She Who Rides the Buffaloes  

She Who Rides the Buffaloes  

Jhumki had turned seven and the school teacher visited her home once again. 

“It’s high time you put her in school, Lalbabu.”

Lalbabu hated the idea of educating girls.

Bablu was four years old now and it was his first day at school,  pushing the entire household into a frenzy.

 “Jhumki is his lunch ready?” shouted her mother. “Yes,” ran Jhumki

It had been exactly four years from the day the school teacher had last visited Lalbabu’s home, the day Bablu was born, the day Jhumki suddenly grew-up.

After finishing all her tasks at home she would take out her buffaloes for grazing in the village meadow. This was the best part of the day and Kalo the one year old was her favourite. She would talk to Kalo for hours and believed firmly that she understood everything she said.

“Ma! Jhumki is reading my book again.”

“Be quiet!” Jhumki, admonished Bablu. “I’ll get mangoes for you from the groove. Just tell me what is this letter called?”

“Look at the cattle girl, she seems to have grown taller!” leered some village boys. She encountered these boys everyday when she returned, but they had begun to take notice of her since she entered her teens.

“What’s that in your hand?”

“A book.”

“Why don’t you read it to us under that tree,” he grasped her wrist trying to pull her.

Jhumki jerked his hand and bent down as if to pick her book. She then picked a huge rock and launched it at him, hitting him squarely between his eyebrows.

“Ah!” he screamed, falling on his knees. Jhumki blew a whistle and her buffaloes followed her in sync.

This incident led to rather unpleasant consequences with her father admonishing her and telling her to stop reading useless books. 

“From tomorrow go to the grassland near the lake and stay away from those boys,” but Jhumki wasn’t scared.

It was Diwali and Bablu had a hoilday.

“I want to go with Jhumki near the lake.”

“No Ma! He doesn’t obey me.”

“Take him, and come back early. Baba has brought diyas.”

The buffaloes were grazing peacefully, Bablu was throwing pebbles in the lake and Jhumki was reading a book when suddenly long shadows fell on it. She looked up to find those four boys standing there, looking menacingly at her.

“Bablu run!”

She rolled from beneath their legs and with one swift motion lifted Bablu, running fast and climbed on top of Kalo, placing Bablu in front of here. Then she turned Kalo in the direction of the boys and whistled for other buffaloes to join.

“The buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted and the birds flew shrieking from the trees.”

The boys were now running to save their lives and jumped into the lake.

Jhumki screamed, “I am better than all of you put together because I read. Don’t dare to cross my path again. Next time Kalo’s horns will be in your stomachs.”

Bablu looked at Jhumki with awe.


Diya: a small cup shaped oil lamp made of baked clay.
The title is inspired from Bhabani Bhattacharya’s famous novel ‘He who rides a tiger’

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