Warm rain thrashed the filthy streets, scarring the bent, twisted and frail city that was Jodhpur. A boy wandered the alleyways, his feet wrapped in rags, clutching a tiny piece of bread. A small calf – Raksåka – followed him, nudging the boy with her warm, wet muzzle every time she caught up. The two knew each other well. Both were young, raised without a taste of their mother’s milk, starving orphans in a desecrated paradise.

They trudged through the city, avoiding contact with the other urchins that filled these streets. Suddenly the boy turned, standing in front of the holy animal with the confidence of desperation and fatigue. The calf continued to walk forward, aimlessly bumping into the boy. The boy, insulted, grabbed Raksåka by the head and wrestled her to the ground. Squealing, but unable to move, the calf kicked desperately until she was too tired to struggle. Then the boy released her. She scrambled to her feet. The boy tackled her again.

Malnourished as they were, this happened only three times before they collapsed. But the boy rose quickly from his exhaustion. He held the calf on the cobbled streets for the greater part of the hour. Then both of them rose, and the calf began to wander once again. But the boy would not be walking any farther. He leaped on the calf’s knobbled back, holding on desperately to her slippery skin. Raksåka did nothing, continuing her pointless roamings with the tiny weight of the boy on her back.

The rain continued, but seeing it was useless to try and avoid soaking their rags and saris and expensive Western clothing, the people left their houses and returned to their work. They watched with amazement as the boy, who had tamed the beast of the streets, rode past them. They named him Gaysavār, rider of the cow, king of starving orphans.

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