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The seller quoted a price of Rs 35,000. Girish may have been just 27 years old and looked white collar. But he knew the game. He relentlessly beat down the price without budging. He sensed that it was late evening and the seller must be eager to empty his inventory. When the price seemed about right, this Master of Science (Software) from VIT extended his hand to touch the seller’s, and put a towel to cover both their hands. This was how the deal needed to be sealed. The touching of fingers was the same as signing the purchase invoice. The correct number of fingers of the seller and the buyer had to touch each other to indicate the final agreed price. VK Girish, raised in Chennai and, until recently, configuration analyst at a healthcare firm, was buying a cow at the weekly market in Vellore.

Girish now has three cows. A family friend, Ranganathan has leased him half an acre of land close to his alma mater, VIT. Girish has constructed a cow shed in that land where he would take the cow he purchased on Tuesday (Dec 21), after seven days of isolation at his home. “I will see and observe whether the cow has any disease or illness before walking him to the farmland 3 km away,” he says like a veteran farmer who knows what he is talking.

During school vacations, Girish would go with his family from Chennai to his grandfather’s house in Vellore where there was a cow. He loved spending time with the cow and she would give 3 litres of fresh milk every day. He would feed the cow, pat her on the head and laze around. They were moments he cherishes. His grandfather, a doctor gave up the cow to a patient because he couldn’t take care of her.

Switching lifestyles

Like any middle class boy, Girish pursued Software after schooling. He did his integrated, five-year MS program at VIT. Graduating in 2017, he joined a healthcare firm. One year into the job, he quit Facebook, a year later, Twitter. In three years, he quit his job, moved to his grandfather’s house in Vellore, got back the cows born to his grandfather’s cow and started raising them. “I decided I won’t be a slave to anyone by working for them even if that meant raising cows,” he says.

This was not just a change of profession, but a change in lifestyle, attitudes and priorities. Girish says he emptied his mailbox and closed his email account. He doesn’t read newspapers, nor news. “I don’t need to know what’s happening in my neighbouring village. I am happy raising my cows, making some money out of selling the milk, and keeping to myself,” he adds.

“I threw away my smart phone and bought a Nokia feature phone. I am not on social media,” says Girish.

Girish’s three cows produce 10 litres every day. His day starts at 4:30am and end at 9:30pm. The cows have to be fed and given water. Then he has to go around selling the milk. His schedule is tight and leaves him little time for much else.

One of the calves is pregnant and would give birth in Pongal, making the calf his fourth milk-bearing cow. “This is her first pregnancy. So it can be 20 days sooner or longer,” he says.

“I decided I won’t be a slave to anyone by working for them even if that meant raising cows,” says Girish.

A milkman comes to milk the cows and Girish goes every morning and evening to sell fresh cow milk to customers. “Right now, I am spending more than I am earning. If I have seven cows, I can break even. Ten is about the maximum anyone can have,” he adds.

Close to nature

The recent rains destroyed the fodder crop and he now has to shell out money to buy expensive green grass. The farm has brought him closer not just to cows but to nature itself. There was a bit of a crab invasion during the rains as the farm got flooded. Frogs multiplied, too, and that brought in many visitors: water snakes and cobras. “There was a banded krait lying curled near the cows. If I had stepped on it, I would have been toast,” he says with a smile.

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