It was 4:00 p.m. and still light outside, but we had some distance to go. We would have to pass through the village with the dead cow; thankfully, it would be dark by then. Abdul was still adamant that it was not a good idea to stop. We would just speed through.
I was really feeling guilty. I just couldn’t live with myself; it would be easy for me to pay the cost of a cow. So I had to pull rank. I said, “We are going to stop and inquire about the owner. I will pay the money, and then we will leave.”
“OK, just honk once so they know we are here,” I said. With the honk, we saw a wave of people coming out of their huts.
There was one older fellow who looked like a leader, so I rolled down the window and said to him, “This morning there was a lot of fog, and a cow came out suddenly, and we accidentally hit it—”
Before I could continue my sentence, the headman started jabbering in Bengali. Maybe this was not such a great idea. Then Dinesh started translating. “He said that he saw everything, and it was not our fault. The cow should have been tied up. And it’s OK; it just has a small gash on its right front leg. It will be fine.”
The headman said, “Thank you for stopping. Not a lot of bari admi”—big folk—“would do that.”
I was so relieved it wasn’t dead. I smiled and said we needed to be on our way. I was thankful that we had stopped and found out the truth; otherwise, to this day, I would bear the guilt of killing a sacred cow.
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