adults are into cows. sacrificial animals are considered more important than saying prayers five times a day and people are still trying to beat their neighbors by buying more expensive animals than their neighbors. and as far as I am concerned, I am not that enthusiastic about walking my animal out on the roads… but still savor the sight of goats struggling to hump their fellow goats… well, old habits die hard!



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