The galis of Kasi are neither always empty, nor filled with humans only. It’s the non human entities of the galis that prompted me to write this post. It has something to do with the famous dictum with Bulls and widows in it. If there’s only one thing that I want you to always remember while walking the galis of Kasi, it is: “Bulls should never be trusted” at least, those who roam freely in Kasi. But then, I don’t have any significant experience of the species in any other part of the universe. I should not generalize then, and rephrase as: “Bulls of Kasi should never be trusted”. But then, I’ve not tested each and every bull in the various lanes and bye lanes of Kasi, along with those on various streets and on the stairs of eighty something ghats. Therefore it’d be fallacious to pronounce such a universally typifying statement. So, I should say: “In Kasi, bulls around Kedar Ghat should never be trusted”. Yes, I know every one of those bulls that is a bona fide permanent resident in any zone around there.
My knowledge was engendered of my need: the need to prolong my days on this earth. Moreover, I can also act as a ind of interpreter of their emotional swings, bipolar disorder, depression etc. that determines the probability of a bull’s incoming charge with its half a horse power in its frame. I can do it in a matter of split seconds, and instictivelty too. They have personalities, the bulls, they have it you see. They have expressive faces too. What’s more, all the muscles of their neck, shoulder and chest also perform the function of expressing their mood. I must admit, after these many sentences, that I have never been attacked by a bull who showed any kind of intention to attack me. In fact, my fear originated in seeing their ferociousness upon others of the species. My dictum owes its origin to my fear of such huge and strong creatures, especially their long, pointed and menacing horns, and their near-ubiquitousness in Kasi. The matter is psychological then, and isn’e substantiated by facts in hand.
The new phrase that may hold some water is: “In Kasi, cows around Kedar Ghat should never be trusted”. Cows have tried to attack me several times in Kasi, and their innocuousness is misleading too. An average cow in Kasi is white skinned, with a touch of grey or brown, with or without spots and patches. They can be found everywhere in Kasi. We used to have one at home too, when I was a child. Her name was Gauri. I remember her distantly, and her offsprings vaguely. It was a long time ago, when even Brahmins inside the old city could maintain a cow, and not just Yadavs. Gauri was our family cow and I ahven’t heard from anybody that it had tried to harm anyone in the family, children included. Cows are very docile and harmless in Kasi. They have become domestic in the true sense of the world, and their sensitivity is so close to the humans being they are attached to that there are advocates of calling them off from the list of animals. Yet, there are cows, many of them, that injure: human beings and the reputation of their species for being harmless. Bulls are always approached with caution, but people fooled by the reputation of cows approach their nemesis metaphorically blindfolded. They pay the price for their credulity.
There are some other phrases too that come to my mind, viz. “That lone sheep on Chowki Ghat should never be trusted”, “That langoor near Raj Ghat should never be trusted” and so on. I have my reasons to support each statement made above. That sheep who can be seen roaming at Chowki Ghat daily, can also be seen charging at people’s calf and shins, its head down and skull aligned with the back bone for maximum impact. I had never thought that it’d attack me too. Well, it did. I know how humiliating it can be, being defeated by a sheep, okay, by a sheep with a very powerful header. The langoor did not attack me personally. I was a vicarious victim of an attack incident that was so unexpected and unthought of at that place that I was nearly frozen on the spot. My companion for a walk to Raj Ghat: Mantu’s brother was attacked by the tall langur close to the base of the stairs that leads to Malviya Bridge.
The title of the piece also comes from my personal experience, rather, our collective experience at home. The old quarter of the city has sewer lines that have been in their place for over a century now. The foundation of the houses and the sewer lines act as home to millions of rats and mice that belong to the underworld (literal use here) of the city. Kasi is no London, so I have not heard instances of people descending to the underworld to explore it. The only persons ever heard of descending into it are the professionals who were trained by their fathers and they by theirs. Their descent is not at all their will or choice, they enter the darkness of manholes because that’s their work.
Why can’t I write sans digressions? I don’t plan them. They just happen. So, the not trusting the mice thing then. It’s the need of these rodents to nibble upon all conceivable material at home. They are unstoppable. Remember the famous piper? He was trained in the galis of Kasi and couldn’t have much success here. So, he relocated to Europe! Now these mice, had they been content with their destruction of household things, I would have no reason to write about them. I write about them because they have added to their menu human fingers and limbs, even foreheads at times. As they are the most active, by the need of their profession, when human beings are the least active. So, they get sleeping or drowsy humans to nibble at. A rat or mice bite may cause rabies too. So beware of the mice, in Kasi.
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