Buffaloes are the most inscrutable of all animals. You can never be sure if they are happy or angry. They wear this permanent nonchalant and unfazed look on their face. In the middle of the road, while other animals will give way to your honking, the buffaloes will keep ambling oblivious to the outside world. And they are perhaps the only animals who are happy covered in their own poop.
|What you don't like water sports? Jump in|
But that impenetrable mask falls on a hot summer afternoon in the villages of Haryana.
|Hehehe- this is so much fun Akal Badi ke Bhains|
|You can sit here all night - we are not coming out: Meri bhains ko danda kyun maara|
All weather forecasts point to a searing summer. Most cities have broken their all-time records and we are still in what otherwise is usually balmy April. Parts of the country are battling drought as railway wagons bring drinking water to the parched people.
But here in Haryana, it’s a refreshing story. Haryana’s villages are endowed with water bodies. Even when parts of the country have gone dry, it is delightful to see ponds and tanks bubbling over with water. The water table is quite high and you can actually see water in the wells without bending over much. Every village seems to have a waterpark!
|Are you going to keep following me? I am calling the Buffalo Helpline Bhains jaane wali hai paani main|
On a hot April afternoon, buffaloes are being led to the village pond or pokhar. The walk is the usual buffalo walk as they trundle through the village lanes. The lanes are mostly empty as the villagers have taken refuge in their verandahs or the village chaupal to escape the sun’s fury. As they round the last corner, the speed picks up perceptibly. The herd has seen the inviting waters. The gentle amble grows into a mini stampede and you better run for cover. The buffaloes dash into the water as if a gold medal is on the line. The water resounds with splashes.
|You missed my rear left ankle - harder Bhains ke aage been bajao|
For a moment, a very brief moment, you are sure you saw that twinkle in their eyes. There was this definite half smile and proud smirks on their faces.
|You want more milk - you gotta rub harder|
|Jiski laathi uski bhains|
Some owners jump into the waters after the buffaloes. This is the spa time for some lucky ones as the owners give the buffaloes a thorough scrub. Another buffalo is getting a rub on her head and you can see the same delight on her face which you see when you rub your neighbourhood dog Churan’s (yes, that’s the name given to her) head!
|Kala akshar bhains barabar|
Most of the action though happens in the mornings or early evenings but these being hot days, the owners are making extra efforts keeping the bovines happy. Happy bovines mean more milk!
|The Idyllic Life - Masonry Tank and Well at Village Alakhpur District Hissar Haryana|
Sitting on the edge of the masonry tank as the towers of the masonry well rise in the air on the other side, you realise the role the water tanks play in the everyday lives of the villagers. The air is definitely cooler here under the shade of the tree. Here life seems idyllic. In the evening, the social life shifts here from the afternoon spent lounging in the cool chaupal. Groups of people are engaged in banter occasionally calling out to the buffaloes. On your right, kids have started gathering for soccer lessons. Yes, this is Haryana and the state is not only about wrestling or boxing. Kids are diversifying into newer sports.
As for the buffaloes indulging in some water sports, they have no intention of emerging out of the cooling waters. The owners wave their sticks from the banks. It is going to be an uphill task getting them out.
Water possesses the miracle that makes even the doltish buffaloes change their expressions with the dexterity of seasoned actors.
This is what summers are all about. These are the little joys of village life even as the city dwellers lose their temper stuck in the traffic on their way back home.
You can sit and watch this spectacle all day - staying back here for some days will not be a bad idea.