Gayal. In Apatani, we call them “Subu”. And to the Apatani people, it means wealth. It is considered as wealth because it plays important role in economical, social and cultural life of Apatani community of North-East India.
My father used to own a fair numbers when he was still alive, when he was still strong.
Long before he was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis; long before he endured grueling treatment of tuberculosis medicines – he actually had a lung cancer and died from lung cancer – the numbers of gayal dwindled terribly. I was away at boarding school in Delhi. And he couldn’t tend to them like he did it before. Eventually we lost all our bovines to Swpya, or so they say. I don’t know what Swpya really look like. I’ve never seen one in my life – alive or dead. Some call it a wolf. I guess it might be. Anyway, at least they served their purpose of being in the food chain. And served it well.
To make a long story short, Gayals are very fond of salt. The one with tongue out that we’re seeing in a picture was stalking me. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry any salt in my backpack. So I shove my empty hand out at her – hoping without hope to lick it – she licked anyway. The touch of her warm tongue on my palm was healing and divine experience. It reminds me of old times – herding the gayals in the forest with my father.
Crossposted [at] rotochobin.wordpress.com