All cows moo to heaven
The farm had transformed overnight into a spinning wheel of fear and intrigue. The mother cows' hushed grunts weaved an elaborate tapestry of tales. When the moon's haze was dimmed by the lightening sky, the oxen rose to their hooves and silently exited their barns, leaving their calves tucked safely in by the heaps of hay at their mothers' knees. They gathered by the fence, soft moos posed as questions hanging in the air above their blunted horns. Gubba butted his head against Montu's thighs.
"When will he come?"
"I know as much as you do!" replied Montu, mooing in his high-pitched tone of annoyance.
Some of them had begun grazing on the small tufts of grass at the fence, while the others waited with bated breath. Gubba allowed himself to bow down and sit by one of the large trees that shaded his particular barn. There he ruminated on everything he had learned about being a farm cattle in the last few days—particularly about how, whether you were a bull or an ox, you had to dedicate yourself to the cause of the one true creator. In his years of puberty, he had found out just how much value the bulls held for their human lords and the heifers in the barn. Gubba had envied their large, muscular build and girthy horns then. But it wasn't until a few days ago that he had learned his true value—his actual purpose before the one true creator. He knew now that he, along with the oxen accompanying him on this final meeting before the trucks were to arrive from the city, were far more special than any of the humans could ever imagine—no matter how weak his heart.
A deep, guttural moo rang out over the dawning sky. Gubba raised his head in anticipation as a tight-knit procession of the elderly oxen from the farther barns ambled towards them. These oxen belonged from another league and they exuded a sageness in the likeness of the very hero who was guiding them all to the path of the light. Gubba felt their hero's presence surge up through his hooves into his bones. He pushed his knees forward and kicked up onto his hind legs. All the other oxen, the ones grazing and the ones standing idly by, seemed also to feel their hero's arrival as they too started swarming together towards a raised area by the hose tap.
Having been escorted up to the mound, Laal Miah's grandeur shone down upon the rest of the herd. He wore his chipped horns and the resulting scars on his forehead like a well-deserved crown of valour. His auburn hide clung to his ribs as he raised his muzzle to address his disciples' imploring looks.
"Time has come, friends." His eyes swept over the faces of each of the oxen longingly awaiting his decree in silence as eerie as their predicament.
Squeezed together under the intensifying heat of the tropic sun, the herd awaited with their horns at the ready for Laal Miah's signalling moo.
Gubba strained to squeeze his head past the swarming bodies to get closer to the mound, to their shining lord, longing for Laal Miah's gaze to find him. To telepathically let him know of his devotion.
"We are on the path of enlightenment! I have once again brought to you our creator's message. He called me to him before our meeting and praised us for your unwavering commitment to our mission."
The darkened skin of Laal Miah's muzzle seemed to stretch wide into a smile, yet his gaze retained a sternness. Gubba's heart swelled with the pride of the creator's acknowledgement. He listened intently as Laal Miah continued, "For years our human lords have fed us. Helped us build our homes and blessed us with our livelihoods in field ploughing, grass mowing, milk production. In return, we gave them offerings of our milk. We built them miles wide temples of vegetables. And what did we get in return?"
A wave of anger bubbled up through the mooing of a hundred and some oxen rallying together for their rights. Gubba could feel the collective rage of the herd vibrating through his own body.
Laal Miah nodded with his eyes closed at the herd's outcry. When a few seconds had passed and they did not stop, Laal Miah mauled the ground with a fore leg's hoof.
"Thank you, my friends. I cannot thank you enough for your cooperation in honouring our creator's demands. He shall surely reward you for your service, for I will personally put in a good word for each of you with him. But right now, we must contain our rage! We must sustain it for what's to come next!"
Gubba looked around and found every head nodding in unison. He too nodded, though with fear pulsing his heart louder and faster.
"The lord demands blood and blood we shall give in answer to those false gods' slaughtering!"
Gubba's breath shallowed at the thought but he continued nodding along in agreement, convincing himself to remain as courageous as the rest of his herd.
The trucks arrived riding the first rays of the sun and the humans of the farm came out to queue up the oxen in categorised sections according to weight, height, age, and colour. Montu, along with the more vigorous oxen, were lined up for the first truck, while Gubba got shoved into the queue for the invalids alongside Laal Miah and his group of the sage elderlies.
Squeezed together under the intensifying heat of the tropic sun, with the ropes entangling their limbs into one conglomerated lump, the herd awaited with their horns at the ready for Laal Miah's signalling moo. More trucks zoomed by at lightning speed on the highway where they were lined up. It was only a matter of minutes now.
When the last knot had been tied and the glistening skin of one of those false gods tucked at the rope for the herd to be loaded onto the trucks, like the walking lumps of meat that they were, Laal Miah's resounding moo broke off their human labours.
The entire herd erupted into a unified moo, bolting forward with their horns pointed at their targets.
The last thing Gubba saw was Laal Miah's head splitting into pink bits as it slammed against the yellow body of the approaching truck.
Tashfia Ahmed is a writer and poet who teaches English at Scholastica School.