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Does Fact Ever Match Your Fiction?

The protagonist of one of my stories is a goat herder– a boy who walks with goats taller than him.

These goats band together to protect him from leopards, let him suckle with their kids,  stand guard over him as he sleeps, an old burlap-sack for cover, dreaming of sugar candies and plums.

But on my trip to Rajasthan, I met the real characters.

Billy-goats. They pushed their noses into your hip, thigh, waist, their amber eyes all lit up with curiosity. I saw no goat-herder, just groups of goats and rams chasing locals and tourists alike.

If you looked like you could be bullied, they did not hesitate. They came, these large, shaggy beasts, head bowed, horns at the ready, so you began to run and dropped whatever was in your hand, a packet of snacks, offerings at the temple, biscuits. They chomped it all down, they weren’t picky. Resounding head-butting fights broke out over toothsome morsels.

If you showed them your empty hands, they stopped, and snuffled a bit. You could pet them then, their soft heads, their long-haired, shaggy coats, their silken ears, and they would stand, leaning in to you, enjoying the massage.

These were no guardian goats or scapegoats (they’re still ritually sacrificed in some parts of India). I loved the militant yet curious goats of Rajasthan.

Perhaps the goats in my stories would change now.

Have you lived in or visited rural areas? Any memorable experiences around farm animals?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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36 Comments

  • Kokila Gupta says:

    Oops, I just read what you said about dropping a link… well mine is
    http://sunshineandblueclouds.blogspot.in/
    Love n best wishes , Kokila

  • Kokila Gupta says:

    Oh Dear, When I was babysitting for my cousins/neighbours, I'd made many toddlers wave their hands for goats grazing near my home in Uttar Pradesh. All the goats would do was bleating and moving their heads. However , if you pet them they'd enjoy. remembering the goats and the toddlers I babysit for. HA….

  • Pam Margolis says:

    i have a friend who used to keep little goats in her house. these guys sound like they would eat the house.

  • Laura W. says:

    My experience has been that goats are jerks. Or at least that they have a great capacity to be jerks, haha.

  • sbmoore1 says:

    Thanks for the follow! I love what you're doing on your blog. As a freelance writer like yourself who hopes to move into fiction, it's inspiring to meet someone like you. And YES, I am a card-carrying travel lover, and have lots of experiences in rural areas. It's wonderful to get to experience a different animal world as well as another human culture when we're in far-flung places. I look forward to hearing more from you. 🙂

  • sweetyshinde says:

    Hi find me at https://sweetyshinde.wordpress.com
    Farm hens are near impossible to catch. I heard animals have a highly developed instinct about impending danger, onset of rains, floods etc. Infact tsunami areas have rurals saved by the pre-warning by their farm animals

  • Jen Chandler says:

    I grew up and still live in Georgia. There is rural areas all around. I've petted goats, sheep, horses, and cows. They are all curious, quiet beings. I love their innocent eyes and curious expressions. When I was in India, I was surrounded by camels, pigs, cows, stray dogs, peacocks, and donkeys. While I didn't get to interact with any of them, I was enthralled by the way they seamlessly intersected with the human population. Great post! And I'm happy I re-discovered both of your blogs 🙂 Your A-Z Challenge post was great!

    Jen

  • Andrew Leon says:

    Goats are just weird.
    And their eyes freak me out.

  • BoiseMary says:

    my active website is http://mayrobinson dot wordpress dot com or "Mary Writes Right Now"

  • BoiseMary says:

    My husband is President of NapGa, North American Pack Goat Association and we own pack goats. Goats are wonderful, humorous, and exciting! They carry 1/3 of their weight on their back so that my husband can hike mountains. Hey L. Diane, I have lived in Salem, also! See Group Hiking With Goats on FB, website, NapGa.org for more info. Liked your photos! I have many photos of our goats and am hoping to publish a children's book on goat packing.

  • Where I grew up in Salem, OR, we were on the edge of farmland, and I had a cousin many miles away who lived on a rural farm. My two most memorable experiences include walking into a field of cows when it was close to dinnertime (and being very, very popular!) and riding a pony that suddenly decided it wanted to go back to the barn and took off at full gallop. To my credit, I hung on for dear life!

  • Chris says:

    Hi there, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

  • Goats are such funny creatures! They just hate to be alone. We had one (for about a day or two) growing up. It got so lonely, it cried (really loudly) in the wee hours of the morning, well before the sun was up. The neighbors weren't too happy about that, and one made a point to tell us to, "Keep your goat quiet!" Not sure what else she said on that phone call with my dad at o' dark hundred, but by the end of the day, that goat was gone!

    • D Biswas says:

      Yes, kids (baby goats) get lonely and bleat their guts out. Lol on your neighbor's "Keep your goat quiet."

  • Briane P says:

    We live in the suburbs, and so we are sadly short on goats. Or chickens, even though recently they passed a law which said we could own up to six chickens. Apparently (and this is according to my wife) "Just because they say you can do it is not a reason to do it." SINCE WHEN?

    We do have a fox that lives in the area. I used to put bologna slices on our porch to encourage him to hang around our yard but then one day we were walking back home from the pool a mile away and the fox was there and he followed us ,and I began to worry that perhaps he was hunting one of our twins, who were walking with me and at the time were only 5, so I had to pick them up and carry them to try to discourage the fox from attacking.

    It worked. He didn't attack. So I'm a hero!

    • D Biswas says:

      Foxes? I've never seen a wild fox. Six chickens? I'm not a farm girl– don't think I could start share my apartment with chickens.

      And if you're there for your kids, you're a hero. 🙂

  • ilakshee says:

    Monkeys! They take the cake when it comes to terrifying people.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    and its not just with goats,,, even pigeons and hens and ducks… these days they keep chasing people around. As earlier said, truth is stranger than fiction

  • Interesting facts .

  • elmorido says:

    Hello!

    Thanks for the follow. 🙂 It's funny, I've also had some experiences with Rajasthan goats… and people. I lived in Jodhpur for 3 months last year. If you like, you can check some of my experiences over there in indiaenchileverde.blogspot.in It would be nice to read from you over there.

    Smiles!

  • I tend to be a visual person, so I try to go to the places where my stories take place or have pictures of the characters at hand It helps them be authentic- and it looks like you do the same.:)

  • Joy says:

    I've lived in Rajasthan for many years. Although we lived in a city we did go to a small town, where our ancestral home was, very often and we spent many holidays there. It is so interesting to read about these goats because I never encountered any of these…friendly or unfriendly ones. I enjoyed reading about them.

    • D Biswas says:

      I've been in Rajasthan a few times, but this is the first time I've seen such massive billy goats. My earlier encounters were with camels, bulls, and monkeys. Long story.

  • Loved it.

  • Interesting! Truth is stranger than fiction 🙂

  • mooderino says:

    Goats are very unpleasant animals. I take the side of trolls under bridges.

    mood
    Moody Writing

    • D Biswas says:

      Man is the most unpleasant animal, imho. If I can get along with my fellow humans, animals are a breeze 🙂

  • I think you discovered their true personalities!

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