Sunday, December 5

Amid difficult times, Maidan celebrates birth of a ‘Covid’

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It’s white with patches of brown and is called ‘Covid’. But it has one of the most lovable faces that you can imagine. Last month, during the second phase of the lockdown, the deserted Maidan welcomed into the world a filly that was named after the disease.

Born to an eight-year-old mare on April 18, ‘Covid’ has made its owner Sonu and other horseowners at Maidan — who are now without jobs — look to the future with hope. However, they couldn’t celebrate the filly’s arrival due to the lockdown restrictions.

Horses are used in the Maidan area for joyrides. Every time a mare gives birth, sweets are distributed and horseowners join in a feast of chicken and rice. But this time it was different due to the lockdown and 32-year-old Sonu — who lives on a pavement near the Exide crossing on JL Nehru Road — didn’t have the money for a grand treat. He, however, distributed sweets. Even though Sonu had decided to name it ‘Roshni’, fellow horseowner Md Zafar (58) — a veteran in the trade at Maidan — asked him to name it ‘Covid’.

“These are difficult times. I was worried about ‘Covid’s mother Madhu when I found out that she was pregnant. But Zafar bhai helped me and was there at Maidan when she gave birth. We hope that ‘Covid’ will bring us good luck,” said Sonu.

Now 15 days old and suckling, ‘Covid’ will continue to feed on milk for the next six months. Thereafter, she will be given rice. Sonu earns about Rs 200 a day, which goes up to Rs 500 on weekends. He has to spend at least Rs 150 a day to feed five horses.

Sonu struggles to make ends meet for a family of five and can’t afford a horse cart. “So, I use my horses for joyrides. Tourists and children are particularly fond of pony rides,” he said.

There are about 12 horseowners at Maidan who have 28 horses. The Kolkata Mounted Police had been providing a regular supply of husk and wheat for the horses during the lockdown. But it help hasn’t been easy to come by over the last week, making Sonu anxious. For the last 42 days, he has had no earning. But he has promised a grand feast to his colleagues once the lockdown ends.

For the moment, though, horseowners have been taking turns to keep a round-theclock vigil on the ponies as there have been instances of horses being stolen. “‘Covid’ is very young and unlike the other horses, I can’t keep her tied. So, she has to be kept under watch,” said Sonu.

 

Source: Times of India

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