Gentle colossus

That visual bonanza and inestimable gift will linger with me for a lifetime.

An elephant evokes unparalleled sensation in me. Is it the deft craftsmanship and mastery of this magnificent creature? Or simply the spectacle of its humongous stature? Perhaps, the numerous elephant snapshots my grandma had recounted in her own exceptional style had left an indelible impression with me.

My great grandfather (GGF), I believe was a forester and had many precarious encounters with elephants. Once on an evening being attacked by an elephant, he ran for his life into a small bridge. He sat crouched and cowered watching the monstrous feet from his hide-out. Craftily, the elephant had feigned silence to dupe the poor man to believe that it had retreated into the jungle. When the conspiracy did not hatch, strangely the animal sucked water and spewed out vehemently into the bridge in a bid to flush him out.


This drama persisted till morn and my GGF had a providential escape with the appearance of the milk van that drove the elephant. A tribal in those days, it seems, being intimidated by an elephant dodged it running around the bamboo shrubs. Eventually, he clambered up a tree adroitly, only to discover the animal shaking the branches with its mighty trunk. The panic stricken victim leaped from one tree to another.

These and other anecdotes enhanced my penchant for the pachyderm. Not surprisingly many elephant dreams have haunted me. I fondly remember watching the “King Elephant” movie, with my whole school at ooty. Once in Mudumalai sanctuary in a good gesture a wild elephant had waited and let me pass by, before crossing the road, like a “Moving mountain”. My days in Assam offered enchanting elephant experiences. It was fabulous to wade through the towering wild grasses in Kaziranga on elephant safari into the territory of the one-horned Rhino.

On my birthday, I was once traversing through the Kaziranga National Park from Jorhat, in a dusty and deserted road during an evening, desperately missing the customary wishes. But a pleasant surprise had awaited for me. I had spotted a massive tusker. Swiftly, I alighted from the vehicle and gazed at this incredible creature majestically posing to me without a stir. The evening was electrified by its mystical presence.

I lost count of time until the forest guards cautioned me to proceed. Bidding adieu to this “wild wonder,” I left enriched and enthralled. As I regained my composure, a “still small voice”, whispered loud and clear. “That was your birthday gift”. I thanked God profusely for that visual bonanza and inestimable gift which will linger with me for a lifetime.

Destiny has now relocated me to Shimoga and I live in the proximity of an elephant camp. Interestingly, I never look for bridges to hide, but I’m engaged with this enigmatic but gentle colossus.

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