“When are we going to the farmhouse?”
“I don’t know.”
Bilqis and Ruma has been ploughing the fields for a while now and it’s starting to get dark. It wouldn’t have been a problem if their master wasn’t such a pitiful human being.
“My back hurts, I don’t think I can work anymore today,” moaned Bilqis.
“My feet are killing me too, but we can’t leave until we are done with this patch. Or would you rather go to sleep with a half-empty stomach?” added Ruma.
Bilqis sighed and got back to work with a back ache that was getting worse every second. This was her first season in the fields where her sister Ruma had been working for two seasons already, where their mother and aunts and grandmother worked their whole lives. The master and his family have been a part of this farm for generations too. But the man who now runs the farmland has grown old and senile.
The cows grazing in the next field laugh at Bilqis and Ruma because their master doesn’t clean the sisters very often. They are usually always covered in mud. Meanwhile, the other cows are tall, proud, plump and their beautiful coats of fur are always shining in the afternoon sun.
Every evening, Bilqis watches the other cows slowly walking towards their barn. She gawks at them in wonder and her eyes follow them with envy, as she tries to imagine her near-skeletal, dirt-covered body walking next to them. It feels like a crime to even imagine it. She longs to be one of them, a cow of dignity and valour, until Ruma shoves her with her horns and brings Bilqis back to reality.
“Get to work, we are going to be late again,” groans Ruma.
“We are always late anyway. We are doing the work of five cows every day. How do you put up with this?” inquires Bilqis.
Ruma replies, “This is the life we’ve been given and it is what it is.”
This was never good enough for Bilqis, she had always wanted more out of life. While she contemplated, she saw a man on his beautiful chestnut horse. Now that seemed like a life with purpose. Bilqis always admired horses and the work they did. And no creature looked as majestic as a horse with a full mane of silky straight hair.
“You know what I want? I want to have a head full of long, silky hair. Just like that man’s horse,” said Bilqis, sadly.
Ruma smirked and asked, “And how do you plan on getting this long and silky mane, you dumb cow?”
Bilqis looked at her sister with sparkly eyes and said, “I’ll go ask the horse myself.” And with that, she shook the ploughing tool off her back and she began to run. Out of breath, covered in mud and parched, Bilqis ran like there was no tomorrow.
Ruma gasped in awe as her sister ran off into the sunset to catch the man’s horse. “Bilqis. Stop! You’re going to pass out. Don’t run. Come back!” she cried.
Bilqis ran as her sister’s voice faded away behind her. The closer she came to the horizon, the further it felt out of reach. She didn’t know if it was still getting darker or if her eyes were growing heavier, but she kept running to the horse because for the first time in her life, she was chasing her dream.