Last year was lean-times. Plentiful rain and warming sun nourished verdant fields of rice and millet and sugarcane. Herds of sacred cows and droves of goats grew fat with wheat and calf and kid. The farmers and their families feasted every night.
This season is better. Drought-boiled soil dries to dust, crops shrivel yellow and brown, streams run bare to bed. Starvation haunts the sacred beasts, their bodies withering to fly-swarmed leather and sun-bleached bone.
The vulture’s sharp eyes catch the stumble of another dying cow. He spreads his wings and swoops down to enjoy his breakfast.