Eid-ul-Azha was approaching. Excitement was building up as people started buying sheep, goats, cows and camels to slaughter. And people selling these animals were found standing with their animals on every street corner and so were those selling animal feed. It was difficult to pass by without getting strong whiffs of the typical animal-related smell.

A few days before Eid, my dad and brother also went to get four goats and a cow from the large animal market set up in the outskirts of the city. After coming home they tied them in our porch and gave them hay and fodder to eat. My brother excitedly narrated all that they did in the animal market.

Soon we were all gathered around the animals, admiring them. Two goats were brown while two were black with white spots and the cow was all black with big horns.

Days went by and I got fond of the goats but nothing could make me go near the cow because of her fierce and petrifying look.

Finally, the Eid day came and we all got dressed in new clothes. After my father and brother returned from the Eid prayer, we gathered around the goats and the cow to give them some feed and spend some time with them before the butcher arrived.

Soon the doorbell rang and the butcher had arrived. He was a fat man wearing a bloodstained green shalwar qameez and carried a number of sharp and dangerous-looking knives that could probably cut steel. They took the animals, one by one, outside the house to a corner where a special place was setup for slaughtering of animals of the neighbourhood.

When it was the turn of the cow, the butcher and his men came and untied the cow. As they led her outside the gate, she dived and ran away! As people started to chase the cow, others joined in the chase and soon a huge crowd was following it through the narrow lanes in our neighbourhood. The cow kept on running until she suddenly came to a dead end. All the men tried to catch her but she attacked with her sharp horns and kicked with her hooves. With much difficulty, someone managed to get hold of her rope and then after some more struggle, it was controlled. But by this time she was far from our home and a pickup van has to be brought to load her and bring her back to our home. As she was brought home, some people she had injured had to go to the hospital to get their wounds treated.

Finally the cow was slaughtered but I was not there to watch as I was too afraid of it.

After that day, my dad never got a black, fierce-looking cow or a cow with large horns.

Whenever I think of the cow running away, I just can’t stop laughing and when my dad and mum ask, “What happened?” I answer with much difficulty, as we all start laughing. And on each and every Eid-ul-Azha, this accident is remembered with a lot of laughter.

Published in Dawn, Young World, August 18th, 2018