I have a horse.  A white colt.  It was barely six months old when I found it lying in a muddy ditch across the river Matla where the land comes down to the water.  It was the rainy season and the creature was soaked.  I picked it up and brought it home.

It will be two years old this autumn.  It is a brighter white now and the brown mark on its forehead is more distinct.  It cannot talk but it understands everything I say.  When I pat its head he puts his neck down and rubs against me, and when he raises the great brown eyes and looks at me I understand what it wants to say.  I have named the colt Shadapal, The White Sail.

My name is Vijay.  I was born on the day of the Vijaya Dasami festival.  In the courtyard of our house there is an areca palm that was planted the same year.  My age was calculated by counting its growth rings.  That is what my mother told me.

There were five growth rings on the tree the year my mother fell asleep with high fever and did not get up.  The neighbours came and took her away somewhere.  Neighbours took father away too when he came home from the fields with snakebite, lay down and did not get up.  There were seven rings on the tree that year.

It was the year I began to look after the Mallik’s cows.  Every morning early, I take them to pasture, let them graze the whole day and bring them home in the evening.  Once a year I go across the river to the Matlagang market to buy more cows for my master.

On my way home from the pasture I bring a bundle of fresh grass for Shadapal every evening. 

Shadapal is a beauty and when, at the sight of the fresh grass he shows his pleasure by tapping the ground with one of his hind legs while eating grass, it is impossible to describe how handsome he looks.