Fr. Tom Cassidy will be with the theology community in Eluru through the end of February. Here, he writes about a recent morning that started on the roof, chasing down a WI-FI connection and continued on to the hunt for the community’s escaped water buffalos:
It turned out to be a rather interesting morning. As usual, after breakfast I got Fr. Mariano’s computer and marched up to the roof to connect to the internet and download any important e-mails and trash the rest. I also upload any e-mails I may have written from the day before.
About the time I finished posting my journal and a few other emails there was a knock at my door. Mahesh, one of the postulants, reported that our three buffalos had gotten out as someone left the front gate open and he and some of the other postulants (theologians were in school) would go looking for them. I’m guessing this was about 10:15 AM when the roundup began.
The postulants have lunch at 12:30 PM during the week and when I arrived only Jesu was there as he had just returned from town shopping with Fr. Jojoppa. I had a good conversation and learned a lot. We first talked about the missing buffalo. We have one adult female who supplies the house with milk; a lot of which is turned into yogurt that I think they call curd. It is on the sour side but everyone takes it at lunch and supper as it helps cool the stomach after a diet of rice and spices — I take water to cool my innards. Our other two buffalo are young males destined at some later date for the table.
Finding our three wayward beasts is not as simple as it sounds. They are not marked (branded) so trying to find them, say if they are in a field with other buffalo, well you can imagine as the saying goes they all look alike might very well apply here. I imagine the best clue is the three might well stick together. Another problem arrises if the buffalo are eating grass in some farmer’s field. He’ll want some form of compensation for lost grass. I am happy to report sometime in the early afternoon postulants and buffalo came marching down our road.
Jesu did say that if the buffalo were village animals they would be used to moving about and would know their own way home. Our beasts are kept inside our property, unless they manage to find the front gate open, and have no idea where they go once out.
Jesu and I also spoke about the morning shopping experience. It turns out Jesu is a good bargainer and jawing with merchants is an important part of getting things at the best price. I was impressed with Jesu saying: “We depend on many poor people who are our benefactors and it is important to value each and every rupee.” From his minor seminary days Jesu has been bargaining on behalf of the community.
He also told me some about his family. He was surprised that I was a priest since I was the only son in my family and would not carry on the name. It is important in the Indian context to continue the family line. Male children inherit while females do not as their dowry when they marry is in a sense their inheritance. Of course, if there are no male heirs it is a different story. In Jesu’s case he has several brothers and sisters. Families in India are getting smaller especially as more and more move into urban centers.
I read this morning saying summer is about to arrive. The temperatures are rising now, and averaging around 90°F during the day, though the nights are sill very comfortable. Perhaps I’ll have to crank up the air conditioner one of these days but so far I have been quite comfortable.