The Girl and the Calf: A Painting

While doing research for the Ethnic Arts Foundation in Madhubani, Bihar this past fall, Susan Wadley was approached by Vanita Jha, a 50 year old Mithila painter, with this painting and the accompanying story that Ms. Jha says is “a true one from her community.”

The Girl and the Calf: A Painting

Scene 1: An old woman had no grandson, but she was told to take her daughter-in-law to the river to worship and pray for one.

Scene 2: Through the mercy of the river god, the daughter-in law became pregnant. She is a beautiful daughter named Radhiya. When Radhiya was older, they arranged her marriage with a competent young man.

Scene 3: When she went to her groom’s house, she took a female calf with her.

Scene 4: Some time later, both Radhiya and the calf were pregnant. Her husband was away in a foreign land, but her in-laws cared for both her and the cow.

Scene 5: Both Radhiya and the cow gave birth to females. Her mother-in-law was very sad. When the neighbors came, her mother-in-law cursed her granddaughter.

Scene 6: But her in-laws loved the female calf and tied a black amulet on its neck.

Scene 7: The husband returned and played with and loved his daughter. But his mother stood with her back to the happy family.

Scene 8: One day the daughter became ill, and no one helped Radhiya. She could only give her daughter herbal medicines. Both mother and child cried.

Scene 9: The female calf was also ill, and the in-laws called a veterinarian to cure it. He gave the calf an injection. Radhiya feels that the value of a calf is greater than that of a daughter and says to God, “Oh, why did you not make me a cow?!”