Shock & Awe Talk: The 'Hum-bah' Essay!
by Mac Haque
is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that
The Quran (S22:V37)
are few creatures on earth as innocent and beautiful as the hum-bah, and
try as we may in terming them Bull, Cow, Ox, it remains oblivious to these
categorizations made by the human species. While we make a big deal out of
comparing the eyes of a doe to those belonging to ones we are madly in love
with; never ever, even in the worst of C Grade movie or natok dialogues,
not even as a joke do we hear lovers stating: "But darling, those eyes
of yours are as beautiful as the hum-bah"!
is it that we find in the eyes of the doe worth beholding, and not those of the
hum-bah? Because deer's live in real jungles as opposed to the concrete
jungle we dwell in, we rarely get to see up them up close, other than in a zoo,
or maybe at somebody's 'private collection'. Conversely, only because the hum-bah
is within our easy reach, access and exploitation, we have made it a habit of
making this poor creature the butt of all our rancor, contempt, jokes and
unutterable profanities, with the much abused distortion of the term 'ox-feces’,
being the supreme insult invented by the human species!
Bangladeshi's eat…..sorry…'digest' hundreds upon thousands of hum-bah,
and we are surely a 'blessed' lot, in that 'beef' reaches us blood dripping
fresh. It may not be a huge error in
calculation to conclude that conservatively 100,000 of these poor creatures are
digested by the 120 million strong population of Bangladesh EVERYDAY? Therefore
365 TIMES 100,000 = a staggering 36.5 million hum-bah's digested each
year? Other than our daily consumption, around Qurbani time, an
additional 10 to 15 million hum-bah’s are per force 'martyred'?
Do we produce as many hum-bah's in Bangladesh in the ratio we slaughter
them? No we don't - which should lead us on to surmise that to reach a state of
equilibrium, we ought to be 'producing' 10 times more hum-bah, to
counter the menace of our reckless 'digesting'! "So, where on earth do
we get that many hum-bah's from?"
India of course”
and it is neither a dark secret, nor something we worry too much about. In
India the killing of hum-bah is 'cardinal sin' and few people there have
to indulge in this macabre hum-bah meat digestion ritual. Not unsurprisingly
we often see captions in Kolkata newspapers under pictures of herds of hungry
and skeletal hum-bah’s: "You
cannot eat them, neither can you feed them - what do you do with them?"
it to 'fundamentalist' Marwari smugglers in tandem with Muslim Maulana's
cohorts to bail you out in answering the question. "While digesting hum-bah
is cardinal sin, nowhere in any 'Holy Book' does it say you cannot sell them - especially
when you can't feed them?", provides just about the right theological
tempo for hundreds upon thousands of Indian hum-bah's making 'illegal infiltration'
into Bangladesh with the human species providing a 'push-in' of sort, which on
the flip side when inflicted upon its own kind, leads to days after days of
endless and useless political bantering.
that is needed after you have 'liquid' hard cash on hand, is to assemble the hum-bah
herd across the Indian frontier and in unison do a 'hurrrrr, hurrr, hai,
haiiii' and a neat border-crossing to be received as 'favorite food' of the
Bangladeshi Muslims is completed. There being no fuss about Passport or Visa
requirement, or demands for “transit facility" the hum-bah does not
have a 'nationality', and is outwardly a “secular” creature. More on that
brings us to the question: How do we know that these hum-bah’s are 'illegal
Indians' and how on God's earth do you sort out their 'difference' with their
Bangladeshi counterpart? No easy answer or 'flag meeting' here for us.
be on the clear, let us put it this way: hum-bah smuggling is an 'economic'
activity and completely 'non-communal' and 'secular' in character, for whenever
the creature enters Bangladesh from India, it comes laden with a 'hide' on its
back. While beef industries have proliferated in most countries across the
globe, the Bangladeshis passionate obsession for 'fresh' hum-bah meat
has not seen similar "industries" develop in the region. So, if
inextricably eating hum-bah flesh were not a 'cardinal sin' in India,
Bangladesh would have been left with no choice but to import container ships
full of frozen beef at prices higher than GOLD from Australia or God knows
on the flip side, millions in the Bangladesh population earn a livelihood
working in tanneries, leather and shoe industry designed to profit from sale of
hum-bah hide, illegal or otherwise. Organic fertilizer, even paper is
produced from hum-bah bones, hoof and horn off-takes. In particular, hum-bah
hide collected during the Qurbani bovine-icide is extremely valuable. Unlike
professional 'butchers', ordinary citizens take extra ordinary care in
extricating skins off the back of martyred creatures, and since most of them
are 'young' their hides are soft and pliable - huh?
in the tannery business wait in anticipation to make a huge 'killing' in
profits this time of the year. Security all across 'cattle markets' are
appropriately 'beefed up' and to keep the exercise hazard free, extortionists and other
hoodlums join force to employ huzurs (read bearded mullahs) to
maintain serene calm and justify that their earnings are kosher or 'halal'.
