Most people prefer the pasteurised milk that arrives in half litre polythene packets from established government milk plants. Some with roots in rural Punjab prefer their milk fresh from the udders delivered by milkmen riding on motorcycles with huge aluminium and colorful plastic containers. They are an essential part of morning life in Chandigarh.
One buffalo can transform the living conditions of a family. Milk can be sold or made into curd or butter. A buffalo costs about a thousand US dollars. A milk giving buffalo or cow is also a symbol of wealth. It is common to see buffaloes bathing in the village pond during the summer heat.
Traffic jams caused by passing herds of goats, sheep, buffaloes and cows are common. It is advisable to be patient and wait politely as the herds cross roads or give you way for passing.
About a kilometer from Heera’s tea shop Kajri made Toona to slow down; she looked around carefully at the deep forest along the road and finally found something. Peeping from under the shawl Kaali could only make out a wall of trees. Kajri lifted a fallen tree and now a grassy path became visible. Carefully avoiding the overhanging branches Kajri led Toona on to the path. It was remarkable. There was a clear cut camel route not visible from the road. Soon they were travelling comfortably at a good pace because Toona felt at home on the soft sandy path of the camel route. Monica/Kaali too heaved a sigh or relief and Sona popped his head out from under the shawl and smiled at the new vista before him. It seemed Toona was carrying a two headed turtle.
That little baby changed Kaali. Heera was beyond redemption. He sat in a corner drinking his country liquor and eating roasted chickpeas. Kaali took care of the little baby as if she had been doing this all her life. She washed and bathed the baby with extreme care somehow knowing exactly how to hold him. The child was very fair and glowed in the sunlight. He looked even fairer when Kaali held him because of her dark tanned arms. She named the child Sona meaning gold because he glowed like gold in the morning sunlight.