I had yet to see a cow or buffalo give birth during my stay in Nepal, though all my friends here knew that I had been trying. So when we arrived in Harridya one of the first things Parmila learned (and immediately told me) was that their buffalo had just given birth a day before and there was a new baby for me to meet. I of course grabbed my camera and started clicking away, taking pics of the mama and beautiful-blue eyed baby.
The New Mama
This exciting introduction quickly turned into a big crisis as it became apparent that the mamma buffalo was sick and that she wasn’t able to nurse her new little one. The typical calm of the house was replaced by an undercurrent of frantic-ness as the family ran around in a monsoon torrent and did everything they could to help heal the mother and get her milk to come in so she could start nursing. Baths were given to lower her temperature, she was tempted with special foods, she was walked in circles in the buffalo shed – but nothing was working. Then the local dhami or traditional healer was called as well as a vet – and each tried to worked their own version of magic.
Parmila’s Mother Bathing the Buffalo to Bring Down Her Fever
Not only would it be an incredibly sad event for the family to lose the baby and/or mother, but it also had major economic implications as the mother buffalo was a significant source of food and wealth for Parmila’s parents. She had been a major financial investment as well as one of many, many, resources of time and energy.
From all around the prognosis was bad. They did not think they could find enough milk to nurse the baby on their own, and even if they did, the baby being so young it would not have the ability to digest fat yet and needed it’s own mother’s milk first (akin to colostrums at that point). I of course, was at my wit’s end trying to understand what was going on without adding any additional tension. After another 24 hours or so (including an all night vigil) there was nothing to be done, and it was determined likely that both mother and baby would be lost.
Hungry Blue-Eyed Babe
I left Harridya with a resigned and heavy heart, glad to have the excuse of scheduling that required my departure. I felt a bit childish that I was praying for the buffalos, and that they were on my mind so much, but I really was quite upset by the whole affair.
Then the miracle happened.
A few days later, back in Kathmandu, I got a text from Parmila which read: back in Gaighat and brother came today from haridya. good news! Both amma (mother) and baby buf. ok!
I did a little dance of joy, and called her to confirm it was true. I didn’t get a chance to go back to Harridya, but I’ve continued to request regular updates, and so far, everyone continues to be stable and happy. Yet another profound lesson about the workings of the world without any lingering scars.
Posted By Nicole Farkhouh ( Uterine Prolapse Alliance)
Posted Aug 11th, 2008