I Am Scared of Cows
I would open with a story of how when I was younger I had this awful encounter with a cow, but growing up in suburbia Atlanta, GA did not lend itself to a childhood with lots of cow interactions.
My adulthood fear, which my mother and spouse both, think is quite funny, came to surface when I lived in South Africa. I would go to great lengths to avoid walking by a cow. This was challenging living in a rural area where cows out numbered cars 10 to 1. My daily walk to work, the post office, and market could become great obstacles of feat.
My fear stimulates from this: cows are enormous. On the front of their great being they have HUGE horns, that are pointy and sharp. And from behind, they have powerful legs and tails with which to kick/swing at you. This basically encompasses my fear. The questions that plague me every time I encounter a cow are: Do you walk in front of them so to see them coming straight at you; to be speared in the stomach with a horn? Or do you walk behind so they can kick you with a force so powerful some body part will most definitely break? A single tail swing could give you a good whipping.
Upon moving to Madagascar (where we live in the capital city of 2+ million people), I knew once again daily cow interactions would be inevitable. The Malagasy people, as a whole, are farmers. Many own and/or use cows for work & transportation. Yes, even in the capital city of Antananarivo. To complicate matters further, Austin and I rescued a dog, who has brought us endless joy, and also needs to be walked. Puba is a mixed bread of, loves to run fast, chase & catch all animals smaller than her, and heard cows. (To say I have learned A LOT about animal instincts over the past year and half would be a major understatement.) Puba’s herding abilities for me increases my heart rate to an abnormal race, as the cow is now frightened of her and will lung/kick at her to protect itself. This makes our walks together a joy.
It did not take me long to learn the phrase “I am scared of the cow” in Malagasy. Telling this to Malagasy, as I am paralyzed in fear trying to figure out the best way to get around this enormous animal, always produces a smile or laugh. Yes, I am a white girl, living here in your country, and I am scared of your cow. Malagasy on the other hand, are just as scared of my dog as I am of their cow and so we do a dance around each other in order to avoid the worst fear we have of each others “pets”. Cows are as ingrained in Malagasy life as dogs are to US Americans (at least Austin & I’s) lives. To think that one is scared of an animal you love, or know is harmless, is quite an amusing matter. I know all this, yet I continue my timid side steps to avoid any cow interactions.
So, as I continue to go for runs and walks with my dog here in Madagascar I will always breath a sigh of relief. I made it. I have survived another day. No cow jabbing for me today. And depending on the number of cows I have had to pass, I often find an alternate route home, because I am just scared of cows.