Suddenly, a Cow Appeared

At first read, this may seem like a silly book. An absurd book. A puzzle of a book. A bizarre book, even. But is it, really?

This book begins with Anu, her mother (Amma), and her breakfast (a bowl of upma). Anu doesn’t want to eat it and is wondering what to do. Then, a cow shows up at the table.

That’s right. A cow. A real-as-can-be, stocky, brown cow.

Why does a cow appear in the story all of a sudden? Award winning author, Sowmya Rajendran, was inspired to write this because of her experience with the stories that children tell; when a character appears in their narrative for no rhyme or reason.

According to Sowmya, the cow is a perfect example of a “deux ex machina“—a literary device where the author uses divine intervention or introduces another completely new element to change the course of events in a story.

This story generated a lot of debate and discussion within our team on “What is the point of a book?”, “Where is the conflict?”, “Why a cow?”, and so on. For young children, however, we tend to forget that a lot of things just happen, seemingly all of a sudden. “When did this flower come here?”; “How did the food from the restaurant come home by itself?”; “Why is my grandmother inside the phone now?” and so on.

This is perhaps why children loved the story.

Samidha’s illustrations brought the story alive. We iterated on the original sketches by making Anu’s mother seem more like a contemporary, working parent; and decided to have a cattle egret accompany the cow as these birds share a symbiotic relationship with cows.

We’ve seen many a reader chuckle at the egret today. Do read the book to see if you feel the same way.

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