Eyes of a dying cow - the pain in the butcher’s heart reflected in them
BUTCHER'S TENDER HEART
This is a story I know from my mother. She told it many times to my cousins and me; as if she wanted to be sure that we would keep alive the memory of her late father and his tender heart.
When my mother was a child her family used to live in a village near Sofia. They were relatively poor but had two cows named Dora and Neda.
It was springtime and Dora was pregnant, almost at the end of her pregnancy. One day, when all the cows were out to graze, there was a big thunderstorm. It rained all night and the cowherd together with the flock spent the night in the woods. On the next day when the cows returned to the village, my grandfather noticed that Dora was sick. She had caught cold spending the night under the rain. My grandfather called the vet and after he checked the cow, he diagnosed her with pneumonia. After putting his injection into her, he told my grandfather he would do his best to cure the cow but warned him the prognosis was not good. He presumed that most likely the cow would die soon before being able to deliver her calf.
As my grandfather was the butcher of the village, the vet advised him to slay the cow and use her meat. My grandfather refused emphatically: "This cow gives milk for my three kids for so long. She is a part of my family. Even if I'm a butcher, I'm not so hard-hearted to kill my own cow and eat her meat."
Eyes of a dying cow
the pain in the butcher's heart
reflected in them.
A few days later Dora died. Immediately after her death, my grandfather, opened her womb and, with the help of the vet, delivered the calf. It was born alive but died very soon after that. My grandfather was broken-hearted by this double loss. The cows were very expensive and he couldn't afford to buy another one. There would be no milk for his children till next spring because Neda--the other cow-- was too young to be milked. No milk was sold in the village at that time. If you had a cow, you got milk, if you didn't, there wasn't any milk. Your neighbors could give you a cup or two occasionally but a cup of milk was not enough for three little kids.
Knowing this, the vet suggested to my grandfather, that even if he did not want to use Dora's meat for his family, he could sell it. The vet even gave him an inspection certificate proving the meat was controlled and safe for consumption. My grandfather refused this option too. He buried Dora and her calf and all the family mourned for them long after that.