is also the time of the year Madrasas and other Islamic institutions
join in as 'middlemen' and we liberals take a respite from abusing them as Razakars
(traitors), fundamentalist, Taliban or Al-Qaeda 'terrorists'. The huzurs
favor us by not resorting to any fatwas insinuating that hum-bah's
originating from Hindu farms in India is 'haram' or 'unbecoming of Holy
slaughter' - Allah be pleased!
there is an element of domestic politics in the hum-bah hide business,
and occasional disputes, clashes and even murders; overall, the exercise is
festivity positive exemplified by the millions of posters plastered all across
the country, in buses, boats, cars, trucks, you name it. Basically any open
space that can take an extra poster with one terse sentence reminding
everybody: “Qorbanir Chamra Mukto Hostay Daan Korun" - DONATE YOUR
SACRED HUM-BAH SKIN.
that is meant, whatever may be the cost of the 'hide' is not to be retained for
personal consumption, but donated to charity and at an average of Taka 2000.00
per skin times 15 million, we are talking about billions going into Islamic
charities. Probably explains why Madrasas in Bangladesh can survive
without the 'charity' of the Semite Al-Qaeda or the Aryan Taliban’s? A humble hum-bah
'effort' to America’s “War on Terror", a quiet, international contribution
if we may…bravo.
Eid-Al-Azha is also the time
for great merriment's surrounding the hum-bah. While citizens of the
country digest hum-bah flesh daily, this is the only time in the year;
they get anywhere 'close' to the creature, for a period of a day or two. Hum-bah’s
are fed, bathed, caressed, children get to sit on them, and their necks are
adorned with colorful paper garlands, while its sharp horns are covered for
unknown reason, with red cloth. Orientation with the hum-bah 'nature'
comes hand in hand, with injuries from kicks, butts and shoves taken all in
good humor and peals of laughter.
are of course dangers, and the worst nightmare is a hum-bah going
berserk after having snapped and freed itself from the rope that held it to a
pillar or tree. The huzurs are quickly summoned, who as a matter of
routine catapult to status of Maulanas (or 'knowledgeable' venerated
Sir} with apparently the "right knowledge" as how to overpower the
"beast". The entire exercise leaves everybody procrastinating, if it
is the human species or the hum-bah the ‘beast’ that needs overpowering?
however need not be a great pundit to figure the secular status of the hum-bah.
For example, the hum-bah we decide to 'martyr' every Qurbani is
born and reared in a Hindu homestead somewhere in India. For a Hindu who loves
"mother hum-bah" and considers it God, knows all too
well that individual 'human lives' are in the hand of Bhagwan, Iswar et
al, also knows well that it is only this sense of realization that sets apart
the human species from BEASTS.
hum-bah therefore sets out for its journey back to the creator, and for
the Hindu, all of it happens without the mandatory obligation of having to see firsthand
'evidence' of how death occurred to 'mother'. The Hindus are not prepared to
stand witness to her death, it grips them with fear, and above all this is a
bolt on his BELIEF, which ultimately cannot be any fault of the Hindu religion.
For a Hindu, leaving 'mother hum-bah' at the mercy of fate, cannot
be any fault of God either.
Qurbani means 'sacrifice', surely the first 'sacrifice' in the entire
cyclic process of the food chain, was made by a Hindu cattle herdsmen somewhere
in India when he bade a tearful farewell to 'mother', long before it
reached a Muslim household in Bangladesh. On the other hand, for the Muslim,
witnessing the slaughter of the hum-bah is alike an orientation to
manhood, perhaps a quiet reflection once a year that death may not always be as
brutal - but then who knows.
the time this piece reaches readers, the moans of 'hum-bah, hum-bah' must
be resonating in chorus across all our neighborhoods. Shall we ask ourselves
with all honesty whether we look up to the creature with LOVE, or do we half
wonder and drool in our saliva how 'kofta, kalia' and other delicacies
we shall surely be cooking out of its 'meat' taste? Shall we put to death the
innocent hum-bah to symbolize the 'sacrifice', and butchering of our
frailties, or be consumed by the 'taste' of its departed flesh? Really how long
these olfactory taste last?
is time we reflect whether LOVE which is the first condition to the creation of
life, merely revolves around consumption, LOVE of the body, mind or the
appreciation of a deeper conscience.
among our communities are unending, simply because Muslims and Hindu's do not
get along. Other than appreciating love, the greatest debacle we face is in our
belief system more often than not, friction and conflicts have a tendency to
revolve fundamentally around breach of TRUST, resulting in degradation of human
values. Hardest in the human species is overcoming broken trust that leads on
to the death of love, death of a 'belief' - a belief system no matter how
obscure or unexplainable is a belief every human in the planet is entitled to.
Whenever a belief is challenged, broken or shredded - Iswar, Bhagwan or
Allah is surely left disappointed.
as we prepare to sacrifice the hum-bah tomorrow, let us make a pledge to
'put to death' our hate, anger, lust, greed, conflict, sins and importantly -
employ a tight leash on our tongues. And never forget that Prophet Abraham’s
sacrifice of a lamb was to ensure that human’s do not end up as cannibals. Let the
human species be humane. Amen
that, here is wishing everybody a very Happy Eid.